Reflections

I am 30,000 feet in the clear blue sky as I write this.  Third time doing this within 5 days.  The past couple months have been extremely busy between Lucas’ and my adventures, work, training, visitors, and life in general.  However, I have found a little time in between or even during all the tasks to reflect on said busy-ness.  A product of being enthusiastic for life, wanting to participate, and devoting oneself to any number of endeavors is to be busy – overly so and to a detriment at times.  I feel fortunate to have a partner-in-crime, so to speak, with whom to share these things and who is like-minded in wanting to seize opportunities, participate, and do a good and thorough job.  Lucas and I have never gone wanting for something to do.

That being said, I have noticed a change in my desire for more “down-time”, space in between events, and a craving for a little more rest.  Weird!!  My friends and family who’ve watched me jump frenzily from one thing to another – thriving on the constant activity – may be surprised to read this.  Some may have been noticing the shift, ever so slightly coming on.  Hang on – I don’t mean I’m about to become a couch potato or take up video-game-playing in lieu of riding my bike or finding fun adventures.  But this shift of desire feels good, it feels healthy, it feels like…I might be growing up in some ways.  Realizing in a tangible way that more isn’t always better.

That old adage “Less is more” actually makes some sense to me now.  I also think less is less, and sometimes life calls for less.  One can internalize, reflect upon, and actually appreciate things more fully (or even at all), when there is a little space and time surrounding each one.   You may be thinking “Isn’t that so obvious?  It’s taken you 31 years to come to that conclusion?”  It’s not that I wouldn’t have recognized that thought, but I wasn’t ready to put it into practice.  There were (are) too many things to DO!  Accomplish!  Participate in, check off a list, produce, experience!  Time to enjoy them?  Appreciate them?  I’ll do that later… when I’m retired.  (Note:  Having worked in a retirement community for 7 ½ years now, I can tell you that if you’re a person geared towards busy-ness and constant participation and need for stimulation, retirement does not bring all-of-a-sudden ample time to sit around and reflect on all those millions of experiences you had during your whole life.  There will always be things to do, and who can appreciate something that was accomplished years and years ago by trying to remember what it felt like then?)

I have been training under my same coach, Curt Chesney, for two and a half years now, and he has truly made me a more competitive athlete.  I have learned so much about the work of training, the importance of nutrition, mental strength and stamina, appropriate rest, and rising to the occasion of competing at an elite level.  I count these as significant points of knowledge and experience.  I am also craving some more….of other things in life.

I am currently reading A Life Without Limits by 4-time Kona Ironman Champion Chrissie Wellington.  In her book she shares very personal accounts, making herself more “real” to the reader than the infallible super-human we all think she must be to have accomplished what she has.  She has taken this year off of training and competing in triathlon, to tour with her book, talk to people, work on charity causes, and actually enjoy and take in the opportunity to experience being a World Champion.  Instead of diving into the next season, following her 2011 Kona victory (which was admirably accomplished only 3 weeks after a serious wreck on her bike), she has taken the time to reflect, appreciate, respond and give back to her fans, friends, family, and anyone else who might read an interview or pick up her book.  I admire that she made this choice.  In some ways it must be such a relief to her to get a break from the rigors of top-end (and I mean the top-est of the top end-est) professional-grade endurance training – the physical and mental wear and tear it produces, and simply the lack of time for other things.  In other ways, it must have taken some real deliberate thought and determination to say Hey, I’m going to press the pause button here in my ever-accelerating professional sport career and not compete for a year.  I admire the strength and self-restraint of sorts that it took to do that.

I have always enjoyed my work with older adults at the retirement community with which I have been employed full-time in Boulder for quite a few years now.  Thankfully it is a daily job that I love.  In the bigger picture, it’s actually kept me from spending more time training for triathlon, and I feel that is a good thing.  I should stop and say right here that I judge not those who have the capacity not to work a full or part-time job, or who make the pursuit of professional sport their full-time job.  To each his/her own – choices and paths.  But for me and my life and health, I am thankful to have another endeavor that takes my time, energy, and forces me not to get to always focus on myself and what I want.

Oh yes, and being in a serious relationship also helps.  Those who have previously known me as Whitney Henderson can attest that I did not always balance personal pursuit with someone else’s needs and pursuits very well.  At this point, I am extremely grateful to have another chance to do a much better job.

And although I’ve always made a big point about that I want to look back at my life and feel fulfilled by knowing I did a good job with what I was given….well, that in itself – though it sounds admirable – can be pretty selfish.  It also depends on what you perceive a “good job” to be.  Sometimes that “good job” is not actually accomplishing the goal you thought you set out to conquer (ie:  winning an Ironman, or getting to some point of realization that You’re There, at your peak, fulfilling your fullest potential…which, by the way, is always changing).  Sometimes, I am coming to realize, that “good job” is backing off when something else calls, when you let someone else be more important, when you realize Hey, it’s okay to stop incessantly pursuing, and just enjoy the opportunities that are in front of me, and the goals I have accomplished…and wait upon what life has to bring instead of always seeking it out.

Deep breath.  Thanks for reading.  That all being said, here I am in beautiful Idaho for Ironman Coeur d’Alene on Sunday.  With all this reflection, I have also had to wrap my head around competing this weekend.  This is a big event, and I am on the pro roster once again with other very accomplished athletes.  Lucas is here, supportive as always, and my parents Nancie and Jerry drove from northern California to spend time with us and to spectate the race.  I feel so thankful for these people, and part of the motivation I am currently obtaining comes from their presence here.  This is an absolutely beautiful area of the country.  This race has been going on for years, and I am just a part of it, not the center of it.  I can handle this, in fact, I can do this well.  With what I’ve been given.  Challenges come to us in many forms, some we cannot control in any way, some we choose.  I will race, smile, and write you a report on how it all shakes out!

 

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