The class started out as it normally does with warm ups, lunges, mountain climbers, weights, etc. Halfway through the class the instructor asked us to put everything away. The great thing about this class is no two sessions are alike. We never know what to expect. “Today” he says “we’re heading outside.”
“You need to run for about ¾ mile. When you get to the bottom of the hill you need to stop and do 20 squats and 10 push-ups. Then sprint for 30 seconds up the hill. Stop and do 20 squats and 9 push- ups. Continue the pattern as you make your way up the hill until you finish with 1 push up.”
“Once you're done run back up the other hill and return to the gym.”
Hmmm….seems tough but doable…
I tell you what, I can’t remember the last time I felt as tired and wiped out. I couldn’t squat all the way because my legs were like jelly. My sprint was more of a shuffle. I didn’t even have enough time/energy to finish all the sets before he had everyone run back. It was during my run back I realized….I WAS DEAD LAST.
It reminded me of the triathlon my husband and I ‘competed’ in together a few years ago. He was in training for an Ironman, but wasn’t very comfortable in the water. He had tried to finish a triathlon a few weeks earlier and dropped out during the swim because he had been kicked pretty hard in the head. The swim portion of a triathlon can be very intimidating and scary. Everyone is thrashing, goggles are kicked off and people swim over the top of you. Because I knew he needed to finish this swim to feel confident heading into the Ironman I decided to swim with him.
I’m an average swimmer, but very comfortable in the water. Part way through the swim Ryan starts to struggle. I tread water as he’s yelling at me to “GO ON!!” I laugh now because the script could have been taken from the movie Titanic. “I’m not going to leave you!” I yelled. “Just GOOO!” He yelled back. I put my face in the water and pretended like I was swimming so I could stay close by and ensure he finished.
When we exited the swim the only people behind us were the volunteers manning the safety kayaks.
I was an average swimmer, below average cyclist and a below average runner.
Ryan was a below average swimmer, above average cyclist and an above average runner.
After stripping off our wetsuits Ryan hopped on his bike and TOOK OFF.
I was okay with this until I was nearing the end of the run. A few of the little boys handing out water at some aid stations asked me a few different times “Are you the last one??”
If you have never experienced coming in dead last, you should. Sign up for a run, a spelling bee, a dance competition, a karaoke competition…anything you know you will not be good at. It’s not about being humbled. It’s about seeing the best and worst sides of yourself in those moments. What do you tell yourself? How do you move forward? Are you defeated or are you inspired for change?
Myself? I turn inward. I start to crumble. The voices in my head are similar to the voices of mean girls on the playground. “You’re so slow. You’ll always be slow.” “You’re pathetic.” “You’re chubby and out of shape. How embarrassing!” “Good thing your sister wasn’t here so you didn’t hold her back.” I would never say these mean things to a friend, to my sister, to my children, yet I’m berating myself over and over again.
As I ran back to the gym the negative thoughts were multiplying like weeds inside me. They were feeding off of each other and growing like wild fire. I could see the 2nd to last person way off into the distance and I remembered how I had almost skipped. I had almost skipped class this morning, but didn’t. It was in that moment there was a shift in my thoughts.
I started to think of the positives. I might have been last in the group of people who did the exercise, but I was faster than the group of people who decided to opt out and never start. I was faster than the large part of me who wanted to stay in bed and hit snooze another 20 times.
I started to acknowledge my thoughts and their power. With every negative thought, I countered with a positive. “You made it to class even though you didn’t want to.” “You bust your ass in these classes and don’t give up.” “You did a great thing for your body this morning.” “You were faster than everyone else who’s still sleeping”.
This continued on while I got ready in the locker room and as I drove to work. It was almost…almost as exhausting as the workout itself. I started to greet the negative thoughts sort of ridiculously. “Oh hello. I’ve been expecting you!” As the negative thought would try to sneak its way in, I would counter it and then dismiss it.
Our mind is a dangerous, dangerous place. If we feed it with negativity it will breed discouragement and unhappiness. It’s a battle. A tough battle. Especially when some of our beliefs have thick roots that planted themselves long ago.
Acknowledge your thoughts and beliefs. Determine if they serve you. If they are negative don’t continue to feed it. Counter it and crush it.
Lastly, just because I love and trust you, I’ve included this masterpiece taken of me finishing my very first triathlon. It doesn’t get much better than this. B.E.A.U.T.I.F.U.L. If you have a race photo you’d like to share, do so in the Facebook comments. We all need to get a little real up in here.