Over time, it became a chore. When I moved to Colorado at the end of 2012, I decided I wasn't going to blog every day, not anymore. Instead I was only going to talk when I felt like I had something to say. So the wordless whatever posts stopped, the random posts stopped, the lists stopped, and for a while, that felt right. The blog turned into a journal, I stopped giving a shit about how many comments I had on each post and instead it became much more personal. It stopped being pictures of my food and pictures of my dogs and became
But over the past year or so, I've gone through some experiences that I haven't felt comfortable talking about on the internet. All due to fear. So posts have died down even more, and the ones that do go up are mainly reflections of race experiences, mostly because those are my favorites to reflect on as I've changed. The risk that is taken when posting everything, ugly or joyful, on the internet, is that you are living your life out loud. But the problem with living your life out loud is that when you decide to live half of it out loud and half of it in the privacy of your circle, it becomes a complicated tangled mess. And there have been times when I've posted something that has hurt someone's feelings, a few times now this has happened, and never on purpose, but I know what they say about intention. Intent does not matter. Effect, does. When this happens, just like any time you hurt someone's feelings in life, it feels like the world is ending. And then I want to burn it all down. Stop blogging, stop being vulnerable, stop trying to figure out my shit in the very public way I have decided to try and figure it all out and instead hide in my house and figure it out at 2am when I'm supposed to be sleeping but am instead awake and wracked with anxiety like everyone else.
The truth is, I would really like to adopt another dog. We would. We talk about it all the time. And there are two reasons why we haven't done so. One is because I am worried about the financial implications, I will never forget how it felt to be unable to care for sick Graham after losing my job three years ago. Learning that no matter how big your safety net is, sometimes it is just not enough. And the other reason is that there is a tiny part of my heart that remembers being attacked for the decisions I made in those moments, and it doesn't matter how much we have done to pay it forward since then, it doesn't matter that that particular experience changed my life in a significant and meaningful way, what matters is that I can't bear the cruelty of but what would people say.
The truth is, I have developed an embarrassing and unhealthy addiction to overpriced running shorts. It has taken over the top spot of "clothing I have an unnecessary amount of" from hoodies.
The truth is, I don't have a healthy relationship with food. People ask me all the time about what I eat, about the changes I have made, and while my body might be better off physically than it was, one or two or five years ago, I'm not sure that it is mentally. For example, I eat the same thing for breakfast every day because it is safe. I read "Grain Brain" over the summer and it scared the living fuck out of me, but it also didn't help this relationship. I know that I am judgmental about what other people eat, and I don't even know where those thoughts or feelings come from, but at some point over the summer I went out for lunch with two friends and was horrified, then smug, to watch them order sandwiches. Sandwiches, for heaven's sake, not heroin with a side of tequila and marshmallows. That was the first time I was really aware of it, but the truth is, I hate it, and I don't know how to fix it.
The truth is, I have lived here for two years and yesterday I bought my first winter coat that was not a 6000-pound ski jacket or actually just a hoodie pretending to be a real jacket.
The truth is, I work too much, because I am afraid. Of everything I don't know, of all the things I haven't learned yet, of the knowledge I don't yet have, of making mistakes. And some of this may be considered healthy because it motivates me to never stop learning, reading, watching other coaches, watching other athletes, asking questions, learning about all the different methods that exist and the many, many ways to skin the proverbial cat, but I have more fear than I probably need. I have poured so much of myself into building my business, and I'm so grateful to the athletes that have let me learn from them over the years, but I live in constant fear of making the wrong decisions.
The truth is, I have a difficult time with sincerity. My own and anyone else's. I am afraid that my headstone will say she was really good at being sarcastic on the internet.
The truth is, when I was in France with Gloria, that was the first time in almost three years (other than off-season breaks where I did jack shit) that I trained based on what I wanted to do every day instead of doing what the long row of boxes threatening to turn red held for me. It was terrifying. And then it was freeing. I came back from Europe conflicted, it took me quite some time to sort through everything that I was feeling (part of this due to jet lag), but one of the many results of that experience was deciding to end my official coaching relationship with Sonja, who I love dearly and have learned so much from over the years we have worked together. There was no shortage of tears about this decision, but looking into my future at the end of June and seeing uncertainty and being excited about that, about feeling bound to no races, no training, no athletic responsibility, that is how I knew it was right at the time. I haven't talked about it because I had no idea how to talk about it in a way that is honest and gracious, that honors the time we spent together, everything that she poured into me, all of her hard work to take me from an athlete that had one triathlon and one half marathon under her belt not to mention a seriously busted ass and massive disaster from the neck up, into the 3-about-to-be-4-time (when we talked on the phone) ironman. I have struggled with parting ways and what that has meant for me, it has been difficult to figure out how to gently land a relationship that has been important and valuable for so long, and probably talking about it on the internet is going to equal hurt feelings for someone out there but for whatever reason, I woke up this morning and it was time.
The truth is, one of my grandmas is really sick. I saw her last winter and then I saw her a week ago and in the time between those two visits, I lost her. She doesn't know me anymore. The only thing I know how to do with all the emotion wrapped up in this situation is stuff it down and hope that it just goes away. But it scares me to death.
The truth is, I'm lonely in Colorado. I have made some great friends here and I know that it takes time, but I am still growing into our life here, I am still figuring out who and what and where makes up my community. It has been tough, sometimes I meet someone and I think we could be friends and I react so enthusiastically that they back away from me with wide eyes and holding their hands out like I am a grizzly bear trying to eat them for lunch. I didn't have really any friends until about the seventh grade because I spent all my time reading and doing hard math problems and I haven't really learned how it goes other than you are a human let's ride bikes.
The truth is, when I post something on Instagram, I obsessively check to see if people like it. Puppies are the favorite. Workout selfies are not, but sometimes I just can't help myself.
The truth is, after IM Boulder I think I lasted about ten days before deciding to do IM Arizona after all. Because I was dissatisfied with my day, which is maybe not always the best reason to stand on the line but it was mine. The truth is, I changed my mind. Sometimes that's all it is. I thought I wanted freedom, hiking 14ers and riding the mountain bike and living without the colored boxes. But feeling disappointed - again - after ironman pushed some buttons that I didn't at all expect to be pushed. You can't predict how you will feel in the future, you can only deal with how you feel in the present. So when I decided to go ahead with Arizona, I did what anyone would do - I called a friend. I asked her if she would help me get through ironman without killing myself, which would surely be the case if I was at the helm. I can barely navigate the rest of my life without constant nuclear-level destruction. I warned her that it was likely a short-term project because I was feeling burned out and ready to be done with ironman, but after the day I had at Boulder I had enough juice in my system to give it one more try. And I was a disaster this fall, I was not an easy project to take on, it was not a nice thing to ask of a friend. I was tired of triathlon, I got sick, I was stupid about shoes, I was inconsistent, I made some poor decisions both in and out of training, I was reckless, I was a terrible athlete and any coach in the world would have been banging her head against the wall by the third day. But instead, Michelle was patient, she was kind, she offered a different set of eyes on my particular variety of hot mess, she brought my volume way down so the rest of my life could come way up, she was unwavering even when I was completely cracking up. The truth is, different doesn't have to be better, or worse, there is no judgement associated with different, it can simply be not the same. And what I needed to drag my emotionally exhausted self through one more ironman training cycle, was that. The truth is, the impact that she made on me in such a short time monumentally changed how I feel about myself, as a person, as an athlete, and was one of the big puzzle pieces falling into place that led to the breakthrough I had on the run a couple of weeks ago. I hope it is not insulting to say that I was surprised, I went into this hoping only to survive, to lay out what I knew was already inside of me and instead came out the other side wondering what else might be possible. Still emotionally exhausted, still deflated, still struggling with all the shit that I always struggle with as a type-A worrier that carries around a wheelbarrow of anxiety and fear. But so many have tried to teach me, and failed - through no fault of their own, simply due to my inability to learn - to believe in myself, and from Michelle, I finally learned how.
The truth is, after all of this, I went ahead and signed up for IM Coeur d'Alene next June. Maybe it's a new beginning, maybe it will be a final chapter, maybe it will bookend the ironman experiences in my life quite nicely, maybe I have so much mad scientist in me that the thought of a new experiment is simply irresistible. Five times now, I've set out into ironman chasing the same goal, and now I've accomplished it, and I don't know what to chase next. The only thing that I am certain of, today, is that another finish line awaits, and I will learn plenty along the way. A lot of it will surprise me, there will be joy and struggle and at least one day of wanting to throw my bike into the bushes, I will make mistakes and piss people off and cry when we are out of avocados, just like every time that has come before, but I remain lucky to have another opportunity to stand on the line. To ask questions. To find out.
My last truth, is this. I have no idea how to talk about any of this. Some of it is inconsequential, silly, my attempt to inject a bit of flip lightheartedness into a post full of fear. Most of it probably does not matter to anyone but me, and I am not always sure why I feel the need to continue to publicly chronicle my comings and goings. Lately, every time I've hit "publish" and sent another missive out into the world, I've wondered if it would be my last. But these are my elephants, this is another attempt to be vulnerable instead of deciding to burn my private-journey-that-I-share-with-the-entire-world down. It may be stupid, it is less likely that it is brave, but it is my life. Unedited, raw, imperfect. Mine.