Thursday, May 19, 2011

One year later... Beating mediocrity.

When I started this blog, it was a weight loss blog. I promised my readers that they could follow my journey to lose 60-80 pounds. I'm still on that journey, but along the way, I found another one. One that took my life in a whole new direction.

One year ago (technically a year and a day, but my internet connection was down yesterday), I wrote a post titled "Mediocrity". In it, I talked about my lifelong habit of never trying too hard. If you don't really work to achieve your dreams, it doesn't matter if you don't get there.

At the end of that post, I set a goal. On that day, it was almost a whim. I wrote:

"Next summer, I'd like to do a triathlon.

Overly ambitious? Maybe. For one, I can barely swim, so I'll need to take lessons and get some serious practice in. I also don't run. I'm still worried about the impact the extra weight I'm carrying will have on my knees. I do bike and I figure the 70 pounds of kids I pull in the trailer is a bonus for training.

I am setting a goal that I don't know if I can complete. But, I do know one thing. This time I'm going to try. Actually try."

On that day, the idea of doing a triathlon - any triathlon - seemed huge to me. Today, that goal is almost in reach. In 16 days, I will do my first Sprint triathlon, with a 500 metre pool swim, 15km bike ride, and 5k run. In September, I will complete an Olympic length triathlon, with a 1500 metre open water swim, 40km bike, and 10km run.

The last year has been a big year for me. I've done things that I never dreamed myself capable of. The girl that was afraid to enter the deep end of the pool now swims three times a week. I had never run before, and I completed a half marathon a month ago. I can almost take for granted my ability to swim, bike and run.

Almost take for granted?

Now, there's a danger in there. A danger of complacency.

So, I am going to admit something that's been going on in my head lately:

I believe myself capable of much more then I've been doing. I believe myself capable of going much faster then I've ever gone before. If, I'm only willing to work for it. If I'm only willing to take the risk and let myself really tri to do it. When I talk to people about running, I often throw in the fact that "oh, I'm not very fast". And, I'm not. I'm okay with that.

BUT, I think I am capable of being a heck of a lot faster then I ever go. I don't think it will be easy. And don't worry, I don't think I can run out the door today and run a 2o minute 5k. I have yet to run a full length 30 minute 5k, but I believe I can smash that barrier. And then? 27? 25?

Here's the thing, I don't work that hard. Yes, you don't want to be too rough on your body. Most of your runs should be easy. But, I never worry about whether I can complete the distance. I rarely feel like I have to really fight through anymore. If I feel like walking during a run, I evaluate whether it is my mind or body that really wants to. It's almost always my mind. My body is almost always capable of more then I can throw at it.

I hold back. In last week's swim, we were doing 100 metre and 200 metre swims. We were supposed to hold the same pace. I swam the 200 metre swim significantly faster - meaning I was holding back on what I could do in the 100. I was keeping something in reserve to prevent failure.

Truthfully, I don't know what this post means. Right now, my immediate goal is still completing my first triathlon. But, somehow, I know that I am not going to be happy with "just finishing" every time. Deep down, I'm fiercely competitive. I know that I won't be a top finisher, but I do need to beat myself. I need to see how far I can go.


  1. Love it. I'm right there with ya on the holding back bit. I find that its because I'm doing my training alone its easier to take extra breaks rather than having others with me if I ran with a group.

  2. I love this! What a difference a year can make!!!!! GO GO GO!!!

  3. Nice post. Your story is not novel though. Many adult onset athletes seem to go through similar thoughts once they realize that finishing isn't good enough. The typical decision is to go faster or to go longer.

    The key to getting faster is intensity. The downside is that intensity is, well, hard. Getting used to going hard is key to getting to the next level.

    Email me if you have any questions or to bounce ideas offline if you want.

  4. What a great post. I was getting a little teary eyed there in the beginning. It's so awesome to see how far people have come. Your journey is truly an inspiration and now it's almost time for the test.

    I think you have more in you too....I know I do. I try, but sometimes I wonder if I'm trying enough. Thanks for the inspiration post!

  5. this is such a great post. It is me to a tee also. I don't like to hurt so I often don't, but what could I do if I "hurt" just a little more.

    You are going to do good things in this next year!

  6. Yes, you are definitely beating mediocrity!! You have come so far and it is amazing to see what you can do when you put your mind to it!

    You are most definitely competitive! Triathlon is a good sport for you!