At the end of every race season, I look back, like most of you and reflect on the; shoulda’s, woulda’s and coulda’s. People say I am hard on myself that I should be proud of my accomplishments and that I inspire them to do more. So this year I am going to give thanks! I am going to be grateful for the people who have supported me this year, for the work my body was able to do and for the experiences I had.
I want to share a brief but important and painful moment I experienced in my last and most important race this year, Ironman Florida.
Let me start from the beginning of the day. The 2.4-mile ocean swim was set as a two loop course where as you had to exit the water and run/walk back in to continue your second loop. Doesn’t seem like that would be a big deal depending on how you look at it. You could be the glass half full and say,” I’m already half way done” or you could be the glass half empty and dread getting back into 3-foot rollers unable to see the sight buoys. Me, I was drinking the water, the salt water and had a near disaster exiting the water into T1 luckily securing a portapotty before losing my shit! Literally!
Ok onto the bike, but wait a volunteer decided to discard my T1 bag so I had nothing to put my wetsuit in. So after desperately explaining this to a kind hearted female volunteer I raced to my bike hopped on and off I went into the wind! Not like the wind, into the wind! Lots and lots of wind!
After my near-death incident in the porta potty, I still had a little feeling to you know, but I just stuck with the nutrition plan I had mapped out for the bike adding in some bananas at the aid stations and pedaled my brains out. Watching my heart rate and power on the bike I was right where I was supposed to be. At least that was going well. Mind you I haven’t stopped once in my 6hour and 3minute ride since getting on the bike so as I entered T2 me and the porta potty become fast friends, again! Luckily I was ok in that department. Now for a marathon.
I had been feeling optimistic about the run, my previous training runs, although not exceeding a half marathon, went well so my plan was to follow the Galloway method the entire 26.2 miles and hope for the best. At about mile 10 my knee decided to rear its ugly head and remind me that it still was going to be an issue on the run. DAMN IT!!! I tried everything I could think of to either get the pain to subside or block it out completely. “It’s just your knee Anna, everything else is feeling good”. You can do this. I stretch my quadricep,”Ok run to that flag then you can walk ok, maybe not the flag maybe to that post its closer, look at all these people out here if they are doing it so can you”.
Mile 12. I am starting to do the math and at this pace, I will be out here for another 3 and half hours! I can’t do this for another 3 and half hours the pain is too much! I am looking down so no one can see me crying. DAMN IT!!! Just then a very fit, likely twenty-something female passes me running, like really running. She was hard to miss so was the mess she had made of herself that was running down her legs. She had shit herself and she is running like the wind! I just kept walking.
Mile 13. I know the start of the second loop is coming, there are a lot more people around I am trying to hold back my tears and I am desperately searching for my husband Tim. As I come around the turn I grab special needs bags, cross the timing mat, look up and there is my husband waiting so patiently for me. I really start to cry now. He offers me the chair he had bought the day before to sit down and all I can say is” I can’t, I can’t finish. Tears streaming down my face I look at him to tell me to just go, just get up and go! But he could see the pain I was in and just told me “Babe whatever you think you need to do it will be ok” I said ok, not knowing what else I could do to try and finish what I started that day. I handed my timing chip to a race official I didn’t have to say anything, just the letters DNF, he nods his head and I walk away. Trying to stop more tears I realize my race was over. That was the most painful moment I think I have ever experienced in my life.
Those of you who know me know I have a don’t quit attitude. I felt I let not only myself down but my coach, my clients, my friends and my husband down. I know that is not the case and I know it was the right thing to do but it didn’t make me feel any better at the time.
So why write this and then share it with you, because life is short. I know that sounds so cliche but you hear it all the time; “I can’t believe the holidays are here already” and then it is the start of another year. Who we are is not determined by our past, something is only a mistake if it is repeated more than once and everyone who has had success has at one time failed. So look back but only to learn not to wish for a different outcome the change is in your future, not your past.
Most important, give thanks. Thank your body for what it gives you every day. Thank your mind for being strong enough to know when to push through and when to back off. Thank your family and friends for their support even if they think you are crazy. Be thankful for what you can do, embrace your life, your training and your goals in this next year. I wish you the best in all that you desire for 2017!
I wish you the best in all that you desire for 2017!
Thank you for listening