Sunday, August 12, 2012

My Lessons Learned From London

I’ve fallen waaaaay behind on my blogging this summer. OOOOPS! I’ll save the excuses.

To get caught up, in short, training this summer has been incredibly difficult. The weather has been brutal, I’ve had a lot of commitments that have prevented me from getting in good summer races, and I’m all of the while trying to keep my head up (literally) after everything that happened last spring. The good news is, I’m VERY healthy and in great shape. I haven’t had any migraines this summer, and overall feel great. The bad news is, the quality of my training has been pretty inconsistent with the hot/humid temperature that has ruled the majority of the summer days. I haven’t hesitated to take the gas off, in some cases applied the brakes, mainly because this is not the time take risks with my body. Consequently, I feel less confident about the quality I have to put forth for my racing this fall. I ran a sub-par race at the Perfect 10-miler today, finishing 1:09:40, 6:58min/mi. I definitely know I’m capable of being in the 1:08s (or less), but I was full of excuses before the horn even went off which tainted my motivation from the starting line to the finish. This may be one of the laziest races I’ve ever run. I’m hoping with the forecasted cool temperatures of this week I will be able to get my butt in gear and get in check for some fast racing this fall! I’m still hopeful for a 3:14:59 at the Columbus Marathon in October, shedding 1 minute and a few seconds off my P.R. It sounds like an easy task, but even a few seconds of a P.R. improvement can be challenging.  We’ll see what happens!

Today marks the end of the 2012 London Olympics. I have been watching the Olympics relentlessly over the past two weeks and am SO sad that it’s reached the end! Being the overly analytical lady I am, I watch the games very closely, listen to the commentators remarks regarding the athletes’ performances and the judges' scoring, and really enjoy the stories that come along with many of the various athletes. There is so much to learn from watching the athletes. Their performances, even in sports I know nothing about, have left me awe-struck, inspired, and a bit more knowledgeable about what it takes to be a great athlete. Plus, I’ll speak for the ladies, it’s nice to see some real men on TV for a change! I never knew swimming was so entertaining, hahaaa. ;-)

Throughout my life, the Olympics always seem to leave a mark on me. I still remember the summer before 8th grade, watching Kerri Strug in her nail biting final moment on the Vault of the 1996 Olympics, competing for the USA gymnastics team. I remember being SO excited that she came through for the team, but was too young to appreciate that moment for what it was. She was a young girl that dedicated her entire life for that moment, and with the pressure of the world on her shoulders pulled through with all that she had despite being severely injured. Although I could not see it for exactly what it was, the thrill of the moment was contagious and inspiring. Plus, I was definitely more motivated than ever to kick butt on the monkey bars (seriously, we’d get competitive on those things!)on the jungle gym. Now, as a lady of almost 30, I’ve been much more reflective this time around, and many Olympics moments have really resonated with me. I’ll call these my lessons learned from London:

(1)    Talent means nothing without hard work and passion. Every single Olympic athlete has undeniable talent. The beach volleyball girls, wrestlers, equestrians, the ribbon dancers (Will Ferrell wanna-bes, should I say), sprinters….you name it! They’re born with phenomenal genes that open the door for them to do amazing things. But, being good isn’t good enough. Their sport is a full-time job. The amount of dedication and hard work it takes to get to their level requires countless hours and lifestyle demands that limit an ordinary life. These demands make it imperative for them to have extreme passion to validate this kind of commitment. This is what gives the Olympics their prestige; not just anyone can get there. It takes a truly magnificent person.

(2)    You don’t get to the top alone. Most (perhaps all) of these athletes have an incredible network of family and friends that support them. Parents are such a crucial player in most (again, perhaps all) of the athletes’ successes. There was so much focus on parents this time around, from the crazy antics of Aly Raisman’s parents, Ryan Lochte’s mom’s weird comments, Jordyn Weiber’s mom draped with a Rosary around her hands, and more. Regardless, it was SO evident how much love, guidance, and support they give their children. It was amazing to see. I’m not sure it’s possible to get to the top without that, from somewhere. I suppose that’s where luck comes in; those of us with a positive network of good, supportive people in our lives are simply lucky.

(3)    If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. So many of the athletes were back for revenge, either on themselves or another country that had previously defeated them.  There are countless examples of this: Sanya Richards-Ross, the 4X100m relay girls, Allison Felix individually, the girls soccer team, and more. You may not reach your goal immediately, you may trip and fall (like poor Morgan Uceny), but persistence is key. Use failure for the lessons it provides to propel you forward, not as an anchor holding you back.  If you want it badly enough, have the talent/hardwork/passion combo, you will get there. You just gotta keep chippin’ away!

(4)    Everyone should have a have a slice of humble pie every once in a while. From Missy Franklin’s interviews and overall attitude in the pool, you would NEVER know what she was capable of accomplishing or what she has already accomplished. I find that her bubbly, kind personality is a great example for athletes, young and seasoned, everywhere. But, underneath her sweet demeanor, there’s no doubt that she has a great deal of self- confidence. Confidence is awesome, and a very essential component for success. However, there is a very fine line between confidence and arrogance. Arrogance brings with it negative energy, and regardless of how talented you are, I truly believe it taints performance. I feel that a bit of humility is necessary to reach beyond your maximal potential, and arrogance can hold you back. A great example of my point can be seen with the Vault performance of thee “not impressed” McKayla Maroney. I could be totally wrong about her, because I do not follow gymnastics beyond the Olympics. However, the night of the Vault she was prancing around with a scowl on her face (which she has quickly become famous for). From my impression from her expression, she might as well have just said to her competitors, “F&^% all of you, I’m the best.” She was said to be the best girl of the night, and no one stood a chance to her talent. And, on her second attempt, she fell flat on her butt. The best girl won silver. Perhaps, with a little bit of humility, the gold could have been hers. At the end of the day, we’re all human. We’re all fallible, even at our best. I think we need to be mindful of that, no matter what talent we have and how prepared we think we may be. A slice of humble pie, every once in a while, should do the trick. :-)

(5)    YOU define success. Speaking of McKayla Maroney, as well as many other athletes, the Silver Medal, of the Olympics…is considered a failure?? What!?! But to some, like the Synchronized Swimming gals of various countries, success is achieving a high ranking against other countries. They expect to leave medal-less. And for some, success is just the opportunity to be at the Olympics, like double amputee Oscar Pistorious. And most, are watching the Olympics from home, using the successes and failures of these athletes as inspiration to help shape their own goals.  This is what makes the Olympics so magical. We as citizens of the world can see, from the comfort of our own homes, clear evidence of the power of hard work, dedication, and passion. Obviously, most of us don’t have the genes to get us to the level to become an Olympian. We'd be fools to not accept that fact. But that’s just another reason why the Olympics are so prestigious, and why we tune in night after night for two weeks every four years. We are amazed by what human beings are capable of accomplishing. And that’s what we all have in common---we’re all human. We ALL have the gift to make something amazing of our lives. I don’t want to steal Nike’s slogan, but they do have something going with this push to “Find Your Greatness.” It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or how fast you are, if you can find YOUR own greatness, you can do GREAT things. The Olympics reminds us of that. And, It’s not just about being an Olympic athlete. My goals may seem pathetic to Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher, but you better believe that I will kiss the ground when I break 3:10 in a marathon, lol. That’s my goal, and I will be damn proud when I get there! So, stop reading this super long blog post, get busy, and find YOUR greatness!!! :-D

I will miss the Olympics, the inspiring performances, and sexy shirtless men. I am looking forward to Rio 2016!

Cool temperatures will take me into my last week of summer before my 6th year of teaching begins. It will be a busy week, leading into a busy year. I’m anxious and excited to get the ball rolling on yet another school year!

Happy COOL running, everyone!!! :-D