What Petra did next

What Petra did next?  Oh – the rest of her life.  Because it turns out I kind of left that for a while.  While I was beating myself up over the summer for not putting enough emphasis on my training (and it’s true, I could have trained harder) it appears I left a lot of other stuff undone. My inbox could have choked a donkey.  Paperwork everywhere.  Things I really should have dealt with, not dealt with.  Not in a haha way,  but in a “oh crap how could I have left that for so long kind of way”.  And worse.  So I have spent the past 4 weeks catching up.

The period after a big race is always a tricky one.  I find myself going up and down emotionally – casting about, I suppose, because the big goal is gone. One of the phases I go through is immediately trying to find a new goal. People keep suggesting them to me and I’ve said yes to an unfeasibly large amount of things which I have absolutely no realistic chance of doing.  I’ve said yes to doing the half iron again next September, to various shorter distance tris, I’ve even said yes to the Chicago marathon.

What I should remember (oh the things I should tattoo on my forehead!) is that I have a habit of crowd sourcing when I’m unsure about my next direction and it’s a habit I should break.  Not that listening to others is  bad idea but in my case I tend to forget to listen to myself.

Because when I shut off the chatter – and FaceBook and the Internet which is often just that – what do I really feel?

  • I feel that I had a great day out there doing the half iron.  The best possible day.  The conditions were fantastic and I just enjoyed it.  Even when it hurt I was happy and proud and pleased.
  • I don’t feel the need to do it again.  Maybe I will someday and then I will do it again.  But right now it feels like a box ticked.  Something I can move on from.
  • I have not been on my bike since the race.  I walk past it about 30 times a day but all I think when I see it is “no”.  I don’t know why – I just never enjoyed the bike rides that much and I don’t think I ever wanted to acknowledge that.  I’d be all up for cycling to somewhere but a bike race?  No thank you.

But the whole putting off the rest of my life bit has given me another, and a bit more disturbing,  insight into myself. I have set goals before and have been training for marathons on and off for the past 7 years.  I have never put off or ignored as much of the rest of my life as I did in this training cycle.  I turned training for this half ironman race into a great big test of myself.  In the past, when I’d miss a workout I’d feel bad, but move on.  But in this training cycle it was all much bigger.  If I missed a workout, it was proof that I was, somehow “not good”.  Getting it right meant I was “good”.  Whatever “not good” and “good” mean – I realise that I made this whole thing too much of a judgment on myself.  I’ve pulled out of marathons before because of sickness or injury but I could never have pulled out of this event – that would have been a massive indictment on me.  By me. And now I’ve actually realised that, I’m horrified.  I’ve pulled some crazy stuff before, but this is the limit even for me.

So I’m having some stern talks with myself.  I don’t believe this ridiculous pressure was somehow “because of” triathlon.  I think it’s a reflection of where I am in life – my own warped version of a midlife crisis.  Because I was (and am) struggling to find some direction for myself in the rest of my life this goal became it all.  I had to get this right because I didn’t feel I was doing so great elsewhere.  And that is ridiculous and doesn’t solve anything.

So now here I am, it’s early October and these are my goals:

  • to train for London, finally get UNDER 3:45 for a marathon and BQ.  If London is not my day, I will get it elsewhere.  But I’m going to work very hard for this.
  • I’m staying with my wonderful coach / psychologist / straight talker Mary.  Having her tell me what to do takes an enormous amount of guesswork and pressure off me.
  • to do something different next autumn (September, October, November).  I’m thinking an ultra.  I’m thinking an ultra in the US.  I’m thinking 50M.  So I’m crowdsourcing this one people – any recommendations?  I don’t mind hills but probably should not start in the Rockies as I train at sea level.  Let me have your thoughts.
  • and I’m going to let myself off the hook.  I’m going to see what happens to my life if I don’t push it so hard in one direction.  And I’m going to listen to myself – really listen to myself.  Amanda has been an inspiration with her journaling and I think it will help.

So there you have it people – the plans for 2012 / 2013.  Help me stay on course!

Maritza and I in London

And finally – the rewards of blogging!  Maritza and I met through blogging and hearing about each other on podcasts years ago – we ran together for the first time when I visited the Bay Area in 2008 and have stayed in touch since.  She visited London for work last week and I came to London to meet her – it was wonderful to connect and see her and meet her lovely boyfriend Mario.


8 thoughts on “What Petra did next

  1. I love it, Petra! Doing a half ironman is a huge undertaking in terms of time and focus. I think you knew that you really couldn’t miss too much, or you simply would not be able to finish that beast of a race, and sometimes the ONLY way we can get ourselves to do the work is chastise ourselves repeatedly. But fear of failure and constantly berating the self, as a means of getting ourselves to achieve, is a difficult road–and one that is less than satisfying to take ! I think that’s definitely what you realized here. I’m so excited for your London training… and I know that because running is so much more time efficient than training for triathlon, that you WILL find it more manageable and will not feel you need to beat yourself up quite so much!!

  2. I get what you are saying so well. I felt the same after my 2 HMs. So much time goes into training and too little enjoyment of the bike (for me). Like Mary said, running is much more manageable and you can have many do overs, particularly in shorter races.

    It is easy to get into the procrastination trap because sometimes it does not feel good to sit with our thoughts and feelings; easier to escape. but it gets to be a snowball effect. running is the time when i find it easiest to ‘face’ things.

    excited about london!

  3. Great post and insight, as always. I am so proud of you for your big race but especiallyfor the training. That’s the hard part that takes over your life and messes with your head.

    I vote for an ultra in Oregon next fall! I don’t have any off the top of my head but there are plenty. McKenzie River 50k is in September, but does a lottery entry. There’s Deception Pass in Washington (rainshadowrunning.blogspot.com) in December, might be late. I’ll find more if you are interested! As you know, it’s beautiful country and you can stay with us and see sweet Penny! 🙂 Maybe I’d even run it too, or a shorter version.

  4. Hi you! First off…you made me laugh with your comment about your inbox being full enough to choke a donkey! ha ha! such a funny line. 🙂

    I can’t imagine training for a half ironman…the training sounds so intense…I would lose myself in it, I know. At least if I did it now. And I know how those feelings show their ugly head when we slack or let ourselves off the hook or skip a workout or…we beat ourselves up and blame ourselves and make ourselves feel like we need to do more…uggh, such a tricky thing. I read something in Chi Running tonight that made me stop and really think…it was about training yourself in body sensing to be more aware of your body…and this part : “Watch for phrases like “I should” or “I can’t” or “i’m not” or “I have to.” any negative or judgmental thinking creates static on the line. And who needs that when you’re trying to get clear reception?” …this part jumped out at me. So much of what keeps me from feeling peace in my life and really being my best self as an athlete, friend, mom, etc….is when I start thinking in phrases like this. I do it all the time…more than I think. I should…. I’m not doing…. I have to do this….. Ha! This is a ramble and probably has nothing to do with what you were saying in this post but I though of it when reading your words. I love your goals…I love that you’re going to let yourself off the hook. Just be. See where that takes you. You do so darn much. London will probably be the best race of your life if you can truly listen to yourself and shut off the “chatter”.

    Love your reflections here. xo

    1. So many wonderful, incredible insights and inspiration Petra. You never disappoint nor fail to take it to the deeper level…miss that!

      It’s so hard to keep our commitments to our sport/love at a “normal” level. For me, I’m in 150% or I’m not in at all…that’s just how I roll. That’s not to say that it’s okay, it’s just who I am. Sometimes, life tips the scale and I feel what you describe as a “mid life crisis” but I’m never unhappy that I gave that 150%, I just question whether it’s truly necessary. Not that I could do anything about it! —geesh, what a ramble.

      Anyway, I **LOVE** your goals and am here to suggest a 50k in Souther California called Noble Canyon! It’s in September and does have hills but not too much elevation. I ran this race two years ago and it’s gorgeous, I think you’d love it! THen you can come stay with us and we’ll feed you M & M’s at the aide stations and rub your feet! How much fun would that be??!!

      Hugs and thanks for your thoughts!

  5. Petra,
    What do you use for your hydration needs with all of the running that you do? Have you ever tried The Right Stuff? Or is there another hydration source you recommend?

  6. Hi my sweet friend…
    Saw you had a post up so I had to stop by and say hi and that I read every single word with great focus so I could figure out what you’re really saying :).

    I’m doing a HIM next June … but I’m not going to obsess over it, I don’t think. I think (and this is a biggie for me) that I’m going to instill the help of someone (gasp) and get myself stronger running and my head back to where it needs to be. But I could see where the training for a HIM could be pretty intense. I just don’t love the bike for it to become a career!

    I’m excited for London for you – so wish I could be there running it too. And damn girl…if you are doing an ultra and coming to the US, you BETTER be running that puppy with me!! And NOT RRR – we will die out there!! haha. I’m trying not to think too far ahead because whenever I have this looming race this year, it never panned out, and that is just not settling well after a few of them. But I promise I’ll be there for you, either running or cheering!! 🙂

    Love you tons. Will get an email off to you this weekend. Just got back from Chicago (where I had a most excellent time, surprisingly :)) and working and yada yada yada. But I’ve been thinking of you!!


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