Thursday, August 21, 2008

Tiny Bubbles

For all of you that post pictures of your children on your blog, I throw this one out at you:

Before you think there’s something very Aloha going on in the Waterstraat house, let me explain. No we are not secret training for Kona. Tonight we went to a luau.

Chris’ grandmother lives in a community that had a luau tonight. All things Hawaiian have a very special meaning to the Waterstraat family. You see, his grandparents would overwinter in Hawaii each year. Growing up they spent many a family vacation in Hawaii and there are stories of hikes in Haleakala, the seven pools of Hana and hula pie.

So the luau was very special to attend. Of course Chri walked downstairs wearing his hibiscus shirt. He got that shirt at the Gap outlet back in 2001 when we were in Lake Placid for a race. Or maybe it was 2000. I just remember he came out of the store with that shirt and I think to myself what have I gotten myself into with him. That was back when we were dating. Not that I had a fashion sense – but work with me here. Look at that shirt.

One flowered fool deserves another I suppose. And yes those are matching leis. It was my idea to bring Boss along and an even better idea to dress him in his own Hawaiian shirt. It’s important to note that the shirt Boss is wearing actually belongs to Mr. Pickles my stuffed monkey. Since it was designed for a stuffed bear Boss did have some trouble actually moving in the shirt.

The luau itself was very festive. All of the Waterstraat’s were wearing Hawaiian shirts. Boss fit right in. We were given leis and enjoyed some luau delights. The real fun was when the entertainment began. Hula girls, conch shells, drums, a man in a flowered skirt and the group singing of the infamous Don Ho song – Tiny Bubbles. Singing along (I’ll admit it – I sang along), I decided that my next dog will be named Tiny Bubbles. Bubba for short.

As I watched the entertainment I couldn’t help but think this was the closest I would get to Kona training. As much as I know the Ironman training is exhausting and all-consuming – there is something about it that makes you feel a little more alive. Spending 7 hours in the saddle. Running 18 miles. Ah, the Ironman training days. Nothing like them. But I won’t complain. Eating pineapple while singing Tiny Bubbles is not all that bad. And there are a hell of a lot less baggies and jars of Vaseline involved.

The songs, the drums, the grass skirts made me want to be in Hawaii now. Made me realize – once again – how magical the islands really are. Whether you are hiking the cliffs of the NaPali Coast, the curve of the land meeting the ocean in Waipio Valley, the barren lunar landscape of Haleakala – even thinking about it is breathtaking. Soon enough I will be there watching the Big Island fill with restlessly fit and driven athletes from all over the world. Considering this on a day I divorced triathlon well…this thought made me want to reconcile.

I went swimming today and got out after 28 minutes. Sat in the hot tub and cried. Not for myself nor my failure but just for….for no other good reason at all. Maybe because I’m sad. Disappointed. Tired. I realized somewhere in the middle of a lap that I had never failed before in my life. I’m not saying all of my efforts this year have been complete failures but they have certainly fallen short. And I have never fallen short of my goals. I’ve always nailed them every time.

And I guess that is why I cried. The realization that I am vulnerable. That sometimes even working hard leaves you short of your goal. So short that it looks like you weren’t even working towards it at all. I realize if I walk away with nothing else this year I have great perspective on the full circle of athletic success and I suppose what you would call…struggle? Maybe it was just my turn – to learn that lesson. To make me a better athlete. A better coach. I can now say I have experienced 360 degrees of triathlon. I have won. I have come in last. I have DNF’ed. I have done Ironman. I have been pulled from water. I have peed myself. I have given myself poison oak and – this past weekend – poison ivy from squatting in the woods. I’ve lost sleep thinking of how to carry salt tabs. I’ve lost sleep from being so wired from power gels. There you have it – 360 degrees of triathlon.

But then I got home. Loaded up that picture of Boss and Chris in their Hawaiian shirts. Thought about going to Kona to cheer for my husband, to train some with Sherpa Thomas & Jenni K, to spend time with my friends. About how exciting it will be to swim in the ocean, to ride my bike, to run along the Queen K (yes there is pleasure in that). To drink real coffee, eat fresh fruit and relax in life on the island. I realized I don’t have to race something to enjoy it just like I don’t have to nail my goals to validate my tries. Learning lessons is valuable even if we can’t see it at the time. Learning is a part of growing and growing takes time.

I’m so glad we went to the luau.


rr said...

I've had many of those sit down and cry for the season that never was, or at least wasn't anywhere near as great as last years, days myself. No better place to do it than a hot-tub.

I am looking forward to seeing you in Hawaii. Heck, I might spectate with you. Kerri suggested camelbacks full of red bull and vodka. I might give up on the leg and start increasing my tolerance soon so that I am ready.

You're not failing. You're upping the ante, and you knew it would be hard. Hang on :)

Jennifer Cunnane said...

I think that maybe your doggie Boss is even a whole lot cuter than us bloggers (moms) gap-toothed kids we post on our blogs! :-) Maybe you should do a look alike contest for a blog post? Chris and Boss would surely win!!

Amy Kloner said...

The tricky thing about getting BETTER is that our definition of success gets tougher and tougher as well. Remember when just finishing was a win and you crossed the line with a big sense of contentment and achievement? I still dispute your claims of "finishing last" when you are still finishing in the top 10-15 of all women OVERALL in a race. Change your language, girl! However, I'm glad that you're going to soak up all the enjoyment of a race atmosphere without actually having to race. (I may have to learn to do the same soon...) I just don't want to see you with the 100lb weight on your back. Everytime we put ourselves out there, we are a success. I truly believe that. And if you can finish a race (or any endeavor) and say that you TRULY gave everything you had (which you told me you did), then you should be content. Always room for improvement, yes, but at any given point in time, all we can ask of ourselves is 100% effort. You gave that. Now keep moving fwd, working on progress but not kicking yourself for the past. (Sorry for the thesis... I just really believe in this stuff.)

Train-This said...

I agree with Kloner here. As I looked thorugh the Timberman results I do believe you were not in fact LAST. You were FAR FROM LAST.

When my sister moved to France she was fluent in French. She arrived and almost came home because as fluent as she was at home, she was not as fluent as she thought. She didn't know the slang, the different types of French spoken here and there.... hell she couldn't even find an apartment. The French people laughed at her because she wasn't really French, she stumbled and she fell.

She cried and she cried a lot. She wanted to come home but we told her give it one more week. One more week.

That was nine years ago. She'll never come home now.

So it is like you are still new in this country. You are learning the language. You are learning the slang.

If this were easy Liz it would not be worth it. If you didn't experience failure that victory would mean nothing.


:-) mary

Flatman said...

You are on the right track. A perfect balance between killing yourself training/racing and enjoying every second of it...!

You said the magic word: hula pie. I *heart* Kimo's.

Jenny Garrison said...

OHHHH I have been there. I pretty much didn't race 2003-2005 for many reasons. Mainly burn out. Bill and I have been talking about this lately. How athleticism is cyclicle (sp?). You have years or months of greatness then poof and a few months of crapiness. But I think the downtimes are when you learn more about being a better athlete. You are a GREAT athlete and it takes time to build an even better one! I think you need to go thru those learning phases to climb up and be better. You are climbing now! Keep it up Liz there are huge things in store for you.

BreeWee said...

Chris looks HOT! Tell him I love the shirt...and the dog, well I am with Jen C., Boss belongs in the cool kids club with our gapped tooth-puke vomiting-diaper wearing kids!!!!

AND I can hardly wait till you get to Kona!! I will buy you coffee myself!

Just so you know, ALL the way over here in Canada I still make it a point to find time to read your blog because your NEVER GONNA GIVE UP attitude is contagious... you are a super star LIZ...

Anonymous said...

this is my marathon last year. i trained, and i trained as right as i could....and i still didn't finish it! the 99 degree weather in chicago in october didn't help. the luau was very awesome. i did feel like we were in hawaii and now we will be in two months!! yippie!

boss took the hula pie last night! he was sooo cute!


Kim said...

First of all, listen to this Amy person, she is right on point and I couldn't have said it better myself. Second of all, your dog looks too freakin cute in that shirt (no comment on the husband, but I guess for that type of event he gets a pass to wear the shirt). Lastly, without challenges, where would we be? If you had the race year of your life, what would you have really learned. Sure, it's awesome and all to be on top, but who might you be three years from now because of this year. It could make all the difference in the world. It's ok not to know, and it's ok to feel a bit bummed about it too, you wouldn't be normal or a competitive, driven, inspiring athlete that you are without those feelings. Feel them, but don't dwell on them, you remind me so much of me, hard working, with a bit less talent than some, but willing to give everything. It will carry you farther than you ever imagined in the years to come!! Don't doubt yourself!! Get a matching shirt for HI, just kidding...! Please don't!!

Andrea said...

I can't explain why or how I know this...I hardly "know" you, will come back to you.

You probably NEED some time off - time to reflect, time to recover, time to regroup and rally.

But your love for the sport will always be with you and your love for racing and for putting it all out there - it will come back.

I just know it.

Roo said...

Liz- As always, I love your blog because you're always honest. I have those break down in tears days myself sometimes. I'm convinced that somehow they make us stronger. Thanks for sharing your moments!

I had to laugh at the baggie thing. One of my clients asked me if I was dealing drugs last week. I just happened to have "just the right size" baggie.

Mama Simmons said...

What's wrong with the Aloha shirt? My husband just walked out the door for work in one very similiar. ;)

Watching Kona can be a blast! I've done it twice... have a couple of drinks with lunch while you watch the men run by on Ali'i Dr and tell 'em all how HOT they are. It's a fun game!

Beth said...

I watched an interesting video interview of Deena Kastor after she dropped out of the Olympic marathon and she talked much of the same thing you wrote about - coming full circle in her Olympic experience from the very highest (bronze in Athens) to the lowest (dropping out 15 min into the race in Bejing) and how she knows it will make her a stronger athlete in the end. And how sometimes feeling that disappointment is just as important as feeling the highs sport has to offer.

I'm sure you will get through this and like Deena be sooo much stronger for it and a better coach for it too! And I agree with Amy!! It's hard but you have to remember that you are still beating 99% of the women in the races you are doing!! :)

Either way, when it all seems like too much - just go back to the picture of the luau! That will definitely bring on a smile...

Wes said...

Anybody that dresses up their dog is BEGGING for a baby ;-)

Erin said...

First, what RR said is exactly right. I've become privy to a quote this past week that's really stuck with me, and I think it makes sense for you, too, maybe (Spanish proverb): "Take what you want," God says, "But pay for it."

You're not failing...not by a long shot. You're just "paying for it," and eventually, you'll reap the rewards. Hang in there, Team Tiny!

Also, your dog is about the cutest thing ever. I love that he wears stuffed monkey shirts. Hilarious.

Lindsay said...

Hi elizabeth, its Lindsay;
I know where you're coming from, my past 2 seasons haven't been all i set out for them to be; and i've had some big disappointments. I too have had results at all ends of the spectrum. Look at how far you've come and focus on the positive. I'll be in Kona too cheering on the husband, my season will be done then; I am planning on having a rip roaring good time just cheering! Try to look me up!