“You are always in a dance of yes and no.” – Baron Baptiste
Over the course of my 2.5-year career in triathlon, I’ve been fortunate enough to make the trip to Yokohama, Japan twice for their World Triathlon Series race. Both times the trip itself has gone smoothly. Both times I lined up and raced with no regrets. And both times I’ve returned back to the United States in a bit of shock.
In 2015, my shock stemmed from a breakthrough performance above and beyond expectation of a full inaugural year on the WTS circuit. This year, however, my shock was two-fold.
On the one hand, I experienced this warm, full-filling state of shock from all of the love and support I received throughout the lead-up and during this last Olympic selection event. The positive messages and good vibes from everyone within my support circles gave me so much strength and pride, regardless of the result on race day. Family, friends, friends of friends, former classmates, teammates and training partners, mentors, sponsors, the community of Ocean City and even people I don’t personally know made this experience truly unforgettable and special. For all of you, I am so grateful. For all of you, it is so worth it!
At the same time, this empty, low-blow type of shock also hit hard. An underperformance on the run portion of the race—a usual leg of strength and comfort—had me unraveled. I was left wondering ‘why?’ What happened? I was confident coach Jarrod Evans had me physically prepared for the race and the circumstances that unfolded, so why did my body not respond? A number of reasons danced in my mind post-race. Was it my run cadence? Did I over-train and botch the taper for the run required? Am I just physiologically not cut-out for this type of endurance sport? Or was it simply unfortunate timing to just ‘have a bad day’?
Now that I’ve finished my break and am back into the swing of training for the remainder of the season, I’m learning to let the questions go and re-focus on the here and now. The break at home in Ocean City was good to me. Family, friends, and community members welcomed me home with an understanding and a renewed source of energy.
A neighbor of mine, fellow Grace and Glory yogi Patty, gave me a book for a change of mental stimulus, titled Perfectly Imperfect by Baron Baptiste. Although Baptiste writes the book for a yoga-minded audience, I couldn’t help but apply his approach of Eastern philosophy to the sport of triathlon as well. In doing so, post-race next-step analytical clutter became more clear: “Consider that you can only really exceed yourself if you can first relax with yourself, right where you are—on the mat, in the pose, and in your life.” This statement could not be more relevant.
Not feeling yourself mid-race on the run leg? Accept it and roll with it. By resisting that current state, you only create more tension and rigidity. Not the race result you were gunning for? Accept it and move forward. Once you choose to accept it, you relinquish yourself from forcing an answer or creating a story. You save yourself from wasting energy looking for an answer that might not even exist. Instead, you can channel that energy into something more fruitful. Like, fostering trust in yourself that next time you will know how to handle a disconnection in breath, a laboring turn-over, or whatever obstacle presents itself.
It’s not easy to let go of something you work so hard for, but at the end of the day, the underperformances and the self-questioning help lead you to a deeper understanding of the process and what creates success. In that experience, you realize that not every question needs an answer. And that ‘acceptance’ is a powerful, revitalizing tool. It also helps when you have family, friends and an entire community waiting for you to come home with open arms. Although it might not have been my day on the race course, I sure do feel like a champion with all this support. Thank you, USA Triathlon, Team Psycho, Blueseventy, NYAC and BiPro for giving me the tools to realize this potential. Here’s to the next one.