303Triathlon is super proud of Kirsten McCay –
She has overcome a lot in her life, and is now reaping the reward of the Big Island.
Six Years. Don’t Blink.
This week, Facebook popped up a picture of me crossing the finish line of my very first triathlon. The slightly blurred, yet triumphant photo brought a whole host of memories flooding back to me. Six years ago, I embarked on a journey that has ebbed and flowed, curved and carved in ways I could never have predicted. I distinctly remember saying to a friend that I would NEVER do a 70.3 distance triathlon, because why would anyone want to do that? Well, with a few of those now under my belt, I blush at my then rigid response to the prospect of trying the long course distance.
Crossing the finish line at the 2011 Denver Triathlon
In preparation for my first triathlon, I scoured the internet for how-to videos on transitions, swim nerves management, and race strategy. I had zero idea about wetsuits, and ordered an ill-fitting “shortie” online and cycled a few preparation miles on my trusty Rock Hopper mountain bike. I did practice swimming in open water (thankfully), but even with a few swim lessons under my belt, I still breaststroked most of the swim. Putting my face in the water for a solid fifteen minutes did not seem appealing to me at the time. I came out of the swim to T1, ecstatic that I had conquered a swim in Sloan’s Lake without a flotation device. I took off my shortie, dried off, put on bike shorts, bike gloves, ate and drank something, and then meandered out of T1 about 5 minutes later. I hopped on my mountain bike ready for the ride around Denver and down to Mile High Stadium, where T2 was located.
A short time later, I rolled into T2, racked my bike and headed out on the run – in my bike shorts. Yes, I forgot to take off my bike shorts and only realized this about a half mile into the run. The run – at that point my “strongest” discipline, largely because it is the one I had done the most – went fairly well despite the extra padding on my rear. The course was short and had me finishing the 5K in 23 minutes or something ridiculous like that, which is a time at that point, I had never run before. And there we have it. My first triathlon, six years ago this week.
In the years that followed, I discovered brick workouts, chamois cream, tri suits, stretchy laces, and the benefits of using a road bike over a mountain bike. I joined an all women’s triathlon team, hired a coach, took more swimming lessons, swam more in open water, got a better wetsuit, and saved my pennies for a road bike. I even made a few age group podiums. All in six years. One blink and it’s 2017. For those six years of learning, mistakes, hilarity, and achievement, the one thing I didn’t do nearly enough is reflect on my journey.
Looking at the picture of my first finish six years ago, reminds me that I haven’t really taken stock of how far I have come. I therefore recommend that we all take the time to reflect on what we have done more often than we probably do. Don’t wait for Facebook or some other social media platform to prompt you. We infrequently take the time to pause and review our journeys, whatever they may be. This means we never fully appreciate all the gains we have made, or challenges we have overcome. We just go, go, go without so much as a quick glance over our shoulder. We blink and everything changes. Wherever you are in your triathlon quest, don’t miss the actual journey to your goals because you are so busy focusing on what’s next. I blinked, and now, six years later, I am a triathlon coach myself and headed to my fifth 70.3 and I am not quite sure how that happened.
Boulder 70.3 2015 – Finishing a long course triathlon I said I would never do…
I remember the feeling I had when I crossed the finish line for the first time six years ago. My heart swelled with pride in my ability to race a triathlon. I felt so badass. Do you remember the feeling you had when crossed your first finish line? Dig down into your memories and pull the feeling back to the surface. That feeling fades the more races we do. Our increased level of comfort with triathlon shouldn’t decrease our feelings of awe and satisfaction on finishing every race or workout, but it does. Hang on to your first finish feeling tightly, because it will help you remember where you have been, as well as where you have the capability and power to go.
Lisa Ingarfield, PhD is a runner, triathlete, USAT and RRCA certified coach. She owns Tri to Defi Coaching and Consulting and provides organizational communication consulting services. She is a freelance writer specializing in issues affecting women in sport and in life. She is also a member of Vixxen Racing’s 2017 women’s triathlon team.
Office of Gov. John Hickenlooper
Denver – July 24, 2017 – The Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) today announced that Janette Heung will serve as the new deputy director for the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC), effective Aug. 10, 2017.
“Janette is joining us at an exciting time with record growth for our outdoor recreation industry, and she’s just the person to help take us to the next level,” said Luis Benitez, OREC director. “We are thrilled to have her experience and knowledge on our team.”
In her new role as the deputy director, Heung will support economic development within the industry, work to build a dynamic workforce, advance conservation and stewardship, and encourage the intersection with public health and wellness in the sector. She will also develop new initiatives to further Colorado’s outdoor recreation growth. The position manages day-to-day operations of the office and serves as a liaison in the community.
“Colorado is rapidly becoming the epicenter of the outdoor recreation industry,” Heung said. “I’m tremendously excited for the opportunities that lie ahead”.
Heung was born in the US, but grew up in the concrete jungles of Hong Kong. Returning to study as an adult, she soon became mesmerized by the wildness of the North American continent. She experienced her first winters in New England during school, and eventually followed the call of winter to Alaska, the Alps, and the Andes. When she discovered Colorado and its outdoor recreation community, she immediately relocated here and started adventuring at an extraordinarily high level.
Many classic alpine mountaineering routes in the US and Canadian Rockies followed, and she has managed to complete first ascents in New Zealand and Bolivia, including on the south face of Mount Aspiring in New Zealand.
“Janette’s love for the outdoors directly feeds into her zeal for protecting it-when she’s not exploring outside, she is working on a range of environmental policy, public health and business challenges,” said Benitez. “She is a real asset to our office and the State of Colorado.”
Before accepting the deputy director role she was a consultant who specialized in strategic planning and program management with a focus on conservation and health. Throughout her career, she has consulted for public, private, and non-profit sector clients, including Fortune 500 companies, the City and County of Denver, and The Nature Conservancy. Previously, she was a senior management consultant at Deloitte Consulting in the greater Washington DC area.
Heung is the also co-founder of Unleashed, a winter climbing community event that features storytelling by community champions with the proceeds supping outdoor education non-profits. Heung holds bachelor degrees in physics and biomedical engineering from Tufts University and a master’s degree in Environmental Health from Harvard University.
Outdoor Recreation is a booming industry in Colorado with $34 billion in consumer spending and $994 million in state and local tax revenue. The industry provides 350k jobs with earnings of more than $4 million. Over 80% of Coloradans participate in trail-related activities on a regular basis according to the 2014 Scope Report.
Governor John Hickenlooper launched the OREC office in 2015. OREC is one of only three offices in the nation that provides a central point of contact, advocacy, resources and support at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses, communities and groups that rely on the continued health of the outdoor recreation industry.
The OREC office is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
By Dana Willett
A little back-history of Pro’s vs Amo’s:
These events go back to the summer of 2014 when we had the 1st “Pro’s vs “Amos” contest (“amos” is just a rhyming abbreviation for “amateurs”). There was a chocolate chip cookie bake-off followed by a dodge ball tournament. There was laughter and tears. *It was mostly the laughing and the cookies that inspired us to keep this “challenge” going.
Since then we’ve invited many strong, fun women to join in on the shenanigans. While the cast of women is ever changing (life happens), the spirit of this event never will. This will always be a somewhat silly celebration of the pure joy we all have for our sport.
Pros & Amos: Tri-Style
In a digital-cyber-y version of 303’s famous Pros v. Amos challenges, we pit famous local “Amo” Katie Macarelli opposite a couple “Pro” athletes you may have heard of… Olympic World Champion Gwen Jorgensen & Professional Triathlete Alicia Kaye! And we’re talking about how Pros live their athletic lives and learn their lessons, compared to Amos… What it’s like as a female role model, mistakes they’ve made, and how they’ve overcome obstacles along the path to stardom… Read on to find out who’s a brainiac with multiple degrees… who hurdles barbed wire fences with ease… and who’s favorite prize ever was 20 pounds of steak.
Here’s some background:
Gwen Jorgensen is a professional triathlete from St Paul, MN. Gwen is a 2x Olympian, 2x World Champion (2014, 2015), and 17x ITU World Triathlon Series race winner. She also likes to read, try new foods, and hang out with friends and family.
Alicia grew up in Canada and began participating in triathlon when she was 11 years old; she became a professional triathlete at the age of 14. Alicia spent her teen years racing triathlon while juggling her academic studies. While completing her undergraduate degree in Sport Psychology she met fellow triathlete and now husband, Jarrod Shoemaker. Since meeting Jarrod she has began racing for the United States and also completed her masters degree in Athletic Counseling. Some of Alicia’s proudest moments include winning Canadian Junior National Championships in 2001, and winning the St. Anthony’s Triathlon in 2013. In her spare time Alicia works as a mental trainer and runs a skincare company with her husband Jarrod, called Endurance Shield.
And our “Amo,” KATIE MACARELLI
Katie is a Colorado native who grew up on a dairy farm on the Eastern Plains. She got her start in the Colorado cycling scene competing in triathlons for about five years until she realized that running is the worst. She’s a mom of two teenage girls, a year-round bike commuter who hates driving but loves cyclocross. She is currently the marketing manager for Feedback Sports.
Here we go!
1. Have you ever googled yourself? Any oft-repeated MISconceptions out there that you’d like to clear up? Any rumor or tall tale that just keeps popping up on Wikipedia? Here’s your chance to set the record straight. And if not, give us your best pretend fake fact.
GJ: I’ve googled my husband, Patrick Lemieux, but don’t google myself. I think one thing people may assume is that I come from a running background, however I actually come from a swimming background and didn’t start running until I was a junior in college.
AK: Yes, I’ve googled myself. It almost always just to find an image or to find articles written about a recent race. Maybe once every few years I’ll look to see if anyone is saying something mean or false, but I’ve never found anything truly negative.
KM: I work in the digital marketing realm, so of COURSE I have. The only misconception I’ve ever found was an article that listed me as living in Portland. I’ve never actually been to Portland, but it sounds lovely. *I generally disregard everything past page 5 on google, because it’s like reading the comments on Pinkbike. It will just make you mad and/or confused.
2. How has your rise to fame affected your performances? Has there ever been a time when the spotlight really helped you? Or worked against you?
GJ: I am an introvert, so it took some time to get used to the media attention and fans walking up to me. I now enjoy being able to share my experiences, but still need my alone time to recharge.
In 2012, after I qualified for the Olympics I had a bunch of media engagements lined up for the week of a WTS race in San Diego. I did an all day photo shoot along with other media the week leading into the race and I believe this contributed to my poor performance. I think I almost finished dead last.
AK: I had my breakout year in 2013 winning the Lifetime Series and Toyota Triple Crown. I thought it would be this ultra grand moment where everything would change. But life went on as normal, the money and/ or result didn’t change any of my relationships- we were just able to make a big fat mortgage payment instead;) What was interesting was in 2014 I really struggled to find purpose and meaning after achieving all my goals in 2013, trying to replicate them again in 2014 was an entirely different experience.
KM: I’m not famous, but I do find it hard to get to the start line to any race because I often stop to hug, heckle and/or say hello to friends. As it turns out, missing the start of a race directly impacts your performance.
3. Please provide five single-word adjectives that best describe you and what makes you tick.
GJ: Stubborn. Disciplined. Focused. Driven. Foodie.
AK: Even-tempered. Leader. Brave. Disciplined. Joyful.
KM: Enthusiastic. Loud. Empathetic. Droll. Indefatigable. (You said single-word, so I didn’t think I could use “over-caffeinated”)
4. Have you experienced being asked media questions different from your male counterparts that you attribute to gender? What’s your best example?
GJ: Can’t think of one off the top of my head, but I also try not to read into questions too much. I also have a poor memory so may have been asked something but have forgotten. I do believe there should be equal prize money for men and women (which there is in ITU which I love).
AK: This is a great question, I think our sport is pretty good about equality but the biggest gender difference I notice is that it’s ALWAYS the male winners picture in a newspaper article. Media outlets within our sport tend to include pictures of the women’s winner and why is the men’s race always written about first?
KM: No, because the media isn’t interested in me. However, I’ve been in many eye-rolling situations as a female working in a male dominated industry. I feel our industry (and society in general) is getting better about this but I still got called “Hon” only a few months ago by a guy my age who was visiting our office. I can assure you that I’m not his “Hon.”
5. What is the best PRIZE you’ve ever won, in your entire life of racing (maybe it was that 2nd grade field day ribbon…)?
GJ: Any prize that involves food! In 2015 I won a gravel road race and won 20lbs of steak.
AK: I won a race down in Tobago a LONG time ago, back in 2005 I think. The trophy was a beautiful wooden carved sea turtle, it’s still hanging on my wall at home.
KM: I won a pair of Tough Girl socks and a pint glass for 3rd place in my first ever Cx race (I raced it on my full suspension Yeti 575). I was instantly in love with cyclocross and bought a Cx bike about 4 months later
6. Race Day prep – name three best practices you always adhere to the night before a race… and three things you always avoid. What is your best example of a time you didn’t follow your own rules, and things fell apart?
GJ: Don’t try anything new (once I ate out in Japan and tried a dish I’d never had before and got food poisoning)
-Relax/put my feet up
-Avoid: unnecessary stress, being on your feet all day, and new foods.
AK: I don’t go to bed until I feel sleepy, I eat the same thing (chicken and rice) and I prepare everything the night before leaving race morning to be fairly stress free. Three things I always avoid the night before a race are any foods that contain caffeine, any foods high in fiber, anything my body isn’t used to.
KM: Hahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. Race prep. That’s funny. Here are my “3 best practices”:
-Start looking for my wetsuit at about 10 pm. and run a load of laundry.
-Eat a bowl of Peanut Butter Panda Puffs and pack my bag in the dark so I don’t wake my family.
-Get a good, solid 4 hours of sleep.
Three things I avoid (due to life in general plus an incessant desire to self-sabotage):
-Consistent, focused athletic training.
-Having enough ______________ to make success an option (fill in the blank with any of the following: sleep, water, food, peace of mind, clean clothes, gas in the car etc)
Best example of things falling apart:
An example where things went wrong: Pretty much every race I’ve done since I turned 35. Recently, I had to hop a barbed-wire fence and run through a ditch to find the start-line. Good thing I grew up on a farm.
7. If you’re a Pro, do you ever find yourself wishing you were an Amateur? And if you’re an Amateur, every wish you were a Pro? Why?
GJ: I love what I do and am thrilled to be able to also make it my living. I do hate training when the body is tired and it is pouring rain outside.
AK: I went pro at such an early age that I almost can’t remember what it’s like to race as an amateur. Triathlon has been my life since I was 14 years old, and I began participating in them at 11. I think what I’ll miss when I don’t race as a pro someday is a clear course!
KM: Nope. Waaaaay too much pressure. I race because it helps me conquer my fears, which is a good example for my daughters and other women. Oh, and also: its good preparation should things go south and we find ourselves in a post-Apocalyptic scenario. If I had to do that as a job, I’d undoubtedly get fired.
Want to know more about Alicia, Gwen and Katie?
Follow their careers:
Story by Lisa Ingarfield
Equality Delayed is Inequality Accepted
During a drive to Boulder recently to meet up with fellow cyclists for a ride, I learned that the USA national women’s ice hockey team is in negotiations with their national organization, USA Hockey, to ensure their equitable treatment in pay, resources, and coverage. It is 2017, and still, industries and organizations struggle with treating and paying women and men equally. One of the most persistent issues facing women today continues to be pay equity, spanning women’s hourly wages to prize winnings to professional sports teams. Women continue to earn less than men for the same work, with women of color receiving even less than white women. According to a study recently released by the American Association of University Women, if pay rates continue to progress at the pace they are today, then women will not reach parity with men until 2152. 1 Let’s just pause and digest that. Twenty-One- Fifty-Two. One hundred and eighteen years from now.
The women’s hockey team’s requests to USA Hockey go beyond pay equity: “The women say there are pervasive, possibly illegal inequities in how USA Hockey treats male and female players — in terms of equipment, meals, hotel accommodations, staffing, marketing and PR, among other things.” 2 The women’s team (two time World Championship winners and Olympic gold medalists by the way) refused to defend their title and play in the upcoming World Championships unless USA Hockey compensated them equitably. In response to the boycott, instead of addressing what appear to be fairly blatant inequalities between the men’s and women’s teams, USA Hockey decided to ask alternate women hockey players to stand in when the World Championships start this Friday, March 31st in Michigan. 3 Satisfyingly, many of their requests were rebuffed, as the alternates stood in solidarity with the women of Team USA. 4 Fourteen senators, 5 the National Hockey League Players Association, and other major sports players’ unions have also come out in support of the women’s requests for equity, urging USA Hockey to do the right thing. 6 7 After months of negotiation, and 14 days since the team announced their boycott, an agreement was finally reached yesterday.
The experience of the USA women’s hockey team is not unique. We have seen equality requests emerge in other sports such as tennis and soccer. Serena Williams earned over $200,000 less than Roger Federer when they both won a major U.S. tennis tournament, the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, a few weeks before the U.S. Open in 2015. 8 And while U.S. Tennis is doing marginally better than other sports in terms of addressing gender equity (all Grand Slam tournaments have equal prize purses), comments from players such as Novak Djokovic, that men deserve to be paid more, 9 represent a pervasive, yet unspoken, perspective across many professionals sports.
After the U.S. women’s soccer team won the World Cup in 2015, it was widely publicized that the pay they received was far less than what the men received for not reaching the World Cup final. Justifications abound as to why this was, many resting on how “complicated” 10 these things are. Couple that with their pay overall, and the picture of gender inequality in sport comes into focus. According to ESPN: “Much of the disparity in wages between the men’s and women’s [soccer] teams stem from the different ways the players are paid. The women earn salaries while the men are paid based on national team appearances, results and other factors.” 11 These “other factors” include the heightened level of air time and sponsorships that men’s soccer receives over women’s; a systemic problem that justifies (for some) the lesser position of women’s sports to men’s across many disciplines.
Several women’s U.S. soccer team members filed a suit with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2016, alleging disparate pay and treatment after losing a case in federal court. The EEOC complaint is still pending. The women’s team is paid about one fourth of what the men’s team receives despite their tremendous success. 12 They have four Olympic gold medals under their belt and three World Cup titles, far more than the men’s team. In fact, the 2015 World Cup final between Japan and the USA was the most watched soccer game ever in U.S. history across both the women and men’s teams. 13 Any argument that women’s soccer is not as “exciting” as men’s is ludicrous given their success. Such an argument rests on false, and sexist, assumptions that women’s sport carte blanche is not as good, entertaining, or captivating as men’s. Frankly, viewer excitement bears no relevancy to the pay the players receive because it does not correlate to the level of work women invest in training and competing at that level. Equal pay for equal work, not equal pay for equal viewership.
Equitable treatment, recognition, and pay has lagged behind for many more women’s teams and athletes. And sadly, the trajectory has been similar for triathlon. Ironman only provides 35 slots to women elites at Kona, versus 50 for men. The hashtag #50womentokona has become a social media rallying cry. Tri Equal, a non-profit organization committed to advocating for equitable treatment and representation of women, has attempted to work with Ironman to rectify this discrepancy. Sadly, efforts have been unsuccessful. This past week, the new Super League Triathlon competition series was launched absent a women’s race. Chris McCormack, an Ironman World Champion who spear-headed the TV friendly initiative shared as justification for the lack of a women’s race that many of the pro-women were off this year because of pregnancy, and that they just had to get going with the event instead of simply talking about it. 14 An unnamed woman Olympian and Ironman podium finisher stated: “there’s enough depth in women’s triathlon that we could have some racing that’s equally compelling to the men’s…I know that I’m not alone in my disappointment in the lack of transparency.” 15
Liz Blatchford, a two time Ironman World Championship podium finisher, shared her frustration on Instagram: “While we have been told women’s racing is coming, I can’t really accept that their SHOWCASE event should have gone ahead without women…I strongly feel that having a women’s event should never have been a negotiable factor.” She rounds out her critique with: “Equality delayed is inequality accepted.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
We have much work to do. Onwards.
Lisa Ingarfield, PhD is a runner, triathlete, and RRCA certified coach. She owns Tri to Defi Coaching and Consulting and provides organizational communication evaluation and consulting services. She is a freelance writer specializing in issues affecting women, particularly in sport and is a member of Vixxen Racing’s 2017 women’s triathlon team.
by Lisa Ingarfield
Our dog Chester has been struggling lately with walking and supporting his back half. He wobbles, and trips, as his legs aren’t quite sure where to land. However, he hasn’t let these new limits on his abilities change his spirit. He is still exuberant, happy, and full of life. His illness has coincided with my own bout of injuries including a suspected stress fracture. We are both hobbling around the house together. At least I have a partner in injury.
There really is no eloquent way to say this: injuries suck. They just do. Everyone who has been injured knows the drill. There is a moment when you start to notice the pain or soreness, and then there is the negotiation that happens. The ‘is it or isn’t it something serious’ conversation in your head. Sprinkle in some denial when the pain gets stronger and many of us continue to swim, bike, and/or run through it until we really wish we hadn’t. While I hobble around in my protective boot frustrated and annoyed, Chester is still wagging his tail a 1000 times a minute. I am supposed to help him outside when he needs to pee, and yet I struggle to keep up with him. I am stumbling over myself and he is dragging me through the lounge, unfazed that he can no longer move as deftly as before.
I have so much to learn from Chester. While his refusal to do what is needed to heal his back is not unlike the runner or triathlete mentality of powering through an injury, he is just so darn happy about it. He has adapted to his new mobility status without as much as a blink. I know that dogs can experience depression and I would have expected to see some sadness from him as he realized that he couldn’t do what he used to. But it has not manifested. For me on the other hand, I am battling the blues and trying to stay motivated to trainer ride and swim, since I can’t do my favorite of the three. While I generally try to find the lessons in my training, and learn from the challenges and barriers I encounter, it is really hard. When our lives are full, motivation isn’t always available by the bucketful. And an injury drills a hole in the bottom of that bucket.
While we can’t all take injuries in our stride like my furry best pal Chester, we can absorb some of our canine friend’s love and zest for life regardless of our temporary limits. We are all temporarily able bodied, yet our world is designed assuming our able bodiedness is permanent. That message is internalized and so when our abilities change, the feelings of inferiority or brokenness can come flooding in. Adaptation is perhaps one of the most important skills a triathlete or any athlete can have. Chester has adapted (for the most part) and is still super happy about everything. As a teammate who herself has spent a lot of time injured shared with me, this is an opportunity for me to increase my skill in the other two disciplines. And she is right, of course, but I am still annoyed to be in a boot. Yet her advice and watching Chester, is pushing me to work on adapting. In life as in a race, we should try to adapt to the circumstances we find ourselves in. Hone this skill, and we can traverse great distances.
Lisa Ingarfield, Ph.D.
Learn more about Lisa at
Tri to Defi Coaching and Consulting
By Lisa Ingarfield
Let’s Write a Love Letter to Ourselves
“I am not as fast as you”
“Don’t wait for me, I will take forever”
“Why can’t I be _, like that triathlete?”
These are phrases I have said to myself many times over, and I suspect many of you have done the same. We exist in a culture of comparison, and it leads us down a windy path of self-defeat. Age group placements, national USAT rankings, and world championship qualification places. All of these categorizations encourage us to focus on how we stack up to other athletes. Even the best and the brightest in the sport of triathlon can be haunted by self-doubt. It is insidious, but it doesn’t need to win.
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Competition and comparison can manifest in positive and negative ways. Positive competition and comparison energizes us and spurs us forward, giving us goals to strive for. It builds us up instead of breaking us down. Negative competition is rooted in comparisons that almost always conclude with a laundry list of our deficiencies. We must resist the lure of self-criticism which begins when we hold our abilities up to others. Each of us, at one point or another, has felt deficient in our abilities as a triathlete because we compare ourselves to others. The yard sticks to measure ourselves against exist all around us, pulling us to focus externally instead of internally. This self-defeating behavior serves only to hurt us, not propel us forward into new adventures.
“Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love.” – Brené Brown
I am certainly not immune from this self-criticism and do battle with it often. I was honored to be accepted onto an all-women’s triathlon team this season, and yet as I learn about my strong and powerful women teammates, the annoying voice of comparison starts to echo in my head. I have whispered to myself and to others that I don’t know how I got onto the team given the caliber of the other members. My partner, who raises his eyebrow, tells me regularly that I have earned the spot and should believe in myself more. And so, I write this love letter to all the triathletes out there who stumble over comparison, and find themselves looking up at “better” athletes from the bottom of the self and culturally created pile. This love letter is a call for us to believe in ourselves with fervor. Let’s agree to turn our backs on self-doubt and the half-joking, half-serious rhetoric of “I’m slow” that I hear so often from fellow athletes.
“Defining myself, as opposed to being defined by others, is one of the most difficult challenges I face.” – Carol Moseley-Braun
Central to turning our back on damaging comparisons is the question: who do we race for? Many of us will likely answer that we race primarily for ourselves. Perhaps, we also race for someone close to us, or in memory of someone we lost. We derive our fuel and passion for triathlon from an internal source. Extrinsic rewards such as the feeling of achievement, a personal record, or reaching the podium, certainly have influence. However, these external rewards are really only the icing on the cake. When you peel back the layers of why we do what we do, extrinsic rewards are not what ultimately drives the vast majority of us. Therefore, a disconnection exists between the internal and the external: racing for ourselves versus our compulsion to compare ourselves to others. Who is that comparison really for? Who or what does it serve? When we truly race and train for ourselves, whether we measure up to our fellow age groupers ceases to have any power or relevance.
“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb
This February, I want us all to pause and remind ourselves that we are not deficient because we don’t look, swim, bike or run like the pros, elites or other age-groupers in our communities. In fact, we are not deficient at all, no matter where each of us falls on the spectrum of abilities and skills. As we think about expressing our feelings of love, adoration, and commitment to others this valentine’s month, shine some of that love inwards. Write a love letter to yourself. Own your awesomeness. Move away from the comparisons that get you down and hold you back. The only opinion that ultimately matters is your own.
by Lisa Ingarfield, 303 Contributor
January. The start of a new year. The promise of a new you. Many of us are filled to the brim with optimism about the year to come and the goals we hope to achieve during our triathlon racing season. The days are getting longer and as we inch toward spring, each minute extra of daylight fuels our engines with excitement at what’s to come.
Embedded in the exuberance of a new year and new opportunities is the Resolution Industry. I say industry because that is what it has become. It is an industry predicated upon “change” providers’ (gyms, diet programs etc.,) desire to cash in on the fervor for change. What better time to enact change in your life, so the commercials go, than when the Gregorian calendar ticks over to 1/1. One. First. New. However, the adage that change is as good as a rest may not always ring true.
The Resolution Industry’s push for change is troubling and sometimes even damaging. Its inherent message that there is always something in our lives that needs changing can undermine our sense of self. Whether the suggested changes are about our bodies, our clothes, our jobs, our friends, or our attitudes, what we can take away from the bonanza of offers in January is that something must be wrong. And to fix that obvious wrong, there are three hundred (discounted) ways to do so. Don’t delay, buy, subscribe, and join!
I have certainly forayed into the land of resolutions with varying success. Most notably, and I think this is likely true for many women in particular, my resolutions have centered on resolving to change my body, directly or indirectly. What I hear from our culture and from advertising is that my body is never good enough, and that my fitness level is determined by my body size and shape. This is especially true after the holidays. Enjoying good food is an indulgence and something that must be purged in the New Year.
Companies are knocking at my door in January with the next best thing for shedding those extra pounds I must have gained in December. The assumption is always that those extra pounds were gained and that they are bad for me. I rarely hear the refrain that I am good just the way I am. Indulgence (which connotes taking in more than you need) is encouraged in December, but shamed in January. The Resolution Industry tells me to do it better this year. If I want to be a better athlete, or just better overall, I will resolve to indulge less and live a healthier life. But, healthy is defined in only one way (primarily for women): thin.
As with many resolutions, proclamations of change may well be short lived. As time meanders on, our pace slows, and by March, we may find our resolutions have faded from sight. Inevitably, failing to maintain the “new you” in light of all those messages about the need to change, can be painful. For many women athletes, despite our amazing achievements and training commitment, we still struggle with what it means to have the perfect body. Sometimes the expectations we have of ourselves and our body fall behind the larger cultural messages we receive. This can spur us to train harder and longer. Ultimately though, this behavior can be damaging to our bodies, our relationships, and our sense of self.
The Resolution Industry simultaneously encourages us to make important life changes and targets our doubts about our value and worth. If we look beneath its shiny exterior of persuasive messaging and buy one, get one offers, its underbelly reveals an industry interested in exploiting our insecurities regardless of our fitness level. We are too this, or too that. Being just right doesn’t make money. Corporations profit from our insecurities. Does this reality mean we should eschew the deals at our local gym or refuse to sign up for a training group to help us get out the door? No, I don’t think it does.
Shifting our training patterns or taking on something new at the start of a new year is not universally negative. Rather, I think we need to be cautious about what we agree to in January and in particular, why we agree to it. What are the expectations we set for ourselves, as athletes, as women, as consumers in a relentlessly critical culture? The resolutions we make, whether we keep them or throw them away, should not define our worth. Who really benefits from a failed resolution? Not me, that’s for sure.