Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008 Review

Had someone told me at the beginning of the year, that I would learn the most about myself and my love for triathlon by not racing, I never would have believed it. But then again, we all know how unpredictable life can be. Twists, turns, trials, and tribulations: it’s all there. Trust me.

My 2008 triathlon season can be summed up in a few choice words, including (but not limited to): growing, learning, frustration, passion, love, hate, perseverance, survival, hope, joy, and resolve.

Okay, MOST people’s 2008 season can be summarized with those adjectives as well. I’ll give you that much.

Through the training in January and February, Camp HTFU, and my time in California pre-crash, I thought I knew who I was. I figured that I was unshakeable, unflappable. I was ready for the best season yet, races across the country, a new and wonderful coach to work with, and the promise of an even brighter future in the sport. I was wrong.

Funny how life works, eh?

Just when I thought I had it figured out, I crashed. KA-BOOM!

Looking back, though the experience was truly horrific and terrifying, it was one of the best things that could have happened to me. At the time it was incredibly difficult. Painful, filled with sadness and sorrow. But through the process, I grew. With the support of friends, family, and many of YOU (who I have never met), I got through the worst bits.

The physical rebuilding and rehabilitation was just the beginning. The subsequent depression was the worst. But something happens when you hit rock bottom. You are forced to reckon with who you are, and why you are the way you are.
Grammatically incorrect, but I don’t care.

When questioned by non-athletes about why I race, my response is twofold: 1) I love it and 2) Because it’s through the process that I learn the most about myself.
There’s just something so brutally honest about putting yourself out there, laying everything on the line, pouring your heart and energy into the one task of getting as fast as you possibly can from point A to point B. It’s not always pretty: the mind tricks, the pain, the steely grit and determination it takes just to make it to the finish line…It’s the epitome of survival at the very core.

But it’s real.

You always have the option of quitting, of stopping, of putting an end to the pain. A true measure of who you are is what you do when faced with these questions (that only you can answer).

And that’s where I find the greatest reward. At our deepest, darkest moments, there is always hope. There is always light. And before I sound too much like a “Lord of The Rings” fan, we are never alone. And in the end, it’s not about fast times or overall place, it’s the journey itself.

I don’t think that I really understood the concept pre-crash. Yes, I knew about race pain and “pushing through”, but I didn’t recognize or understand the process that gets us to where we’re going.

Or more importantly: why?

Sitting in my kitchen today, I feel like a very different athlete than what I was 365 days ago. Physically I’m healed, have been given a clean bill of health. Through the tremendous support of family, friends, total strangers, doctors, physical therapists, and many many countless others – I can say that I’m 100% recovered.

Mentally and emotionally, I’m a very different athlete. Cautious? Absolutely. But I’m smarter, more patient, and willing to work for the big picture. I understand and realize that the end result isn’t the prize (although it certainly is nice), but it’s the process and the journey where we learn and grow the most.

I know that I’m not defined by race results, splits, or times that I’ve run. And that the overall place or time has very little value if I haven’t gained anything from the process itself.

So there you have it.

Not the kind of year one could ever plan for. But one that I’m eternally grateful for, nonetheless.

Thank you to everyone for your love, strength and support this past year. I am continually amazed by the friendships, the outreach, and the support from individuals whom I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting. There are simply too many to thank –

May your 2009 season be the BEST yet! Enjoy the journey, learn from the process, and let’s HAVE FUN!

I know that I’m MORE than ready…starting on the 3rd of January. The New Year’s Resolution 10k! Hooray!

See you at the races!

10 comments:

Jennifer Harrison said...

Marit,
Happy new Year to you! I have enjoyed the journey with you despite some really tough times, you are the epitome (hopefully I spelled that right) of "picking yourself up and moving on...". Cheers to a wonderful New Year and all that it brings - because YOU deserve it all. :)

Pedergraham said...

Hi Marit: Happy New Year and good luck in your race. I am glad that you are gettign all you can out of your "journey" both the good parts and the bad.
:) Danielle

Kathy said...

You are inspirational to many people Marit - it took alot of guts and hard work to do what you have done, and I for one take great motivation from that.

Good luck for 2009!!!!! I hope you now get the chance to put that determination into the fun stuff!

Charisa said...

Well said. Enjoy the 2009 journey and have a fun 10k race this weekend!

Eileen Swanson said...

Hapy New Year my friend ;-) Cheers to an amazing 09......here we come....

XOXO

Beth said...

What a year Marit. But as you already know (and I'm continually learning) it's the experiences of life, good and bad, that shape us. I'd say you've been shaped to the best YOU! :) Best of luck in your race this Saturday and have fun!

Damie said...

Congratulations on such a great year of learning in 2008. I can't wait to keep hearing about all of your 2009 adventures. xxxooo

ADC said...

I hope this 2009 will be even better for you. You really said it so well in this post - it is not the results but what we learn from it.

Ashley said...

yes yes yes... I hear you! Marit: I miss you, love you, and can't wait to share in it all, 2009.

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