‘You are planning something bigger aren’t you?’ he said with a big smile on his face. It was the second time in two weeks that he saw me on the running track, ‘I never saw you running and now you are here’, he added.
How right he is. Recently I did my third sprint triathlon. A great event. Finished second in my category and age group. All the Nireas women were on the podium. I am getting the ‘hang of it’. I am enjoying every aspect of the race: from the nerves the evening before the race (I can feel those nerves now in my belly just when writing it), to getting my stuff organised in the transition area, to meeting friends and seeing familiar faces, to a quick dive in the sea before the start, to the actual race and then of course crossing the finish line, encouraging others on their way and the talking about the race after. It is all good fun!
And it has only been my third triathlon. Now I am starting to think I want something more, something bigger, something more challenging.
The swimming in the sprint is completed before my hair gets wet, during the cycling I enjoy watching others and the nature. Only towards the end of the 20km ride, I start dreading what is ahead of me: the 5km run…
I don’t run. So I suffer during those 5 very long kilometres. Sometimes I walk parts of it (which I even find ridiculous myself but it is true).
And by now these silly 5 kilometres running is stopping me from pushing harder during the cycling, the run scares me when I am still on my bike. Because I don’t train on the running I am blocking myself from delivering a better performance or doing a longer distance triathlon.
“Am I limiting myself to become better?”
The only possible answer to that is ‘yes’.
If I really want something bigger, and the answer to that is ‘yes’, I do need to use these fancy running shoes that I bought more often than wearing them to the supermarket. I need to show up.
My neighbour in the transition area was a lady from Israel. She came with her whole family and it was her first triathlon. She told me that 3 years ago she was 35 kilo’s heavier, could not run, swim or cycle. At all. She looked at herself in the mirror one day and decided to change her lifestyle. She loves food, so she was unwilling to go on a diet. Intensive exercise was the way to go for her to shred the weight and become more healthy. So she started to walk. Then slowly she started to run. Then she got a trainer to support her. He told her that just running was not the best thing to do for her body. He added swimming. And cycling. She did a few half marathons and now she was there, for her first triathlon. She showed up. And finished.
She showed up. I am showing up. When this lady started, she did not know what a triathlon was. And last Sunday she completed her first. And she managed to get her whole family to come along with her on her journey and participate in the triathlon with her. Things started to happen.
It is not that I wake up one day and decide to do an Olympic distance triathlon. I had said I wanted to do a triathlon and had run out of excuses not to do it. So I got myself as far as doing a sprint triathlon. The first one was tough, the second one was to check whether I actually liked it and the third one made me raise my goals.
This sport for me is about showing up. It is about not letting any excuses get in the way of progress. The excuses factory established in my brain is so clever that it can disguise any excuse into a wanna-be reason.
It is a choice to show up. To be in the pool at 07.00 am in the morning and to be out on the bicycle at 06.00 am in the weekends. It is a choice not to have that junk-food the night before a race and fuel up properly. It is a choice to be in bed by 22.00 pm on a Friday night and not be at a party.
The funny thing is that when you start showing up for yourself, people around you notice, and they start doing the same.
When your actions become congruent with what you say, and you start showing up and being truly present, your life enters into a flow of success where really nothing can stop you. Others notice that you are showing up and start to support you, and perhaps they themselves start to show up more, because you become an example. Of stuff that is possible. Of things that can be achieved.
Show up: come swimming during your lunch break, put on your running shoes (and run) when you have an hour free and participate in a Sunday morning social cycle.