Wednesday, September 17, 2014

On Being "Slow" and the Fear of Success

This is a post I've been thinking of sitting down and writing since probably May. Today was a good time to just get it over with since I don't really have anything else to talk about otherwise. Took a good chunk of last week off/easy (70.3s on little training tend to beat one up pretty badly) so I don't have any fun workouts to post about.

So, this. This instead. It'll be a bit rambling, so bear with me.

On Being "Slow"

I say I'm slow all the time. My times - especially in triathlons - tend to back up my words as well. Compared to some, it's also true. I'm also quite friendly with a lot of fast people:
- Mike - Olympian, marathon winner, second at the Leadville 100 this year
- Nic - marathon winner, Olympic trials qualifier, probably more that I don't even know
- Norm - half-marathon winner, consistent AG podium runner, qualifies for Boston at Boston
- Sonja - local triathlete badass, winner of my AG at IMAZ
- Ann - friend of Norm, qualified for Boston in her first marathon, just qualified for 70.3 worlds, 6th in my AG at IMAZ in her first IM
- Jenna - MX12 teammate and consistently places on podiums
- Richard - local triathlete friend, Ironman All World Athlete, podium-finisher
- Steve - speedy runner/triathlete from the Twin Cities
And even more that I'm not mentioning here. When I compare myself to them, I feel unbearably slow.

I also know, however, that compared to others, I'm also faster than them. I try to amend my words, to when I say I'm slow, that I'm comparatively slow

I wonder though, is this holding me back? Should I not say that I'm comparatively slow, but instead that I'm not as fast as I'd like to be? Or as fast as I could be?

I believe that this all ties into ...

The Fear of Success

I do believe I am afraid of success. I have been for YEARS. It is realistically why I'm stuck in my current job (essentially minimum wage slave, but I've been working there long enough that I'm in pseudo-management and definitely not making minimum wage anymore). This is partially because I don't like the spotlight, and success typically means the spotlight.

When a bit of success comes my way, I tend to downplay it. You've seen that here.

- Barkin' Dog Duathlon - My first ever podium. I justified it by saying I got lucky, that I didn't have to swim, that all the fast people did the long-course.
- SkirtSports 5K - Podium number two. Small race, all of the fast people must have done the half-marathon.

At the same time, just like almost every other triathlete, I dream about making it to Kona*. Realistically, if that happens, it'll be because I got lucky through the lottery or I raced enough to get a legacy spot, but why shouldn't I try for the qualification? I say it's because I'll never be a fast enough runner, or because my swim is such a disaster ... but is that negative thinking the biggest problem of all?

I know I am better than I think. I know there is potential in me that's waiting to be tapped (in more than just the athletic realm too, trust me). I know Nic sees it and I also know that Richard does. I see glimpses of it myself - the GtIS half where I pulled a half-way decent time out of my butt on little training (and an assist to gravity). The realistic notion that I feel with decent training, I could have pulled a sub-7 out on the Harvest Moon course despite it being fairly difficult. That I had a sub-7 (or at the very least, a PR/sub-7:30) until the lack of training caught up to me the same time a massive hill and headwind did.

The question then becomes, how do I (or anyone else facing this issue) fix this? Is it a mental block? Brandon says that in general, I get fairly decent and to a point of breaking through a wall, breaking through to that next step. I try to break through, maybe just a little, fail ... and then retreat back into the comfortable. 

The comfortable IS enough. It allows me to race and to finish and to be healthy. We stress in our household that we ARE enough. 

At the same time, I'd like to be more, too. The more intrigues me. The more terrifies me. To change the limits and push through the fear - that is what I need to do, to be not "slow" and to succeed.

I think that to do this, it is twofold:

1.) Change the mindset. Ironman terrified me as much as it excited me. I made it a mental game from the outset to a when not an if I crossed. It was never going to be a question. My conscious choice this year to embrace the hill on the bike has worked for the most point. I still don't like hills and climbing - as a bigger athlete, I probably never will - but I don't dread them and they don't mentally break me anymore. I do not need to say that I'm slow anymore. That I'm not that good. I need to say ... something else. Right now, I don't exactly know what will work, but I do know that I need to figure it out.

2.) Put in the work. I can change my thinking all I want, but if I don't put in the work, I'll never be able to back it up. In IMAZ training last year, the best point was when the work made me truly believe I could back up my when I cross claim. I've got plans for putting in the work next year - I won't reveal them yet - but I've already shared them with a few people. Some people say I/we'll fail; others can't wait to watch us succeed. I, for one, can't wait to see us succeed, either.

*Yes, despite all the bullshit surrounding WTC, and how much of a dick company they're turning out to be ... they've hooked me with this. I can't help it. I know I shouldn't want to feed the machine, but it's been so conditioned by this point. Damnit. It's exactly like my merch comment in one of my IMAZ posts.

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