Road to Iron Girl 2013: Competition vs. Clarity and Focus

On June 8, I completed a triathlon, "My First Tri" in north Georgia. It was a great. I finished the race. I struggled through the different components of the race as all of the sports were new to me. But I struggled most of all...with the mental battle that was going on in my head. I struggled not to give up, not to talk myself out of the race because I was slow, and not to compete with the other folks who were running the race along side me. I've always struggled with that last part...competition.

My training for the #IronGirl2013 has given me an opportunity to get up close and personal with my competitive side. One would assume that the very nature of triathlons and other endurance racing is competition with other racers. Much of this is fueled by images that we have seen on TV of endurance racers competing a high levels to win races like the Iron Man and Tour de France. This was my perception when I signed up to do a few triathlons this summer. My personal standards and expectations for myself were very high and based primarily on the levels that I saw other members of my team performing at. I was competing with least, I was trying to. This made my first 7 weeks of training pretty difficult. All of my focus was external. I beat myself up when I couldn't keep up. I wanted to quit at least once a week. This is the way that I trained for "My First Tri". 

But I had an epiphany on race day. There I was, struggling through the water as a beginner swimmer. I was nearly the last person to come out of the water. I was defeated and deflated. I wanted to quit. I was so far behind my team and everyone else, but I still had a bike ride and run ahead of me. I had to make up my mind to run my own race, to run at my own pace, to run for myself. I was still in the race, but I was now racing for myself...and against all of the negative self talk and doubt. Few people talk about this part of endurance racing, few speak of the isolation of running, swimming, biking for yourself against an internal competitor. This has by far the most challenging part of the training for a triathlon. The reality of it all, is that I have no external competitors. There is no one to really compare myself to. The measure has to come from me. I set the standard, the bar to be reached. This thing is personal.

I am about 8 weeks away from the Iron Girl Rocky Gap. I have a lot of work to do, but I am clear about my goals. I am training to run my own best race.

Love you much!

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