Three people have said something to me this week that have hit something inside me. Lit a small fire. Tore through this patch of monotony that was slowly tearing through the confidence I had in my abilities. It’s been a rough season for me so far. I will admit, my performances have been far less than what I expect for myself. My confidence in my abilities dwindling in my head as I try to quiet the voices telling me that I’m too slow, too heavy, and too inexperienced. I was listening to Dr. Radio on XM talking about excess weight and why athletes cut weight for races. They said think about a 10-15 pound bowling ball, or a bag of sugar. All I could think about during my run this weekend was that bag of sugar I was carrying this year. A literal bag of sugar I pictured myself carrying. Those small fleeting moments when your past comes back to haunt you. You have to silence the voices. You have to quiet the mind.
My coach always seems to be in my head. There have been many days that she has quoted a famous athlete or coach that could NOT have said what I was feeling at that moment any more clearly. Or needed to hear more than that quote at that moment on that day. This was one of those days.
“There is no more important mental factor than confidence because you might have all the ability in the world to achieve your goals, but if you don’t have the confidence in that ability, you won’t use that ability.”
Wow. Home run. I stood on the edge of the water this past weekend doubting myself. Doubting the work I’ve put in, doubting if I was good enough, and doubting if I had the right to be there. And that is exactly how I raced. It was far from my best race. Nowhere near actually. I had talked myself out of it before I even started. But why? Confidence. What was it that was making me doubt myself? What was it that makes me think I am not capable of what I believe everyone else is? Fear. Fear of failure? Fear of the unknown? Fear of never living up to my own expectations? My fear has projected onto my confidence, which has projected onto my performance, which has affected my attitude, which has affected my motivation, which has affected my workout, which has affected my confidence which well… you get the idea.
As Adam and I were driving home from the race on Saturday. He asked me how I felt I did. I said I was disappointed in myself. That I mentally gave up. Once I had myself convinced that I was too far behind to ever succeed to what I thought was success (top 3)….I just decided I needed to finish. After I made that decision the race felt like a death march. It was more a battle of the mind. He then looked at me and said you know…”No one succeeds by accident Katie”. This is when it hit me. I didn’t deserve top 3 in that race and I knew it. I hadn’t gone prepared enough, hadn’t looked at the course well enough, hadn’t kept myself in mental state I would have needed to be in. I let the swim get the best of me. I let my mind get the best of me.
As I look at what makes so many of these professional athletes so successful, I am beginning to realize that I don’t deserve that right now. I haven’t worked hard enough, haven’t sacrificed ENOUGH of my mind to this thing. I have sacrificed; I have worked my BUTT off but with reservation. With hesitation. With fear and lack of confidence. I am learning that we need bad experiences like bonking, knocking over bike racks in transition, getting lost, etc. to deserve to be elite. You can’t just expect it. Just because you show up at work doesn’t mean you are doing a good job. I don’t want to just show up. I want to believe I can be this. Do this. Conquer this. And at the end of the day, when I cross that line. I only want the podium if I have earned it. I only want my pro card when I earn it. And that may be a few years away. But until then I am learning each day what makes a better Katie Myszka. What can I do TODAY to be better than I was yesterday?
One of my teammates from QT2SYSTEMS said to me was “Racing 70.3’s and 140.6’s is amazing. But so few ever do race them. There is a big difference between doing one and racing one.” Another moment of silence please. Thanks David. I needed that. I don’t just want to “do” the race. I am a competitor. I NEED to compete. I NEED to race. Agh! I feel my fire slowly relighting already just thinking about it. Sometimes you just need friends to help you remember who you are.
I, Katie Myszka am a competitor. And if I have to compete with myself for that pro card for the next 6 years you better believe I will be racing and not just “doing” it to get there. No one succeeds by accident. Success is earned.