Breathe … Visualize … Succeed!

Can you hear that? The crackle in the air, the hum of raw energy, the sweeping arm of change. Graduation is upon us. Tomorrow is the day I’ve chased for two years. A moment of small victory over the academic regime. It’s yet another step in my (now) very adult life.

As all good things, the title for this blog came out of one of three books that I have for training for an Ironman. It’s all too appropriate that the two most impactful events of my life so far will take place within five measly weeks of each other. I swear, each academic year I would whine and complain about school then WHAM, finals had come and gone and I was stuck holding a calendar filled with 16 weeks of a crazy schedule that had flown by. The same has happened yet again. My two years absolutely evaporated into thin air! I seemed to have forgotten to catch my breath along the way.

Step 1: Breathe
I can hardly sit down to watch an hour of Big Bang Theory let alone actually regroup emotionally or, you know, CLEAN MY BLOODY KITCHEN! I take great solace in my quiet time with my dog, which is actually more of me passing out at the park while she runs amuck. It seems to be mutually beneficial for us both.

Breathing, as you all know, is critical to living life, but it can also be taken for granted. You won’t get very far swimming if you forget to breath, just like you won’t quite make it through the week without getting some mental and emotional fresh air.

I also have great appreciation for a quiet dinner with my friends. On the flipside, it’s terribly and horribly ironic that I have less time now that school is wrapped up with a bow on top. Seriously, it’s painful to be the antisocial one now. My calendar is an absolute mess, and you know it’s bad when you have to schedule seven nights of “No Plans” in order to contain yourself. Ugh!

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2: Visualize
Ah, visualization, quite possibly my greatest strength. Visualization is the ability to foresee, dwell, focus, study, revisit, rehash, analyze, construct, deconstruct, and thoroughly run through the general idea of an event, a process, or a decision. While you may not be able to know every nook and cranny, the ability to at least place yourself into a that scenario will help you leaps and bounds than those who do not make the attempt. If you have to give a huge presentation, it’s always beneficial to picture yourself up there giving the information and running a successful meeting.

In the same way, picturing yourself in athletic endeavors is equally important. Yes, I spend a retarded amount of time swimming, biking, and running, but I also spend a huge portion of that visualizing what it will look like in Ironman, how I will be feeling, testing out my mental endurance, pushing my limits, imagining what kind of issues (puking, flat tires) I may have to deal with in worst case scenarios, but I also set myself up for success. Imagining the feeling crossing that finish line gives me more energy and excitement than I need, and it paves the path to get there. Granted, it won’t happen how I imagine, probably not even close, but the artwork can always be changed as long as the paint is still wet. Here’s to the unknown!

Step 3: Succeed
The MBA took a lot of time, a lot of effort, and certainly required dedication. I can’t even imagine how my classmates run a family and take grad classes! Kudos to them. I only have to train for a race and play with my dog…

As I walk across the stage tomorrow it will be the final step in a multi-year process that has been exciting, worthwhile and a stretch for me as a person. When I first began the program, I pictured the end result even though it was hidden in an impenetrable fog two years into the future and suddenly, here we are!

Often, it’s hard to help others understand how the whole process for Ironman works. I didn’t just wake up last year and decide to do it. It’s taken a long freaking time! I’ve spent seven seasons reading books, watching videos, talking with coaches and other athletes, reading more books, training, eating, training and reading more, eating again, and absorbing everything I can find about triathlon and the crazy world that it encompasses.

I only decided to do an Ironman in August of 2011, after my first half Ironman in Lake Stevens, and yet that was still two years ago! That’s quite a foundation to lay and yet now I have five weeks. Five lousy weeks to keep it together! The pressure is immense, but having pictured my success (just crossing the finish line) has set me up for a great adventure. Perhaps the thing I’m most worried about is what I’m going to eat first once I streak passed the finish line…. Probably chicken fajitas!

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
– Winston Churchill

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