Failure Is An Option

22196240_10213738274555752_4885443550701309449_nFailure, a word that we try to avoid, but an inevitable part of life. What happens when we fail?

Last week I tried to do a 1 X 2 iron-distance race with USA Ultra Tri at the Virginia Double Anvil (that’s 2.4 mile swim, 112 bike, and 26.2 X 2). My plan was to do one iron-distance race thursday and then turn around and do another one on Friday. The result — regretfully — failure. I raced the iron-distance race thursday, but tweaked my knee on the bike.  Luckily it didn’t hurt to run so I finished the race Thursday. I went to bed that night knowing I probably wouldn’t be able to race on Friday. When Friday morning came, I suited up and swam the 2.4 miles but as soon as I got on the bike my knee really hurt and after 12 miles I dropped out. My first DNF (Did Not Finish) ever. In endurance sports it’s bound to happen but it still stings.22195419_10213738274635754_4318780989191913638_n 22282052_10213738274755757_2691805209670469976_n

Although my rational self knows doing a 1 X 2 Iron distance race was a stretch because…well I hadn’t trained for it, I still wanted to finish it. I told myself beforehand that I might not make it through both of them, but I’d be happy with the effort. I’d like to say that’s totally true, but it’s not. I’m disappointed I couldn’t finish the iron-distance on the second day.

What do I miss about not finishing the race as planned?– I miss that incredibly exhausting feeling at the end of an endurance event. The achy feelings in my legs, the tired, hungry, sweaty self I’m left with. The great feeling of taking a shower, putting on my Feetures compression socks, comfy clothes, eating a burger, fries and a beer (followed by dessert:). And finally getting into bed after the long day. For me, it’s such a rewarding feeling. I crave it and now I miss it. I know it will happen again but it’s the end of the racing season for me this year. I’m left unsatisfied, unfulfilled and a little disappointed.

What played in to my failure? This race wasn’t on my schedule for very long. In fact I signed up for the race only a few weeks before race day. My main races were going to be a 2 half-ironman’s, but one was canceled and Hurricane Irma ruined my other plans. Luckily I was still able to train for a 100 mile charity ride at the end of September. Because I was doing so much cycling and decent running I felt like I was training for an ironman. I thought to myself, hmm I can bump up my run and then it’s almost like I’m training for an ironman– heck why not try a double?! My timing was off though as my 100miler wasn’t even a full week before the ironman. Oops. But, I like to think of myself as invincible and of course I’m not. I can’t ride 100 miles Saturday for Cystic Fibrosis and then do an Iron- distance race thursday and friday. This ole’ 46 year old body said no-go, uh-uh, not going to happen. I both undertrained and over trained right before the race. I ignored all the cardinal rules of training and racing and crossed my fingers for a different outcome.

HOWEVER, I thought to myself WHY THE HECK NOT?! Why not try to see what I can or can’t do. If you never try, you’ll never know. Now I know – train for the race or at least be smarter going in to the race.

What I learned from my race failure:
1. We learn something from our ‘failures’ — you HAVE to put yourself out there and try scary things. You will always learn something new about yourself. Failure teaches you to either focus on the positive or the negative. It takes work to do both, but I’m trying to focus on the positive. I still did 140.6 miles inane day a week ago!!

2. The ultra-tri community is incredible. They are a great group of people. Really, you should give a race a ‘tri’. Everyone took such great care of me at the race.

3. I’m not invincible, but it’s okay to try.

4. No body else cares that I didn’t finish the race. It’s not embarrassing because no…one…cares. People are happy for me that I tried. Say what? I thought people were only happy for me when I finished. Um, nope. Time to change that schema.

There will be many more races in my future (I’ve already signed up for 2 in spring 2018!). Never be afraid of failure. It may not be a fun feeling, but it’s not the end of the world. If you never reach farther than you think possible, you’ll never know your limits. There is always a reward – sometimes you just need to search a little harder to figure it out. What are my rewards? I got to spend the day outside in beautiful weather surrounded by awesome people. I had a great, strong swim on both days. And I did a full iron-distance race on a whim! It wasn’t easy but I did it. Yay me:)

Hammer on friends! — Siobhan


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