Growing up, after every swim meet my Dad would ask me two questions.
Did you do your best?
Did you have fun?
Yesterday… I can answer those questions with a resounding YES. I swam my absolute heart out. I gave 100%. I had a ton of fun throughout every single event. I loved the meet. I loved being with my teammates. I loved the events I swam and … I loved it.
I can also say that I did not meet any sort of performance objectives. By a long shot. Not even close. In fact I looked at all of my finishing times with surprise, knowing that during in practice I swam better. While I wasn’t rested nor tapered I don’t give that much weight to those as reasons. Unrested I should have performed better. My head was in a great place, my heart was in an even better place. I just….. I just didn’t hit it.
In terms of training over the past 12 weeks I asked myself if I have done everything I could have done. I think I came darn close to it. I trained. I slept. I ate well. I rested. I was consistent in the pool. I stayed positive when I got to the bad segments of training. I strength trained. I stretched.
I do know that my turns were horrific. I could tell on each wall. Back in the day I was hot off the walls. Yesterday I was just slow. Stuck. There is at least 1/2 second per length right there. Yet still….. it’s hard to say where I could have turned the dial much more.
I am honest about my successes. I am also honest about my failures. I have had a lot of failures. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to talk about them. I missed qualifying times. That’s not being negative, that’s telling the truth. I did not perform. That’s not being negative, that’s telling the truth. My self worth is not attached to my times, thank god. In earlier years it was. But it’s not. My self worth remains unaffected.
I think we live in a world where we are told that we have to always feel good. That we should never feel disappointment. Feeling disappointed about a goal not met doesn’t mean I am not grateful for the chance to be an athlete. It doesn’t mean I will hate myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t love the journey, and that I don’t relish in the opportunities I have earned throughout my life as an athlete.
To feel happiness we need to know what sadness is. To truly feel success we must know what it feels like to hit rock bottom. If someone tells you they have never failed, never come up short? They are lying.
For me…. disappointment becomes the greatest turning point there is. When we feel enough pain… some of us at least….. we become motivated to change. Or we just spin our wheels. I……. get motivated to change. To work harder. Smarter. Different. I get motivated to turn the dials more, to step back and see where I can tighten things up. Switch this…. adjust that.
I never get tired of that. I have been an athlete for a hundred years and I never get tired of learning, backtracking, figuring things out.
I have not figured myself out as a Masters athlete yet…. that is something I am working on. I am learning through trial and error. That is a dial I need to learn how to adjust still.
I let myself FEEL disappointment the same as I allow myself to FEEL success. I think both emotions are critical. For a million reasons. You can’t walk through life only feeling happy. ONLY feeling grateful. ONLY feeling good.
Having emotions and experiences on all sides of the spectrum doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for your life, the opportunities and the chances you get to have. I did not swim as well as I wanted to. That spurs me to dig deeper. To explore training, to explore my goals….. and yes, that’s a first world problem. Actually…. it’s not a problem at all. It’s a privilege as I always say.
So now what.
I am not sure. There are a few paths I could travel. I fear that if I delay the start of triathlon training to put more focus on swimming, that I won’t be ready for the 2016 triathlon season. I fear that if I don’t dive deeper into swimming that I will never hit the cut. I wonder if 2016 was realistic for hitting the swimming goals or if I need more time? I do know that logistically the time I need in the water to hit near college times….. right now… in my life…. is more than tough. Can I dedicate that time to the water?
None of these questions have a clear answer. These are just the questions I must personally ask of myself…. and through the next few weeks I will be the one to answer them. They all come with wonder and curiosity. None of them come with guarantees. But I don’t like the safe and sure answer. I like to wonder….. what if… and then figure out what I need to do to find that answer.
I am not afraid of success as equally as I am not afraid of defeat. I don’t gain a huge ego when I win and I don’t suffer embarrassment when I lose. My career has had plenty of both and I have learned through the years that neither determine your self worth. They only strengthen your resolve.
In its entirety the swim focus hasn’t been going on that long. But I have high expectations of myself. I don’t get tired of that and I don’t get knocked down because of that.
I get hungry because of it.
Failing hurts. It actually burns. I stand in the middle of that and I feel it. I feel that hurt and I come out of it stronger. Succeeding feels amazing. I stand in the middle of that as well, and I let myself feel it. On that side though…. I am careful because ego is the most dangerous consequence of success.
At the end of the day yesterday, I was spent. I swam 6 events and 5,000 yards including all of the warm ups and cool downs. I fueled and ate still was wrecked. Our 15 year old son came to see me swim and was so amazing. In all my life…. in all my meets, triathlons, 5K’s…… in all of it…. I have never had someone manage me like Luc did.
He had the meet sheet hi lighted. He had my warm ups and sets written on an index card. Before my events he would say ‘Time to warm up mom.” and after I got out of the pool he walked me over to the cool down pool to cool down. He reminded me to eat between events and to stay hydrated and loose. I have never had someone do that for me. And this was my SON. Who did it….. unprompted.
I was stunned, and grateful beyond words. That in itself was honestly one of the most special experiences of my entire life.
Where do we go from here? Great question. I need a bit of a swim rest this week (don’t worry gang, Tues and Thurs is still ON!) I want to spend the week on Zwift (I will be riding at 0445 Monday, catch up with me) and in my running shoes. I want to step back and think about all of the afore mentioned questions. Honestly, isn’t that a great problem to have?
Big thanks to my coaches Brett, Mike, Ryan and Matt and to all of my teammates at Genesee Valley Masters (formerly known as Victor Masters). It’s an honor to swim with all of you! You make 5:30 am the best. Honestly you do.
I always come back to those two questions from my Dad, asked of me when I was an age group swimmer.
Did I do my best? I did.
Did I have fun? Hell yes. Hell yes I did!