There are no coincidences.
That is what I am thinking about today starting this Blog which will hopefully last for eight weeks and six days precisely. The time line for this Blog is from today Monday 23rd April up until Sunday 24th June. The day I truly hope I will be standing on the start line of Iron Man France as a member of Team LIVESTRONG.
3.4 km of a sea swim, 180 km on the bike and finally 40 km of running. Why? For me now at this point it is to see if” I can”. The Iron man has represented so much to me over the last couple of years and what it has been whittled down to now in these last 62 days is to see if I can. Combined with this is the desire to fund raise for LIVESTRONG so I can stand shoulder to shoulder with a team who are all taking on a gruelling personal challenge and giving back at the same time. I cannot think of any other organisation I would rather give back to in some capacity. They have personally empowered and facilitated a lot of change in my life and I know for a fact they are working every single day with the sole purpose of helping others empower themselves, and they facilitate programs and initiatives that benefit the cancer community all over the world.
Since I decided to see if “I can” there has been a series of moments that have made me fully believe there are no coincidences. What has also struck me as I sit here today is that we all must make our own freedom but it is also made possible by the great people and organisations in our lives that can help facilitate for us the inspiration, education, conditions and circumstances that can enable us to see what we are made of.
If I draw a time line back to the end of March I can highlight this at work in my own life. One of the resounding themes for so many of us when we discussed what was most valuable for us about the LIVESTRONG Assembly in Austin Texas at the end of March; it was the face to face interaction. I can see already the effect this has had upon other LIVESTRONG Leaders as they return to their own communities energised and inspired by being face to face with like minded people. When I took a Skype chat with two of my fellow Leaders last week we both agreed that the most powerful aspect of the assembly for us was LIVESTRONG facilitating for us this opportunity to connect with one another.
I spent a week after the LIVESTRONG Assembly with my Triathlon Coach who lives in Austin Texas. During this week I found myself moving from a place of “I can’t “to wondering if “I can”. Claudia Spooner my Coach is an incredibly inspiring woman. She is a full time Mom, full time coach and an incredibly competitive long course triathlete who is a serious contender! She takes everything she does very seriously and she is an inspiring person to spend time with. Hence I found myself on Thursday after spending a few days with her jumping in to a lake and doing a short swim and a run. It went OK, not great but then with the consistency of my training up until that point due to my injury that was to be expected, but it went okay enough, and crucially it gave me enough confidence to start to wonder if maybe I can. Or maybe I can see what I can do. During the week I spent with Claudia she facilitated this realisation for me because of the environment she provided filled with conversations, training and inspiration , and so it started to grow inside of me that feeling that maybe I can dig in and see what is possible.
After I came home from Texas I started to feel adrift from all the energy and positivity I had received during my trip and I could feel myself starting to falter in my resolve a little, more in terms of confidence. I started to ask myself am I mad? What about this injury and my leg that still needs a lot of strengthening. Will I drown in the swim if I persist in just going to Nice ready or not? So yes my brain was becoming crowded with questions and doubts, and then as before a series of events started to unfold. Two things happened last week. I saw a picture of myself on the race website from the swim and run I did in Texas. The picture stopped me in my tracks. I looked so happy and free as I was running in the picture. It made me realise how much I love sport and how I equate it with freedom.
Little did I know someone else, a close friend and my senior LIVESTRONG Leader Shu Milne had also seen my picture and she had a reaction to it also? At the time she was working on our biographies for our LIVESTRONG Leader Region 14 Newsletter and she felt really inspired by my picture. When I read the amazing bio she did for me it was like she was writing to me, telling me who I am and what I love. She was facilitating for me this realisation I keep forgetting, about how empowered I feel by sport and how much I want to pass that on to others. Because of her creative talent in putting together this great bio, she had created a reflection of what I want to do and be back at me. To say this was powerful is an understatement.
I bought my idol Chrissie Wellington’s biography “A life without limits” last week and I tweeted that I had reached page 3 and had burst in to tears. This was the truth. I cannot believe the timing in finding and buying her book and I cannot believe how every page speaks to me so strongly. Chrissie is the female Iron man world champion, she is so full of passion and determination and she is such a strong woman with a huge desire to pass that on to others, she also believes strongly in people being empowered to look after themselves and achieve their own goals. Every word of her book is providing me with fuel to keep going and trying to see what I can do.
I popped out for coffee this morning and bumped in to a friend of mine who is a writer. She is pretty drained right now coming out of the other side of the recent completion of a book and as she said it is time now to watch TV and just surf for a bit. Ha we all need that too! But being the people we are it didn’t stop us from debating the world for half an hour! Then she said to me the most amazing thing. She said that Nietzsche had talked about the lion, and used the lion as imagery to describe someone finding their own place in the world and their own freedom.”
This stopped me in my tracks yet again! As just this morning I had been thinking about trying to write this post and how would I describe the freedom I felt yesterday on my run. I felt I had a break through moment in my Iron man training yesterday. Not only did it mark the end of a successful block of training, but something happened on the run that has not happened to me for a couple of years. I think I was on mile 6 and suddenly I felt as if I might take off. I couldn’t feel me as any different to the air, the sea or the ground under my feet. I felt part of. That is the only way to describe it. It makes me cry now writing about it. Is that the freedom all of us are looking for in our own individual ways? Something that makes us feels connected and part of?
In the most unexpected way this morning, with the mention of Nietzsche of all people I was reminded of what makes me feel free. My friend Brad Didier talks about riding his bike for those who can’t. I feel as if the final piece has fallen in to place for me now in the Iron man journey. I want to see if” I can” but I also want to raise money as well to give to LIVESTRONG as they really do empower others and fight on behalf of those who cant. I feel so grateful for being able to see what I can do at the moment. I am also in endless indebtedness to all those people who keep being put in my path who keep on facilitating a realisation in me that I can keep on hoping and trying.