I’m writing this post from hot, humid, and sunny (well, not right now — it’s pouring rain) St. Croix, nursing a mild sunburn and a round belly (don’t worry, it’s just the food baby) on the eve of Ironman St. Croix 70.3. I had grand plans to run a marathon before kicking off my triathlon season by tackling the Beast, but the marathon never happened and neither will the race tomorrow (for me, anyway).
Truthfully, the months after Ironman Canada have been tough for me mentally as well as physically. After my crashtacular finish, I took some extra time to recover and focus on work. Unfortunately, that focus made me realize how unhappy I was at my new job, and that realization caused a lot of stress and headaches through fall and winter. I’ve noticed this in past seasons: my happiness levels in my personal life greatly affect my success in training and races. Whenever there’s a big imbalance, my motivation suffers and my training swiftly circles down the shitter.
So this past fall and winter have been somewhat difficult for me as I struggled to keep it together professionally and drove Jason crazy with typical Quarter Life Crisis freak out laments:
Me: “All of our friends our age have ‘grown up’ but us! We should be grownups!”
Jason: “What the hell does that mean?”
Me: “I don’t know, we should travel more! Or buy a house! We should get married soon! When should we have kids?!”
Jason: “So, to be clear, you think we should buy a house but still travel the world, but we should get married first and crap out a few kids? Before the house and travel stuff or after?”
Me: “I DON’T KNOWWWW HOW DO GROWN UPS DO THIS?! I need a better job! One that makes me happy! Should I open a Roth-IRA? What the hell is a Roth-IRA? I need to train for a marathon! Everyone on our team is getting faster and having an awesome season and I’m getting fatter and slower by the day! Can we get a dog? I really want a dog! I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M SAYINNNGGGGGG!!!!”
I was depressed. I isolated myself from my friends and training buddies because I wasn’t in a good mental place and because my heart wasn’t into exercising or being social. While Jason has been enjoying trail racing and is successfully training for an upcoming 50 mile ultramarathon, I was drowning in despair, ignoring workouts and replacing anything remotely active with eating and sleeping.
It got bad enough to the point where Jason and I discussed whether I should seek out professional help and talk to a therapist about some of the things I had been struggling with lately. We both agreed that something needed to change — I had not been myself for several months, and every aspect of my life was being negatively affected. Jason missed his stubborn yet goofy and fun girlfriend, and I missed me, too.
But much like Andy Dufresne in The Shawshank Redemption, I endured a mile of shit and darkness and finally emerged into the light. I found a new job, which I’ll officially start on the 15th, and I was able to head into my vacation in St. Croix less stressed out and feeling optimistic and excited for the first time in months. My new gig brings me back to my startup roots, an environment I really enjoy and thrive in, and has me working with smart, passionate people. Plus, one of my bosses has done several Ironman races, so he understands my kooky hobby enough not to raise an eyebrow when I ask for the occasional day off so I can subject myself to ridiculous feats of endurance.
Speaking of St. Croix, packing for the trip resulted in some mixed emotions. I wasn’t thrilled to play the “Let’s see what summer clothes Fat Rebecca fits into” game (the answer: Not Much), and there have been a few moments where I felt a twinge of regret and depression over not racing alongside my friends and boyfriend. But being able to recharge this week and enjoy the warm (hot) weather and pretty ocean views combined with doing some fun runs with my coach and good friend, Teresa (I’ve forgotten how much I love “rabbing” [run-gabbing] with her), and tracking/rooting for my teammates who spent the day racing at Wildflower and Ironman St. George 70.3 has gotten me really excited to return to Seattle and truly focus on getting healthy and fit again.
I know, I know, I’ve been threatening to get back on the horse a lot this season, but I mean it this time, I swear! I’m in a much better place mentally and personally, so I really think I’ll be able to make this “training” crap stick this time. In fact, I’ve got a multi-tiered plan I’ll soon be enacting once I touch back down in the Emerald City:
So there you go, that’s what’s kind of being going on inside the head of this Mediocre Athlete. It’s been a somewhat ugly end of 2012/beginning of 2013, but hey, you can’t rise above and beyond if you don’t start out at the bottom. I’m feeling really optimistic and positive about the rest of my season, and I’m looking forward to starting my new job and taking on my new training with a renewed vigor and enthusiasm.