Monday, September 8, 2008

A New Beginning

Hey there –

Hello!

It’s been a while, eh?

My sincerest apologies for the lack of blogs, updates, writing, notifications, or anything of the sort. Rest assured, things are good. No – life is great!

Where to begin?

Well from the beginning, naturally. So that’s where I’ll start.

This past month – August for those keeping track – was the most challenging mentally than I’ve ever had. Period. Not so fun – trust me. However, through the fog of depression, through the uncertainty and sadness, doubt and disbelief that I faced, I have emerged a changed person. A happy person. At least that’s what it feels like right now.

Throughout this journey of recovery, I noticed an unnerving trend with regards to my mental state: I would have a period of a few good weeks followed by a difficult few days. Gradually as the spring warmed to summer, the good days were on par with the bad ones. I would have one or two great weeks and then flip-flop to one or two really difficult ones.

And it was never entirely clear (at the time) what was setting me off.

Eventually the good weeks dwindled to mere days, and by mid-August I felt lost. Like my old, pre-crash self was a mere shadow of existence. That the new me, the one who couldn’t see colors due to being trapped in the fog of depression, seemed to take over.

But that’s the thing about life: sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to see the light, to view life in color, to see the world for all her glory.

For a while, I stopped working out out all together. It was only bringing me misery - a constant reminder of what I wasn't, how slow I really was. Training ceased and I wondered what I would do with my life, how I could find my happiness.

But whenever I was asked by friends and family alike “what makes you happy?” I would always return to the same vision: me riding my bike – on a 5 hour ride through the Blackwater Forest, and all the emotions that came with that amazing feat of physical strength.

I knew what made me happy. It was just a matter of getting there, of finding my way.

As you can imagine, taking time off from sport is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it gives you a chance to clear your head, your body gets some well-deserved rest, but the more time I spent away from swim-bike-run, the more I missed it. And my body missed it as well. I felt out of shape. I looked like I was out of shape.

And I wanted to go from point A to point Z without doing the work to get there. Go ahead – you can laugh at any time. How realistic was this? Absolutely not – but it took a few months and mood variations to figure this out.

I just didn’t know how to get started.

Cue the most-amazing Coach in the entire world. For those of you out there who are interested in a coach, trust me when I say Jen Harrison is the best coach that I have ever worked with. And the great thing is that she’s not just a coach. She’s a friend, a mentor, a triathlon-mom (at least that’s what it feels like to me), an elite triathlete, and the biggest cheerleader (aside from my family) that I’ve ever had.

There were times I had absolutely no clue as of what to do, or how to get better. But Jen was always there, giving me great guidance and advice. She was always willing to listen, urging me to workout when I felt like it and give myself a break when I was too hard on myself.

By late August I knew that I needed to change where I was at. I was beginning to come out of my depressive state, taking the first positive baby steps. Not even full steps – just half steps.

Teeny weeny uber-baby steps.

And that’s when I got The Talk from Jen. When I told her what was on my mind and where I wanted to go, I confessed that I was afraid. Afraid of failing, of staring up (yet again) and then not reaching my expectations (which were – now that I look back on them – pretty unreasonable for someone coming off a life-altering injury). I lamented that I wished I could just, “start over.”

“Well – why not?” was her response.

Oh.

Cue my mouth dropping to the floor. Was it really that easy? Could it be that simple?

“I don’t think I want to race this year…” I stammered.

“That’s okay!” she replied. “You don’t have to.”

“I would rather focus on getting in shape, loosing the ten pound I put on and being healthy…” I continued.

“That’s fine. But if you want to do that, here’s what you MUST do this week. We need to get those endorphins going, get you doing things because you LOVE it, not because its on your schedule.” She continued. “I’m not going to write any workouts for you [it was the last week of August], but BY 9:00 AM EVERY MORNING, YOU MUST COMMIT TO YOUR WORKOUT. I WANT YOU TO DECIDE WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO DO, SET THE TIME IN WHICH YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT, AND THEN STICK TO YOUR SCHEDULE. Of course, it’s okay if you’ve already gotten up and done your workout. Then you’ve got the entire day ahead of you.”

She sounded downright strict. But very enthusiastic. A funny combination, if you ask me. But she wasn’t finished.

“I want email updates every other day or so. Or update training peaks – whatever you feel like. But write down your workouts and let me know how its going. If I haven’t heard from you by Friday [it was Monday] I’m going to call.”

The internal wheels were humming in my brain. Hhhmmmm….. this sounded – dare I say – okay?

“And then on September 1, we’ll start afresh. Just one workout every day – no pressure, but something that will get you in shape and ready for training later on…But I want you to commit. How does this sound?”

By the end of our conversation, I was ready to start cheering myself. It sounded great, it sounded doable. And it was a wonderful feeling knowing that I had such an awesome supporter with Jen.

For such a long time, I’ve gotten in my own way; through unreasonable expectations, unrelenting negative-talk, fear, anxiety, and doubt. Some of what happened I can’t control: its part of my genetic makeup, part of how I’m built, how I’m wired. But other things – the negative self talk and unreasonable expectations, perfectionist tendencies – well, I’m learning how to control that.

And how to deal.

So now, well, I’m happy to say I’m well on my way to getting back in shape. In every sense of the word.

I’ve had two and a half really great weeks, and haven’t missed a workout. Sure, I’m not up to the 5-hour rides or 2 hour runs, but then again, those aren’t my goals. Yet. One day I’ll be ready, but right now I’m just enjoying the sport, excited about my 2600 yard swims, and 48 minute runs. It’s a fresh start, a new beginning.

And the world looks amazing in color.

Thanks Jen.

26 comments:

Amber Rydholm said...

Great post! Great to hear from you again, too. And I already sense the changed-Marit in that you are doing workouts that are not nice round numbers! Now, I guess I need to blog soon, too (someone still has not posted an IM Canada race report....)
-Amber

Jen said...

Hey Marit...
Welcome back!

Kathy said...

What an open and honest post Marit. Welcome back to training land, I will be cheering for you all the way. You are amazing to have gotten through all that you have...

Pedergraham said...

Hurrah! :)

Wes said...

This one made me smile :-) Nice hair cut!!

Beth said...

Yeah Marit!! So great to hear from you again and hear you are taking those forward steps again! And I really like the new haircut too! :)

Cy said...

Welcome back Marit- Missed you!

BTW, your new haircut is super cute.

E.L.F. said...

WELCOME BACK!

love, e.l.f.

Anonymous said...

Yep, VERY very good. Welcome back to the beautiful colors of the world. It is good. :) Jen H.

rr said...

YEA! Welcome back. I've missed you.

Coming back is hard. I don't know where my speed went, and I want it back now. Right now.

Sounds like you have a great plan to get back going.. please keep updating us in blogland? :)

Danni said...

Welcome back Marit!
Missed you!

Anonymous said...

Maritka,
What a treat it is to read your blog again - Dad and I have so missed that.
Now, enjoy the colors, enjoy the new training pace, and most of all, enjoy who YOU are - because you are ONE IN A MILLION.

Love,
Mom

Anonymous said...

:-) i almost stopped in for a hug yesterday during a brief less than 24 hour trip to Pensacola. what a treat to find you'd written. you continue to be such an inspiration and you've written in such a real, amazing voice. love.

donna

kerri said...

So glad you ar back!!!! Was wondering about you. You are at the end of a long tunnel and now there's a rainbow in sight. Enjoy it's many colors. Cheers

TriGirl Kate O said...

Great haircut! Sooooo nice to have you back in the blogosphere--we've missed you.

Alili said...

YES!!!!!!!!!!!

So great to 'hear' your voice again.

Bob Mitera said...

Hi Marit - Great new hair! Looks fabulous! Lorrie just got a new cut too.

I am in the same place as you (only my injury didn't require surgery and I am a lot heavier than 10+ over weight - amazing that my cycling speed has actually INCREASED in 2008 - just think of the possibilities).

I'm starting over too.

Say "hi" to Nate from Lorrie and I.

Rock the house Marit!

Bob

Kim said...

First of all, I thought I was going to go into shock not hearing about house monster and the new one..um.. cast kitty as I like to call her! Second of all, new beginnings are good and I think it is the perfect way for you to take it one step at a time. I've been thinking.. I know that things happen for a reason. For whatever reason all of this happened and good will come from it, no doubt. You'll learn just how strong you really are and that you can do things you never thought you could. I think what you have been going through it way way harder than just training for the Ironman. So, I don't want this to sound weird, but since you didn't get to do your first IM, and I am going to HI to do mine..maybe you want to go with me. Well, not literally, but in um..sprit. If you want, email me at kimberlysbi@gmail.com. I would like to get something small placed on my jersey or make a band I can wear on my wrist or something so you can go along with me that day. Let me know what you think, if it's dumb, feel free to tell me. I think it may help both of us though!

Trigirlpink said...

There you are! Welcome back. How are the felines?

Terri said...

Good to hear from you again! And so happy to hear that you've found your path.

And, how are those kitties???

I love Kim's idea of taking you to Hawaii with her. What an awesome of idea of mutual support!

Take care and hang in/on....

Terri

BriGaal said...

I'm glad you're back, Marit.

Sarah said...

So glad to see you're back at it, Marit. And I'm so glad you're giving it a go with some new goals and new expectations that are right for YOU, right now!

Love the new haircut, too! Hugs, S

GoBigGreen said...

Marit,
Julia here in MN. You are awesome!
I am glad you are finding joy in what you love and....cute hair.
I am getting mine tommorrow, even tho i should be growing it to keep me warm this winter:( ahh...here comes fall..!

Mira Lelovic said...

Welcome back! Sometimes you just need a break/change to get re-enthused. Have FUN!!! And don't stress.

Alicia Parr said...

Great job, Marit. After a little time, I'll be right there with you "getting back into shape" without a race plan on the horizon, only you have a head start!

Eclectchick said...

Holy cats!!

A friend just sent me a link to your blog and . . . it's like I'm reading something I wrote myself about the last 6 months, as I struggling with injury.

I just wanted to wish you the very best and to express my awe and gratefulness over not being alone with what I've been going through physically and mentally.

Thank you so much for your candor!!

Marjie