I’m coping, but I can’t say it’s pretty

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When Cortney White shared this photo I was a little annoyed. In what world would I ever want to use an “ugly cry” picture. 😑January was so naive.
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Joking aside. This week has been hard. Part of me hoped that if we shared enough memes, or found the perfect TikTok dance, the mood would stay light. We would make it through with mediocre social distancing, and come out the other side mostly unscathed. I deluded myself, and this week it’s sunk in. As my dad has been saying… this isn’t one blizzard, we are in it for the winter.
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They announced that the Olympics are postponed for a year. At this moment all the focus needs to be on fighting the virus spread. I know that. But I wasn’t exactly stoic in my processing.

After the indoor track season, I started mapping out the 16 weeks until the Olympic Trials. I was grateful and excited, even joyous. After a long period of work, and near misses and mistakes, I had grown and incorporated new knowledge. I was healthy, having the time of my life, and the training of my life. I love that process of betterment. And I couldn’t wait to see what it might become. Of course, all the parts are still there. It’s just the schedule has changed.

But I’ve also known for a while that this would be my final Olympiad. I looked forward to exploring what it would mean to transition to a different career. And I’m not sure how the Olympics pushing back is going to affect that timing.

Top it off with all the financial unknowns. For an athlete, that looks like uncertainty with what this means for revenue streams, and if there will be opportunities to race, which impact exposure, sponsorships, and rankings.

I realize there are a lot of people in really tough situations. And public health is at risk, and the number one priority. I don’t mean this post to discount any of that.

I guess I’m just reaching out to the people who are scared or uncertain – about job security or finances; or dreams deferred, plans put on hold; health, safety, identity. I don’t know how to wrap up or when this will get better. I know connection matters. Even if it’s a connection over a million personal heartbreaks.

Awry

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I still don’t know why it happened that way. I do know that life can go awry at any time for any reason. Or for no reason at all. Nothing is deserved. All we can do is make the most of opportunities to create meaning. When a door opens you recognize , and you bust through. And then you continue to work like hell.

I wrote that reflecting on my experience at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Back in early January, before Covid-19 was on anyone’s mind.

“I do know that life can go awry at any time for any reason. Or for no reason at all. Nothing is deserved.” Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so fucking psychic. 😏

The IOC announced they will have a decision on the fate and timing of the Tokyo Olympics in four weeks. There’s a lot up in the air right now. But the directives don’t really change.

All we can do is make the most of opportunities to create meaning. ✅
Continue to work like hell. ✅
Be ready for that opening. ✅

This painting is by the talented @gmilanesi I can’t find the original photographer.

1,2 Step

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I’ve been doing so much better on tempo days, but today we were a bit higher elevation and it was a struggle from the start. I was emotional and wanted to cut the whole thing after I blew up on the tempo, but I jumped back in for the second part. So I guess I’ll call that the one positive for the day. Or at least a small redemption. ⠀ ⠀ ⠀ ⠀

Photo @cortneywhite_ !

Doing the work

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It is not upon you to finish the work; neither are you free to abstain from it.

I love this quote. I used to keep it pasted on my laptop screensaver. The internet tells me it comes from a section of the Talmud, in a commentary on Micah 6:8, about doing God’s work.

Maybe it’s a weird one to link to personal performance or athletics. Because isn’t the whole point to finish the job? But I find it particularly applicable when I’m anxious about how far I am from the end product, or dealing with a small setback.
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I’ve also seen it used in relation to activism. When the enormity of the goal gets overwhelming, it’s a reminder that there is power, and duty, in small daily acts.

And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. – Micah 6:8

Happy MLK weekend 🙏🏼🙏🏼

Photo by @talbotcox

Aging Potential

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At lunch yesterday, my aunt asked me if I felt like the grandma of my team. I’m not the oldest here, but I do have a few years on my mid-distance training partners, and many of my competitors. It’s probably why I’ve been thinking recently about what it means to be an older athlete.
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Track culture (like everything?) has a love affair with youth. Even though people on the medal stand range in age, the hype machine (and $$) tends to focus on young phenoms. Because a young star doesn’t just have talent, she has POTENTIAL.

In a sport that exists at the edge of human performance, we are constantly reminded of our fallibility. People lose, records stand, or they are barely broken. But in the world of potential, ability is limitless. It’s only bounded by the imagination.
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Potential’s appeal sneaks into other areas of life. In my imaginary future, I can be perfect. If I don’t hit this year’s resolution, I have the next one, or the one after that.

But an older athlete can no longer comfort herself with the illusion of more time. There is only this day, this week, this year. Which means I no longer deal in potential. That’s not to say I don’t plan. I just don’t delude myself into thinking there is a next time. The question is not only what can I be, but what can I do now, where I am, with what I have.
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Of course, Now is all we ever have. It might not be as sexy, but it’s real, and it’s there for the taking. As they say, What will you do with your one wild and precious moment?

Photo by @cortneywhite_