Just after finishing Xterra Worlds w Dave DeSantis
I finished 4th place in my age category at the Xterra off-road World Championship triathlon by 2 seconds. Click-click. Passed at the finish line by another woman in my age category. Click-click. Every second counts in a race.
Mixed thoughts, and sensations after I crossed the line: glad to stop, happy, frustrated, hot, dusty and dirty, to note a few. The realization of what happened and the sadness of missing 3rd place by 2 seconds. A life lesson is coming, I thought to myself as I walked to meet some friends there to cheer me along.
I was split, a level of gratitude and a level of disappointment. In comedian/actress Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please, she talks about “the pudding.” You want the pudding but don’t tell anyone you want the pudding. But coming into this race I wanted to make myself vulnerable by telling friends that I wanted the pudding. I was racing for first place in my category. I didn’t want to pretend this wasn’t important to me but let it be known it was. I wanted to be clear and share my vulnerability, to express that it is okay to say what we want. Then, deal with what happens when we get it or what happens when we don’t.
I didn’t get what I asked for. Sigh. Sadness, disappointment. A Life Lesson is coming from this, I thought.
Maybe you can relate. After I finished the race and still hours later I found myself re hashing different moments during the race. I was thinking of the things I could have or wished I would have done differently…if only I didn’t trip and land on my face 3x’s…if only I had run a little faster, if only I had held back here then accelerated there, if only I hadn’t fallen off the bike or got stuck behind or choose a better line, yada yada yada. My mind played on and on, over and over. Though I will say my thoughts and feelings around this kind of thing were not as all consuming as they had been 8-10 years ago. I have been learning and letting go along the way. But still, stuff lingering needed my attention.
I could make myself insane. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a tough race. I Am happy to have gotten through in one piece and been challenged by all the women and men also competing. The challenge wasn’t so much the race as much as accepting how things went down. I wanted the outcome to be different, but it wasn’t and will never be other than what it is. Not resisting the reality with “if only.”
If I put a twist on it by changing my perception of the outcome, instead of thinking “ if only”, and considering I was in the right place at the right time it feels a little… better. About 1 mile from the finish line another competitor pointed out to me as we worked our way up a steep hill that a women in my age group(I didn’t notice she was in my category until he pointed it out) just passed me and that I should go catch her. Nothing by chance. If I think of all these little things like tripping, getting stuck, and this man encouraging me were setting me up to be in the exact spot I needed to be in, well again, it changes everything for me.
Nothing by Chance is the title of a book written by Richard Bach in the ‘70’s which I read after graduating high school. As you may have guessed, he suggest in this fictional story that everything happens for a reason, though the reason may not be known at the exact time of the event, there is purpose. This comes to mind as I reflect on my race with my new twist. Nothing happened to me- it happened for me. The interpretation is all up to me.
I can be happy with my 4th place finish, a lesson in letting go of attachment, to outcome, as attachment causes suffering. I wanted the pudding(1st place), but I wasn’t going to get the pudding on this day. A 3rd place finish would have been like getting a few bites of the pudding. Being knocked back to 4th place from 3rd just at the finish line was like starting to put my mouth over the spoon filled with pudding then…it being swept out 2 seconds to go. Instead of a bite I am left with the sweet fragrance of pudding.
I am grateful for that smell.
A Sufi poem
“I asked for strength
and god gave me difficulties to make me strong
I asked for wisdom
and god gave me problems to learn to solve
I asked for prosperity
and god gave me a brain and brawn to work
I asked for courage
and god gave me dangers to overcome
I asked for Love
and god gave me people to help
I asked for favours
and god gave me opportunities
I received nothing I wanted
I received everything I needed.”
Hazrat Inayat Khan