Yesterday I competed on a team at the March in Okarche duathlon put on by our local triathlon club, TRIOKC. It consisted of a 5k run, 16-mile bike ride and finished off with another 5k run. I did the runs and my friend, Vanessa, did the cycling. I’ve done this particular race many times before; although it’s been a few years since the last time I competed in it. I’ve done the race enough times that I know the run course by heart. I could practically run it with my eyes closed. Every turn, every mile marker, every tiny little hill (although the course is pretty much flat). I really had no expectations going into the race, I was just looking to have a good time and see how much I could push myself.
Once the race started I began running and immediately my brain decided to run as well. Normally anytime I run I like to listen to hip hop music. Very loud hip-hop music. Its what motivates me to move my body. In a duathlon, you are not allowed to wear headphones; therefore, you have to create your own soundtrack. So, as we begin to run (without Jay Z blaring in my ear) my brain is going full throttle. Like it’s trying to out sprint me. It keeps trying to convince me to quit running. It continues to remind me how painful it is to go hard and that if I would just stop and quit the pain would go away. The harder I push my body, the louder that voice in my head gets telling me to quit.
I begin to realize that this is the part where yoga really starts to happen. Yoga isn’t just getting on a mat and moving our body into different postures. In fact, most of yoga happens off our mats. For me, yoga is about finding a connection to my breath. To focus on that connection while tuning everything else out and finding some peace and freedom from my own mind. To shut off that voice inside my head telling me to quit when I know I am stronger than that. In my classes I always tell my students that they are so much stronger than they will ever give themselves credit for and I realized that I needed to take some of my own advice. I truly believe that our mind will make us quit long before our body ever will. So, I dug deep. I shut that voice up and I pushed. As I came around to the transition area to hand the timing chip off to my teammate I looked down at my Garmin and discovered that I pushed myself hard enough to set a PR (personal record). I couldn’t believe it. But I wasn’t just stoked for my time, I was stoked that I was able to find that place within myself to tune out all the negativity that my mind was throwing at me. To be able to still my mind long enough to push myself as hard as I could without giving up.
Once I was able to find that connection, my second run went a lot smoother. I didn’t have that voice anymore telling me to quit. I just continued to push. Step by step. Breath by breath. It turned out being one of the best races I’ve done and I had an absolute blast. We ended up taking 2nd in the female relay division and 4th overall. It was a lot of fun and I am looking forward to doing many more of these in the future. I realize that I have control over my thoughts. They don’t control me. And it’s a pretty amazing feeling knowing that I can push myself father than my thoughts allow me to go.