"Just because we are not so good at something the first time doesn't mean we can't teach ourselves to do it. It just might take a little more time and practice. Break it down and reward youself for baby steps."
I've failed a work licensing exam that I never wanted to take but was pressed upon me. I've given up Sunday riding in the first winter ever that one could actually ride most weekends. I spend one day a weekend at the office studying the other weekend day was our long run and errands.
So now I'm back studying when we absolutely have to strip the drywall and insulation from our basement to get rid of the black mold that sprung up last summer while we were training for Ironman. Everything that was put on hold for Ironman now weights heavily upon me and I feel overwhelmed and resentful and actually, very very stupid. Everytime I think I've made progress on the material I self test and it's lost. I've told the portfolio manager I work for that the only way I will be able to pass again in 2 weeks is to take time during the day to study because, well, my personal life just has to go on.
I'm trying so hard not to throw a pity party and invite everyone to it but I'm tired and sad and frustrated. I'm human I guess.
Being inspired by Molly, I enrolled my 5 year old springer spaniel/miniature poodle cross at the local agility hotspot in Toronto. We've done 5 weeks now and I think she's clueing in to the fact that it's a place we go to work, and more importantly, get treats. After all every dog loves a job and Chindi sure likes the pay. I was thinking about the class as I walked out with another dog owner and her greyhound. Our dogs were as different as could be, the greyhound sleek, mottled brown, built for speed whereas Chindi white and fluffy with Snoopy inspired black patches, is very muscular and a wizz at endurance. She's 25 lbs and has run as far as 29 k with us - pound for pound, or pound for kilometre, she's an ultramarathoner. The webbed feet and her amazing stroke make her a master swimmer as well. If we could just get her a bike that fits...
The thing was, Chindi excelled at everything the greyhound didn't, and, you probably also figured out that the greyhound rocked the stuff Chindi just couldn't get. I think you know where I"m going but here goes.
Top 5 things we can learn from dogs at agility.
1. Give yourself an out. The instructors keep emphasizing that this is for fun, if your dog balks at running up the ramp or jumping on the table, that's fine. Just keep up the energy and try again, it will happen. And when it does, there is no such thing as too much praise.
2. We should try scary things because they can be fun. Chindi was not going to go through the barrel last night but then she did and it became her favourite of all time.
3. Just because we are not so good at something the first time doesn't mean we can't teach ourselves to do it. It just might take a little more time and practice. Break it down and reward youself for baby steps. Chindi can't do four weave poles right now but she can do one and sometimes two and she gets just as much praise on the one as she's going to get on the four.
4. Little dogs get different sized equipment than big dogs. Big dogs aren't better or worse than little dogs, they're just a different size.
5. There is nothing wrong with doing things for treats. Just don't let anyone give you the cookies that give you gas.
And yes, that's Chindi leaping from a diving board up north. Fearless and having the time of her life.
The title above refers to a mysterious comment I got on my last post. Now I’m a curious person so I can’t figure out why a poster with Chinese characters for a name has such a good handle on English vernacular and if they’d like to introduce themselves I’m sure they are a very interesting person. But, in the meantime I deleted the post and set myself up to approve all future posts because although I can take the implied sarcasms and negativity in the post, well, I don’t think it’s very sporting and therefore has no place on my blog. And I also don’t think it’s at all true.
I think words can speak very loudly when we say them to ourselves and to others. Actions follow words but actions also reflect words. If I say that I’m a bad swimmer, a slow cyclist and I hate running then on race day I will be a bad swimmer, slow on the bike and cursing the run. And it doesn’t matter if I say those words to others or just to myself – that language becomes part of my brain.
Everything is possible if we just find the right words.
Ok, now, I admit, that is just bull shit. I’m never going to qualify for Kona, there are no words that can take me there but, actually, maybe there are words that could - I just don’t know what they are. Maybe I just have to start with the small words, that ones that say that I’m not a bad swimmer, I can get faster on the bike, and truly when I’m fit for a race, I love running. Those are my small words. The words that would get me to Kona are big words like, lose 20 pounds, spend a lot of money on a coach, devote your life to triathlon. Quit drinking wine! Those are words that I just don’t want to say so, I accept not receiving the prize of Kona qualifying. But, that doesn’t mean that that language is outside of what I’m allowed.
I think maybe the first words we need to use are the positive small ones that replace the big negative ones. We need to replace words like, I don’t like exercise, I don’t have any time, I don’t know how to cook healthy meals, I don’t have enough money, I’m too old or I’m too heavy to start now.
When someone tells me I’m an inspiration, I’m heroic, I’m a good role model, I want to take those words, wrap them up and give them back to them to use for themselves. I want everyone to inspire themselves, to be their own hero and to try to live up to the role model they see in themselves. If we all do that then there just won’t be any room anywhere for those bad words that are filling up too much space.
Here is my manifesto to you: fill up the space around you with only those words that you would give to others. Turn the golden rule on its head and do unto yourself what you do unto those you admire.
Wow, I have been so freaking introspective the last few posts. I blame that on my husband travelling so much lately. I end up sitting and thinking too much.
Regardless of anxiety and bad family mojo, life for me really is all about the laugh. And lasers, life should have more lasers. And perhaps also robots. I'm thinking of a fantastic show by Muse that we saw last night. I'm tired from not enough sleep and too much wine and I made a very tasty but bad choice at lunch which my body somehow thought would make it all better. I think I could, however, sell it as sacred; the burger was home made.
On a triathlon note, I had a Total Immersion lesson on Saturday that has left me feeling like I might actually be able to get to a point in which I can really enjoy the swim and come out refreshed and ready to race rather than drained. It's all about relaxation you know and that's a pretty good way to head off any panic attacks. As well, it was nice to hear that I wasn't actually a bad swimmer. Going to be better however.
That lesson felt like the beginning of training for IM 2011. There are so many things I want to work on to take 2 hours off my time. That's an ambitious target but I think it might be doable. To get there I want to take half an hour off my Muskoka 70.3 times each of the next years. I'm a consistent 2:45 half marathoner in a half ironman but a 2 hour stand alone runner. I really think I should be able to get that down to 2:30 this year and 2:15 next. I've come so far in cycling that I know I have it in me to get 15 minutes off my time this year and next. Getting out of the water with more energy conserved, if not faster, is the key.
And lasers, lasers that I would use to slay my opponents.
Let's talk about anxiety and panic attacks. I'm so thrilled for Athena Diaries latest family additions and I'm not surprised that she said her panic attack was stopped by her one of her fabulous new puppies. I have a very sweet springer spaniel poodle cross sitting on my lap right now telling me how much she loves me. If only I could have her with me during swim starts I'd be the most relaxed triathlate every. But she's not and anyone who knows me know how much I have struggled with panic and anxiety in my fabulous triathlon life. But of course races don't happen in a vacuum and that wasn't the only place I had panic attacks.
You know I really hate how we don't talk about mental illness. So here goes. When I was 10, in 1974 my oldest brother shot himself dead. I can't say shot himself it has to be shot himself dead. He did it and that was the result. DEAD. SUICIDE. It was a time when cancer would still be whispered so I'm making up for that with all caps - no whispers. This is what we should talk about when we talk about mental illness, when we talk about anxiety, when we talk about depression but mostly when we talk about suicide. And it hasn't stopped. Walter Koenig and Marie Osmond have just lost children. We've all seen the news but we haven't seen the news about someone I know whose beautiful 22 year old daughter gassed herself a year and a half ago. No one ever saw the news of my brother's death, or the other brother up the street or the attempt by the very cute friend of my youngest brother. Or the co-worker of Alex. Or, or , or...
And we need to talk about how mental illness makes those who suffer not terribly pleasant to be around. And how it makes families not function and how that carries on for years or even generations after.
Wow, that moved off a tangent. But here is what I talk about when I talk about anxiety. Panic attacks in the middle of the night when I would claw at the door trying to figure out where the doorknob was so I COULD JUST GET OUR OF THE ROOM. I remember a panic attack at the side of the road on a ride with Alex and 2 friends. One friend made the mistake of coming up behind me and slapping me on the back to say hello. I'm sure that as he held my hands on the side of the road he wondered exactly where it all came from as I HAD TO JUST GET OFF MY BIKE AND OFF THE ROAD AND MAYBE EVEN OFF MY MISERABLE LIFE.
Panic attacks for me meant that I was in a war zone not knowing where the bullets were coming from. No use taking shelter the snipper was just as likely to be behind the wall I crouched behind.
So that's what I talk about when I talk about anxiety. But I also talk about the effect that omega 3s have had on my brain. How last year I did a cross country bike race that I had panicked in 2 years earlier and how this time I alternated between singing "keep the car running" and "I am the greatest man that ever lived" as I swept over all the gravel and single track that left me gasping for breath just two years earlier.
So when we talk about mental illnes, and we should, we should also talk about what we can do to allow us to do what we want to do. Little things like Ironman.
I've come to believe that the very essence of our humanness is found with endurance sports. They are seemingly solitary, self absorbed pursuits but those of us who take that route to life know, perhaps more than others, that we are a team out there.
Please take your life and use it up, wear it out, get blisters, chafe and sunburns. If you choose triathlon, and I hope you do, I wish you well on that journey. You will take on a lifestyle that is unparalleled. Either way, drop me a line, tell me your story.