I grew up on a swim team off and on since the age of 5. I was a good swimmer, but not the fastest or the best. In high school, I was a varsity tennis player as a freshman, but still not the best. But during my youth is when I got into running and realized I loved the freedom of it. I would run before school, after school, and even went out for the cross country team my Junior Year of high school. Yet, I got nervuous that I wasn't fast enough and went back to Tennis Team within two weeks.
My nerves stuck with me and in college I trained competitively on the Cal Poly Triathlon Team. I would train for hours, yet on race morning and the week before my stomach would be a mess of nerves. My parents and Coach were incredibly supportive and constantly told me how proud they were of me, but I was a mess. I knew I was fast, but not the fastest at each of the three sports; swimming, cycling and running. Somehow I managed to perform well when combining them together, but I was not the fastest. I wanted to be the best, but realized it was a mental game to get there. I raced and would place in the top 3, 5 or 10 and even qualified for Nationals, but never placed 1st. I had thoughts that it meant I wasn't training hard enough or my body wasn't designed for racing to that level. I still loved the sport like no other, but I would psyche myself out and be disappointed the afternoon after placing 3rd in an event. I couldn't grasp for myself that 3rd was fantastic, yet I could cheer everyone else on and was proud beyond belief for my teammates and peers as they finished whatever their place was, including those who beat me. Kara Goucher, one of the most incredible runners in the world, talked to Runner's World about how the mind games of running can play on her training and racing. I read the article and thought how much I learned from racing over the years.
In the middle(blue) running the last mile of
Oakland Half Marathon-3.28.10.
Never stop, never give up.
I was hard on myself in college and I still am, but now I know it's not the race, but it's the journey and challenge to make it happen. When training so many men and women over the years to complete their first 5K, 10K, Half Marathon or Triathlon, I am full of joy and anticipation as they complete a challenge set for themselves. To watch them train and get stronger, mentally and physically, realizing the pure strength of their body and what it can do, is powerful. It has allowed me to truly be part of the visceral journey through athleticism and dedication that make life changes happen. Through that, my own racing has improved. I am running faster than I have in my entire life and I am more confident in my running skills. Now I have more fun when racing than ever before and am not nervous before races to the level I was in college. My fabulous 2 year old running partner makes me laugh when running daily since she knows nothing but her Mom as a runner. It has shaped who I am as a Coach, Trainer, Mom, Wife and Woman. Being present and realizing each new goal/race is a new adventure, instead of dreading the day of a race, has allowed me to think of the event as another benchmark in my life to be proud of.
I invite you to do the same. With your next goal, or challenge, be open to what the journey is to get there. Know that YOU will accomplish it and complete the task, and don't be scared about the what if's along the way. Appreciate where your body takes you, and be open to how much farther you can push it and how powerful YOU really are. Challenge the Power of YOU!
---Erin Kreitz Shirey
Owner & Lead Trainer of Power Fitness PDX LLC
Post race with family- new Personal Record- 1:32:50-
and felt like it was a fantastic run!