I Deserve This…

After a recent race, I ran into a successful athlete that I only know via social media.  I introduced myself and asked her about her race. She responded with a myriad of reasons why she didn’t perform to her expectations.  Some of the reasons were internal and others were external. I have been around enough athletes to know to ask a simple follow up question; how did you do?  She won her age group.

I no longer notice the difference between self-deprecation and self-defecation.  This summer that lesson was taught to me by the US Women’s Soccer National Team and the death of my best friend, Ann.  They both had one trait in common; they owned their professional success. Megan Rapinoe summed it up best in a video at the ticker-tape parade in New York City repeating, “I deserve this…”.  And hell yes, she deserved it.

Like Megan, Ann was often asked about her business success.  Unlike most women, she didn’t start by exclaiming how lucky she was or how many faults she had.  Ann claimed her success and wrapped herself in it like a warm blanket. Not because it was comfortable for her but because she knew that she had to be an example for other women.  She was as intentional in her successes as she was in owning her failures.

I decided long ago as an athlete to make no excuses.  After Ann’s death, I decided to try racing again at Muncie 70.3.  It felt great to race again despite bursting into tears afterward knowing that Ann wasn’t a short phone call away.  When Coach Marilyn Chycota asked how I did, I told her better than I deserved with an 8th in my age group. In retrospect, that was a lie.  I have 10+ years of fitness in this sport and I should do well despite missing a block of training during Ann’s final journey. Deep down, I know I am fitter than most and I excel at racing.  I need to be proud of what I do well. No more excuses and no more self-defecation.

As women, it is time for all of us to be proud of our effort, proud of our performances and claim our successes as fast as we claim our failures.  Each of us can lead by example. No easy way.

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