2016 Was a Big Deal. What Now?

What changes when a woman becomes an athlete? Everything.

This year was a big deal for me. Not that anyone else cared, but for me. I made a very conscious decision at the end of 2015 to create space in my life to see just how good I could be at triathlon — which makes me sound like the Oprah of triathlon: you get extra recovery time and you get more sleep and you get some mental focus. And now that the original pilot project proved its viability this year, it’s time to actually start planning long-term. You can tell I’ve committed to this because I bought new cycling clothes for the first time since 2008. (Obviously, I went with Chisel. Because you just keep chiseling. See.) And we’re going to be replacing the six-year-old bike. Not that it’s not the sturdy Chevy that was your first car — just keeps hanging in there — but it’s time to upgrade to a…I don’t know, that’s the extent of my car metaphors, some fast car…a Porsche?

This year was a big deal for me. But the last few months have been hard. And also some of the other months in there too. I’m not really very happy with a lot of things going on in the world. I’m worried about the hard coldness that seems to be permeating our ability to care about each other. I feel like I should be doing something to make things better. I don’t know if creating space in my life is that thing. I have friends who help asylum-seekers whose families have been killed by the drug cartels. I have friends who do investigations into the disproportionate number of prison deaths for mentally ill inmates. (I have friends who have shitty jobs too.) And what do I do? I write about triathlon and I exercise.

I have other skills, you know. Maybe I should use them. Maybe I should get a job at a magazine I care about. Maybe I should work on civil rights issues. If I believe that pop culture matters, that sports and art and the things we do in our free time matter, then maybe I should write the book I want to write, or maybe I should just commit to being the best I can be and stop cutting my rides always a little short. Since that’s all we can ever do.

I don’t know if I’ve made the right decision. But I do know it’s not a decision you can half-make. So here we go.

I no longer keep records of my training, because I just do whatever it says on my calendar, and that doesn’t require me to obsess over the details. It just requires me to believe that Hillary is. But here’s what I do know happened:

  • My worst race: Galveston 70.3, hands down — I pretty much had the above emotional meltdown in the middle of the race, which I don’t advise. (Though that 10-Miler wasn’t great either.)
  • My best race: Actually Vineman 70.3, even though I got 3rd.
  • Proudest moment: Toss-up between the Wildflower win (just because that was cool) and the sub-39 10K (because fuck yeah).
  • Most fucked up I got from a race: Kona, definitely Kona.
  • Thing I Learned: That even when things go bad, I can survive. That if I just keep doing the work, I don’t need to feel good about the work. That I’m capable of more than I think. That I have a tendency to forget how much it hurts. That I think too much. That if I give myself some kind of a rule — no getting dropped before ‘x’ point, no missing the interval — I tend to obey all my arbitrary rules. That was the net sum of my year.

Usually I also list all the books I read during the year, but you can see the whole list here. And I mostly read articles anyway, which I don’t keep track of (which maybe should be my actual New Year’s resolution), so all I can tell you is this was probably my favorite thing I read this year and it made me cry on the ferry: The story of Bill May, the greatest male synchronized swimmer who ever lived, and his improbable quest for Olympic gold.

I also wrote some things I actually really liked this year:

And I loved our Olympics podcast we did for WiSP — Five Ring Circus — and our new podcast on women’s sports issues isn’t bad either. And I got to be on the radio. I taught triathlon clinics and sat on panels. I did a mini-Ted talk at an improv show. I went to Australia and Canada and the Upper Peninsula. I lived in Hawaii for a month. And I reviewed restaurants and went to new events to write about them and helped with all kinds of ‘doing the internet’ stuff for all kinds of companies.

So. It wasn’t a bad year either. Oh, and I did some triathlon. The best I could.

2 thoughts on “2016 Was a Big Deal. What Now?

  1. How did I miss your Olympic podcasts??? I listened to all of them today at work — nice job. Especially the gender testing one which I am tired of explaining to people.

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