Thursday, July 31, 2014

Smack Down and the Ego Bruise of Finishing Last

Ahhh, the ego. The source of so much worry, anxiety, and suffering.  As a yoga teacher I utter the words, "Check your ego at the door" or "Let go of your ego and get present".  Easier said than done.  The ego thrives on taking you out of the moment, bringing you into the past and projecting 'what-ifs" into the future.  Eckhart Tolle explains the ego this way:

 "It can turn up in feelings of inferiority or self-hatred because ego is any image 
you have of yourself that gives you a sense of identity—and that identity derives 
from the things you tell yourself and the things other people have been saying 
about you that you've decided to accept as truth."  

Well, that helps make sense of the internal dialog I was having last night - "I don't finish last!  This is crazy!  I'm a hard working,competitive, fast, mamma athlete warrior."   

Last night was the "Smack Down" at GAAC Masters swim practice and in addition to putting my legs, arms and lungs to the test, it also put my ego to the test.  It was a race of 2 loops of a 1.5 mile trail run followed by 750 yards swimming (total = ~3.85 miles).  There were about 10 of us competing - 3 of which were women so I still podium-ed (ha).
Relief and smiles at the finish
My tri coach Laurie, who is also our Masters Coach said it was a fast group (placating my last place finish)?  The top male time was 39:55 and top 3 female times were 47:24, 51:12 (although she did extra running after getting lots of the run course) and then me at 51:35.  My average run pace was 8.11 which I'm happy with.  I definitely noticed that I push way harder when I'm chasing.  It was tempting to take an easier pace when there was no one around on the 2nd lap.     
Running data from Smack down - gap is when I'm swimming
I consistently feel nervous heading to swim practice because I know it's going to be a hard workout - even in the slow lane.  It was a bit intimidating being in a group of people who were so fast, but it was also good.    I pushed myself harder and there was no way I wasn't putting in a solid effort.  I may have been last but I wasn't going to be far behind.  Not gonna lie, it bruised my ego to come in last.  I will use that 'bruised ego' to use that to fuel my training for the next 7 weeks before the Princeton Half Ironman.   

Lessons Learned after reflecting and thinking about teachings from yoga and mindfulness:
1. Make a choice to let go of the crap.  When I feel afraid I turn my back on confidence and the ego takes over.  The first part is noticing that and bringing my mind back to the task at hand vs the fear/anxiety that's fueling my thoughts.  The mind is like a puppy on a leash.  It walks along, gets distracted, starts sniffing around wandering in another direction.  You have to gently nudge it back to the path ahead - over and over and over.    
2. Stop 'Telling Stories'.  When I complain and focus on the negative and say it out loud I bring legitimacy to a story, not the reality.  
3. Be grateful.  Find gratitude in the process - that I'm out there running and swimming, that I have health, that I'm strong in mind and body, that I live in a place with beautiful trails to run on and a big pool to swim in, that I have the guts to put myself in the pool with the faster people.   
4.  I need a running partner to fuel some fast workouts and push my comfort zones.  

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