Imprinted

Photo Sep 28, 12 50 17 PM

You will remain the same person before, during, and after the race, so the result, however important, will not define you. The journey is what matters.

-Chrissie Wellington,

A Life Without Limits: A World Champion’s Journey

Last Sunday, I completed my half-ironman journey as I crossed the finish line in Augusta, Georgia, in just over seven hours. And since, I’ve allowed the experience to ruminate, to simmer and ingrain itself into my core just a little more potently. For many days, it seemed surreal, almost a magical fairy tale, a dream that I was haphazardly claiming as my own. The blue athlete’s bracelet we all wore to gain entry into the race transition area still encircled my wrist. I hesitated to cut it free, nervous that the magic of race day would be broken as the circle is severed.

Earlier this year, I chose connected as my focus word. I embarked on a journey of connectedness blindly, holding my heart open to touchpoints that might softly tug at my consciousness and lead me. Frustrated with a life in the shadows of what could be, I was ready for a new experience. And now, with three months remaining in this year of connection, I am in awe at what has unfolded. And without reservation, it has been this journey to 70.3 that has created the largest shift, the most ripples, and the most permanent change.

On race day, my goal was to remain connected. To a sense of grace and gratitude. To my body and its needs. To the incredible community of Augusta and the triathletes who were racing. To my mind and its capacity for strength. I sat on the dock, just about to enter the swim, and to calm my swirling nerves, I tenderly held all of those long training hours, fierce successes, lonely rides, and frustrating moments of doubt in my heart, so that they could propel me forward. The result of this focus was ethereal: an experience that was magical and light and full of love.

I’ve spent so much of my life doubting myself and believing that what others do, I am incapable of doing. Time and time again, I arrive at a sticking point, murky and unknown. The volume of the negative chatter builds, teetering on the edge of intolerable. And so often, I collapse under this pressure that I create. To be perfect. To feel successful. I’ve been hesitant to take that blue wristband off because then the race, the experience of it all would feel even less tangible. I have the medal, the t-shirt, and the hat, but that wristband was there for each of the miles. It was a part of my race and the time I was finally and simply able to see myself without judgement. My imperfections. My moments of stumbling. My confidence. My belief that I was worthy to be there.

It was a part of me finally loving me for exactly who I was that day.

Last night, I had a moment of self-doubt. I was writing, and nothing was working. Suddenly it seemed ridiculous to consider myself a writer. The ridiculousness tumbled into more spaces and fears and eventually I was in tears. Who was I to believe I could be a writer? A mother? A wife? An athlete? Who was I to believe? Rowan offered concerned snuggles, and Jon gently talked to me. I was able to stop the flow of tears, but it wasn’t until this morning, when I looked at the blue wristband that I understood something without question.

The magical reminder of race day, of the experience of connectedness and love isn’t in a blue, plastic wristband. It isn’t in carrying around a new transition bag or wearing a finisher’s hat. It won’t be in an M-dot tattoo that I may or may not get. The change that happened on this journey and on the race course has been imprinted far more permanently. Somehow along the way, I have learned to love who I am more strongly and more immediately. As a writer, a wife, a mother. As a half-ironman triathlete. In my mind and in my heart, I am worthy of all of those. When moments of self-doubt emerge (and they will), I have that new imprint, that slight change to my makeup to reconnect me to my purpose and path. Completing the journey to 70.3 miles certainly changed me physically, but most importantly it finally connected me to a love for who I am.