Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Next Big Thing

When you get back into training you start thinking about all the races your training for which naturally gets you to thinking about the next big thing – next year.

As I started planning for next year looking over choices of races, I wondered what I really want to achieve. It’s at this time of year you need to quiet yourself for awhile and just listen. Because as you start looking over races and considering options you will hear something that keeps echoing in your mind. There will be a voice. There will be something you keep going back to. And you know this voice, this drive – it is desire.

When I quieted my mind towards the end of the season, I found the voice. There it was, desire. And it said - coming as quiet mumbles throughout the but finally speaking up to say -next year turn pro.

The other day I sent in my application to make this happen.

A lot of people have asked why I want to turn pro. It’s a great question and one I often think about. It’s not because I think I’m the best out there. Nor do I think I’m going to make a living in sport. But at some point you just have to ask yourself what if. What if I spent a year just following my dreams. What if I spent a year pursuing myself to become one of the best.

But still there is always a voice in the back of your head that questions the decisions you’ve made. The small voice that creeps in from time to time – are you ready? is this what you really want to do? what’s wrong with where you are right now? do you have to make a change? do you want to be uncomfortable? This voice, small as it is, can sometimes resonate in your head with loudness you cannot bear.

I was reading Gordo’s blog a few weeks ago. I was not necessarily looking for answers but as always when you least expect them you find them right there:

At some stage of our lives, I think that everyone should spend a couple of years trying to be their absolute best at something. The lessons are independent of the outcome.

And that is when I listened to the other voice. The voice that was saying what if. What if I spend a year trying to be my best because if not now then when and there is no better time than now. It’s something I have to do for myself and until I do it I will always wonder what if. And I cannot live the rest of my life with what if repeating in my head.

Next year will not be easy. I keep looking at races thinking as a pro how will I do. Shooting for the top 10 – 20 rather than the top overall will not be an easy thing. At some level, performance is so closely linked to how we see and value ourselves. Winning feels good. There is psychology to winning whatever your version of winning may be.

But of all the years I have competed, the year ahead – with all of its uncertainties and challenges - is the most exciting to me. Because I am taking a risk. Because I am committing 100 percent to what if. And, honestly, why not.

A few months ago, I was talking to someone about professionals in a different field. It had nothing to do with sport but everything to do with being a pro.

A professional is someone that is so passionate about their field that they see nothing but opportunity in the challenges ahead.

And that is why I want to take this next step. I know I will pushed at a much different level and I cannot wait – because in this challenge is the opportunity to better myself.

There are so many reasons behind the choices we make. And I thought I would share with you the reasons behind mine. There are many paths you can take. There is risk and discomfort in giving up what you know for the unknown. But there is excitement in the unknown and hope in the challenge of the path of new possibility.

So I encourage you to take the path for next year that you feel the most challenged by and the one that will mean the most to you. What will be your next big thing? What if you chased after something big, what if you expected more out of yourself? What is the risk of taking on a challenge bigger than yourself?

Remember that sport (and a meaningful life) are challenging – that’s the point. (gordo)


Go Mom Go said...

Thank you.

I was just thinking about what next year will bring while I was running this morning (not really a quiet time with all the huffing and puffing going on but nonetheless). I was thinking about what my focus and goal will be for the next year, your words have helped me define my focus.

Thank you again!

Marit Chrislock-Lauterbach said...

Well said! I admire you so much for what you're doing, and believe that next year will be the best. Brilliant.

Beth said...

Best of luck Elizabeth! I will be excited to "watch" you on your journey of this next big challenge. It's hard to put yourself out there like that. Thanks for the inspiration!

Bob Mitera said...

I totally agree. I say go after it! Racing at the higheset level will always open new windows and challenges. I have the "been there, done that" attitude. I'm looking forward to seeing you go toe to toe with the "big names" of the sport. How many folks named "Chrissie Wellington" as a favorite in Kona...none. She is quickly becoming one of my favorite pros...listen to the Competitor podcast.

You can be the next Chrissie.

Hermano said...

You'll be my favorite pro (well, maybe a very close second to Desiree). Glad you're going for it.

Bill said...

Whoo hoo!

I'll definitely be rooting for you.

Meanwhile, I still need to figure out what I'm going to be able to do next year.

Mallie said...

Wow, cool on you for going pro. But more so, this was an inspiring post, well thought out and intense. I'll be directing folks here as we all begin putting together our 2008 calendar. Thanks!

BreeWee said...

LOVE IT! VERY encouraging for any athlete-any ability that just wants to be their best!
Best of training, racing, and being injury free next season!
Maybe I will even get to toe the line with you :)

Sally said...

Congratulations Elizabeth. Hard decision and great choice. You are an inspiration.

Anonymous said...

"When you listen, you learn and what I learned is yes I can. This is what Ironman taught me about myself. I can do this, yes I can"

Congratulations for having the courage to listen, Elizabeth. Most people can't or won't.

You can do it yes you can

Best of luck!