Monday, August 24, 2015

Tiiiiiiiiiiimberman 70.3 (Plus More)

I really need to stop waiting 3-4 weeks in between each blog post.

Let's see, in the last few weeks, I raced twice.  YES!  I didn't get to race much at the beginning of the season so I'm making up for lost time now!

First, I did a local sprint triathlon.  I haven't raced that short or that close to home in 3 or 4 years.  It was awesome.  Also, I out split my coach on the bike.  Goal accomplished.

I did NOT out split anyone in the swim though.  Shoulder is getting stronger but we still got a ways to go.  Also, I'd like it to be known that I did not steal this picture (I have a pet peeve about that), but that each athlete got their choice of one free one!  Cool.

1:13 isn't a very long time to race but oh man was there a lot of pain packed into that 1:13.

It was a good, fun day with my teammates and friends.

And then we rode our bikes for 3 hours after the race because Ironman is stupid.

But then we got to the post-race BBQ and all was right in the world again.

The same week/weekend of the sprint race, Kim, my sister from another mother, was visiting me.  Kim and I have been friends for the majority of my life and so it was great to have her in town and be able to hang out like old times.  She has seen me through thick and thin and been there for me every step of the way.  Super cheesy and cliche, but good, true friends really are like gold.

And of course we ate ice cream.  Duh.
The following weekend after the sprint, Kait, Matt and I loaded up the minivan and headed north to New Hampshire for Timberman 70.3.

If these two ever get sick of their third wheel, I'm in serious trouble.

I was pleased with my race in Timberman.  I don't quite know what to expect from myself these days, other than a good, hard effort.  But what I've found is that letting go of the expectations can be a very good thing.  My swim at Timberman was improved (still bad, but improved).  I biked better than I ever have and rode my way into 3rd/4th into T2.  And then, after falling to 5th on the run, I clawed my way back into 4th at mile 12 and held it to the end.  It was a strong field and I was pleased.  And most of all, it was just fun to RACE.  When the WTC restructured the pro races this year, removing pro fields from some races and thereby concentrating the fields at other races, I wasn't sure how I felt about it.  I knew it would likely mean less prize money for me.  But in reality, I absolutely love it.  Each time I've raced this year, it's been a big, strong women's field and it has been AWESOME.  Each race has felt like a RACE with people to go after and chase or try and hold off.  That is why we do this!  I race triathlon because I love to race other people and see where I stack up, not because I like to see how fast I can go in a TT effort.  Anyway, I've gotten a bit off topic, but suffice it to say, I have really enjoyed racing some great gals this season, thus far!

And if you ever get the chance to go to Timberman, do it.  Because this is where you get to race.

Post race we went to an OAR concert in Portsmouth, NH.  I had so much caffeine in my system from racing, I never skipped a beat.

After Timberman it was back home and back to work.  This past week I swam the most yards I have since breaking my shoulder - 16,200.  Yup, that's pretty pathetic!  HA!  But I also can't express how amazed I am at how well the body can heal itself.  It wasn't long ago that I could barely swim a 100 with FINS!  And this past week I did one 6K swim and also a set of 50s with ankle bands.  The amount of pain that would have caused just a few weeks ago is absolutely off the charts.  But this week my shoulder handled it with barely a squawk.  Thank you, body.  You rock.

Riding bikes in the summer.  Not a bad gig.

Also, you should know that I've become a bit obsessed with goats.  Because look how cute this is.

So when we were in Hartford, CT yesterday to speak at a QT2 continuing ed seminar, and I saw that they have a baseball team called the Yard Goats?  Well, let's just say I know who I'm rooting for from now on...

And yes, every blog post should end with a watermelon picture.  #fact

Monday, July 27, 2015

Since We Last Spoke...

...I RACED!  Not going to lie, it was a bit of a rough experience (including the $263 speeding ticket I got on the drive from the airport PLUS 4 more points on my license...oh man...).  I was the last pro out of the water.  I flatted on the bike.  But the real issue is, my legs flatted too!  Ooooops!  I felt out of shape and NOT race ready.  But you know what?  It was so awesome to race again, I didn't care.  I may have a long way to go but at least I'm moving in the right direction.  And any race, even when you don't perform like you want, is better than sitting at home on the couch with a broken shoulder.

Plus, we had fun.

When in Wisconsin, one obviously wears a cheesehead.

Racine, you were rough.  But we got 'er done.

I might have drank a fruit salad in the airport on the way home.

I also went to a few concerts since last time I wrote.  I highly recommend Billy Joel at Fenway Park.

And Slightly Stoopid at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.  Pretty sure I was high from second hand smoke.

And then there was the trip to Lake Placid that I just returned from.  It was my first time in Lake Placid.  First time watching an Ironman.  Many firsts.  And it was awesome.

Mirror Lake.  Not a shabby place to do all your swimming for a week.

I worked The Core Diet booth at the IMLP expo.  I've never answered so many questions about beet juice in my life.

Found a picture of myself at the expo at the NormaTec booth.  And then Michelle made me take my picture by it.

Did a bunch of training, including climbing to the clouds up Whiteface Mountain.

Did an absolutely awesome ride with the boys.  Although at the time I'm not sure "awesome" is the word I would have used to describe what was happening.

And then there was just the normal every days.  Smiling.  Feeling alive.

And eating watermelon.  Duh.

Until next time.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Starting Over

This year has, thus far, been a year of "starting over", in many different ways.  At times it's been disheartening.  At times thrilling.  At times very scary.  At times extremely frustrating.  Through it all I've tried to keep an open mind, an open heart and the cursing to a minimum.  I've failed miserably.  I've seen some success.  I've laughed hysterically.  I've cried (a lot).  I've been overwhelmed with gratefulness for the true friends and family that have seen me through it all (and continue to do so).  And I've tried to remember that life is pretty damn awesome every single day.  And that even when it hurts, it still feels really GOOD to feel so alive.  I've got a lifetime to live yet.  The only way to do it is with happiness.

In a few weeks I'm going to Racine, WI to race.  My shoulder has been slow to heal.  I've only swam a handful of times and my bike/run fitness is lacking too.  But I don't really care.  What I've learned with each re-start is this: you have to start somewhere.  And starting over ain't so bad, after all.

The past few months...

There have been some bad days.

But also some amazingly good days.

I rode my bike to the Atlantic Ocean.

And around Lake Cayuga in upstate, NY.

And up the Kanc (x2!) in New Hampshire.

I highly recommend stopping for pie mid-ride.

I got to swim in the beautiful facility at Ithaca College.

But most of my swimming (as limited as it's been) has taken place in this beauty of a "pool".

If you're ever in Boston, go to see Joshua Tree, awesome U2 cover band.

A little reminder from a very wise friend.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Highs And Lows

There exists a tradition in my family called “The Highs and Lows”.  Every year around New Years we are each responsible for listing what we’d consider our “highs” for the previous year, as well as our “lows”.  It’s a good way to reflect on the year and I’m always interested in hearing what my family members perceive as their best and worst moments.  The year I was 2nd at Ironman Wisconsin, my father listed one of his “highs” as watching me cross the finish line.  It was one of the most touching things anyone has ever said to me.

I must admit, most years I struggle to come up with my list of lows.  Because my life is very, very good and, well, I just haven’t suffered a ton of lows along the way.  This is what I was thinking, last night, when I was sitting on a bench in The Woodlands, TX, eating ice cream.  I had just heard back from the doctor that my MRI showed a fracture in my humerus and that I couldn’t race IM Texas.  I decided I needed calcium to heal my bone and the best way to get it was ice cream.  So I got a big dish of it, sat on a bench on a beautiful Friday night, and thought “well, at least I won’t have trouble coming up with lows for this year’s “Highs and Lows” game.”

Life seems to be kicking me in the teeth lately.  A foot injury in Jan/Feb kept me out of IM South Africa in March.  Some ongoing personal issues have left me heartbroken for most of the winter/spring.  Some personal health issues kept me up at night for most of March and April.  I came down to Texas torn and unsure if I even wanted to race but then I did the Galveston 70.3 and surprised myself with a strong performance.  I was 6th in a tough field and rode better than I had every ridden before.  A high!  Finally!  Galveston got me hugely excited to race IM Texas and really give it a go.  I felt like I had some momentum and positivity for the first time in a while.  But then, two days later, I was riding my bike on the IMTX course and crashed.  Everything felt okay but my shoulder.  I thought (hoped!) it was just really bruised up, but an MRI on Friday showed a fracture in the humerus.  No activity for 3 weeks.  A sling.  And definitely no IMTX. 

To say I’m disappointed is a huge understatement.  But you know what?  Life goes on.  And ultimately, my “problems” are of little significance in the grand scheme of things. 
If there is one (huge) positive that has come from the disappointments I’ve had over the past several months, it is this: I’ve noticed now more than ever how many kind and generous people there are in this world.  I’ve relied largely on this generosity and kindness to get me through my tough spots and I want to point out just a few. 

To the Yorks (Aeri, Skip, Stuart, Charles and Sonja): you were absolutely amazing to me and I so appreciate your kindness.  I very much regret not being able to stay and race but I am DETERMINED to do IMTX so keep my room ready for next year!  Thank you for your hospitality.  It was second to none.

To Amy, the good Samaritan who stopped (and ultimately took me & my banged up bike home) after I crashed: thank you for reminding me that there are VERY good people in this world!

To Dr. Keith Johnson and his staff at Sterling Ridge Orthopedics: WOW – JUST WOW!!  I am truly amazed and so, so grateful for what you did for me.  Within a day of calling his office I was in for a visit, saw a physical therapist, had an MRI, a diagnosis and a treatment plan.  All at no cost.  It happened so fast, I’m not even sure what happened!  You likely saved my season by setting me on a path to recovery faster than I could even say “humerus”!  And I will never be able to repay your generosity.  Go kick some ass at IMTX on May 16th.  I, for one, will be tracking and cheering for you all day!  You have a lifelong fan, for sure.

To QR: your bikes are awesome.  But your service and the way you treat your athletes is even better.  Thanks for over-nighting a new stem so that I could get my beautiful PRsix ride-ready again!  Unfortunately my shoulder had other ideas.  But once that puppy heals, I’ll be back on task and ready to rock!  THANK YOU for doing everything you possibly could to get me on the start line in TX.

To Bike Lane of Houston: HUGE thanks for putting me on the top of your priority list and getting my bike ready to go!  So grateful for your service and generosity.

To my QT2 family, most especially Kait, Matt, and Pat: you guys rock.  All there is to it.  Thanks for keeping me laughing and for making memories with me.  Special thanks to Pat, who was with me when I crashed, for sitting in the ER with me, taking my bike to the shop, and wiping away a ton of tears.

To my own family: oy vey!  You put up with a lot.  Sorry for all the worry.  I’ll get my act together here soon, I promise!!  Thanks for loving me, no matter what.

And finally to the Snow family: I simply have no words.  No words for what you have done for me.  Know that your kindness will never, ever be forgotten.  And know also the huge impact you've had on me and my life. 

I’m getting a bit teary eyed thinking of all the wonderful people in my life.  Even just this morning, as I struggled to get a huge bike box, a wheel bag, 2 suitcases and a backpack through the airport with a broken shoulder in a sling, I can’t even recount how many kind strangers offered to help me.  This world has a lot of really good people!!!  And right now, that’s my take away from all that is happening in my own little world.  Despite the struggle I feel, there are people who care and who will help.  And when I’m finally in the position to be of help to someone else, it will be at the top of my priority list. 

So three weeks of no activity and this @@#V$ sling (that I already hate and have sworn at relentlessly) – here we go!  Oh, and lots of ice cream.  You know, for the calcium...!!

Just a TEENY bit of road rash - not bad!  But the real trouble is the cracked wing...

I really need to stop hanging out in ERs.

Happy days in Galveston!  Two @couersports gals and one honorary @couersports guy!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Oh boy, it's been a while.

If you've ever had a blog and at some point failed to update that blog for a significant period of time, you'll understand my current conundrum.  You want to write and update but you don't know where to start.  A lot of time has passed and a lot of things have happened.  Because this seems like such a daunting task, you choose instead to watch tv.  Or take a nap.  Or walk the dog.  Then more time passes and more things happen.  At which point the task becomes even more daunting.  The blog goes silent.  Then you start getting emails asking if you are okay.  Yup, I'm getting the emails.

So here is the abridged version!

I raced Kona in October.

I came home and took a month off of training.  There was weeping and gnashing of teeth.  I survived.  My coach nearly did not.

I started training again.  The holidays happened.  Life moved forward.

In January I cursed the weather.  My foot started to hurt.

In February I went to Florida.  Weather much better.  Foot not so much.  I spent a month in FL, first helping out with the QT2 AG training camps (which are awesome, by the way, check them out here) and then at the QT2 Pro camp.  I swam and biked a ton.  I did not run so much.

Then it was March and I had an Ironman coming up in South Africa.  But my foot was still not right and at the same time, I was going through a very hard time personally.  All signs pointed towards NOT racing in South Africa.  It was heartbreaking, but life moves on.

And indeed, life did move on.  By mid March I was running again with much less pain (Hokas to the rescue - seriously).  I made a tentative plan of racing IM Texas.

In early April I ran a running race.  It was painful.  But the good kind of pain.  And my foot was okay.  I bought plane tickets to Texas.

And now here we are in late April and this Friday, I'm about to board a plane for my first race of the year (Galveston 70.3).  I haven't raced for over 6 months.  I hope I remember how this goes!  After Galveston, I'm staying in Texas until IMTX where I will (if all goes according to plan!) race my 10th Ironman.  Hard to believe.  My Mom will be there as always.  I'm looking forward to it.

There you have it in a nutshell - the last 6 months of my life!  I know you've just all been dying to know.  :)  And because I know pictures are really the only thing people look at anyway...

I got me a new bike and she is faaaaaaast and purty!
And I got me a new racing kit too!  Many thanks to an amazing group of supporters again in 2015.

I've been training in Boston for a bit now and I have to say, I really like it here.  It's mostly the people of Boston I love.  Because they say things like this, with a straight face, and expect you to understand them.

I've picked up a bad habit, or two.

House 1717 from camp.  We were, by far, the most awesome.  (of course)

I blame this on you, Corbin.  I never even HAD gelato before...

Friday, January 16, 2015

All About Me

Remember that confidence project I wrote about in my last blog entry?  Yep, still working on it.  What can I say, when you have my confidence issues, it takes a while to sort out.  :)  But the good news is, things are improving!  I have a new blog assignment, for the project though, so below, read 100 things all about me.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  (in no particular order)  Why this assignment?  Well, I have trouble putting myself "out there" (in fact, I hate it), and so, this is a little practice in doing just that.  Just trying to learn to be myself, all over again.

1) My favorite color is purple.  If you looked in my closet, it kind of looks like purple threw up in there.

2) I failed my drivers exam three times - once on the written part (yes, that IS possible) and twice on the driving part.  I didn't get parallel parking back then.  But I'm proud of the fact that I can now parallel park our manual, in a tight spot, on the side of a large hill in Oakland, with traffic waiting behind me.  Boom.

3) One of the feelings I feel most is gratitude.

4) I've never lived on my own.

5) I don't know how to pay bills or do online banking.  At all.

6) I also don't know how to turn on a grill.

7) Nor do I know how to play poker.

8) But I do know how to play Settlers of Catan.  That's my favorite game.

9) I am a registered dietitian.  When I went through my schooling, I SWORE I'd never work in a hospital.  The first job I took?  Working in a hospital.  And I really loved it.

10) When I worked at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, I saw a lot of people die from cancer.  Cancer really scares me.

11) Alcoholism also scares me.  I think it's one of the saddest diseases there is.

12) I don't drink (alcohol) at all because of that fear.

13) Running is my absolute first love.  Although we've been through a lot of ups and downs through the years, running has been a constant for a majority of my life.

14) I LOVE dogs.  But big dogs scare me.  I got bit by our next door neighbor's German Shepard when I was little and also once when I was out running while in college.

15) I rode horses growing up.  I used to dream of being in the Olympics for show jumping (one of the equestrian sports).

I'm the one in the black shirt.  Back when trucker hats were cool, the first time around.

16) I have one sister that I really look up to.  She is super smart but has never made me feel dumb.

17) I wear a size 7 shoe.

18) I like all kinds of music.  I know all the words to most Billy Joel and Whitney Houston songs.

19) One of my all time favorite movies is Silver Linings Playbook.

20) There are a lot of things I don't like about myself but I'm really working hard to accept that all these things make me who I am, good, bad or ugly.  I want to be one of those people that is really comfortable just being who they are.

21) I never went to a high school dance.

22) It seems crazy to me that I get to wake up every morning and swim, bike and run for the majority of the day.  That literally is, a dream come true.

23) I've always been an all or nothing type person.  I'm not interested in many things, but when I am interested in something I am ALL IN.

24) On May 27th of this year, I'll be 36 years old.  That's hard for me to believe.  I don't feel that close to 40.

25) I'm really proud of the fact that I graduated from and ran for Penn State University.  It's a great school in a wonderful community with one of the best athletic programs in the country.  I still have my college uniform.

26) Bradley Cooper is my favorite actor.  For obvious reasons.

27) My coaches have been some of the most influential people in my life, and I'm very thankful for every last one of them.  Some of the deepest grief I have ever felt came when my high school coach passed away in the fall of 2006.

Still miss you every day, Coach Gatons.

28) And my teammates have always been my best friends.  Even to this day, on the QT2 team.  There is something about many miles suffered together, that helps bonds to form.

29) I'd FAR prefer to listen to someone else talk versus having to talk myself.  And I really dislike talking about myself (which makes this assignment rather painful).

30) I make a list every day of the things I have to do.  And I write it on paper.  Old school style.

31) I get (BAD) hiccups after almost every race I do.  Like the kind that make your entire chest ache.

32) One of the coolest things I ever did was ride my bike down the coast of California with friends.  I saw some amazing things that I can still so vividly picture in my mind.

33) Another cool thing I did was swim with dolphins in Hawaii.

34) I hate eating in restaurants by myself.

35) I'm scared of the end of my triathlon "career".

36) In high school, I worked on an ostrich farm.  There were also horses, cows, dogs, pigs, and llamas.  The llamas were definitely my least favorite of the bunch.

37) I also worked at a swimming pool (lifeguard, in the admissions booth) and, during college, in several nutrition labs on campus.

38) Pizza is my absolute FAVORITE food.  Any kind.  From anywhere.

39) I gave up drinking Diet Pepsi/Coke almost a year ago, but I still think about drinking it every single day.

40) I love going to the movie theater.  And eating salty popcorn.  (with a big Diet Pepsi...oh wait...)

41) I used to have a major sweet tooth but now I just want salt.  LOTS and lots of salt.

42) I am always cold.  And I HATE being cold.

43) I am the slowest reader, ever.  My sister and mom can read circles around me.

44) I've been to 4 different countries - Mexico, Canada, England and Germany.

45) God willing, I'll add to that list in March when I do an Ironman in South Africa.

46) My Mom has been to all 9 of the Ironmans I've done.

47) I don't like offending people.  And I hope I don't when I say this, but I think abortion is wrong.  I know it's an incredibly complex issue and I don't pretend to understand it all.  But in my heart, it doesn't feel right.

48) I dropped out of grad school twice - once as a PhD student, and again later while I was working towards a masters.  I'm a serious grad school dropout.  I sometimes wonder how my life would have been different had I stuck it out.  But I don't regret either choice terribly.

49) One day I want to coach a high school cross country team.

50) I've been to 36 of the 50 states.  (or maybe 37, I can't remember if I've been to Vermont or not)

51) Montana is one of the states I haven't been to that I'd most like to visit.  Either that or Maine.

52) Almost all of my travel has been related to sports - travelling to races either college or as a triathlete.

53) One of my most favorite places is Benton Harbor, MI where the Steelhead 70.3 is.  I think it's really beautiful there.

54) I'm really struggling to think of 100 things about me.  And I'm only on #54.

55) Did I mention I really like pizza?

56) I really like giraffes.  I think they are one of the coolest animals.  I got to feed one in Arizona once.

57) I wear contacts/glasses.  Kind of blind without them.

58) I don't floss.  But I usually lie to the dental hygienist and tell her that I do.

59)  My means of procrastination usually involves twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

60) I sometimes can't fathom that I grew up without a cell phone, OR the internet!

61) I don't wear makeup.

62) I've always struggled to believe that I have the talent to compete with the best in my sport.  But I do believe in my ability to do the work.

63) I've been iron deficient, vit D deficient, and vit B12 deficient.  I still take vit D and B12 supplements.

64) There must not be much vit D or B12 in pizza...

65) My favorite tv show is Homeland.

66) I've also watched every single episode of Grey's Anatomy and Friday Night Lights.  Multiple times.

67) My favorite book is Catcher in the Rye.

68) This past September I attended a training camp with my QT2 teammates and coaches.  Every morning we had open water swim workouts in a lake.  And after every single one of those workouts I cried in the shower.  It was so hard.  And so, so cold.

69) It's really hard to think of 100 things about yourself.  I challenge you to try it.

70) One of my goals for this year is to consistently look at training as a big picture instead of getting caught up and worried about the small details.  A good friend taught me that.

71) I love to sleep.  And I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself.

72) I'm terrible at spelling.  Not sure how I survived without spell check.

73) Also not sure how I survived without Google.

74) I love mini golf and bowling, but am PRETTY bad at both.

75) If I didn't become a dietitian, I would have become a nurse.  They have such a tough job but make such a huge difference in people's lives.

76) One thing that my father taught me is, "you get what you pay for".

77) In high school, one of my favorite songs was 1979, by the Smashing Pumpkins.

78) I took calculus in high school but I have NO IDEA what calculus even is now.

79) I also took 4 years of German in high school.  I think I can still count to 10, but other than that, I don't remember a single word of that language.

80) I don't like vegetables.  At all.  Except maybe peppers.  But I eat them because they're good for you.

81) I wish vegetables tasted like pizza.

82) Winter = nose bleed season for me.

83) Speaking in front of people makes me extremely nervous.  EXTREMELY.

84) I've only been to one concert - Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens.

85) I took piano lessons when I was little.  Wish I would have stuck with it and actually remember how to play!

86) My favorite thing about riding a bike is how fast and how far you can go.

87) My favorite thing about swimming is how you can only hear the water in your ears and the rest of the world is shut out.

88) My maiden name is Buchheit.  The "c" is silent.

89) I don't like fish.  I mean to eat.  Fish themselves are pretty cool.

90) I knew all 4 of my grandparents.  None of them are alive today but I am very happy to have wonderful memories of all of them.

91) Thinking of 100 things about myself is really hard.  I've been working on this for 4 days now...

92) I consider myself a stubborn person.

93) I haven't seen many (any?) Disney movies.  I have no idea what the Lion King is about.

94) My memory isn't very good.  Especially when it comes to peoples names.

95) I rode in a helicopter once.  When I was flown to Allegheny General after getting hit by a truck while riding.  I was fine though.  Not a broken bone in my body.  And the whole situation wasn't very traumatic because I don't remember a thing about it!

96) Even though I don't remember the accident, for about a year after it, when I would close my eyes, I would "see" the point of impact.  Strange.

97) I am so close to finishing this assignment, I can *taste* victory.

98) I wear my jeans WAY more times than I should before I wash them.

99) I almost never remember to wear a belt.


And if you actually made it all the way to the end, you deserve some sort of medal.  There is literally nothing else to know about me!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Confidence Is A Choice

This fall/winter/off-season/base-training season, I've embarked on something I've decided to call The Confidence Project.  Because I feel that a lack of confidence is one of my biggest mental hurdles, I have committed to the hard (and somewhat uncomfortable) work that is required to improve it.  One of my assignments for this project was to write a piece entitled "If Confidence Is A Choice, Why Aren't I Choosing It?"  It was very difficult for me to write, but it helped me learn a lot about myself.  I thought I'd share, below.

If Confidence Is A Choice, Why Aren’t I Choosing It?

Why aren’t I choosing confidence?  I had to think about this for a long time. 

I think the first problem I had to overcome before I could consistently choose confidence is that I had to first believe, really believe that it is, in fact, a choice.  I don’t think I always perceived it as an option.  Rather I was much more apt to think that you either had confidence or you didn’t.  You were born with it or you weren’t.  It was one of the tools in your toolbox, or it wasn’t.  And it definitely wasn’t one of my tools.

When I started to understand confidence a bit more, I started to realize that with hard work, confidence could be gained.  It took me a long time to get to this point, but with a bit of research and lots of reading, it started to become more clear.  Confidence could be one of my tools.  But I needed to stop making excuses for myself. 

“I believe confidence is a choice. And I always choose to believe that I am always going to come out on top.” Max Scherzer, pitcher for the Detroit Tigers

So once I realized that confidence is a choice, why am I still not choosing it?  Perhaps the answer to this issue is a bit more complicated.  But in its simplest form, the answer is: I don’t choose confidence because it’s not the easiest option for me.  It’s not where my mind automatically goes.  To choose confidence is hard work.  And up until this point, I apparently have been choosing the easy way out. 

I think that my “confidence muscle” is weak, probably from years of not being exercised.  In the past, I had only “symptomatic confidence” which is the type of confidence that is built only on recent success.  This isn’t particularly hard to come by and doesn’t require much work from the confidence muscle.  But it’s also not particularly useful because it’s very easily destroyed.  It only takes one injury or even just a string of poor workouts to wipe away symptomatic confidence.  Instead, I need to build “sustainable confidence” that which comes from within and is not built on external events.  This is the type of confidence that will withstand the storms of life and still remain intact, but also the type of confidence that requires some muscle behind it.  It’s that muscle that requires hard work and commitment, both of which I have neglected.  I must exercise this muscle.  I must constantly and consistently correct self-doubt and negative thoughts.  This is a difficult process and seems tedious.  It’s not something I enjoy or want to do.  But in order to develop the sustainable confidence that I so desperately want, this is the type of work I must get busy doing.  Without it, the physical work that I so enjoy, is wasted.

On a deeper level, I think choosing confidence requires a strong self-worth, a trait that I’ve likely never possessed.  Or at least a trait that I never remember feeling.

“An athlete’s self-esteem and self-worth are intimately related to their self-confidence. When athletes feel good about themselves, they are more likely to perform well, especially when the pressure is on. An essential key to developing an unbreakable self-confidence is to cultivate an “inside-out” approach to confidence. This begins by teaching athletes to feel good about who they are and how they do things and ends with them feeling good about themselves regardless of outcomes.”  (Vernacchia, 2003)

Do I feel good about who I am?  That’s perhaps a question that I’d rather not discuss, or even think about.  But it is also central to this topic.  Growing up my self-worth was not high.  I ran cross country and track during those years and with success in sport, I found a reason to justify my worthiness.  But the dangerous mistake in this, is having performance so intimately tied to my self-esteem.  When one took a nose dive, so did the other.  And this is not favorable for sustainable confidence.  It easily follows why I fear failure.  With failure comes a significant loss of self-worth.  It seems to be a very tough cycle to break.

Perhaps then, building self-worth is the way out.  With a higher self-esteem, which is in no way tied to performance, fear of failure can be removed.  Even if I fail, I can theoretically still feel deeply good about who I am.  If this is the case, what is there to fear?  With the removal of this fear, pressure lifts and confidence can improve.  When I feel good about who I am, no matter what is going on around me, I am not worried about what people think or say, and I don’t depend on others to make me feel good.  Perhaps the cycle isn’t very tough to break, after all.

I must believe that self-worth is a choice too, then.  Just as with confidence, I must commit to improving my self-worth with positive self-talk and with the refusal to believe that it’s something that I cannot change.

This will be very hard, very uncomfortable work for me.  Just as with confidence, my mind does not automatically go to feeling good about myself.  Instead, I more easily hear the voices that say I’m not good enough, that I do not deserve success and that I will never measure up.  I’ve surrendered to these thoughts for a very long time.  I don’t suspect I will be able to quickly turn them around. 

Fortunately, I have never shied away from hard work.  I guess then, that it’s time to put my head down, or rather, learn to hold it up high.