"Mentally it is hard coping with the weight of expectation I put on myself. Mentally it is hard trying to be the best the whole time. And I don’t know who I’m trying to prove myself to. There is something inside me—not a voice exactly, but a deep-seated compulsion—that strives for perfection. But it’s my own version of perfection, not to be perfect per se but just to be the best that I can be." - Chrissie Wellington, 4 times Ironman World Champion
Thankfully I didn't go to such extremes as bulimia or getting straight As, but I can relate to the fact that I always need to be in control, especially of myself, at all possible times. Just like Chrissie didn't drink until she reached 20, it took me 30 years to allow myself to even get tipsy. It was my 30th birthday when I finally had a few too many Bellinis to feel the buzz. Starting to work with a coach hasn't been devoid of doubt and resistance to change. I feel bad for thinking that "I know better" but the urge to listen to my body instead of another person's advice has been both a blessing and a curse.
For example, I didn't listen when coach said before running the Paris marathon: "Run for 30K and walk the rest", I ran the whole thing once I decided I would do so, sometime between 2:00am and 2:30am when I couldn't sleep. I didn't listen when he said to take it easy for 45min on my bike ride on Sunday and instead I pushed relentlessly for 1h against wind and hills because I felt I could do so. But I did listen when he said that I should run a second marathon in three weeks because he knew I would regret not doing so. See a pattern here? It's always pushing a bit farther because my body says "go for it".
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no fool and I know when to stop. I can sense in advance when something's about to break, just like last year when I refused to participate in "team building activities" on my only day of rest 3 weeks before the Scotiabank Toronto Marathon. I was told I had no choice and 5 minutes later I pulled a tendon in my calf that put a stop to my running for over a month.
On May 25th I will be meeting Chrissie Wellington in Toronto where she will stop for an evening of book signing and for this purpose I just ordered a physical copy of her book as well. I cannot wait to meet the legend, the humble, astonishing, hurricane who took Ironman by storm just 5 years ago and hasn't stopped awing everyone since. As she is taking a break from breaking world records to spread her passion for this sport, I am getting ready to follow her example and reach for my own limits.