One of the regulars that I see often at the pool wanted to know how I did at Vermont. I told him I went 23 hours and got myself a buckle, so all went great.
He looks at me and says, "You know? You are really off the charts with this."
Confused, I ask, "What do you mean?"
He answers to the effect of, "Most people come here to the pool and get their exercise in. They splash out a couple of laps and call it a day. Some might even do some races for competition. Maybe some hearty ones will do a marathon. You, doing four 100 mile races?" He shakes his head, "Off the charts".
That does get me thinking. Most competitive racers only tend to "look up" at the people who do these things better for them and ask themselves how they themselves can get better at those races. I'm definitely one of those racers. I tend not to be satisfied with where I am; I'm always looking for ways to improve my performance.
USA Triathlon has annual rankings athletes can look at. A lot of athletes will focus only on how to improve instead of stepping back and appreciate the current position they're in.
There's nothing wrong with that, but sometimes one must look back to where (s)he's been to appreciate WHERE HE OR SHE IS AT THIS MOMENT.
You can easily see from my previous blog entries that I wasn't satisfied with my Western States time, that I wanted to improve on this time in Vermont (which I did). That, compared to the other people doing the Grand Slam of Ultrarunning, that I'm probably just about average over the two races. And yes, I'm now constantly thinking about how I can do the best at Leadville.
The problem is, I forgot to look back and realize that I am perhaps doing something very few people would even attempt to do in their lifetimes.
That the Grand Slam is perhaps one of the most difficult achievements in the world anyone can ever hope to try. That I'm ALREADY HALFWAY THROUGH the Slam is quite an accomplishment in itself.
I took this photo today to appreciate how far I actually got in the Slam. Yes, I still have some unfinished business to take care of, but to actually complete 2 of these races within 3 weeks of each other is an accomplishment in itself.
So yeah, I definitely got caught "looking up" a little too often recently; it took one regular person to make me realize that I should "look back" and see how far I came.
I remember my first 5k and remembered how hard it felt back in those college days. I remember signing up for an Ironman and feeling so much panic afterwards feeling how crazy I was signing up for that race. And when I signed up for my first 100 mile ultra I thought I was totally insane in doing so.
The level that I'm at right now is higher than all that. And I haven't really appreciated it. Until now.
My suggestion to all athletes out there. In the midst of all your training, and in the midst of trying to improve your race times during competition, I want you to occasionally take a look back and appreciate where you are at that moment.
For those signing up for their first triathlon or marathon, remember when you first started to run, or ride, or swim, and feel how difficult it was doing just a mile, let alone even think about doing a race. Look where you are now! Look at the progress you made to get yourself to a point where you are considering racing a marathon or a triathlon! You've made a lot of progress. Sure you might not feel that way, but you've taken more steps towards your fitness goals than most of the population of the earth!
Being appreciative of where you've been when you started all this fitness and where you are now can definitely provide you the motivation you need to keep going with it. Think big, dream big, and you'll find that your current goals can be attained, and exceeded, in the future.
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