The past 24 hours

Last night I laid awake in my bed for hours running today’s race through my head over and over. It is not a technical course, there are no tight corners and I only touch my brakes once the entire bike leg. And yet for some reason, my fists remained clenched, palms sweating, teeth grinding. I was a nervous wreck over a fun local race.

I had a goal and I knew it was on the verge of absurdity. But I could not get it out of my head to let my body get the rest I needed to actually follow through and make that goal become reality.

Finally I remembered, think about surfing. I left my competitive world of triathlon for the beach. The nice silk waves drifted underneath me with a cooling mist from the breaks a few meters away. I watched the sun rise over by the sky rise hotels down the beach. And with no more memories, I was knocked out from the exhaustion of a long day.

I sometimes take myself a little too seriously.

I wanted a podium position today and I was disappointed with dropping out by one place. I had a goal and when everything began failing, I lost my style. I became to serious, lost my focus and even with my fourth place overall, I was disappointed with my performance across the board: emotionally, mentally, and physically.

The difficulty began mere minutes into the race, about halfway through the swim when my cast caught on the lane line and I inhaled a massive gulp of pool water. The action of breathing in water was not what led to my struggle today but rather how I reacted. I have dealt with adversity in races plenty often and while I would not say that I am a master of handling stress, after five seasons I think I have learned some resilience. Everyone deals with mini upsets such as a kick in the face or a dropped water bottle. But what breaks the race nine times out ten is the reaction after the incident.

And today my immature inability to cope with difficulty led me to a stressful, miserable morning of racing.

On the next leg of the race, when I watched my target ride away from me on the bike, I lost my inspiration. I should have accepted that it was not going to be my day from the little handicap of a broken thumb. Okay, so maybe I have some stubborn tendencies. When my primary goal rode out of sight, instead of  changing the game plan to maintain a pace to the finish, I inherited a pessimistic attitude that was destined to lead me to failure.

It is over fourteen hours since I crossed that finish line and I have had a lot of thoughts whizzing through my head. Mainly the question I had for myself is, did I really race as poorly as I initially thought? I compared my time today to my time on the same course two months ago. Yeah I did awful in that case. But just for fun I went back and looked at my results from two years ago. My time today with this obnoxious hindrance on my right arm would have led me to first place in July of 2008.

Okay so maybe I did not do that bad. And so then I thought, wait a minute, where do I get off saying I had a bad race? Of course its not going to be perfect, I’m not in perfect shape, primarily I’ve got metal holding my thumb together. But I did race for fourth overall in a race of nearly 500 competitors. For the circumstances, physically I did pretty well. My disappointment is with my performance on the internal spectrum.

To get to the point, I am embarrassed about my embarrassment today. It took me a while to understand what I did today because I did fail at accomplishing my goal. And it took me a while because I was not willing to use an excuse that I still have not accepted was my primary obstacle today. I raced in a fun local triathlon today and I did not enjoy myself. That is the only thing I should be embarrassed about.

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