... my journey from ballerina to triathlete

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Quitting Moment

I am finally back. Really back, and exercising on a schedule again. Yesterday I ran 38 minutes without walking once (good for me in my current condition!), and today I biked 20 miles. I feel strong and motivated, feelings that have eluded me for the last few months. So what changed?

Pretty new helmet, embarrassing non-athletic sunglasses
I discovered The Quitting Moment.

The Quitting Moment is that moment when you find an excuse. It's the moment when you know you don't feel like putting on your bike shoes or starting your run and you find an out -- a valid, believable out that allows you to convince yourself you have a good reason not to go for it. It's the flat tire, the bad weather, or the missing piece of gear. It's the moment when you let an option other than "do it" into your mind.

For me, yesterday, it was a pair of socks that I thought were in my triathlon bag but were in fact safely nestled in my drawer at home. I had managed to get myself out of bed at 5am and to Kona with time to spare to run before work, but when I opened the bad and took out my shoes, there were no socks. Immediately I was relieved. Too bad, I thought, Guess I can't run after all. I'll just run later. 

Within a split second I was thinking about how I could go get a yummy omelet and a chai tea and sit by the ocean while I ate a leisurely breakfast before work. I was imagining the cheese and the portugese sausage...
Nice and cool for the Horrible Hawi Hill
But then I realized. I wouldn't run later. If I didn't do it now, I wouldn't do it at all, and eating a big breakfast would not make me feel as good for the rest of the day as exercise would. So, I decided, I would just walk. Walking is better than nothing. (Progress on my perfectionism issues!) The funny thing, though, was that as soon as I started walking all I wanted to do was run. And so I did.

I told myself that I would only run in intervals so that I didn't hurt my feet, but once I started running all I wanted to do was keep going. And so I did. I ran for longer than I had originally planned, and although I did indeed end up with a few blisters, I also came away with a bad ass feeling of accomplishment and strength. I wore those blisters proudly for the rest of the day.

Today, it was a storm hovering over Hawi. I had planned a 20-mile ride, but when I woke up it was pouring. I drank some tea and waited, called my mom and waited, but although it stopped raining, the clouds still looked menacing enough that I decided to call it a day and stick with an indoor weights workout. Then I remembered how I felt yesterday after pushing through the socks obstacle, and realized that this was the same thing. Races happen rain or shine, so why shouldn't training? If I wait for everything to be perfect, nothing will ever get done.

Once again, I told myself that I just had to go ride a few miles, and if the weather was too crazy I could turn around, but once I got on the bike I knew I was riding the whole distance. And if I was going to do it, I was going to conquer the horrible North Kohala 7-mile hill that is my on-again, off-again nemesis. I hadn't done it since January and I'd been to scared to attempt it.

It did rain, but guess what? It felt like beautiful little cooling drops of joy on my sweaty skin, and the menacing clouds created beautifully cool air, keeping me comfortable throughout the ride. The sun came out long enough to illuminate the plentiful green hues washed clean by the rain, and, perhaps most amazingly, I did not see another cyclist the entire hour and twenty-minute ride. I was the only one who had decided to brave the weather, and I was rewarded with a gorgeous, empowering experience.

The beautiful view
I realize now that I have been short-changing myself by allowing the Quitting Moments to get the best of me. By identifying them for what they are and being conscious that I am accepting an excuse rather than a new experience, I can remind myself that I have yet to regret pushing through an obstacle to accomplish a goal, large or small. Strength is not allowing the wrenches life throws at you to slow you down. It is recognizing when you are at the crossroads between the easy way out and a challenge, and choosing to take the challenge head on.

No excuses, no quitting.

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