When I wrote my race recap for the Leadman Tri back in April, I mentioned that it was life changing and fully intended to follow up on that thought. But then, you know, life and stuff happened and I had other things to write about and, well, it was pushed to the back burner.
Let me just state for the record that life-changing things should never be pushed the back burner.
So, here it is—a little late but still just as relevant. Here’s why Leadman was a truly life-altering experience for me.
First of all, it was the first time I’d signed up for anything that was truly outside my comfort zone. I mean, a half marathon or an Olympic tri? Those are certainly challenging, but they’re also things that many people could totally do. A race comparable to a Half Iron distance? Not so much. I was scared when I signed up, I was scared while I trained, and I was so scared before we started that there were actual tears in my eyes. If most nerves are butterflies, I was in a full on battle with Mothra.
But I did it. I didn’t wimp out on the training. I didn’t chicken out on the travel. I didn’t back out when it came time to start. Just being there instilled a sense of pride in myself that I really had never felt before.
It was on the run course, though, that I really felt something within me change. As much as things hurt and as tired as my legs were, I knew I’d already accomplished more that day than many people would ever do. I also knew that, since my body had gotten me that far, it could absolutely get me through to the finish line. (Slowly, sure, but still.)
I’m stubborn, but this was more than just me being bullheaded. This was me leaving doubt and fear in the dust—something I didn’t actually know I could do. And once I was no longer weighed down by those feelings, I really began feeling like anything was possible. I’ve worked on building my confidence in the past, and I’ve had some amazing friends and coaches help me with that, but it was there, as I hobbled down yet another steep hill and kicked another big rock out of my way that I just knew I could do it. I could do this, I could do my upcoming half marathon, and I could do any race I set my mind to.
It’s affected me in a lot of ways. On a number of runs since Leadman, I’ve been able to find another gear that was never there in the past. My legs have been tired and my heart has been pounding, but I’ve still been able to do more. I’ve picked up my swim pace, partly because I’ve been spending a good bit of time in the pool, but partly because I stopped setting limits. I’m giving no more energy to what I “should” be able to do. It’s all about what I can do, either now, in this moment, or in the future based upon how I can work toward it, both in athletics and in other aspects of my life.
I didn’t realize how plagued by fear and doubt I was until I left it behind in the Arizona desert. And now, I don’t intend to ever let those feelings back in.
Have you ever had a life-changing fitness moment? Can you relate to this? —Kristen