Show Up

Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up. ~Des Linden

It’s been too long since my last post. I must admit, the last two months have been a bit of a struggle: illness in Chengdu, China drained all the nutrients and energy from me leading into race day; a duathlon in Astana Kazakhstan where just an OK first run and mistakes in T1 resulted in a disappointing finish; a good swim/bike in Huatulco, Mexico followed by a lackluster run left me just outside the top 20; a crash at ESCAPE Philly sidelined me for two weeks, and a subsequent tumble in training blessed me with some rather painful road rash.

In the midst of what has felt like one thing after another, I’ve constantly sought to keep everything in perspective—trade wars are brewing, families are being separated, people are losing their homes to fires blazing throughout California (and other western states), and on the teeny tiny triathlon scale, athletes sustain injuries far worse than I did… life could be so much worse! On top of that, there have certainly been many happy moments along the way this year—friends made on the other side of the world in Astana, Kazakhstan; Adam’s decision to attend The Law School at University of Notre Dame; my brother’s first solo gallery opening (and the fact I could actually attend it!!); west coast sunsets; pizza nights with the girls; “family” dinners with the Triathlon Gold squad and family dinners during my mid-season break at home on the East Coast; and most recently, a week at the Olympic Training Center.

Keeping the bigger picture in mind has certainly provided me with an appreciation for what I do have; it has enabled me to always find “silver linings” and maintain faith in the path I’ve chosen and my ability to achieve my goals. However, at many times, it has also felt like the life changes and investment of time, money, and energy (not just mine, but also Adam’s and my family’s) have all been for naught. There have been many times this year when I’ve questioned what I’m doing and my place in the sport.

I got back to Encinitas a few weeks ago feeling a little less than motivated, to say the least. But in my free time over the month prior, I also began reading more and actually got into podcasts. My homestay host in Encinitas sent me the link to an incredible interview with Desiree Linden, and it really struck a cord. As Linden spoke about the personal journey she had been through over the year (or rather, years) leading up to her win at the 2018 Boston Marathon, it became clear it was no cake walk. Her story served as a reminder to me that great things can come from unexpected places when you put in the work day in and day out. I adopted her mantra: show up. Motivated or not, I committed to "showing up" to each session and executing. I told myself, it's ok if some days I don't have anything more, but I can never give anything less than my best effort. This is a motto that extends far beyond sport (or your work). I have sought to show up as a friend, as a wife, a daughter. Basically, I have committed to bringing my whole self to any situation I find myself in; to being 100% present.

In the process of applying this mantra, I have discovered firsthand how motivation isn’t necessary for action. In fact, action can create motivation. With each session that I push through and execute, I find renewed strength of spirit and inspiration to make that next one just as productive and fulfilling. As David Goggins put it, “How you develop mental toughness is becoming hard, and how you become hard is doing [things] that you don’t want to do.” On the days when I’m not feeling a fire lit under me, I tell myself, "You're here, so just do it." In the moments when my legs are protesting, I say to myself "show up, show up" in rhythm with every stride. Pushing through and executing in these moments gives me that much more confidence that I can hang tough come race day.

I’m still working on fully re-finding (or re-defining?) my mojo, but in the meantime, the strength and toughness that come from thinking only of what I can do each day to create the destiny I desire—not the “what if’s” that can arise along the way—and then executing on that are incredibly rewarding. I’m embracing that process and building on it in a renewed effort to develop into the strongest, hardest athlete I can be, inside and out. Next opportunity to bring that journey to the race course is this weekend, in Lima, Peru. Cold ocean and drizzling rain so far—will be the perfect opportunity to test that toughness!