Find Your Finish Line

The title this week was hijacked from my triathlon coach. So far this year, I have had two Ironman races canceled, and it’s very possible by the end of this year that total will grow to five (who would have known!?!).

While a canceled race is not the end of the world, especially since the critical importance is people’s health, in one way or another we all have been affected by the growing pandemic. Some days it feels like riding over speed bumps and other days like trying to dodge potholes. Regardless of the day, we all have the ability to adjust our perspective.

So, how have you been affected?

Are you feeling scared, worried, anxious? Do you no longer have a regular paycheck, a normal school year, a prom or graduation ceremony to look forward to? 

There have been a myriad of emotions that go as deep as grieving some things we have lost. For me, this has been literal and figurative finish lines. 

Finish lines are important. They give us something to look forward to, to dig deep towards, and not to give up. Finish lines press us forward and to find our best, narrowing in on closing the gap to get to the target.  We need these points in our personal life (goals!) and in our professional life (grades or deliverables), because when we have our eye on a specific point we are much more likely to make the decisions we need to get there. Save money, work longer hours, get a tutor, etc. 

So what do we do when our finish lines in life get changed due to circumstances beyond our control? 

When I found out that my races were being canceled or in jeopardy of not happening, I began looking on Facebook groups associated with these races. While nothing on Facebook should surprise anyone, I honestly was caught off guard by how upset people were getting in these groups. Not only were people expressing how angry they were. which is one thing, but then arguments began to ensue with other athletes which then of course became political. Enough already! 

Can you relate to any of this? 

This is what happens when a person places more value in the “end” of a finish line, rather than realizing that life is more about who you are becoming during the process and journey. 

What can you do if you have had a finish line in your life that gets canceled?

  1. Create your own finish line. One of the first things I did after my first race was canceled was schedule my own race. Sure, there wasn’t crowds and loud music, but it gave me an opportunity to test my training over the last several months to see how much improvement that I made.
  2. Don’t let the finish line define you. Remember, it’s about the who, before the do. Who we are becoming in life will always supercede a trophy, certificate or award that will eventually will fade away. After crossing 9 Ironman finish lines if you were to ask me a favorite part of my race, I’ve always looked back at a moment in training that helped me to get to the finish line, or a special moment during the day that made the end that much sweeter.
  3. Be flexible. Keep your perspective. Look for ways to nurture your soul right now instead of obsessing over something that is not in your control right now.
  4. Find new rhythms. Search out new opportunities. Maybe limited hours at the mall, restaurants or movie theaters are giving you a chance to do things that you would have normally skipped out on due to the regular demands of life. Go on a hike, walk around the block, go fishing with your kids, or catch a sunrise or sunset. 

Remember, life is a race. What matters most isn’t when a person crosses the finish line, but how strong they’ve grown along the way.

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