Monday, September 17, 2007

Mental Toughness

Today I sit at my desk at work and i'm attempting to do reports, but I find myself thinking about Ironman Florida...my training, my frustrations with training, excitement with racing and my eagerness to return to a less hectic schedule. I'm all over the place. Today, I just can't get it off my mind...

I realized I need to do a little digging and try to remember when it was when I learned what "mentally tough," really meant. Some people learn as adults what it is to be mentally tough, maybe trying out a new sport--I remember learning when I was 6 years old. My dad used to take me aside before my casual, non-traveling soccer games and say "Meri, close your eyes and picture.....SCORE!!"....I used to laugh at him or I would say "Daaaad, come on!"....and he would just chuckle. He would have me picture myself scoring a goal in my games. He was the one who taught me how to be mentally tough. My parents were never the pushy sports types parents--they just showed up and cheered me on and gave me a hug whether I did well or wished I had.

I never understood how in the hours that I put into tennis years later, I STILL couldn't beat my dad--and it wasn't necessarily that he was better than me, but it was because I would beat myself. Tennis is one of those sports, similar to triathlon where it's truly just "you," and you have to learn to motivate yourself when you're down and talk yourself out of bad habits (like smacking your racquet or grunting)...you don't have teammates on the court with you. So, even though my dad made mental toughness a fun thing for me---I realize now the value of it. When I got older I would joke with him before a high-school soccer game, "hey Dad....picture..." and he would chuckle...but-it got me THINKING about my game! I am incredibly fortunate that my parents have always been excited to come to every sporting event that i've had, whether it was a freezing cold soccer game over Thanksgiving weekend, a god awful-early swim race where you stand around for 5 hours for one or two 30-40 second races, or a blistering hot tennis match hours from my house where I grew up in Virginia, flying to my first Half Ironman in Arizona.....to Ironman Florida. I'm lucky that my parents are supportive and just excited to see me happy and they're empathetic when things don't go my way. I'm excited to share Ironman with them...it's a new sport for them as well-- and I know my dad will make me picture a "finish," and i'm working on picturing it right now.....

More later!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

WoW !! I'm speechless...and you know how tough that is .
Love, dad

Kir said...

I'm way behind in reading but this was amazing!!! Made me think of the days....you know...the Bluefield days! Keep up the great work!!!! I'm picturing things for you! =)