Monday, November 17, 2008

Reflections on Silverman

Finishing Silverman changed my life.

It gave me clarity, new insight into myself, and restored confidence that that I haven't had in a long time.

I started triathlon training at a time when I was very uncertain about what exactly I was DOING with my life. I had left my law firm job less than a year before my first Pumpkinman and was floundering in a new career where I was uncertain of myself and my abilities. I'm sure that I had all the ability I needed but confidence was lacking. I was trying to fake it, but faking anything for too long is exhausting. I was tired, disgusted with myself, and after awhile I just walked away from the new vocation.

Training for triathlon gave me something to latch onto, something new and different, and extremely challenging. At the same time I was withdrawing and shying away from any type of challenge in the career arena, I was embracing challenge in this brand new arena, where perhaps (I thought) I had less to lose.

What I did not realize was I had everything to gain, including reclaiming my confidence and once again seeing myself as a successful, happy, motivated person.

2007 was a disaster in terms of race results, confidence and motivation. WHY was I even doing this? I had no answer. Only one race completed in 2007, and that was a half marathon! The rest were DNF and DNS, including a DNS at Silverman!

Maybe this was for the best . . . . , I thought, from my volunteer post on the bike course.

Maybe I'm just not cut out for this.

Seriously I'm fine with it.

Watching the half iron athletes tackle the course I knew I had let myself down. Again.

Some people in my life I know wondered why I kept pressing on with this. Somewhere in my gut I knew that pressing on was the right thing to do. Justifying my reasons for not starting Silverman and pretending that I was fine with it and that maybe I didn’t need to do it was more exhausting than faking confidence!

I was BEAT!

I needed a different coach. Thankfully, I made a selection that would turn out to be the best possible fit for me. Sign me up! Done!

I needed to commit. Truly commit to doing the work, not just the idea of doing the work. That took longer. I felt noncommittal, non motivated, and downright hostile for quite awhile. Too long, I feared. I could not afford another 2007!

As days turned to weeks, which turned to months I forced myself to do the work. Not perfectly but I did it. Got some races under my belt. I made many more friends this year, found some wonderful training partners, and that made things better. I joined Swim Group which infused joy into my swimming.

As the time ticked away and Silverman got closer . . . . I was petrified, afraid, excited, and . . . omigod, confident. Yes, for the first time really ever in the sport of triathlon and for the first time in way too long in my life in general I felt confident!

I've talked before about how Silverman is much more than a race to me. The overwhelming feeling of POSSIBILITY that I had while volunteering on the run course in 2006 is as strong now as it was then. It is still with me and shows no sign of leaving. Since then I have gotten to know and admire the people who put this race on -- it is truly for the athletes and the ones who keep coming back year after year to race the full iron distance revere this race.

These feelings about Silverman built up over two years and came with me on November 9, 2008. I underestimated their power, as, for ten hours, forty eight minutes, and thirty three seconds, my mind went on autopilot and overrode all but a couple of fleeting negative thoughts.

Every mental status check revealed an inner calm, focus, and complete confidence that I would finish. No matter what happened, I could rely on my mind and body to move me forward – even when things turned out differently than planned.

I feel like I reclaimed part of myself that was missing . I’ve come out the other side a stronger person, a different athlete. I am infused with confidence. This is what triathlon means to me and this is why I intend to keep training and racing.

At the same time I am going to divert more energy toward revitalizing the parts of my life that have been neglected and are in desperate need of a makeover (don’t worry my marriage is GREAT, I’m talking career). I know what I want and I’m going after it!

It was worth it.

11 comments:

Kathy said...

It is so fantastic that you got what you needed out of racing Silverman! I felt the same way after Ironman, and even though the stuff I'm doing right now is scary, god so scary, I KNOW I can do it! Confidence is not to be underestimated!

GO FOR IT!

Patricia said...

Congratulations!!!

Maybe one day I'll get to do a half Iron. Right now, I'm concentrating on a sprint :) but your journey gives me motivation to continue and just do the work....

Chad in the Arizona Desert said...

That is an amazing journey. Something tells me that the journey isn't over yet.

Awesome!!

ShirleyPerly said...

Sheer enjoyment reading this post, Stef. I'm so happy to hear of all the obstacles you have overcome. Your journey to Silverman is an inspiration to many!

KodaFit said...

Definitely very inspirational!

Thanks for sharing. And I too think your journey has only just begun.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

Wow!!

I'm speechless. :-)

Alili said...

It was worth it and YOU are worth it. Congratulations on the race, but more importantly I am so happy you have your confidence back.

Calyx Meredith said...

What an amazing reflection! I could hear your voice as I read your words. Thanks for putting so much of your inner journey out there. It helps me so much when I face challenges and obstacles to remember how other people have been there, regrouped,figured it out, and achieved their goals. You inspire me, my friend!
PS - Love the new blog digs. :D

cindy said...

This is an awesome post, Stef, and really speaks to me :) I can tell a big difference just in your writing that you are more confident than when I first started reading your blog!! I'm so happy for you.

We have much in common. Triathlon has also helped my confidence. I have more work to do though in that area. Now that my kiddos are almost gone, I'm feeling a need to do something more with myself and my life. Thinking about tackling personal goals...when get askeered...I go back to how I felt tackling endurance races, and that gives me a boost of self esteem.

Wes said...

We see these things happen all the time. It's great when they happen to us. It's even better when the PERSON can see it happening to themselves. That, of course, means you are on TOP of the wave!

Ride on :-)

Kevin said...

What a great story. I am sure you will have as much success in your career development as you have in triathlom