Today is December 31st and I decided this will be my last post. I feel I have reached the catharsis I was seeking, and today is symbolic of closing out the year. Writing has been therapeutic, not only for me, but as it turns out many others. This story has touched a nerve with many people, and I am glad they know they are not alone in having a less than stellar experience.
Ironman Coeur d'Alene 2014. That was really the beginning of the eventual end. During training, I found myself leaving the house often feeling frustrated, looking to training to brighten my mood. Sometimes I would find escape there, doing what I love. The runs were usually good, the swims were always good. I had the hardest time on the bike, as I usually train alone, and sometimes being alone with your thoughts is not a good thing. Thank goodness for the swim. By then it was warm enough that I could do everything in lake. My oasis. Where no one could touch or hurt me.
As things got worse over the summer, training became less and less of an escape. I actually recovered well from IMCdA and was able to do some late season road races and triathlons. So physically I was all right. Or so I thought. And this is where the power of the mind comes into it. Mentally I was a mess. I knew something had to change. I was in constant contact with one of the other coaches, someone who I had always trusted and we became quite close. We went through this entire thing together, and often she took a little more of the brunt of the name calling and harsh words from my boss. We had each other's backs, and would stand up for each other when we could.
One day I had left the house frustrated once again. But instead of my run being fun or a break, it brought me to my knees. I was on a local paved trail, it goes partially through the woods and is one of my favorite places to run. I saw another runner I know. We passed each other and she smiled and waved. I smiled and waved back. She looked so happy and free. I thought to myself immediately, when have I last looked like that? Far too long ago. I could feel all this tension just taking over my body. I stopped at the park bathroom, got some water. Cranked up my favorite tunes and tried to breathe. I turned around and headed home. Made is about 1/4 of a mile before I could feel myself breaking down. Slowed the pace. Breathed. It wasn't helping. I made it another 1/4 of a mile before I completely fell apart. Right on the side of a pretty busy road (thankfully it had a sidewalk). I stopped running. Held onto someone's fence and cried hard. I couldn't breathe. This went on for a few minutes. When I regained some kind of control I took out my MP3 player and put on one of my favorite running songs. Its called Indestructible. I stood there and listened to the entire song play once through. I was still crying, but it wasn't as much of a complete break as before. After the song ended I hit repeat and made my way slowly back home. It was then I realized how much stress I was holding in my body. That is not healthy and I was going to get hurt. I knew I had to make a change.
I talked with my trusted friend and fellow coach. I told her I was leaving. She wanted to as well so we decided to leave together. Given what we had been through, there was no "two weeks notice." We both sent resignation emails at the same time, and removed ourselves from the FB group we were a part of. We had no idea what we were going to do next. No plan. All we knew is that we had to get out of that situation. For the sake of ourselves, our families, and our athletes. Of course I felt terrible making a change in the middle of peak season. I did not want to cause any stress for any of my athletes. But as one pointed out to me, there will always be someone training. There is never a "good" time for it.
That was a hard day. I was terrified. And I felt awful. But as responses came in, that athletes were staying with me, staying with my partner, we felt a little better. Every single person had a choice. Over the next week we discussed what to do next. Go out on our own as individuals? Join forces with other coaches? Or join together? After much serious consideration we decided to join together and form our own company. The positive response we got was amazing. I do want to thank the other coaches I talked with. You know who you are and you will always have a friend in me. Everything fell into place with the new company. I am proud of the positive atmosphere we have created. I am grateful to my business partner who is an angel. A wonderful mother, determined, strong athlete and a good person to her core. I want to thank everyone who has send me private messages. Your support means the world to me. I look forward to 2015 and the opportunities it brings. I do not regret writing this. It was the right thing for me, and the right thing for many other people as well. I love the endurance community. This is my tribe. That is my story.