Lion and the gazelle

"The Lion and The Gazelle"

When I was growing up, I was not necessarily a quiet child.  I wasn’t a very loud one either. I was always the kind of kid who observed everything around me.  I took it all in, processed it and figured out what was going on. I never really spoke unless I was spoken to.  When I was asked a question or was provoked I would answer or come at you. There really was no in between. I wasn’t the kid who went looking for a fight.  I was the one who if the fight came to me, I would end it.

Not much has changed in 48 years.

At some point, I started to grow up and ease into adulting (there is an undertone of sarcasm here that would otherwise go completely undetected unless I point it out).  People appreciated my drive, tenacity and “tell it like it is” personality. I was the girl who if you asked me a question you better be prepared for an honest answer because that is all you will get.  “Are you sure you want me to answer that? ‘Cause it’s going to hurt” is my typical response. I was referred to as a leader and that is where I fall in line in both my social circle as well as professional one. “My pack”

I am a Leo.  Without really having to go into too much detail, I fit the personality profile perfectly if you believe in that kind of thing.  I am action oriented, warm hearted, I have an insatiable drive to succeed and I am not afraid to let people know I mean business.

A few months ago, I was watching some Ironman motivational videos.  (YouTube is life!) While on the Medic truck, I will sit between calls and watch these amazing athletes crush the sport of triathlon.  This of course, initially bothered Ed. It wasn’t until he began watching them with me that he began to understand. One one of my shifts, I came in more sore and tired then normal for a 07:00 start time.   That morning, I had spent an hour on the virtual bike trainer doing blocks of high intensity intervals to help with my fear of the hills in Lake Placid. Being not just a lifelong friend but partner, he listened graciously.  I grumbled something about “embracing the suck” and “this shit is hard” then Ed said “Tracy, you understand that the reason this is hard, is because IT IS. Your doing things a human body is not designed to do. Literally. Humans are not physically designed to run marathons, let alone a triathlon.”  Uhhhhh. Well, SHIT. Point taken.

One of my favorite videos to watch is “Wired Differently”.  It is that one video that gets my blood pumping and makes me want to go out and break land speed records. (In actuality, I’ll be lucky if I don’t trip over my own feet and roll backwards down a hill. GRAVITY.)  There is a part where Eric Thomas is speaking about the difference Lion and the Gazelle, how they are wired differently. “When a gazelle sees a Lion because of how he’s wired, automatically fear takes over. When a Lion sees a Gazelle, He lights up.  It’s SHOWTIME. The hunt is obviously what I was made for” I took that, memorized it and put it away.

While in Lake Placid a few weeks ago for my family’s annual vacation, my Best Friend, Melissa and I were talking about the personality differences in each person in the house.  (10 of us) She and my Father, Sid are both Taurus, the Bull. Jake and I are lions. Courtney is a Cancer and at 14 years old, she is in fact, a crab. (especially in the mornings) I started telling her the story of the “Lion and the Gazelle” then broke out the ipad so she could watch the video.  She watched intently. She got it. We spoke about the amount of commitment that trying to be an endurance athlete takes. I reminded her that the only thing stopping her from doing it also was herself.

Later that day, Michael signed me up for a sprint Triathlon after our Open Water Swim practice in Mirror Lake.  High Peaks Cyclery has a summer series Sprint Tri every Monday night (.35 mile swim, 12.5 mile bike, 3.1 mile run).  It’s fantastic. I’ll “Tri” anything, I thought. (see what I did there??)

I took my time, as the water is my worst suit especially getting in with a hundred people. I got out, transitioned and got on my bike. At mile 6, I threw up whatever I had in my stomach. The bike sucked. On the last 2 miles, at the hardest point for this race coming up to Main Street, my right leg gave out and I fell off the bike in grand fashion. I picked myself up, walked off the pain, got the hell back on the bike, clipped in and finished. I came into the transition with my right hand bleeding, black and blue and unable to make a fist.  Walking was hard, My hip felt like it was out.

Immediately, Mel knew something was wrong. Courtney came up and grabbed my bike and said “what happened?” “I think I broke my wrist” The Paramedic in Mel immediately grabbed my arm to look and said “let me see.” I stopped. Looked up at her and said. I’m fine, if it’s broken I’ll deal with it later.  I don’t need my arm to run.” I saw my quitting as a sign of defeat and with the bigger picture in focus, my inability to finish a 70.3. I refused to stop this far in. Mel bent down next to me to help me ties my sneakers. She whispered to me. “When the Lion sees the Gazelle, it lights up. It’s SHOWTIME.” I looked up at her, smiled and said “It’s Showtime”.

I stood up, transitioned out and I began the run. The first half of this 3.1 miles is completely uphill.  Somehow, I managed to pull off reverse splits. As I came down to the bottom of Mirror lake, toward the finish line, there waiting for me was My family. Cheering me on.

I came in first place in my age bracket.  After this particular race, I cried. I am not a crier, but this time I cried and it was a good cry. It was a validation that I could do this.

I refused to be a gazelle and run from fear.  Fear of failing myself and my goals.

The moral of the story:  In the world of Triathlon: Don’t be a Gazelle.  Be a LION.

Wired Differently - Ironman Triathlon Motivation

Motivational Speech by Navy Seal Admiral William H. McRaven