Sunday, June 12, 2016

You can't have it all.

Alright guys, I guess it's about time I get back into a regular rhythm of posting and sharing here. Post race is basically over and we're moving on to getting ready for my next race - the Half Ironman World Championships in Australia on September 4th!  As of today the race is 84 days away. And yes, I am counting.

I've been having a hard time figuring out what to write because I've frankly had a hard time trying to figure out where my head is. Maybe I should have sat down sooner to write, because it generally helps me to get my thoughts in order, but I just haven't had the motivation. I am forcing myself to write tonight and even as I type, I don't have a plan for what to write or know where this post is going or what will come out. But I am just going to go with the flow with writing.

When I raced in Chattanooga in my first Half Ironman, I feel like I proved to myself that I could do this. And not totally suck at it as well. I proved a little something in that I can physically do this distance race. I am thrilled and so proud of myself for getting across that finish line, and not just the one I crossed on race day itself.  But everything that went with it. The training, the choice to go at it without a coach or a club, trusting myself, seeking help when I needed it, managing the traveling, the new anxieties and fears I tackled on the bike, etc.

Throughout training, I was working my body much more than I had in the past and I didn't always have a ton of energy left over to focus on other things. For example, every distance PR I made on the bike was such a mental struggle, I decided to focus ONLY on that and not on tackle other things that scared me... like riding with group rides. Granted, I did it a few times but it wasn't my regular. I turned down opportunities to ride my bike with others multiple times to opt for going alone. Especially when doing something new, I felt like I needed to do it alone first so I could focus on what that challenge was.

Before I randomly signed up for this 2nd race, just hours after finishing my first, I had been looking forward to being more relaxed and social with my training. I wanted to change my efforts for doing things for fun... joining group rides and getting more comfortable there, running with my friends, doing open water swims, taking classes at the gym, weight training, etc. I wanted to work out by doing whatever my body felt like doing at that moment and whatever cool workouts seemed to be going on at the time. I decided that I wanted to join the Atlanta Triathlon Club and actually start to become social with triathlon. I wanted to see my friends again and go out on Friday and Saturday nights. I wanted to go back to dating, since I had taken a little break during training to avoid the mental stress of it.

And THEN I signed up for Worlds. Cause this is the kind of stuff I do to myself.

Deciding to go to a race where I would be surrounded by the most elite athletes in the sport and knowing how anxious I was the days before Chattanooga... I started to think, I should get SERIOUS. I want to go to that race feeling AMAZING. I want to lose weight and get ABS. I need to start tracking calories again. I need to hire a coach and get structure and push myself. I need aero bars on my bike and a heart rate monitor and probably a new watch altogether so I could be a cool Garmin athlete like everyone else. And I started going over all these things and before I knew it, my mind was in this messy and confusing place, saying, "Hey wait a minute... what's going on here? Didn't we just decide we wanted to go out on dates and meet friends out for drinks? Why are you feeling guilty and anxious when we do that now? Why are you avoiding group runs that seem fun so that you can run by yourself and try to hit a certain pace??"

My goals and vision and thoughts all got jumbled and I had no idea what I wanted anymore. I spent a week trying to count calories and bought a new scale that measured body fat as well as weight so that I could track myself on the journey to being lean and toned and having single digit body fat percentages. I was obsessing over everything I ate and every decision I made with these two conflicting opinions and approaches to training that I had in my head.

I spent a week doing this and was freaking myself out. Nothing seemed to be going right though. I was trying to do it all and ended up not doing any of it well. And worst of all, I felt guilt over everything I did because I was missing out on something. If I chose to do a workout solo rather than go with a group, I felt guilty that I wasn't being more social. If I decided to go out for drinks, I felt guilty that I wasn't being more focused and having these extra calories.

I was struggling and questioning myself everywhere. I hired a coach but then immediately rethought the decision, wondering if I jumped the gun too soon. I went on dates and I drank wine and I ate cheese -- then felt guilty and tried to do extra weight training to make up for it. I ordered a heart rate monitor to use with my existing watch, but then when it didn't start for one workout, I got upset thinking that maybe I should have just bought an entirely new watch. I went to an Atlanta Triathlon Club meeting and I drank beer and I met other triathletes but then haven't been going to any of the group workouts to do what is on the schedule the coach, who I was still unsure about, had given me.

I joined group rides and I got dropped right away. I went again the next week and busted my butt and stayed with them the whole ride but doubted the data. I hung out with a friend who was in town and had an amazing time laughing and joking and we stayed up late and I felt happy - then I skipped a swim practice in the morning and wasn't sure if that was okay. I ordered a salad but then ate half a bag of tortilla chips they randomly delivered with the order. I decided to look into hiring a nutritionist and then wondered maybe I should hire a psychologist. Oh, and I was not happy with what that fancy new body fat percentage scale said so I have just stopped getting on it. And I stressed and I cried and then I said screw it and I laughed and had more fun and then got stressed AGAIN and... *sigh*.

I was all over the place and I KNEW I was in a bad cycle and needed to change it.

If you can't tell, I'd been trying to do it all. Lose weight and eat cheese fries. Train for a world championship race and also be social. Stick to a training plan but do random races and runs with friends. Save money for Australia and buy new gear. Hire a coach but also be more relaxed. Travel to see friends but also get in lots of bike workouts. And you know what -- I just decided to stop it. Stop the stress and be HAPPY.

As people have figured out time and time again in life and I've been learning over and reminding myself... you can't have it all.

Shocker, right? But yah, you can't.

I'm trying to figure out which things to let fall off. Over the last week I will tell you that what has dropped off has been counting calories and trying to lose weight. That's for sure. I have decided to get in quality workouts and maintain focus there, but let my eating be more comfortable. I'm still working hard and have been having some mini-non scale victories to celebrate. I had GREAT workouts this week that I was super proud of and had a great runners high on Wednesday and a biking high on Thursday. I went out on Friday and Saturday but still ran a great 5K and got in a long bike ride. I've let go of trying to be perfect. And honestly, this past week has been really good. I've been really happy and really proud of myself. Partially proud of myself for identifying and correcting the negativity I was putting on myself. It took me a little bit to realize that, but I recognized it and I need to let myself relax a little. Nobody can have it all. You pull from one side and it shortens the other. That's the way life is and there's no point in fighting it.

I feel good. And I am working to make smart choices. I still have a lot of things to figure out. I still have a lot of decisions to make. But I have made one big one - which is to be happy. And that's my main goal. I wish this blog was inspirational sometimes like the other blogs I read that always encourage me by saying things like "You can't have it all!" so confidently and embrace it and encourage you to do remember the same. However, I guess I'm just figuring it out as I go along so you're on this journey with me. I started this post not sure where I would end up, but this feels like a pretty good place :)

Hope you had a great weekend. And not to end things on a sad note, but if you are like me, your heart is hurting with what happened in Orlando. It's inexplicably sad and I can't even really verbalize the pain but my heart and mind has been heavy since learning of what happened. I am going to spend my night watching the Tony's and thinking of all those whose lives were robbed. I'm scared for our country and our world.


  1. Hey! - started reading your blog since the Chattanooga 70.3 race summary.

    I definitely feel you on trying to do everything and feeling like it isn't enough somehow. It started feeling like that for me in my last training cycle for 70.3 and I was questioning why I had taken the challenge on. One good practice might to be add one new thing at a time and letting it stick (2-3 weeks) before adding something else, as opposed to doing it all at once instead and becoming overwhelmed trying to get adjusted to a new routine.

    You gotta be having fun even while training. If it isn't fun and starts feeling like a chore, skip a workout, give yourself that mental break (or a drink or two) and then resume. This is supposed to be a hobby after all. No point stressing over each and every workout.

    How did you deal with the mental recovery post 70.3? It took me about a solid month to get over the post race blues before I felt ready to take on another training cycle.

    1. Hey Walid - thanks so much for your comment and for reading! I really like your suggestion of taking 2-3 weeks to adjust to new things. Sometimes I definitely forget that this is a "hobby" and let it consume my thoughts too much. I'm really looking forward to this training cycle and to focus on having more balance. I honestly think I am still dealing with some of the post-race blues, but signing up for Australia and focusing on what is next has helped me :)