The picture shown above is from a race that I did in Austria in 1998 (at least I think it was that year). The run was a two loop, 5k course which involved a grassy, ski slope hill that was SO steep, most of the pros hiked up it. Heart rates were off the charts even at a fast walk up that monster. Thanks to my ex-husband as well as my former coach, who got me hooked on cross country skiing, I used an arm pumping technique similar to skiing that got me up the hill at a fast hiking rate. All was going well this day until my soleus seized up in what turned out to be a pretty bad strain. I felt it coming on during the 2nd loop and it halted me in my tracks while hoofing up that hill. I had to pull out.
What most people don’t know about me is that I actually had to walk away from the sport of triathlon from both a mental and physical perspective, for several years. I sold or donated most of my equipment to those just getting started. I wanted nothing to do with the sport and for a time and lived a completely different life away from that identity of a competitive athlete. What people also don’t know about me is how devastated I was when my races went horribly. I was brought to my knees upset because I felt that I had invested so much of my time, other people’s time, and money (I looked at it as a career) into being one of the best triathletes in the country and in the world. I have only recently been able to reflect on my racing career. I had countless setbacks from either injury or crappy races that would throw me for a mental loop, forcing me to come up with reasons as to why I should keep going in the sport. You see the scar on my left shoulder in this picture? That scar is from a crash at a world championship event in New Zealand the previous year. It took me out – literally. Another devastating day, miles and miles away from home. Another setback which made for a long flight back to New England. There were a lot of tears to say the least.
Despite all the setbacks (the year+ of insomnia, the injuries, the races where I doubted myself and struggled, or the few where I was forced to pull out), I always got back up. I GOT BACK UP. I’m not sure how, but I did and kept on fighting. I'm so glad that I did, because I also had many great race experiences! More importantly, I became a strong and resilient PERSON, not just as an athlete. We’re talking super resilient here. Look, there is always another chance. You can either grab the hand of chance and pull yourself back up, or you can bury your head in a big dirt hole and stay stuck there forever. The choice is a no brainer in my book.
You know why I really like the picture of me in this blog? I like it because I was working so hard to get up that hill. Unfortunately, the race did not go my way but hey, I got up the hill once I got over my disappointment. That was a steeper and much harder hill for me. I also have bad scar on my shoulder. That scar represents the fact that I got up and continued my racing career after being thrown from my tracks in a world championship event.
All of us are bound to have experiences that devastate us and make us feel like we are not good enough or capable of doing something. Life is full of those kinds of curve balls! We can flub up a job interview, not get into the college we had hoped for, screw up on test, have our hearts broken, get into a bad relationship, say something you regret, not say something and wished that you had. The list goes on. You always have the chance to try again or to make things better for yourself. You must get up and try again. How lucky we are to have those chances. I see them as part of the path to "getting things right" or leading us to amazing opportunities. I am blessed for all the struggles I've faced ..... and for taking second chances.