Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Finding Faith

I was at masters the other day and decided to hop in early to get in some extra yards. I don’t plan on hunting down a pool in Arizona so I wanted to store up some extra yards, know what I mean? I’m swimming along, come to the wall when Tugboat Tom walks up to me and says “OVERACHIEVER”. I was wearing the dork cap for the day. I have never gotten so much flack about hopping in early and then I realized this is a sign of love. I have FINALLY been accepted into the lane at masters. You know you fit in when people start teasing you.

All that before we did a mainset of 3000 yards yet again yesterday. I cruised to a new personal best in the 500 early in the set. Yeah, take that all you winners and personal besters out there. Ha ha ha. I won in the 500 today. Of course I was the only one in my heat and there really was no race so….I know. I’m a total dork and a loser but I was told that before practice even started so tell me something I don’t already know.

After 4400 yards, I put myself into a different lane because Amy asked me to join her since she scared away her lanemate. She also told me to lead. Fine. We had one hard 500 left and I did something that really pissed myself off. I gave myself permission to not even try. I said to myself – you are at 4400 yards, how are you going to do a hard 500? Looking back I am frustrated that I questioned myself. I ended up finishing in a time that was much slower than my new personal best time. In other words, it sucked. There was no other excuse.


So I was annoyed with myself. On one hand, victory in the pool earlier in the set. On the other hand, failure in myself during the last few yards. When things like this happen I just get angry. I don’t boo hoo about myself all day or swear off the pool for a week. I get angry and it fuels me for the next time to never do that again. I also think about the why. I can’t help it, I’m fascinated by thought processes. Behavior doesn’t happen in a vacuum – there is always an influence and a reason. So, Liz, why can’t you go hard at that point of the workout? Who says?

Who?

No one really. It was just something I assumed about myself.

Note to self: Assuming things is stupid. And leads to failure.

Unfortunately you can’t go back and erase little failures like that. That really aggravates me because if you dwell on the failures too long they add up and you start to feeling like failure. Since at the end of the day YOU are really the only one that can believe in and motivate you, you can’t see yourself as a failure. If you do, I promise you one thing – you will never progress. I know it’s hard. But if I nit-picked every little thing I do poorly day to day, and measure myself based on it I’m afraid my efforts wouldn’t add up to much. So I try not to get too caught up in the failures because if you are not careful you will find yourself living day to day focusing on nothing but the negative. There’s a dozen things I did right in that swim workout – I held my form, I rocked the first 500, I beat Susan on the 200...but for some reason that last 500 really got to me.

Grrr…..

So how do you get over it and move forward in sport? You look for the reason and find the way not do it again. I was driving into Chicago yesterday afternoon and amidst the hum of traffic and monotony of the concrete landscape of the highway I noticed a billboard. The words across the top of it read FIND YOUR FAITH. Of course it was advertising a gospel church in the city. I wasn’t looking for a church nor is this about religion but the words struck me. Seems to me that in everything we do, the best way to approach it is with faith.

Find your faith. You’re sitting at the end of a hard workout wondering if you can do it. Can you? Find your faith. Believe you can. Why not? Really - what is the risk? If you give it a try and blow up, you found your answer = not yet. Keep working. If you give it a try and succeed then you have yet another personal success story to store in your files. Neither lesson can be learned until you have the faith to try. The faith that just maybe you can do it so it is worth a try. If you try and fail, then find your faith that the next time you’ll do the right thing or the better thing. Faith in yourself that the next time you’ll try. Faith that all of these experiences day to day, both good and bad, will add up to an improvement in the future. Faith that what I do will count. That even when I struggle it serves a purpose. Or that when I make the wrong choice that serves a purpose too.

It’s that time of year where faith is hard to come by. It’s getting to be spring, we are itchy, we are wanting. For most of us, our big races are months away. It’s easy to get sucked into the sexyness of going fast and doing a lot now because we see it all around us. The guy blowing out 800s on the track who never comes near us during a race but he’s passing us at the track? Yeah, he makes us itchy. The person that has been doing killer all out 3 hour bike workouts at their threshold 2 times a week? Yeah, that makes us itchy. Races are starting up again, the energy is building and all of it is creating this itch itch itch that maybe we are not moving along quickly enough, doing the right thing or on the right track.

Rather than itching the skin right off yourself, relax. Find your faith. Keep working. Nothing replaces the lessons you learn in training. Those are the things that make you faster on race day. Sure, track workouts and all that other stuff is really effective too – at the right time. But when it all comes down to it the building block of success is faith combined with work. Trust combined with training. If you don’t trust you can do it, you never will. And if you don’t have faith in yourself and your training then…what ARE you doing?

I’m going away this weekend with faith in myself. There are many lessons to be learned out there, 99 percent of which will probably occur while climbing Mt. Lemmon. I am scared out of my mind about climbing to the top and having to descend. But I’ll tell you what – I’m going to try. I believe I can work through whatever I encounter and will be stronger for doing so. It will be uncomfortable. I will get cold. And there is another 99 percent chance that I will cry. But I’ve got some faith in myself that if I can climb that mountain, I can also get down it. Even if it takes me 4 hours. Even if I have to walk my bike.

But still, I’m packing extra shorts. Because the thought of descending 26 miles scares the crap out of me.

Hmm...I can only imagine what it does to Sherpa Thomas.

Best I pack shorts for him too.

TO THE LAND OF THE SUN! (in a few hours)

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