Stuck in Transition
So there I was sitting across from my new boss discussing what was going well (bedside manner) and what was going less well (efficiency slowed down by the reluctance to be interrupted and change tasks quickly).
“Oh and before I forget, I need you to come up with your PPF’s.”
“Your PPFs. Your Personal, Professional, and Financial goals. We’ll discuss them at the next meeting. Just give it some thought.”
The nerve of these people…trying to encourage self-improvement…
Being a new provider, professional and financial goals weren’t hard to come by (thanks to my student loans). But personal?? What was I going to say about that??
“Tell them you’re going to do a triathlon. Before you turn 30? You’ve been saying that for a while” a friend so graciously reminded me.
I did say that, didn’t I? Okay sure. Triathlon. That’s got a ring to it.
“Oh great!” My boss said. “I’ll do it with you!”
“Me too.” My other boss said.
That backfired quickly.
An email a few weeks later with a link to the Experience Triathlon (ET) site along with a few others confirmed they wouldn’t be letting this go anytime soon.
Well I guess I should learn how to swim, huh?
Unfortunately, the water and I never really gotten along. From hugging the shallow end at grade school summer camp to losing one of my biggest idols to a water fatality, being in the pool was a little uncomfortable to say the least. One thing I truly wasn’t prepared for was the silence. Before getting in the pool, my world was filled with constant noise and this was not by accident. But you just can’t listen to an audio book, call a friend, or watch a movie when you’re in the water. It’s just you and your thoughts.
“20 minutes a day does not equal an hour on Sunday” Coach Joe warned. Oh Coach Joe…How could there be a human with such patience? I was absolutely convinced there had been some mistake when he showed up to teach me to swim. Surely he could be doing something better with his time over watching me fist fight 3 feet of water.
I almost quit due to the silence factor alone. But there was this drive that keep pushing me to go back, almost like the decision wasn’t my own. Before too long I learned to love the sound of my own thoughts. This was probably the first skill that crept its way into my life outside of the gym.
Pretty soon I was making breakthroughs in and out of the water. “You know, sometimes when we’re frustrated it’s just a matter of adjusting for a few millimeters” Coach Joe advised as I learned to tilt my head back into the water.
“I’m not sure why she doesn’t like this hearing aid.” My student said “It fits perfectly.”
“You know, sometimes when we’re frustrated it’s just a matter of adjusting for a few millimeters.” I said in my best Coach Joe voice.
So the first indoor triathlon was a success. I mean, I didn’t die. I was pretty shocked to walk onto the pool deck to find there was a lane counter, a whole person, assigned to my lane to count my laps for 10 minutes.
“I’m pretty sure I can count to 4, but okay.” I thought.
Two of my bosses and a former coworker completed the indoor triathlon with me while a few of the others from the office watched.
“I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME FOR IT RIGHT NOW.” One coworker firmly asserted a couple months back.
(She would later go on to buy her first road bike, hire a coach, and finish hundreds of athletes ahead of me at the ET Naperville Sprint Triathlon)
I survived the first indoor tri, coming in last. Yes, dead last. But apparently dead last was so much fun I was setting my sights on the next indoor tri and even considering taking the show outdoors. For this, I would need a coach, not just for swim but for all aspects of training.
“We rarely get anything done while sitting on the fence.” Coach Joe counseled.
Together with my team of supporters, we watched the incredible gains it would take to get me to my first outdoor triathlon, the ET Naperville Sprint.
“How old will you be at the end of the year?”
“How old will you be on December 31st?” the definitely-more-awake-than-me volunteer repeated.
Oh yeah, my ‘triathlon age’.
There I sat, with the number 29 staring back at me with a few things running through my mind. First of all, I had no knowledge of triathlon age so it was a total fluke that I finished my first triathlon “before I turned 30”. Had I still been sitting on the fence like I planned, I couldn’t have finished my first race before 30 even though I thought I had another year.
Secondly, I forgot we were going to be the same age this year. 29 is the age my brother was the last time we saw him. He was 29 on Thanksgiving morning when he said his last goodbye to my unsuspecting family. He would later jump from the Golden Gate Bridge and end his life. He used to call me his little mascot because I was his biggest fan. Now here I was, the same age as my big brother for the first time.
All things considered, I was expecting to feel a little differently the morning of the race. Was I supposed to feel nervous? Scared? Conflicted? Well I wasn’t. From start to finish, I felt totally and completely at peace, it was almost a decision that wasn’t my own.
9 months after the first meeting I sat in front of my boss again, in a similar performance review.
“I’ve got to say, you’re much more relaxed these days.” He remarked.
We talked about my increased productivity, ability to roll with the punches and…
the ability to transition from one task to another.