Saturday, February 24, 2007

Settling the Score

I woke up a little angry today.

This is rare. I usually don't wake up feeling like, really, anything, except hitting the snooze button perhaps. But I just felt kind of mad. At me.

I think what triggered this was that I finally got my swim photo from Ironman Wisconsin. They forgot to include it before, blah blah blah. So it came in the mail a few days ago. And I probably should just throw it away. Because it really just reminds me of feeling rotten.

The photographer that snapped my picture as I tried to get off my wetsuit and stepped on the mat completely captured my emotions of that moment. Too much, I think.

It is a face of complete, utter disappointment and disgust.

Now, I realize that my 1:28 swim is "fine." I realize that this may sound a little bit like someone who is mad about running a 3:47 marathon because they wanted 3:40. But, in this one instance, I think I understand how that feels.

For ME, and this is why I do this, anyway--for ME--I had a rotten swim that day. The worst swim of that distance of my life, actually. And when I look at that picture, I see it in my face. No one else probably could even see it, but I know me. And I know what's going through my head at that exact moment.

"I blew it."

For me, on my face I see the look of someone who knew they could do better and didn't. And that, for me, is the worst feeling of all.

I know, I know...all the things my head and even my friends have told me to try to justify....

"It was a record Ironman swim start--more people than in any Ironman in history"

"Most people's times were a little slow...not like what they usually post"

"Even the pros came out later than usual, Sara"

"You had a BLACK EYE at school on Tuesday from the BEATING you took in the water"

Blah. I hate excuses.

When it comes down to it, I swam 4500 yards in the pool weekly at a much faster pace than what I swam that 4224 on Ironman morning. And it's the ONLY thing I'm disappointed about. Not the endless, cold bike ride from hades....not my marathon (actually, I think that was my favorite). Just my swim.

Because I could have done better. I can do much better. I expected to come into T1 nowhere near that. I had a number in my head and it wasn't even close to the one I saw on that clock when I stepped on that mat, and I see it in my face and I hate it.

I want another shot. But I can't have one for a while. So I'm just going to have to tuck that picture away for the time being, I think. I'll pull it out again when it's time to prepare for IM swim #2.

In the meantime, I am pretty proud of myself for being able to move past the moment. When I read my recap of that swim again, and when I remember how I decided at that moment--or rather, the moment AFTER that photog snapped my utter disgust--I was going to have to forget it or it would eat me up that day, I am happy that I was able to do that. So, in that sense, the picture doesn't really tell all of the story.

Because if, on the bike, I sat there and bitched in my head at myself about how much that sucked, I would have wasted so much energy on negativity. (Kind of like I am right now)

And I really don't think I would have made it. I needed all the energy I could get that day.

So, I'm gonna try to remember that. Clocks are clocks, bad stuff happens, and disgust and disappointment happen too. They are inevitable.

But the real test in life is what you do with them.

And I moved on that day. So I'll just put this picture away, and do that now.


Triteacher said...

Yay - way to waste time on negativity in a positive way! We know you'll settle that score. With change!

Wes said...

In truth, the finish time is such a small part of that wonderful experience. Keeping things in perspective is such a good thing, and you know you more than made up for the swim time on the bike and the run. That's what Ironman is all about. you have 18 hours to make all the adjustments you need. Moving on...

kt said...

Darn it~ I know that feeling all too well. I think pulling that pic out before your next IM swim would be very motivating. Great idea.

E-Speed said...

None of us want to be reminded of our personal dissapointments or failures. But perhaps sometimes there's a reason for it.

This time maybe it was just to remind you to reflect on all the positives of that day that had nothing to do with the moment captured in that photo.

I think sometimes we forget just how big some of our accomplishments are and we lose pieces of them. Worst case scenario that photo forced you to relive the day once again and you certainly have to be satisfied with how the day ended!

Run for Chocolate said...

JUst so you know I think you are amazing. You were disappointed, yet you were still able to rock the bike and run. A freaking black eye, did you get a photo of that?

Jodi said...

You hit the nail on the head at the end of your post. It was how you reacted to your swim on that day at that moment that shows how truly tough you are. You knew you had to move on, you knew it was over, and you knew that disappointment couldn't continue. And you moved passed it and triumphed. Keep that picture. Remember that moment, how you felt, and how you were able to turn it all around. That's what it's all about. That right there, is why you are an IRONMAN.


TriShannon said...

You made it because you moved on from that moment. Too often we get caught up in the time, our goals, splits, etc. We cannot let those "disappointments" make us lose sight of the reason we started this and why we are out there. To finish and enjoy the journey and the moment. Way to let it go and finish strong! You are an Ironman!

LoneStarCrank said...

I long ago realized that disappointment is just pride disguised. Pride in ourselves that we have what it takes to do better, pride that we will overcome the disappointment and prove we have what it takes.

We've all filed those pictures in our minds along the way... I like to pull one out from my memory ever so often to really appreciate where disappointment often leads --immeasurable success!

Cliff said...


U consider 1:28 as a bad swim? I can't even imagine how fast you can go on a good day :)

I hope this helps coach was telling me how improving my swim time by 10 min makes not much difference in a race that last for 10+ hr.

There is a pic from last season of as u say..bad expression..full of disappointmenta nd disgust.

I think we all have those moments. It is at that point where we choose to wallow in it or move on..

21stCenturyMom said...

I know that not making a goal is always disappointing even if you did really well and you did. However, I find this statement baffling "When it comes down to it, I swam 4500 yards in the pool weekly at a much faster pace than what I swam that 4224 on Ironman morning. "

Swimming in a pool and swimming in open water are not the same thing. Being able to streamline off a wall is a HUGE advantage - you go significantly faster during steamline than any other time. I simply isn't realistic to expect your open water time to be as fast as your pool time. Has no one ever told you that before? And then there are the waves and the current and all the other swimmers. That is just a toxic comparison.

I'm really glad you got over it in the moment and were able to ride and run without carrying the weight of that disappointment but you are clearly not over it. Keep trying!

Mallie said...

If we never had negative thoughts it would negate the power of our positive thoughts. Disappointment is normal. But you did the right thing and set it aside when you needed to concentrate on the race ahead. Now it's time to set it aside for good. Best of luck doing so.

Curly Su said...

babe, you're an IRONMAN. i know how you feel, but never forget all you've accomplished...

RunBubbaRun said...

There was a lot things that could have gone wrong that day. And I think we saw alot of that on the bike portion. Nobody I know had a perfect race. That is why we keep coming back for more..

You'll get'em. I'm sure..

Now I know whose feet to draft behind.

tri-mama said...

You're a great swimmer Sara! So it's tough to compete in a sport where the swim portion is such a small part of the day. And easily the most crowd dependant. The anxiety that morning was intense as every one contemplated the conditions and how tough the day would be. You had a mass of people swimming slower in front of you-it's like being behind grandma on the freeway-it would have taken a ton of energy to get around all of those people-and no doubt each pass took additional time. I'm guessing it's better to sit with the medal looking back and thinking you could have swum harder and faster then to go home empty handed with the satisfaction of a good swim. I know I swam Florida with a lot more caution because of the conditions in spite of myself. Of course looking at my watch the entire time :-) But that is what the first Ironman is for, to see if you can do it. Next time you get to do it to beat time goals. And you will.

TriSaraTops said...

Yep, I can assure you I'm well aware that open water swimming is quite different than pool swimming. Still, I know what I've done not only in the pool but also in my open water races, and that is how I came up with my goal.

Ellie said...

Moving past the bad moments is what being an endurance athlete is all about. Which is why endurance sports are such a great metaphor for life.

You did awesome. I swam that time in a small IM-distance tri with no arms and legs in my face, point-to-point with a boost from the outgoing tide. I can't imagine swimming your time under real conditions like you did.

Chris said...

Bummer about the swim time, but you totally had the perfect attitude about it afterwards. IM is entirely too long to get bummed out about being off by a minute or 20 (in my case on the bike). You kept going and had a great finish. AND you had a blast on the run?! There aren't many people that can say that!

So... where is it going to be in 2008? :)

Donald said...

I love this post - you have such a great attitude.