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Mental strength

Updated: Mar 15, 2021

Here I am finishing up week 2 of Ironman training.

And thinking that just 1 year ago, we were taking a 2 week break to flatten the curve. Oops.

My husband has left with B to a Scout hike (his first as a longer a Cub Scout/Webelo), J is in the back room talking to himself, and watching Mythbusters, and I am getting ready to go for a long run.

But I am propelled to write for a few moments before heading out.

This week has been one that has pushed me mentally. Almost to breaking.

It wasn't the workouts...they were great (we are still in building mode, so not super hard yet), but life around me made me just want to scream.

It is March, and we had the first week of beautiful weather...I mean 3 consecutive days of 60+ degrees and bright sunshine. The kind of weather that makes you think, "ahhhh Spring is here."

I even had a chance to commute to work on my bike. It sure felt good to ride outside, even if my legs wondered what was going on.

In a few days we are expecting below freezing temps, and the possibility of snow.


Anyway, with the beautiful temps, everyone has come out of their houses. Especially so with Covid still lurking around every corner. People were out walking, riding bikes, talking at the end of their driveways--all socially distanced of course.

This includes the bears, but I digress.

Working in a bicycle shop during this pandemic has been a nightmare at times. Bikes, parts, tires, you name it has been at times near impossible to get a hold of. If we can get something, it may takes weeks before it arrives, and we can get it to our loyal customers.

Customers drop off bikes for their annual tune-ups expecting that it may take a week or two (it seems like everyone drops them off the first nice day of March), but it becomes 3 or 4 weeks, or more, when parts aren't available.

Deposits have been placed on bikes for over a year in some cases. Dates when we can expect bikes fluctuate. Some bikes that we have had on order since last summer we can expect sometime in 2022.

It is very stressful.

Then you speak to the customer who wants to know why?

You explain about the pandemic has diminished workforces--factories shut down, or entire production lines in quarantine. You talk about how the supply chain (aka Global logistics) is a mess--container ships sitting in ports waiting to be unloaded but can't. Remember, many items are manufactured overseas. You empathize with them that even though they are planning ahead to their kids birthday in 2 weeks, the bike they want won't arrive until October--maybe.

After a day of those phone are mentally drained.

Workouts help with the mental fatigue. But after a while, you need more.

Some turn to alcohol, some turn to drugs. Some turn to more demanding physical activities. Some meditate or do yoga, or both. Others turn to God or a higher power.

I've done most of that. I'm too old for some of that. And some I just won't do.

I like to read to escape.

I started doing a daily devotional by Sarah Young, called Jesus Calling. Those short little devotions remind me that there is something bigger than me in the universe. I read this before bed--today's verse and tomorrow's, as a way to begin to ground myself after the daily grind.

But, then I turn to a book.

The current book I'm reading is Julie Moss's biography, Crawl of Fame. If you don't know the name Julie Moss, you may have seen her. If you are old enough to remember ABC's Wide World of Sports, you probably will.

Wide World of Sports was a program that would highlight the more unusual sports in the world. If you are under the age of 30 you will probably remember the ski jumper crashing before the end of the jump, and Jim McKay's speaking of the 'Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat". The show aired on ABC for almost 40 years.

In 1982, a 23 year old Co-Ed decided as her thesis project to compete in the Ironman in Kona, Hawaii, after watching the Wide World of Sports broadcast the previous year.

She came within 15 feet of winning, her body shut down. The second place woman ran past her, after having been 20 minutes behind at the start of the marathon.

Julie crawled across the finishing line, just seconds after the winner.

Ask any triathlete, and they know this story.

This is how the Ironman became the global phenomenon it is today.

But her description of that day, even the days preceding and after is what is even more interesting.

The mental strength she showed is crazy. Most people would have quit, long before the finish line. Yet, she persevered, and had a profound impact on the world of triathlon.

Does anyone remember who actually won the race that year? Not many, but almost everyone remembers the girl who crawled across the finish line.

By the way, the winner was Kathleen McCartney. I googled it.

It is the ability to keep going even when everything is falling apart is what is so dang inspiring to me. How do you get to that place mentally?

Before, I think I got there by listening to the little voice inside my head (that sounded like my dad) saying that I couldn't do it. And me responding, "I'll show you that I can!"

Negative motivation is not a good way to motivate, but it was the only way I knew.

I now know that a more positive motivation will get me further. "You'll catch more flies with honey than you will with vinegar," as the saying goes.

I've written before about music, and how I love to make mixes. When I workout, I enjoy listening to music for inspiration. I recently found a song called, Lionheart by David Francisco. It starts:

I have the heart of a lion

There’s a spirit inside of my bones

that makes me alive

I have a fighting desire

when the darkness is closing in

I’ll be the light

Now that's a song that is going into the rotation on the playlist.

EDIT: I have since found out that David wrote this song during a year of rehab. He was struck by a distracted driver while riding his bicycle paralyzing him from the waist down instantly. Wow! It became his "fight song". After surgery and a year of rehab, he can walk again with the help of crutches.

So, as we Spring forward this weekend, and the craziness of life springs forward as well, I will keep thinking positive thoughts and push my dad's voice out of my head. I will think of Julie Moss, crawling to the finish line. I will put on positive upbeat music, and find those with positive lyrics, like Lionheart.

With that, it is time to put on my shoes and go out and run.

And when things get too much, I'll think of this meme I saw the other day, and breathe.

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