Monday, February 27, 2012

struggling with success vs. failure

I'm not going to lie. I struggle with taking a break from triathlon, from walking away from the sport I've trained for and raced in the past 12 years, to not miss it and to not wish I was healthy and swim/bike/running again.

It really is a love-hate relationship. You forget the bad times, you forget why you "broke up" in the first place. You only think of the good times. AUGH!

To my faithful readers, thanks for the comments, Tweets, notes and texts telling me I'm not DELETED or forgotten. Then there was the Blogger Dashboard who starkly pointed this out:

Pageviews today
Pageviews yesterday
Pageviews last month
Pageviews all time history

Not too shabby considering I only started up this blog at the end of June?

I struggle with feeling like a success or failure. In some ways, I feel that I failed in triathlon because I pretty much retired. I have to keep remember who I was before teamTBB--a mediocre age grouper who had done 4 Ironmans in rather unspectacular times with no trajectory of improvement. My times were 13:10, 13:50, 12:08, and 13:06.

Average time over first 4 Ironmans? 13:03.

I am not a failure.

As part of the moving on process, I ordered an 8x10 print of my fastest Ironman finish:

It really wasn't my best race ever, but it was still my fastest.

I know there are those of you who are like "Duh. If you feel so bad not doing it, you can always go back to triathlon." I think that too...

Then I remember all the reasons I don't want to be a pro triathlete any more. Or even race age group.

There were a couple of Theodore Roosevelt quotes random friends sent me after I declared my intent to stop triathloning. Similar but slightly different:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."

I dared mighty things. I won glorious triumphs. I stumbled, and some would say my triathlon career was checkered by failures. But I shall never be a cold and timid soul, I shall never live in that gray twilight. And I shall continue to dare mighty things.

I just wish I could stop feeling like a failure sometimes, or at least accept that I failed in some ways but that overall...I won.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

a successful and productive day

A year ago, a successful and productive day would consist of 7 hours of training, eating "well" (which meant not much...), and capping off the day with a blog post.

The breakdown of the day would be:

  • morning snack (this and all my meals were made at home)
  • 90min swim (40x100m with paddles, pull buoy and band for 5km total)
  • breakfast
  • 4hr bike on a rolling course (with lunch en route in the form of training food)
  • 90min track workout straight off the bike (perhaps 21x800's)
  • post-workout snack
  • dinner
  • blogging
  • dessert
I'd give myself bonus points for hitting my swimming 100's and running 800's under specific times, and eating well under 4,000 calories.

Today I was pretty proud of myself for having a successful and productive day. It consisted of:
  • sleeping in until 6:45am (8 hours of sleep for once!)
  • feeding puppy breakfast and taking her for a 15min walk
  • showering, scarfing down breakfast while packing a lunch and getting into work clothes
  • 8am staff meeting at main office
  • 9am-12pm run to another office location to see patients, fitting custom ankle braces and evaluating new patients
  • 12pm-1pm grabbing some groceries at Trader Joe's, scarfing down lunch while driving home, dropping off groceries at home while taking puppy out and giving her a snack, and driving back to the main office
  • 1pm-5pm seeing the second half of my full day patient load while putting in work orders for new orthoses, ordering some parts we've run out of, and catching up on almost all patient chart notes
  • 5:30pm get home and have a pre-dinner snack, get changed and 
  • today's workout shall be walking the puppy to the local high school (while practicing heeling and sitting en route and back home, 20mins each way), then doing 8x100m sprints in the grass while wearing my Vibrams and racing against the puppy (I know, it's so Primal Blueprint that it's cliche)
  • 6:30pm make dinner for me and the Sherpa
  • throw in a load of laundry
  • give the stinky puppy a bath
  • and at the moment (9pm)....BLOGGING.

WOW. Damn right, I'm pretty proud of myself. These days it's been a while where I've gotten a solid 8hrs of sleep and had time to get groceries, do laundry, give the puppy a bath and 2 walks (with a workout thrown in!), and make dinner (and breakfast and lunch!) AND blogged all in the same day. While working 8 hours and not being really behind on patient notes. Even if I got in one or two of those other things, like slept 8 hours AND gotten groceries, or made dinner AND did laundry, or bathed the puppy AND blogged, on a workday I'd feel super accomplished. I'm giving myself a gold star today! Major bonus points since the grocery shopping part resulted in a nice chewy snack that keeps Socks occupied, and the combination of puppy exercise and obedience training and bath = tired less rambunctious puppy.

The next thing on my agenda for another successful and productive day would be updating this darn website. Lotsa outdated information, and even though threaded comments have fixed themselves (huzzah! I pledge to respond to each and ever comment from now on!), my stupid header fonts are in freakin' COMIC SANS. It's atrocious!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

the kind of pro I wanted to be

Magic ice cream koi fish, part 2 is in the works. It was originally part 1 (of 1) until I got the dual nostalgia-anxiety attack with the TBB blog scare. It lead me to go through some of my old blog posts, and I am fascinated. Some I haven't read since I even wrote them (back in 2009, 2010), and now that I can step back and read it as an outsider, I think "WOW. Who is this girl?"

Am I tooting my own horn? Perhaps. I never really understood how my blog gained so much readership (thousands of visitors from 68 countries and territories), it was just me, blogging about various adventures and boring normal stuff I did. I figured I was just extra fascinating when you threw in the pro triathlete factor into the mix.

I think it broke down to this: I was funny (hilarious, even), wrote well (Captain of the Grammar Police), had lots of fun pictures, and updated often. The 4 keys to being a successful blogger. I was also heartbreakingly honest and open about many things in my life, including dating prospects. Even if nobody read my posts, I would quite enjoy reading them again and again later on.

Before I was a pro triathlete, I raced age group for 10 years, and feverently followed my favorite athletes' blogs. It's no secret most of them were crap writers, boring, and barely blogged. I had many ideas on the kind of pro triathlete I wanted to be--someone with an awesome blog, who only supported cool sponsors I believed in, and was happy to chat with age groupers and take photo and autograph requests (if I ever got that famous...and I did). I would never DNF just because I was having a bad day.

Those were the morals and principles that guided me and kept me grounded as a pro triathlete, and they were formulated from my own experiences as an age grouper. You know, the aforementioned crappy pro blogs out there, and the pro triathletes I idolized who were either really nice to me (a random age grouper) or kinda bitchy (no names mentioned here). I thought, if I was a pro, and had a bad race, and an age grouper told me "congrats" or "good job," I would at least smile and say "hey thanks" instead of just glaring at them and not saying anything.

Anyway, back to the blog. You can say I am inspired of that triathlon Wongstar of yesteryear to start blogging more again. I don't really go to cool new places these days, and most photos are of the crazy rambunctious Christmas puppy on my camera phone (which has this horrible 2-second delay). I also don't have the luxury of doing nothing but training and blogging all day, every day--it amazes me that there was a time in my life when that's all I did. But I do find that I still have a lot to say and have always found writing to be a therapeutic way of getting my thoughts out and sorted. I think the direction of this blog has tended towards more long rambly thoughts, less pictures. I'm also feeling less funny, but maybe the hilarity will come back later.

I guess I was feeling "deleted" yesterday, because hardly anyone ever comments on my blog. It's the attention whore in me. And I mean, comments had always been disabled on my teamTBB blog, so I don't know why it bothers me now. And I'm terrible at leaving comments on the many other blogs that I read, or even responding to the few comments you loyal readers leave here. Yes, I'm a hypocrite at times. We can't all be perfect, and I don't want to be.

Monday, February 20, 2012

magic ice cream koi fish, part 1: DELETED.

Friday after work, I was grabbing groceries at the local indoor farmer's market, which has all kinds of international products, when something caught my eye. In the ice cream aisle. And I was immediately hit by a shockwave of that uber powerful nostalgicky feeling.

I was pretty stressed out from some challenging cases at work that week, on top off capping of the third week with Christmas Puppy. (Hence the ice cream aisle.) And there it was. The shining beacon of red bean with vanilla ice cream inside a crunchy koi fish.

The magical Korean koi fish ice cream sandwich.

Only the most hard-core Wongstar fans will recall, the magical Korean ice cream sandwich of October 2009. This was the ice cream sandwich I ate the night before I broke 10hrs for the first time in an ironman triathlon. I even blogged about it. And damn right there is a picture of me cheesing it for the camera with my magic ice cream koi fish the night before the race...

I almost had a heart attack last night, because I was ready to blog about the magic ice cream koi fish, of course with a link to the original "night before my first sub-10" blog post, when I clicked the link and found: "This user has elected to delete their account and the content is no longer available."

AAAAUGHHHHHHH WHAAAAAAAA-------#@!@#$*&$#!-------AAAAAAAT?!?!?!?!

Maybe I did have a heart attack. Or more like an anxiety attack. How could 4 years of over 300 blog posts chronicling my journey from being a normal 13+ hour ironman girl to an international triathlon superstar be deleted, just like that?! I wasn't about to tell the Sherpa, who is constantly on my case about backing up my files. Yes, I had been meaning to upload/download/whatever all my content and throw it onto an archived blog, but, but, but...

A little bit of hyperventilating, Googling, and emailing commenced. If they really were deleted, posts seemed like they were cached on Google. My Google Reader had pulled a bunch of posts that I had read (yes, I subscribe to my own blog on Google Reader...I like to re-read my adventures). But not all of them. And I have a whole bunch of drafts offline. But just drafts. Most posts were edited and finalized most of the time until they were perfect. I am a writer, and take pride in publishing blog posts free of horrible grammar mistakes.

Last night, seeing my displeasure on my Facebook fan page, the current web chick quickly wrote back to tell me the posts were most likely not deleted and gone forever. This morning my old team manager assured me they are not deleted and are to be put up and viewable again. Some assurance, but my heart is still racing. Or maybe it's the caffeine I'm hyped up on so I can juggle working like a real person with a full-time job, parenting a little puppy, and training to become an Olympic hopeful.

But DELETED. Such finality. My heart aches with the feeling of what once was, because as happy as my new life and exciting as my new sport is, breaking up with triathlon--a 12-year relationship--still hurts. I know I can always go back, but I don't want to.


It's a metaphor for how I feel sometimes. Like a flash of light, the WongSTAR came, she saw, she conquered. Then she walked away. Or rather, she ran out of money, smashed into a van, and mentally crashed.

If the old teamTBB blog were truly gone, then what else was there to remember me by? Some days I'm happy to be out of the limelight, the triathlon circus full of both haters and fans, living a quiet life. Other days I see a magic Korean koi fish ice cream sandwich at the grocery store and yearn for the days a sub-10 ironman was a foregone conclusion, living out of a suitcase and traipsing through foreign countries was a lifestyle, and having no money just meant you'd have no problem hitting "race weight."

Is this why I still blog? So I could feel that I have not disappeared, been DELETED from the memories of former triathlon fans? Is there anyone still out there?

"Is there anyone out there cuz it's getting harder and harder to breathe..." --Maroon 5

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

what's one or two years?

Another race walk lesson with Mr. Miyagi today. After a couple weeks of semi-interrupted training (trip home & Vegas, soon followed by New Puppy Exhaustion), I had to repeat the first week of my first RW training schedule but am back on track and progressing again.

Shins are still sore and I'm told they will be like this for a bit until they get stronger and more flexible. I'm definitely no prodigy and making the Olympic Trials in July would take a miracle. Mr. Miyagi says it will be at least another one or two years until I'm a contender for the national team. On one hand, one or two years?! That's like forever! On the other, not really. I think most of the women competing at the elite level have been doing it since high school. I'm excited at the prospect of making it to the national level in one or two years. It took me 10 years of triathlon'ing before I went pro, and another 4 years of running before then. So one or two years? Not so bad eh?

He says even if I have absolutely no talent, that if I work really hard, I can get good. Now where have I heard that before?

This post was tending towards a rant on triathlon, but I'm gonna have to cut it short as me and Christmas Puppy wore each other out today, and she decided it's already time for bed. Suffice it to say, my friends and those closest to me have always said (regarding my decision to move on from triathlon) that I didn't have to explain myself. So I know I don't have to, but I still find myself needing to get my thoughts down as part of the moving-on process.

Sure, I could spend another one or two years trying to rehab my knee and get back into pro triathlon. I just don't have the interest or motivation to any more. I've seen what I could do when I was able to train full time, and I know what it would take to get to a certain level. I gave myself 4 years of prioritizing that dream and put myself in a financial (and mental) hole that I've only begun to dig myself out of. I don't have the money, the time, or the interest in that any more.

Or, I can take that one or two years and do something new and exciting. Make a national team, go to World Cup events and try to get to the 2016 Olympics, or at the very least the USA Olympic Trials. While holding down a full-time job that I enjoy and have time to do fun things with a sherpa and Christmas Puppy. Operation T-Net is in full effect here, folks.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Puppy Exhaustion

Wednesday morning. Day off. That's right, I still only ever work 2 days in a row. Originally so I could still go about training like a crazy pro triathlete whilst holding down a (technically) full-time job. That didn't last long, but my work schedule has stayed the same.

I am still resisting going back to a completely normal life. I am still holding onto the belief that I am an awesome athlete capable of extraordinary things. Wednesdays have become private lesson day with Mr. Miyagi, expert race walking instructor. I've been telling people I will get to the 2016 Olympics. The more I say it out loud, the less stupid and ridiculous it sounds. I got my first training schedule 2 weeks ago. Yes, it's purposely blurry so that all the training secrets are not revealed.

Mr. Miyagi had to cancel at the last minute today, but this last week has been rough anyway. I've got a good case of New Puppy Exhaustion (NPE). At first it was just real physical exhaustion, as she couldn't sleep through the night without squealing to go the bathroom at 3am, or scratch at her very jingly-jangly collar full of noisy tags at 1am. Now it's more the mental exhaustion of never leaving her unsupervised. We considered getting two dogs so they can keep each other entertained...luckily she has Winston, her older brother/imaginary puppy friend. She loves wrestling with him and sometimes I imagine they're like Calvin & Hobbes...

She is still delightful and adorable, and full of love. And trouble, full of trouble. And visibly growing bigger every day. I'm telling people she is a Boston Terrier/Lab mix but she could be anything since we rescued her from a shelter and a life of crime.

At least today I get to catch up on all the normal things that NPE makes me too tired for. I can write a couple blogs and finish cleaning after our Super Bowl party, get groceries, do laundry, have another attempt at a Paleo pizza. Socks did really well last weekend when the Sherpa's college buddies came over with their small children and Oreo cupcakes, decked out in her 49ers jersey...oh, and of course we watched the Puppy Bowl before all the guests came over!

I think we've been doing pretty good as far as parenting and training...she isn't allowed to eat "people" food and doesn't even beg for it at the table. We can basically have her hang out on the couch with us while eating a snack and she isn't interested. Hooray!