Recently I ran a race. FL 70.3 triathlon to be specific.
As race day came closer I started feeling the expectations of others on my shoulders. Real or not, I felt it. And then I started getting scared that people liked me because they think I am fast in a race. And I start to get scared thinking about people abandoning me if I fail. I know it’s irrational. I know that there are people out there who will berate me saying that I am very vane putting myself on such a high pedestal and that I need to be taken down. I know it’s silly. But it is there.
I have had a jumble of thoughts running through my head. I read my current book I am reading and think “Holy Cow” jump to my computer and the thread is….lost. Sigh….and so I return to my activity.
Currently I am reading (besides Led Mis…which is almost 9 months in the reading and just over 400 pages left) Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives by Aimee Liu.
I have made no secret: I am a recovered anorexic. This book is about recovering from an eating disorder, as recommended by my first therapist as I start down my journey of learning to speak out and up to the public and sufferers about eating disorders. I believe I have a story that may help others. My first therapist is kind enough to mentor me through the process so I can be effective. This is a HUGE step for me in my journey of recovery and experiencing life.
Anyway, as I read this book I see myself. I see my development and my story. I realize my ultimate cure was in learning to cope (vocalize) with my emotions AND finding my community: the Endurance Sports community in general (starting with the Team in Training community and slowly branching out). As aggressive as each person is in this community, they are warm and embracing as well. And I have found my niche; I have found a calmness (although yes…I am still aggressive!).
This truly is a paradox. Not just the calm living within a highly competitive world, but in that as I believe I achieve my full recovery, I made a choice to face some of the same fears which caused my initial reaction to “hide”. I decided to step up my life and endurance sports activities to the next level: to set aggressive goals for me.
Without realizing it, by setting my goals, I have opened myself up to judgment (good or bad) by friends, family and strangers. In other words – I am facing my (irrational) fear and fighting my tendency to make myself small to avoid judgment. That same tendency to isolate and withdraw to avoid judgment or when I am stressed or afraid of failure is there.
The difference? I am very aware of my tendencies and pitfalls. And I am very much not afraid to reach out to my community and say what I feel. I know that when I reach out, friends give back and I know I am not alone in the ups and downs of a full life. For that, I am grateful.
I am strong, and will not fall back on my old habits. I love training and racing, and I don’t want to make it a chore or something I have to do. It is my choice, and I will do this with joy, friendship and love.
This past race I really (not nearly but REALLY – as in 20 minutes REALLY) missed my personal time goal (30 minutes for my coaches time goal!).
Before I started this race I had the support of so many friends who, I felt, wanted great things from me (another pitfall – I place a lot of my own fears on myself through others). After, when I missed my goal, they still cheered and supported me. My (irrational) fears were calmed. I realized what I knew, and have been seeing proof for 3 years now: my friends love me for me, and not because of how I race. I was humbled and grateful.
Instead of withdrawing from my community after my race, I analyzed each aspect and reached out to my coach, my nutritionist, and my friends. What’s amazing is that a number also reached out to me. Wow! They are amazing. I replied to each friend that had emailed or written on my facebook wall. I had conversations about the race and life in general. And I am reaching out here – refusing to hide and withdraw from my emotions.
Although (I realized) I semi-deflected their praise by commenting on the run (I need to improve and accept more readily), I did acknowledge and truly appreciate their support. And here is the kicker: they all focused on my successes and not mediocre finish. Truly – the endurance sport community IS aggressive and CAN be intimidating when first approaching. But once you are in it, it is the most embracing and supportive communities you can find. And it is also one of the most motivating! J After all, where else can people cheer you for what you do, and make you a target to beat at the same time?
What does all of this mean? I am grateful. I am grateful for my friends – your support and friendship truly is priceless and makes me smile each day as I journey through this adventure, and life in general. You are my community and my strength. It was with your support I decided to take this path. I am awed and encouraged when you take time from your schedule to help me reach higher or to say “Go for it”.