Since I originally wrote this, I am in a better place than I was. I did have a chat with my coach and let a lot of these fears I'd been sitting on and letting stew, and just got them off my chest through a mini-meltdown while I was at tri-camp. Some of my confidence issues I think were completely nutritionally related as we have spent some time looking at nutrition and realized that I've been way under my calorie needs as my training ramped up and my brain basically went into meltdown mode because I was starving it. But it also helped to voice it and get it out there.
As you read this, I am in a better place, training is picking up and I'm rebuilding some confidence that I had broken. I'm still on track for my goals and I still have the most wonderful wife, friends, and training group. It will get better. Sometimes you have to find the bottom before you know which way is actually up.
(More after the original post)
I struggled with deciding to post this to my blog or not. I'm sure people out there are probably tired of me being up and and down. I'm sorry, I'm really trying to stay positive and stay up, but it's where I'm at. If you continue to read, I appreciate your time.
There are many things in life that I have an excess of. I would gladly trade some of those things for some confidence.
Ah, my mortal enemy ... self-confidence.
What is the most terrifying phrase to me, from an athletic / training point of view? It's very simple and just three letters long:
D N F
I know I'm making progress. I had a good weekend. The bike went well, from a training perspective, and the brick run was good. The 10K was good for a first trail run. So what has me spooked?
I don't know the exact cause. Maybe because when I start to gain confidence, then I look around me and realize I'm a long way from being a triathlete. I haven't proven that I can do this. So then the questions start in my mind ... something along the lines of "what makes you think you can do this?"
I found a quote today (and posted it on Facebook already) that seems so true:
The time limit in Miami is 8 hours from the last wave and then there are intermediate cut offs for each leg. I fear each of those cut offs because, outside of the swim, I have little to no confidence that I won't be the last one out there, all alone, with people impatiently tapping their foot waiting for me to get the heck off the course so they can go home.
And probably even larger, I've been sitting on a fear of letting the people around me down if I fail. At the top of my list is my wife. I fear letting her down because she's invested her life in me and she has been willing to live with me as I go around the training merry-go-round and, heck, she put up with me through all of these orthopedic surgeries so that I can try and complete an Ironman.
I'm afraid of letting down my coach - I know I'm probably not the easiest of her athletes as I've got quite a few challenges in training between just being heavy, having run issues because of injuries, and I'm just not very good at this (yet). She has put in a lot of effort and time with me and I'm truly afraid that with all she has given me in terms of knowledge, effort, and motivation that I will have wasted it all if I DNF. I really don't want to let her down.
There there are all of my friends and training partners who have lent me advice and support and been there for all of the times that I've needed help. How do I look them in the eye if I DNF? How do I not feel like I've wasted their time on me. How do I not let them down?
As you can see, it's going to be a challenge for a bit here ... This DNF thing scares me and I just don't know how to cope.
I'm back in the present tense now. :)
Am I still afraid of a DNF, yes. But it doesn't keep me up at night now. Even the pros have a DNF from time to time. Ironman (even a half) is a serious event and things can go wrong that are totally out of your control. I cannot worry about those. All I can do is log the workouts, put in the miles, and put in the effort and be as ready as I can be. If I do, then I have given myself every opportunity to succeed. Also, having actually sat down and talked with family and friends about my fears about letting them down, they have universally told me that even if the worst were to happen and I DNF'd, there is no way that I would let them down (one of my friends told me that I'm her inspiration / hero - there's something about that which can bring a lump to my throat to think that I can inspire someone like that). They have all reminded me how far I've come in such a short time. Some of the best words said to me talked about my heart and my determination. The only way I could let them down would be to quit trying. And that isn't going to happen.
To wrap this up - if you're out there and you're reading this and you feel like I did when I originally wrote this, then please take one piece of advice. Talk to someone about it. You may find that getting those fears out in the open and talking them through with someone may actually make them not so scary any more. A support system is huge, be it small or be it large. My coach once told me that we all need someone to lean on from time to time and it's absolutely true. Find that person, or people, and talk about it. Festering on a lack of self-confidence feeds it (or at least it did for me). Thus endeth the speech. :)