WHAT IS FAILURE?
I want to come back to the topic of setting goals and then not sticking to that goal. I would say 99.9% of us have started on a goal and for some reason, we quit before reaching the finish line. For us women, dieting and fitness plans are one of those goal setting areas where we often give up when the going gets tough!
Some of you may already know this, but I am a Triathlete. Not a great one, but I am a real cardio junky and I love to have a “fitness project” to work on. Entering a long-Triathlon race during high training season gives me that structured plan to work on.
Two years ago, my hubby and I decided to cross off something from our bucket list for our 45th BD year… to join and finish a full Ironman!
This is a very long race consisting of a 3.8 km swim, a 180 km bike trek, and ending with a full marathon. The cut off time is a few seconds before 17h.
According to the plan I was following (which was one made for working individuals who just wanted to finish the Ironman and not necessarily make a record-breaking time), I could accomplish the race in roughly 14 and a half hours. I trained for it, I planned the times of the swims, the transitions, I gave myself the amounts of bathroom breaks (or pit stops), any other breaks I needed to take, what to eat/drink at what times. For nine months we trained long long hours on Saturdays and throughout the week, sometimes with a swim in the morning and a run at night on the same day.
What I didn’t tell you is that I also have asthma induced by stress and effort — like biking uphill too quickly. I spent a lot of time in a lake with my wetsuit on working through my fear of open water, sometimes having to work through asthma for over 15 minutes before I could swim on…
Well… my worst nightmare happened (within five minutes of getting into the water!) in Klagenfurt, Austria. I was calm. I had even given a pep talk to the lady next to me. That was until three minutes into swimming when I was kicked in the face and someone swam over my legs (there are 3,000 people in this race). I took in some water and it brought on my asthma AND a panic attack!
I knew what was happening and swam to one of the kayaks for help. They tried to get me to calm down, but there was nothing I could do about it. I ended up struggling through the swim but had to stop to rest every 3-4 minutes. It was the longest swim I have ever experienced and the pressure of the cut off time was not helping me calm down! About one hour into my struggle, the person responsible for safety came up to me in his boat and said to me “You are having an asthma attack and you need to come out of the water!” A million thoughts went through my head and I thought “on the one hand I am justified for stopping now.. it isn’t my fault…” but I had another voice saying “you can’t quit now! You haven’t even gotten on your bike.. or the run! All this training!!” So I then said to the safety person “NO! I am not getting out of the water, I need to get on my bike!” He was a bit surprised and told one of the supervisors not to let me out of his sight!
It was a decisive moment for me: On one hand, I was determined to get out of the water before the 2h20 cut off time (I got out in 2h09!) and secondly, I had to re-adjust my own goal of finishing the triathlon in 14h30! Having lost 40 minutes of my regular swim time, I knew I would not be able to catch up on that lost time.
This Ironman story could go on and on, with my asthma not stopping until 6 hours into the race when it started pouring rain, to almost not reaching the bike cut off time, but then finishing the race in 15h28!
I was an Ironman! I had re-adjusted my ultimate goal of completing the race in 14hr 30 min to just actually finishing the race. I had laughed, cried (more than once), I was so sore… but I had finished that race!
Some would say that not reaching my time goal is a failure… and yes, I must admit, more than once during those long racing hours I was disappointed with not being able to reach the time I had worked so hard to achieve… But today I realize that sticking to it and reaching my ultimate goal (to finish) was an amazing accomplishment… I just had to re-adjust my mindset.
I know this is a very long post, but the point I really want you to get from this is: Re-Adjusting is NOT a failure… It is a way of moving past your Walls!
Don’t be so hard on yourself! Remember that working toward a plan, a goal, means you might have to re-adjust your expectations over and over again — that you can become stuck if you focus on what used to work, when it isn’t working anymore…