I completed my first triathlon Sunday after a two-year absence due to a myriad of health issues. I did a course with friends that two years ago I won my age division on.
Today I was finishing strong, slowly.
Rewind to a few months ago when my friends reached out and asked me to do a triathlon with them, and even though I’m not 100% physically, I agreed. I haven’t run in a year due to two herniated discs in my back so I knew I’d be walking the 5k to finish the race. Truth be told, I forgot about signing up until last week when I checked my calendar and saw the race!
I scheduled a swim with a friend Thursday to ensure I could in fact swim 750 meters which I did manage, barely. That same friend who is also dealing with injuries and has been out of racing for some time suggested we dress up to make the event fun versus the normal competitive vibe we normally thrive on.
Yes to fun.
Not being competitive is a hard place for me. So, I leveraged my nickname of twenty years of Wonder Woman and showed up with Wonder Woman apparel. Each leg of the race allowed for more gear to come on so I started the 5k in a stars and stripe suit, knee high socks with mini capes, a red cape and my Wonder Woman sunglasses. Fully in the spirit of Wonder Woman.
I walked the 5k course, grateful to be able to do a triathlon at all as 18 months ago doctors told me not to do anything or I’d have a heart attack or stroke, and risk dying. As I walked the course, the comments flew in about how awesome my costume was; about how much people loved Wonder Woman. The timing of the Wonder Woman movie releasing last month added to the love of the theme. Yet, as I continued to walk, some other comments started coming in. Not the, “We love your costume” comments, the other comments; the judgements:
“Don’t quit Wonder Woman…run.”
“You can’t quit, you’re Wonder Woman.”
“You’re Wonder Woman…start running.”
“Respect your costume, run.”
“Do your costume proud, finish strong, run”
These comments were instant shame triggers inciting my inner critic to say things like:
“You can only be Wonder Woman if you’re running and winning.”
“Clearly you’re not good enough to be Wonder Woman.”
“Wonder Woman would never walk; you should have picked a different costume.”
“Wonder Woman doesn’t walk.”
“Strength is going fast and winning.”
“Slow is not strong.”
A few times along the course I told people I was walking with intention as I was injured. I felt the need to justify my pace; to justify my being good enough walking as Wonder Woman. Shame gets us all. And, it’s sneaky. Judgment invites shame. And shame drives us to hustle for our worthiness. To jump through the hoops others want us to so we look good in that moment.
Walking Sunday’s race was harder than running; way harder than running. Going slow was the strong choice because it’s what my body needed me to choose, not what my ego wanted.
Finishing strong slowly was the hardest finish to any race I’ve competed in.
I’ve always prided myself on leaving everything I had on the race course, running as fast as I could through the finish line. Today I was proud of myself for doing what was needed despite the snarky, confused comments from the announcer about Wonder Woman being the opposite of the Flash.
I walked straight through the finish.
I embraced my strength despite judgment.
Finishing Strong, Slowly.
where do you need to finish strong, slowly?