Perception is reality, and reality can be odd.

I love reading blogs. They're like magazine columns, but far more endearing. And when the blogs relate to one of my hobbies, they're even better. I can't tell you how many times I've read blog entries and found myself amazed, amused, touched or even disturbed. I'm guessing those of you who also read and/or write blogs feel the same way.

I love writing, too. (Shocker, huh?) So, I know there are lots of reasons to blog: catharsis, personal enrichment, communication with friends and family. And I also know the risks one assumes when blogging, the most obvious of which is a sacrifice of personal privacy. I mean, for God's sake, it's a public diary. One can disguise names, cities and dates, but the experience and emotion are laid bare for the absorption of any Joe Schmoe in the entire universe. Kinda scary, but (to me) not the greatest risk of blogging. Privacy is the one element completely under the blogger's control. One could choose not to write at all, or to publish one's writing privately. Many blogs allow levels of security where the writer canonly grant access people they know, a select group of those people, or themselves only.

So the greatest risk of blogging, in my opinion, is the element that also scares me the most in real life - that is, the element outside of my control. In this case: reader perception. No matter how stringently one controls one's output, there is no way to control someone else's reaction. One cannot prevent one's readers from feeling pleased, offended, excited, angry, sad, worried, scared, disbelieving - anything - when they read one's entries.
I started blogging about my training and its intersection with the rest of my life to keep me honest, motivated, and cognizant of my experiences, as well as to glean knowledge and insight from other bloggers. Along the way, something unexpected happened: I gathered support from some of those other bloggers and even made friends with many of them. That was a fabulous and uplifting result, but it also made me aware of how very different reader perception can be, even when the reader is someone one knows quite well.

There are many things I don't share here, but I can promise one thing: everything I share is completely unalliterated and totally unfalsified. I make mistakes, and I don't always make the wisest choices - two facts which are often harshly spotlighted by my (unflinchingly frank) blog entries. So I know that, particularly recently, some people have perceived a need to worry about me. I'm touched (and no, I'm not being sarcastic) that anyone in my life would show enough concern to try to understand some of the feeling behind my mindless babbling. But I know that perception is reality, and my reality is very odd. The Drama Llama attached itself to me about 6 years ago and has followed me around ever since. I've begun to accept that my life will never be what many people consider normal or calm. That in and of itself has made me feel more normal and calm.

I found out about a week ago that I qualified for the USAT Age Group National Championship in Portland. I qualified completely by accident, and I decided to go. This shouldn't be cause for anyone to fret. This should be cause to celebrate. After all, it is not every day that a middle- to back-of-packer gets (and is able to accept) this type of opportunity. I could have decided to simply say "I qualified," and be okay with that. But since I already wanted to do at 2 more Olympic-distance races before fall, and I needed to cut my race schedule down for financial and scheduling purposes, it made sense to opt for 1, more meaningful race instead.
Last year, I spent the year in PT because I over-trained and over-raced. I entered 2 marathons (finished 1), 1 Oly, 2 super sprints, 2 sprints (finished 1), 4 5ks (finished 3) and 1 half marathon, which I finished. That's 9 races. This year, I've entered 1 duathlon, 5 triathlons and signed up for the NYC Marathon Lottery. That's 7 races. I didn't do the duathlon and 2 of the triathlons haven't happened yet. So, even upon completion of my June Sprint and Nationals in September, that's 6 races. 5 if you count FL HIM as a DNF, which I don't, and 4 if I don't make it into New York. Roughly half of what I did last year. I'm shooting for simplification. For quality over quantity.

I also wanted to wait until the dissapointment from FL 70.3 died down to make the decision and the announcement. But it didn't last half as long as I expected. The truth is, I don't feel like any less of a person after the HIM. In fact, I feel more proud of myself after that race and St. Anthony's than after some of the races I finished or finished well. I may not have come away sore or tired, but those races put the smackdown on my tough. I walked away from FL HIM in tears, but I came back to the bike a week later and rode a 30-mile brick with a smile on my face.

As someone once told me, though, denial is a comfy place . . . and as my best friend would say, not just a river in Egpyt. So I'm not going into this thing thinking I'm winning awards. It's a tough course. I may not finish. I may not place well. That could hurt; I could come away from the experience feeling pretty trashed. I have to race Athena, pay the travel costs, and really pay attention to my diet and medical conditions. But there are also lots of good reasons to take the chance: it's motivation to train smarter, a reason to go to Club meets, a great catalyst to simplify my race schedule and learn to focus on fewer races. It's far less costly than NYC, I have plenty of time to find better nutrition and see a GI doc if needed, it's only an Olympic-distance course, there's better weather than Orlando, my conditions are less bothersome in late summer-winter, and it is a fabulous honor which will follow me for the rest of my triathlon days.

Am I ready? Not now. Can I be ready by September? Absolutely. Will I be ready by September? Time will tell.

One bite at a time, baby. One bite at a time.

4 tidbits of wizdom:

IM Able said...

Peach.

Your posts are always honest and candid, and for that you're an exception to even the blogging rule.

But this is one of the best posts I've read of yours in a long time. You sound so strong. You are forthright, but unapologetic. You are simply stating it for the record -- not trying to convince anyone else of the statement's value or wisdom.

Perhaps it's some of those ties you've been holding onto fluttering to the floor, unattached. Honest strength is such a calm power. It requires fewer words, but it says so much more.

((hugs))

Tea said...

YEa! What IM ABLE SAID!

I'm so happy for you. I think that qualifying is one of the coolest things ever! I mean, WOW! I can now say that I know someone who qualified for the national championships! WOO HOOO!! If I hang with the cool kids, that makes me cool!

Wes said...

I stand in august company :-)

Why climb a mountain? I need no more motivation than that. Keep piling on the accolades, you deserve them. You've earned them.

Alili said...

Go and rock it out! Bravo, on a beautiful post. Nationals, wow-too, too cool. :)

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