I talk a lot about the power of words. In 2012 this was especially true as I discovered the importance of words in training. I talked about eating the elephant one bite at a time. I talked about being one step closer, not just to the end of a workout or the start of the Ironman but one step closer to the finish line. I talked about the Ironman being not the hardest day of my life but the most rewarding day of my life. And all of these saying helped me through the biggest event in my life so far.
As easily as the right words can build you up, they can knock you down. And just as the words build you step by step, they can knock you down step by step. Taking you down just a little every day before you even realize what you have done to yourself.
After the Beach to Battleship Ironman, I was on cloud nine. I felt like I could take on the world and the truth is I probably could have. I was invincible. But over the past two months, first in an effort to be humble, then in a effort to give credit to every body who helped me, I began to give credit for the Ironman away.
“Yes, that was an incredible swim,” I would say, “but it was the tide coming in that really helped me.”
“The bike went really well, but thank goodness there was not much wind, otherwise I don’t think I could have done it.”
“Coach Jeff, Blaise and Donna get all the credit for the run, without them and of course, Maleia at the end, I would have never made it through that part.”
Over the past two months I have repeated these statements so many times that I have come to believe them to be exclusively true. I have come to believe that the Ironman happened and I was there to enjoy the day. I have stopped believing that I did that. That I swam 2.4 miles, I biked 112 miles and I ran (the temptation here is to say shuffled) 26.2 miles. I have taken every last bit of credit from the accomplishment and given it away.
As I have done this I have begun to beat myself up on the run, on the bike and to avoid the swim all together. I have begun to think of myself as this busy mom who is not really an athlete. And I have begun to slow down and stop working towards the next goal.
Two weeks ago, just as this cycle was completely taking over I was diagnosed with a swollen vertebrae and had to take some time off. This could have proven to be the nail in the coffin of my endurance life but the rest seems to have had he opposite affect. Instead of thinking running, riding and swimming every day I thought about healing. I started using more positive words again and I started noticing that I felt better, not physically but emotionally and mentally. I started climbing out of the depression that was taking over my sporting life. And I started believing again that not only am I an Ironman, but I will be again this September.
Mental strength is very much like physical strength. If we ignore it, we lose it. We become weaker and less capable. By letting go of the positive words and adding the negative, even for a good reason, I was zapping my mental strength. Today, I feel great. I went back out for a run today and I thought about the year to come. I have goals, I have plans and I know that one step at a time I can accomplish them. In 2012, I proved that anything is possible. This year, I just have to keep remembering that.