Monday, June 08, 2009

Keeping Things Fun

My Ego: So another good race! Maybe we should start eyeing a Kona slot, try winning some races, looking for sponsorships or somehow turning this hobby into a job someday?

My Sensible Side: WHOA! We've been down this road before. Life becomes really ugly when we focus on things too much. Keep it fun. Your best is NOT trying to be the best all the time.

What???

Yes, it's true. I was raised to try to excel in everything I did. Until my mid-30's I worked relentlessly and my health and other aspects of life invariably suffered. My "problem" was that I was good at a lot of things (or so it seemed, for I didn't pursue things I sucked at) and was willing to do what it took to succeed. And once I got rolling on something, I didn't know the words quit, slow down or balance. I was pretty much all or nothing.

Which is why that DNF at Ironman Florida 2006 was so meaningful to me. Yes, meaningful. Until age 45, I'd never experienced a major failure before.

It would have been easy to say, well, I really hate swimming anyway and tris are just not for me, and go back to running marathons. Or, turn around and try again next year hoping the water won't be as rough (and then probably walk away from tris because I still hated swimming).

Instead, for the first time in my life, I stuck with something I was not really good at. It's taken me 3 years to become a swimmer and a real triathlete (in my eyes, someone who embraces and loves the variety and challenge of all three sports). I now have a coach telling what to do and, perhaps more importantly, what NOT to do. I've got two relatively new sports with lots of room for growth (compared to running/jogging which I've been doing off and on for over 30 years, though competitively only the last 7 yrs). Plus, I'm spending more quality time with hubby Dave who likes to ride bikes too. Life is good!

Yet, the last thing I want to do is make training and racing a job, or become obsessed with competing, setting PRs and trying to be the absolute best I can be all the time. I'm happy for every swim stroke, pedal stroke and footstep I take. And if I can get out there and want to do it again, I've won. I think that's a large part of why I signed up for two irons two weeks apart, to make sure I take my training seriously but not too seriously. There's no way in hell I'm doing another iron tri event so soon if I hated the first one :-)

Keep it fun, everyone!

Last week's recovery workouts:
Swimming (2) 4300 yds
Cycling (3) 112 mi
Running (2) 15 mi
Strength training (3)

31 comments:

KodaFit said...

Triathlons, truly are humbling experiences, but they also provide huge opportunities for growth and confidence.

I find my analytical side craves the data from training and racing... How did I do? Why did this feel this way? etc. etc. etc.

But there is something exhilarating about running, biking or swimming without regard for how far or how fast, and in reality, my performance when I take that approach usually improves as well.

I guess it all comes down to finding a healthy balance between the two.

Jenny Davidson said...

Very good! I thoroughly agree...

Missy said...

Yes, fun, we started because it was fun! Let's keep it fun! I'm with you.

X-Country2 said...

Great post. There always seems to be something you can do more or better with running/tri training, that it's good to remember to find some balance.

Smithposts said...

Takes a lot of guts to stick with something you consider yourself "not good at" but it looks like you have successfully come out on the other side! Congrats and keep having fun!

DaveP said...

Somethings are best left for enjoyment, vice employment.

Lisa Slow-n-Steady said...

I'm all about fun, but I fail to see how two iron tris two weeks apart = fun. I guess the definition is different for everyone. :-)

lindsay said...

how timely is this post! i'm over here moping for whatever reason(s) (i'm not entirely sure myself) and need to snap out of it. i often struggle with my overly-competitive side as well and it can take the fun out of it.

an ironman! wow! i'm kind of tempted to "tri a tri" but haven't yet.

thanks for stopping by my blog! i added you to my reader, hopefully we shall "run into" each other at a race one day soon!

Spokane Al said...

I suffer from some of the same issues of diving in full speed and giving all my waking hours to the job or whatever moves me at the moment.

So we most definitely should keep pushing to get better and faster and stronger while avoiding turning this into a job.

Because if it is a job we are once again grown up and that is what we are trying to avoid.

Road Warrior said...

what a great attitude, Shirley. I'd say keep it fun, but I think you're already year. Good luck on the next one!

jen said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I think the "level" you take your racing to is perfect. You're clearly an amazing athlete, but you also so much more than that. :)

ShirleyPerly said...

Indeed, I started to write a post about lessons learned from my RnR race and sat back and wondered why the heck I'm doing this? The race went very well and to pick on little things just seemed silly (if not obsessive).

Life's too short!

Gotta Run..Gotta Ride said...

Now here is a post that is dead on target!! Your mind is in such a great place and your body is following. Keep it up girl. It is only going to get better.

Susan said...

I agree; keep it fun. 'Nuff said!

aron said...

I totally agree, you have to find balance and keep it fun... one of the things I learned the most after Eugene :)

Bruce Stewart (ブルース・スチュワート) said...

Actually I thought you were a pro already, only that you did not race for the prize money because you did not need it. I know that may be a little tongue-in-cheek (if that's the right expression), but maybe you need to think of what your future goals and aspirations are - after all you will soon finish the 50 states' marathons and no doubt the Hawaii Ironman once you have the opportunity, so then what. You really have something to contribute in a special way more than you have perhaps thought so far. Maybe you could invent a new kind of race which includes a swim, bike and run, some paddleboarding, some push ups and some martial arts, too. Then people could call themselves something like "Catwoman" rather than just "Ironman". I think the three disciplines on their own is getting a bit boring so maybe it is time to invent something new!

ShirleyPerly said...

Bruce, I think you must have read my mind! I have often thought it'd be interesting to have an Ironman/triathlon type of event followed by hand-to-hand combat. In fact, knowing that the original Ironmen were military, I'm kinda surprised they didn't add that in to see who was the toughest. Then our sport would probably be on network TV more often, I'll bet. And I like that Catwoman title too :-), although men would perhaps want to be called Batman?

EndorphinBuzz said...

You are such an inspiration. Keep up the positivity.

RBR said...

You are a pro/elite athlete to me. Always have been. You have inspired me to be better and push harder and all the while remembering to have fun. I am so excited to be a fly on the wall while you go forward in this incredible journey.

I hope this makes sense I have taper brain.

Lora said...

So, so, so funny! Really great lesson about failures. We think they suck at the time - and, frankly, they do - but eventually they're a wonderful reflecting point for change. Keep blogging, Shirley!

Dori said...

I DNF my first two marathons. It sucks! I hope I never experience another one. Like Lance says: pain is temporary, quitting last forever.

Formulaic said...

I like you attitude, and I like your outllok too.

BTW: I'd only fight for the title - Superman!!

Rural Girl said...

Your head is screwed on straight. I wish I could always so the about me!

Mel-2nd Chances said...

just stumbled across your blog, and glad i did. I think I also suffer from an all or nothing approach to thinks that I find interesting at any given time. I think my "all running" has led me to recurring injuries, and am now recovering yet again, but incorporating swimming and cycling.. so who knows where all three will lead me. But you're so right, the element of fun absolutely needs to be there.

lizzie lee said...

I hear you... I am pretty much like that... sometimes the competition spirit in us doesn't let us enjoy the real thing.

And you are very good at tris because you made yourself to be good. We are in our own hands...

Rainmaker said...

I agree with so many others - I'm defeinitely like you - giving it everything I've got. But you're right, it's all about keeping it fun, as that's what matters...for now. ;)

Girl on Top said...

Definitely a good reminder!

Jade Lady said...

I agree wholeheartedly. Life is all about learning how to play the balancing act.

With Christina, I have to always be careful to not overdue it - I can't...I have to save enough energy to last the rest of the day with her. And...now that she's almost 5...it's a heck of a long day!

RoadBunner said...

I definitely agree! I try to balance out fun races and PR races. Going strictly after PR's too often makes you forget the reasons you started doing this in the first place. Not sure two half irons two weeks apart is "taking it easy," though :)

sharon said...

Well, I for one, don't agree with you Shirley. I wouldn't consider a DNF at an ironman a major failure. Look at what you had to do just to get to that start line. The hours of preparation and training. The commitment. You are a success for the attempt.
Every single triathlete out there going into an ironman needs to come to grips with that before race day. The chances of a DNF - for whatever reason - mechanical, cramps, rough waters are high. You are the cream of the crop for just stepping up to the line. We can't always control the circumstances and that does not make you a failure, but an athlete willing to take chances.

jeanne said...

such a smart post! i didn't know about your earlier ironman experience. way to tough it out!