9/26/05 Happy Birthday (42)

Monday. Mindfulness. Okay, once the fog lifts from my cloudy brain — I’ll be mindful, right now I’m just trying to recuperate from my birthday hangover. Happy Birthday to me, wheeeeee….. Had people over here last night after the tri and we consumed wayyyy toooo muuuuuccchhhh wiiiiiinnnnee. But, fun time nonetheless — all my favorite people around me, great way to turn 46.

I started my day with a pilates session and that was a big accomplishment considering my hangover.

So the triathlon. Okay, it sucked, big time. I had that choking thing happen to me in the water and I never recovered. Bummer too, because I was flying through that water, I made the turn at 11:12 which means if I had finished by swimming I would have had a personal best in the water — could have been 20-25 minutes. As it happened I was choking couldn’t catch my breath, was coughing and had to do the back stroke for the remainder of the swim. I still finished in 30 minutes which is pretty hysterical (I don’t swim a 30 minute mile!). There was quite a current pulling us in and rumor has it the course was shortened due to heavy current further out. I had the opportunity to race a personal best with even the 30 minute swim but it didn’t happen.

Basically I never caught my breath. I was oxygen deprived for the whole race. I was coughing and hyperventilating the whole time. I felt no energy and I basically bonked on the bike and how I made it through the run (walking most of it) I’ll never know. I ended up finishing in a heartbreaking 4:01 — had I had not stopped to go the bathroom so at least it would have been 3:59!!! (Yeah, like a 3:59 would have made me happy.)

But, I say so what!!! Here are the things I learned yesterday.

1) I like the fact (although in retrospect it may have been stupid) that it never occurred to me to quit. Lying in bed this morning I thought to myself, “gee, you were really out of it and really hurting, why didn’t you just stop, put on your flip flops and cheer everybody else in?” It just didn’t occur to me. Quitting is not an option. I’m not sure that was really the smartest thing to do, but I appreciate the fortitude.

2) They can’t all be good races because then how do you know you’ve done something remarkable when they are all good? Next year, when I go back and blow through that course I will have something to be proud of. This year I created my Everest. Next year I will climb it. Don’t you worry Westchester Triathlon, I’ll be back!!

3) Races are a metaphor for life. You can prepare all you want but it is the unexpected that gets you every time. I spent all week resting and pampering my legs and they never even got a workout because I spent the whole time coughing and choking. Ironically, I never felt so much as a twinge in my legs. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect for me and yet it turned out to be such a bad result.

4) You learn more through disappointing races than you do from successful ones. I can’t tell you what I learned at St. A’s this year because everything went so well. I learned a lot yesterday.

5) I have great, great friends and I am very, very blessed. When I got to that last hill I knew I couldn’t make it up. Stephanie was standing there in her flip flops and I said “you are going to have to run with me up that hill, I can’t do it.” And she did. God love her, I’m sure she was not expecting to have to do that. Afterwards my apartment was filled with people who are just so nice and so supportive I felt really blessed to have them all in my life.

6) It is still an achievement to finish. The marathon is probably going to be pretty ugly too, but crossing the finish line is crossing the finish line. As my coach Christine said “If it was easy, everybody would do it.” I still finished ahead of everyone who didn’t cross the start line. I still got another medal to hang on my doorknobs (and those are oh so important — just kidding.)

7) It is easy to handle success, strength is shown in handling disappointment. I took a big personal step yesterday. I worked very hard on not judging myself. I kept repeating to myself “observe, don’t judge.” Try to learn something from this debacle and keep going. The result is the result — it does not mean I did not work hard.

8) Bad races make better stories. Nobody remembers the average races. You remember the ones where you had a personal best (St. Anthony’s) and a personal worst (Westchester). Memphis, New York city fade to black. I’ll be boring people with my choking story for years to come. Who knows, maybe I’ll figure out the cause and it will help someone else down the road.

9) At any given time — there are different definitions of success. Sometimes success means running at your fastest pace ever because that is what your body is capable of doing. But sometimes you are only capable of walking. If your goal is to move forward and the only way you can do it is by walking — it’s still a success as long as you pushed yourself to your max.

10) And let’s not forget one of my favorite sayings “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I am secretly hoping that come marathon day I’ll be struggling and I’ll say “yeah, but it’s not as bad as that day in Westchester.” It will give me strength to know that I can still make it through even if I think I am not going to make it. There is always room for one more step. That’s the beauty of all of this — there is still room to grow.


Even Babe Ruth struck out a couple of times. The important part is that he got up to bat again. just me, nobody famous.

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