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Michelle Gottlieb Psy.D., MFT, LPCC
Individual, Couple and Family Therapy
Resolving issues from your past that block your future

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Race Lessons

May 2007

Early Sunday morning, I was standing at the starting line of my second sprint triathlon. I was very excited and ready to start the race. We all surged over the line and, literally within two steps, I had a cramp in my side. I tried running for about 5 minutes, but the cramp getting worse, so I started to walk. As I did so, everyone ran past me. I would try to run for a couple of minutes, but it would hurt too badly, so I would drop back to a walk again. And so it went. I kept getting more frustrated and depressed. I began to seriously consider dropping out of the race. Finally with only about a mile left in the running leg left, I was able to run. I got to the transition area, grabbed my bike and started to pedal. I felt strong. I was actually passing people! When I got to the swim portion, I was tired but my family and friends were cheering me on with every stroke. I finished the event only 15 minutes behind my training partner who was able to run the entire event.

My lesson from this is do not give up! Not even when I am depressed and frustrated and am thinking there is no possible way that I will succeed. As I struggled up stairs (yes, stairs in a middle of a run!), I doubted that I would complete the race. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. At the swim portion when I was so tired, I just kept going one stroke at a time. Before I knew it, I only had 2 laps left, then one, and then I was done!

My second lesson was to set goals and not be afraid to change them as the situation warrants. I started out with one goal for the race: to finish. When I was struggling with the cramp, I came up with a second goal: to not come in last. I completed my goals! Both of them! Creating the goal of not coming in last spurred me on to go faster.

My third lesson was awe of human persistence. I was finishing my first bike lap of four when I saw a woman on her bike. At first, I was sure that she was not a competitor, just someone who was riding the same path that we were. But there she was with her number on her bike, just like me. She was quite over-weight, riding a bike that was more appropriate for the beach then a race. I marveled at her then went on my way. Two laps later, I passed her again. My amazement soared. After I had finished my swim and was standing and talking with my family and friends, in she came, slowly, but she finished a very hard bike ride. I was more impressed with her than the elite racers who finished the entire race in less than an hour. This was harder on her than it was for them. It was more of a challenge. But she did it! And she never gave it up. She is my hero of the race.

I didn’t grow up as an athlete, so when I heard that there were many lessons to learn from sports, I never totally understand what was meant. I understand now. (By the way, anyone have any suggestions for side cramps?!)

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