When You've Conquered Your Fears, Go Higher

I am training for my first triathlon and trying not to flip out and completely lose it. It probably would have been smarter for me to explore a thousand different challenges that don't send me into the level of panic I feel with my first tri less than five months away. I could have, for example, mustered up the courage to audition for the role as a new female cast member on 'Saturday Night Live' (but I'm not funny), or tried to be a swimsuit model (insert your own joke here). But noooo, I decided to tackle one of the most daunting things I could think of. Silly me.

For some, training for a tri is a piece of cake. You swim. You bike. You run. How hard could it be, right? And yet, all I can think of when I'm in the water attempting to do a 4 x 100 meter tempo swim is, What in the hell have I gotten myself into? Why in the world would I put myself through this? I pull my goggles over my eyes and sulk a little when no one is watching. Then I finish my pathetic little swim session and out of breath, I hoist myself out of the pool and march into the women's locker room. I pull off my swimsuit, throw my head back and laugh out loud. It doesn't matter that I'm standing naked in a puddle of chlorinated water while a group of cute, little Asian ladies give me the side eye. Doesn't matter at all. I laugh because I think of every little thing I've ever tried to accomplish, from the mundane to the sublime. I laugh at how farfetched some of my challenges have been. And I tell myself to be proud because I've completed them all. Running a marathon. Check. Done eleven of those bad boys. Writing a book. Check. Living abroad and learning enough Italian, Spanish and Japanese to survive. Check. Well, that was often a comedy of errors trying to manage life in a foreign land with two little kids in tow. But that's another story for another time.

Essentially, my life has been filled with setting my sights on lofty goals and stepping so far outside of my comfort zone that when I turn around, I can no longer see it in the distance. This gives me an edge, keeps me hungry and let’s me know I can do anything. It may not be pretty but you can believe that I’ll get it done. I will admit, however, that I am scared shitless at the idea of competing in a triathlon.

Six reasons why I'm training for this triathlon despite my fears:

1) When you've conquered a fear, you should celebrate that accomplishment, then go higher. Getting stuck is for Suckas! 

We are all allowed to pause and bask in the glow of our achievements. That's fair. But staying there forever? Nope. That's a losing proposition. Once you know can do something pretty cool like starting a successful business, learning a language, earning a pilot's license or passing the Series 7, it's time to build upon all that awesomeness and take it higher. This is how I feel about my love for semi-competitive/weekend warrior sports like running. Been there, done that. Now after all these years of running, it's time to elevate because I know I can.

2) Trying something new and pushing myself is mandatory

Running is my first love. God willing I will run until I'm a little old lady. I've been a runner pretty much all my life. I ran from, and sometimes chased after, the boys on the schoolyard when I was a little girl with my braids flying in the wind behind me. I joined a track team in the fifth grade and I also ran track competitively the first two years of high school in Hawaii in the 80s. Sure I took time off from running as a college student because I had much more important things to do like going to parties... keg parties, parties at the student union, parties at the Kappa House, parties at the Alpha House, you name it, me and my crew were there. Oh, and then there was that little thing called going to class and earning my degree. These life events were much more important than running (especially the partying), and if you don't see it that way, then you're being really short-sighted right now. Shame on you.

Fast forward to bona fide adulthood. I started taking running seriously in my late 20s when I lived in Japan. I ran with a good friend, Laurie, who had finished three marathons. I was inspired but frustrated because at the time I couldn't run comfortably for more than three miles. I could not imagine running 26.2 miles, but I told Laurie I wanted to give it a shot and train for a marathon. She wrote out a training plan for me and I didn't get started right away but once I made up my mind, I followed her plan. In 2003, I completed the first of twelve half-marathons and what would become the first of eleven full marathons, and I haven't looked back. Now it's time to step my game up, work new muscle groups and achieve something new. 

3) Learning is invigorating

I am learning breathing techniques, what I should prepare for in an open water swim, and how to correct some of my egregious mistakes in the pool. This entire process of learning to swim the right way is humbling but also invigorating. Each time I reach a new milestone like running strong after an exhausting swim (I had never done that before) or getting through a kick ass spin class, I'm on top of the world. I have discovered that when I feel good about something I accomplish simply because I want to and not because I have to, it spills over into other areas including my work and how I deal with my family. It gives me confidence and makes me feel open to endless possibilities for other good things to happen in my life.

4) Getting and keeping this body right is a priority

I'm happy with who I am and have settled comfortably into being perfectly imperfect. That said, I'm hoping to see these thighs slim down and these abs tighten up a little more throughout my triathlon training. Ah, my never ending quest to be body beautiful, at least in my own eyes.

5) My triathlete friends are buying me a new car when I finish the race. Lucky me.

Okay, this isn't true at all but maybe if my friends read this, they'll get the hint and have a fabulous new car adorned with a huge red bow waiting for me when I cross the finish line! In truth, my very close running friends, many of whom are longtime triathletes and some of the most accomplished women I know, are traveling to my town to do the tri with me. I am blessed beyond words to have strong, athletic, women friends who support one another. I have known for some time that they will always be by my side encouraging me to overcome my fears and I try to do the same for them. They are true gifts to me. 

6) I am worth investing in me

My mental and physical health are huge investments and I plan to honor myself, conquer my fears and go higher for as long as I possibly can because I'm worth it. And you are worth investing in yourself too. What fear will you conquer this year? How will you go higher? I'd love to know.