Since making my announcement to train for Ironman 70.3 Augusta(2015) and Ironman Chattanooga (2016), there has a been many discussions over abilities and confidence. Because of these discussions, I have also been watching those around me. I am shocked at the lack of confidence that most people have. I am not sure where I fit in all of this.
My kids are going through it with softball. Georgia was hurt. Now, she has fear around doing anything that could re-injure her back. I completely understand, but fear has paralyzed her this season. Her coach and I were actually talking about how to build the confidence, so she can let go of some of the fear. Then there is Suzie, she too has a confidence issue, but hers is much different. Hers is more concerning. Suzie has come to the realization that with hard work she could become really good at softball. She can also have a bit of an attitude. I don’t fault her for this because she gets it honest. However, it creates a problem. See, she wants those infield positions and she is willing to do whatever it takes to get them-extra practice, going to outfield even when she doesn’t want. However, there are those who want to keep their positions and they feel threatened by Suzie. It is tween drama, so it is nothing severe and nothing anyone really needs to get involved with. But it is causing tension and making Suzie doubt herself. She is trying to figure out how to succeed in softball and not lose her friends. Honestly, I don’t think there is any danger in losing her real friends. However at 11/12 years old, this is real concern and it is rocking her confidence. Believing in my girls doesn’t get them to believe in themselves. I hope one day they see the potential I see and that what is right and important will work itself out.
Then confidence rears its head in my friends. I am going to be vague and general during this part for two reasons. First, I don’t have permission to talk about their issues. Second, this is their battle, not mine.
The hardcore honest truth is I did not have many friends growing up. I had a few, but I always lacked in the trust department. Over the past few years, my life has changed drastically. I have changed. I have found a set of friends with a bond that is explainable. Friends that I have no idea how I functioned without them in life. Friends that I hope never go anywhere. They love me at my worst and celebrate me at my best. They are truthful AND compassionate. Without them, I would not be who I am today.
When I announced my Ironman plans, I told two of these ladies that I wanted them to join me. I have listened to the reasons why not. It makes me sad and even a little angry. Not because they might not do it. My heart is hurting because they are far ahead of me in the athletic abilities than I am, and I KNOW THEY CAN DO IT. I feel like I have failed them. Somehow, I missed how hard of a time they are having with confidence in themselves. Just like with my kids, I wish they could see the potential that I see. I wish they could believe they could do anything. I wish they loved themselves as much as I love them.
One said “I don’t know how to get from I am to where you are. How do I do it?” It was a question that broke my heart, because she is part of the reason I am where I am. Now, it is my turn to hold her up so she can get here too. Since I don’t HOW or WHAT I am supposed to do in this moment, I am writing to see how I got there.
Short story from 2009-2012: I was overweight. I had surgery and lost almost a hundred pounds. I opened my mouth and said I wanted to do a half-marathon. Someone heard me and convinced me to sign up. I got hurt, but finished hurt. It was a confidence boost – BUT it would not last. I was in a car accident, gained some weight – confidence plummeted.
After the car accident, I fought hard to get back to where I was. I wasn’t sure it was possible. Why? I was a people pleaser who wanted her way. OXYMORON at its finest. It was true. Ultimately, I did what I wanted, but I agonized over what everyone thought. I could have fifty “YOU CAN DO IT” and one “NO YOU CAN’T” and I would listen to the one. It was easier to say to the fifty, I didn’t even try than to say I failed. It was easier to say to the one, you are right I can’t so I won’t, than to say I tried and I failed. It gnawed away at me for a long time. I wanted to be so much more than someone who was afraid of life.
Around this time, we started getting involved in runs for causes. Aaron was doing 5ks and I was also doing them and training for another half. I was going to DC for a cause. I was out of my league, but I was prepared. As I crossed the start line, a woman who was in the wrong corral got a little rough and pushed me out of her way. In doing so, I fell over a curb and hurt my ankle, knee and hip. I was done – 100 yards in. I was a failure. I just had proven it to all the world. I didn’t even go ONE MILE. So I quit! I quit doing anything, and I became miserable.
Fast forward to the end of 2012 to now. During this training, I was added to a run group. When I quit, I didn’t leave the group. I was reading AND I was jealous. Jealousy is an ugly thing. The need to get back out was killing me. Around that same time, I heard about the boot campaign and Bataan. So, I did what any sane person would do, I volunteered to go to Bataan and I ordered my boots. Yes, that is what I did! I trained in those boots and cried everytime I put them on. They were hurting my legs and I couldn’t function. I had been running in minimal shoes for so long, my legs could not readjust to them. Aaron and I went to Ft Campbell for something and we found minimal boots. He bought them right then and there.
I would put on my boots and I loved every minute of it. I went to Bataan, and made a nutrition mistake. I was put out around mile 11. I was devastated. Aaron was proud and I vowed to go back. I did go back. I was pulled for being too slow. I was picked up at mile 23 and dropped back off at mile 26. I crossed the finish line. Bataan considers me a finisher, unless they recently changed the website. During all this time, I have not ran much, mostly walked or rucked in my boots. I was also training for an IM 70.3 and I joined crossfit. Both meant more running. I trained hard and I was ahead of schedule, until that fateful day on the Mud Run. I fell off the creek bank and hurt my shoulder.
I was now sidelined from CrossFit AND training. Finally, I was released back into training, but never regained my training ground. I showed up at the start and I intended to finish and my shoulder seized up completely. I couldn’t even lie my way out of it, because it was that locked. My race was finished. I cried like someone died. Same as I did for Bataan both times. There were these few people each time, reminding me of how far I had come, how much accomplished even if I didn’t finish.
One day, while I working through some body image issues, I looked at my body and I realized just how much it was capable of. YES-I had three major DNFs and they hurt my heart and my pride. Yet, my body came back from a fall that it shouldn’t have come back from so fast. I know three months is a long time, but I went from you may be out to a start line in three months. WHO does that? Apparently I do.
I used to base my confidence on my finishes. It wasn’t until these non-finishes broke my heart that I finally realized I didn’t need a finish to be confident in what I can do. I figure as long I keep training and I keep showing up, eventually I will finish. If I learn from each event, then in the end it was worth it-finish or not. For now, I take pride in showing up at the start line. Why? Not everyone can show up to the start line, since I am healthy enough to show up, I am going to be proud of that. Soon enough, I will be called an Ironman, but until then I am going to enjoy the journey.
To my friends struggling, it is a decision only you can make. I hope that you come with me, but I will love you regardless. You are worth so much more than you know. I see it and one day you will too.