Sometimes We Surprise Ourselves

When I first started blog-athl-ing almost 8 years ago, it was to explore my love of writing and chronicle what I hoped would be my noteworthy transition from Average Jill to Ironman.  I had imagined that a recurring theme of my blog would be the triumph of the human spirit over extraordinary circumstances.  (Ok, even I just gagged a little, but remember that I can be extremely corny and idealistic.)

But sometimes we surprise ourselves.

Sometimes we fail.

When we do fail (which is inevitable), what's important to remember is not the failure but what we did with it.  Did we hold ourselves accountable for what we did control?  At the same time, did we let go of the things that were obviously out of our control? What happened over the first few years of my Ironman journey was a mix of me (bad priorities, misunderstandings, poor planning) and chance (illnesses, personal and professional losses) both going to shit at the same time.  It was a time in my life where I was so overwhelmed by everything going on in and around me that that "competing," let alone at Ironman, should have been my last priority.

Nonetheless, I learned a lot from it. And I eventually decided that I didn't want to be a coach OR an Ironman as originally intended.

Earlier this year,  I and several of my family members either became severely ill or found out that we might have serious illnesses. This all happened while I was starting my second semester of grad school and while things were changing rapidly in one of the most demanding roles I've had at work in ages (sometimes I can't answer a single personal email or text all day because I'm too busy.) And I'd just had several big changes with some people who'd been key parts of my life for a very long time.

It was, once again, the perfect storm of chance.

I am my own worst critic. I found myself wondering if I could hold it all together. I found myself questioning everything I learned during those first few years of my Ironman aspirations.  I thought, there's no way I can train regularly during this, let alone PR.  There's no way I can finish the semester when I'm travelling every 6-8 weeks to see my parents and dealing with all this.  There's no way I can be successful at work while I'm dealing with all of this.  Something is going to have to give.

But sometimes we surprise ourselves.

Sometimes we succeed.

I managed to complete a 3rd century and one of the highest-ranking, best-feeling sprints I've ever done.  I scored a 5k PR.  It looks like I'll be completing the semester - completing, not withdrawing or taking an incomplete -  with straight A's again.  I started fundraising for the American Cancer Society again. I have a wonderful group of close, supportive friends who have stepped up for me in ways I'd never imagined.  And I just received recognition at work for exceeding my goal on a key deliverable by 130%.

The point of saying this AFTER re-hashing my old difficulties is that I don't just sit down and decide to blog about what what's good in my life.  I know that it won't always be good, because I've seen how it can go bad.  The point is that, while it's harder to be positive when things go very wrong, everything goes better when I choose to be happy and optimistic no matter how bad it gets.  And it's more a reminder for me that doing this all while the illnesses and stress were going on wasn't (as I like to say) rainbows shooting out of a unicorn's ass.  It was a lot of hard work.  It was a lot of later nights than I like.  It was a lot of me throwing my computer mouse across the room.  It was a lot of crying.  It was a lot of earlier mornings than I thought my body could handle. 

But in the end, I made it happen.

So, although I failed at the "becoming Ironman" part, this blog has ended up being more about the triumph of the human spirit over extraordinary circumstances than anything else.  As corny and idealistic as that sounds.

Sometimes we surprise ourselves.

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