My 2017 Lessons + Learnings

I’m back, like I never left (never left!). With the same great theme song, with another IM finish line in my heart and some sweet perspective on the year of 2017…
My Top 10 Lessons as a Rookie Pro
  1. Awkward firsts are a real thing. I felt like a beginner all over again this year. It would have been much more comfortable to continue racing as an amateur. Many may argue that I’m not good enough to race as a pro (i don’t disagree). I’m proud of myself for being brave enough to go for it anyway. Because when you practice being awkward long enough, you get better at being brave – and that made it worth while.
  2. The leap from Amateur racing to Pro racing is a real!deal! It feels like a very different race.  And I can confidently say that I’d rather race to chase at the bottom of pro field than ever win another amateur IM.
  3. Swim in a pack. Training on Rach’s toes made me a stronger swimmer and learning how to race in a pack made me a stronger racer. #fullstop I swam on my own once – out to sea – and vowed to never do that again! Always swim on feet.
  4. Stay present. Instead of obsessing over my “12week build”, which usually also had me obsessing over the feelings of “not being good enough”,  I became manically in love with each training session. Some sessions were horrible, yet with the same discipline I focused on them, I would let them go. When I look back on many training sessions, I logged some of my finest work this year! That is something I’m stoked about.
  5. Your biggest fears and sweetest dreams just may come true. I was worried about being the last pro across the line – and I was at my first pro race in South Africa. It also happened to be my best IM at the time (10:04), so there was indeed a lesson to be had. #noonecares// I wrote the number 9:34 all over our house. It was on sticky notes, on mirrors, set as passwords. I had no right, no evidence, no reasonable reason to believe that could be possible, but I thought if I wanted to play with the big girls, I needed to break free of my 10hr IM performances.  (Funny aside: when I was running down the line at IM Cozumel, the clock read 9:34 – like dream come true! I had manifested that sh*t! Except, it was for the pro men who started 5min ahead, so by the time I crossed the mat, the clock had changed to read 9:29. Maybe there is a lesson that it can be even better than a wild dream come true!)
  6. Sleep is King. The answer to nearly every problem, doubt or worry I had this year was solved with an afternoon power nap.
  7. Nutrition is Queen. I started working with The Core Diet crew after crossing a finish line I was utterly deflated with in July. We’ve only just begun, yet so far – so great, I’d say!
  8. Consistency remains a very sexy way of living, or at least, training! Be it gym workouts, track/ tready sessions, easy runs, long swims or longer rides – some may call it hard work, yet really, I think it was consistent work that continues to make a difference. (Note: I realize this is a massive cliche and I’m a walking motivational quote preacher – however! you can never make up for a lack of consistency, so it will forever stay as an important lesson to me.)
  9. Sponsors make a difference. Of course, I was dropped by sponsors when I told them I was taking my pro card, because why do they want to support the rookie? I also had some remarkable brands that were along for the journey, rootin’ from the online/ offline sidelines. What I’ve come to appreciate is that there is more to these relationships than an instagram post with a hashtag. I care about innovating sponsor relationships, especially with women in our sport, in a really big way. Thank you immensely to Coeur for the best outfits, Cervelo for my ride, nuun for my hydration, Eat Prima for real food, velofix for keeping me moving forward + unequivocally, B78Coaching/ Jasper Blake for still hangin’ on!
  10. The tribe is smaller, tighter and stronger than ever. As I grew to care more about exploring what was possible, I realized that I held onto my dreams a lil closer to my heart. I also held onto my very special people even closer. (Because the nay-sayers and bull sh*tters are real, yo!) It’s fair to say that Mikey, Liam + Chad made riding and running around town faster than ever before; Jojo’s wild spirit always kept me laughing and special girlfriends who have been around for every single one of these darn races are forever steadfast. My Bro will forever be the biggest believer, my sweet Husband has been more solid than a rock and Rachel Mcfreakin’Bride has been the greatest blessing. My feet may be swollen, yet my heart is most certainly full because of these people, all of whom I’ll never be able to properly thank.
In Review:
+ i spent 1.6% of 2017 on a start line. I’m convinced that I spent 93.4% of the year loving every single darn second of the work and a solid 5% was really tough.
+ i rode an IM bike course 22min faster than I did in 2016.
+ i pb’d my flat marathon by 38min; i pb’d my IM marathon by 15min! (this is a big deal for me: i’m learning how to run!).
+ overall, i finished an IM 43min faster in 2017 than 2016 (and: Cozumel was unnecessarily fast, so that is to be taken with a downhill swim grain of sand.)
“Don’t stop until you are proud.” was written on the back of every race number I wore.
So while you may see placings without podiums, I see progress; and while I wrap 2017 most definitely proud, I’m also not ready to stop! Thank you for every single note, cheer and high five this year. It has meant more to my awkward, most vulnerable self than you’ll ever know.
Big Love to your Biggest Dream — I’ll see you back here in 2018!

3 Comments on “My 2017 Lessons + Learnings

  1. Steph, having watched you over the years from the newbie recruiter at SAP to the Pro triathlete and business owner has been refreshing and motivational.
    I cannot wait to see what you accomplish next.
    Thanks for sharing your journey with all of us out there.

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