Going in to the race this year I felt immense pressure to finish. And, not just pressure I was putting on myself. It felt like the entire world was putting pressure on me to get this race done this year. Don't get me wrong, I don't think anyone was doing it on purpose, but everyone was doing it. Going in to the race I felt like I had an enormous weight sitting on my shoulders. Everyone seemed to be expecting so much. And, I definitely cracked under that pressure, in to a million little pieces.
In the months leading up to the race I heard over and over and over again so many things from so many people. "This is your day!" "You have to finish!". "This is your time!" "This is your race!" "Its redemption." The list goes on and on, and on. Several days after the race I was told by someone that I was only putting the pressure on myself, but in the next breath he said, "It would have been a major coups if you had finished Wildflower." I don't think that anyone, especially that guy, realizes that its just that kind of thing that made me feel under more pressure. To say it would be a major coups for me to finish is a huge amount of pressure for me to have been facing before I even got to the starting line. I'm sure that no one meant to do anything other than encourage me, but when its coming from all sides like that, its overwhelming. And, unfortunately I let all of this get to me, which was my mistake. I should have said something. I should have spoken up. Unfortunately I think I was encouraging this pressure by my own attitude.
I felt like my friends, family, teammates (from last year and this year) were watching me, scrutinizing me, waiting for me to finish. I started to feel like everyone around me wanted it for me more than I wanted it for myself. And, that is where the cracks started to show. Eventually I crumbled. I fell apart on Saturday at the finish line, allowing a couple of trusted friends to comfort me as it all came crumbling down. Sunday, after I finished the Olympic, the pressure from the season, from the year, everything that I felt everyone had put on me, everything I had ultimately put on myself finally felt lifted.
Some people thrive under pressure. Hell, sometimes I do. But this, this was too much. I know that people will say that's what triathlon, or marathoning, or endurance sports are really all about, overcoming the pressure. But this, this was too much, for me, for this year, it was just too much. I just couldn't handle it. Maybe it's a weakness I need to overcome. Or maybe, I just need to not think so much about the world around me. About what those around me seem to believe I should be capable of (or am not capable of).
All that pressure it just was too much this time. That pressure contributed to making this not fun for me. I think really, the most important thing is to remember that this is supposed to be fun. I need to find the fun again. And that is my new mission. Find the fun. I've taken the last week and a half off completely from training. I'm not going to start training in a major way again quite yet. I'll still be swim/bike/running, but at my own pace, in my own way.
I think last year I was under similar pressure after I didn't finish Wildflower. I was still training for Vineman and definitely felt the pressure. But, it was more like, can she do this? Will she do this? Still pressure. The thing I did differently last year? I remembered that this is MY journey. This was MY adventure. This was MY road to travel down. It didn't matter what anyone else thought or believed. It was only what I believed in myself. With some guidance from a couple of very wise coaches I got through the last 12 weeks of my season and finished Vineman - with a smile on my face the entire day. Even with the pressure. Last year I thrived. Last year I found the courage that I needed to keep going. This year, I just forgot that the journey, its mine, not anyone else's. Next time, I'll remember that. Next time, it will be about me. Next time I'll tell everyone to shut it, nicely of course. :)
Do you thrive under pressure? Does it ever feel like it's too much?
If you find yourself under pressure in training, or somewhere else, remember, this is your life, your journey, not anyone else's. If you don't want to hear the chatter, make sure people know. If you do, more power to you! Make sure the people around you know how you feel. Regardless of how you feel about pressure, make sure everyone knows that you're busy doing everything you can, but that this is not about them, its about you. Be a little bit selfish. And know, you can do this. You just have to WANT it.