I am not a super competitive person. Not in my life, not in triathlon. I am just not. I really believe that hocus pocus about how you’re only competing against yourself. It’s true. I struggle with my training because I want each run to be faster than the last. And improvement comes in incremental leaps not daily.
This month has been big for me. In the middle of my fourth season of triathlon I have started to make some improvement. I rode the bike leg of Ironman Raleigh 70.3 a few weeks ago and I didn’t ride my brakes downhill. And I did not die. At all. I used my aerobars even though I still feel like I am going to crash because my hands aren’t even touching my brakes and I figured out what it feels like to blow your legs out on the bike. (Awesome, by the way.)
This last weekend I raced my first sprint with a pool swim in over a year and I passed a bunch of folks so apparently I hugely overestimated my swim time.
And then I went all out on the bike and figured I would just see if I could run. At all. And I smashed my personal record for a 5K. Not a 5K in a tri. But at all. It was crazy. I felt like George Jetson. In my head I was all “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!!!!” but my legs just kept moving.
Another fitness related accomplishment is as much about my head is it is the rest of me. I started running without my shirt on. And it isn’t pretty. But I feel like a badass and it seems that people will not actually DIE if they see my stomach in motion. Stretch marks don’t tan so they are just whiter and more bold than ever but I am over worrying about it. I stopped in the bathroom on a run recently and when I looked in the mirror I noted that I looked like a “runner.” Intellectually I know that runners come in all shapes and sizes but I have always felt like a poser.
The last accomplishment is one that I hesitate to speak about. It feels more personal. You know, since I don’t get naked and stand on the bathroom scale in front of all of you. But it feels good to be proud of yourself, and dammit, I am. I have lost a good bit of weight this year in my “Get Your Shit Together Before You Turn 40!” plan and I have maintained it. I have had to change my race registrations from Athena to Age Group since I no longer qualify. And it feels weird. I have identified as a big kid for the last ten years. I actually enjoyed that moment when I told someone that I was just a little shy of 200 pounds and they raised an eyebrow and said “No fucking way!” But I am down almost 40 pounds and I run faster and sleep better and drink less alcohol and wear ALL OF MY CLOTHES because holy shit, they fit!!!
Silly that I had to go stand in a store and weigh myself and purchase three months of a diet program to put into practice the same dietary advice that my mother has been giving free of charge since I was a kid. “Mom, I am hungry.” “Eat an apple.” “I don’t want an apple.” “Well, then you’re not hungry.”
I don’t do low-fat food. And I don’t do diet food. But I started eating real food. And a lot of it. And I dropped weight. And then I got faster. And then I stayed the same weight for two months and got faster still. I can’t believe that those things are not connected.
I was eating an apple (from my purse because I carry snacks around like I am my own toddler) and thinking the other day as I walked into Target. I eat like an athlete. I am fueling my body and my workouts and caring for myself. I’ll be damned.
I didn’t turn into a different person. I still drink cheap beers in the shower. I just make better choices when I get out of the shower. Another perk? It seems that losing weight has made my boobs all but disappear so now I can share my shower beer pics with no boobs in sight unless I take them from the waist up! Long boobs, indeed!
I am not that competitive. Not with other people. But with myself? I want to get there faster than I did last time. Every single time. I spent ten years gaining and losing the same 40 pounds. But I can guarandamntee that I won’t do it again. Because this feels so good. I feel like me again.
Running last weekend I was thinking about how I am not normally motivated to speed up by other runners. We are all in our own race, on our own journey. But there was this kid in front of me. Well, he was behind me at first but then he was in front of me. And I couldn’t stand it. I gave it all I had to try and catch him. The weekend before I was climbing up a hill on my bike and feeling strong when I heard that whirring sound of fancy wheels and “On your left!” I moved to the side and prepared to be passed. Out of habit I looked at his calf to check his age. 64. I dug deep and passed him on the next hill.
I guess I am a little competitive. I don’t like to get passed by people I could have given birth to or people that could have given birth to me. That’s my window of shame. And I don’t want to feel like I live in a body that doesn’t feel like mine. Eventually the triathletes I could have given birth to won’t be in elementary school and I will have to revise my plan.
But for now – I have goals. And I am smashing them, friends. Set some. Aim high. It feels so damn good. It feels even better if those goals serve absolutely nobody but you. Be selfish. Take care of yourself. Take naps. Take risks. I triple dog dare you.