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Lessons Learned – Ryan Middleton

Lessons Learned – Ryan Middleton
January 15, 2016 Michael Harlow

I can remember my first race and all of the anxiety associated with it.  Competing on sports teams throughout my childhood, and through high school added to this in a significant way.  I absolutely hated to lose.  I never considered myself a sore loser, after a contest I would always congratulate the opponent.  But I my thoughts would later be consumed with what I could have done differently to have prevented the loss.

With that being said, my first official race was the ‘Mountain Do Triathlon” at Hungary Mother State Park in Southern VA.  The race consisted of a 10k run, 3k kayak, and a 20k mountain bike.  I had never been in a kayak or on a ‘real’ bike a day in my life.  This was not the day to try clip-in pedals for the first time.  Now I wish I had an amazing story of how I conquered the world that day.  But that is not the case.   I took my time (more out of fear) and finished after the time cut off.

My ‘racing career’ took off from there.  I began to develop my own prerace ritual.  Race morning consisted of me arriving at the start very early.  I was usually one of the first ones there because I hated the thought of being late.  I would warm up, pace back and forth constantly, and ‘size-up’ the competition.  “This person is tall and thin, they must be fast”, I would notice what people were wearing, and try to judge how intimidating a person appeared to be.  We’ve all done it.  By the time the race started, I had already figured out in my mind who would win, as well as those that would fall closely behind.

The unfortunate thing about this, is that it would dictate my race.  I developed a habit of starting slow and trying to let all of the ‘fast people’ go first.  I would spend my entire race navigating through people, and would always have to settle for a mediocre finish.  I was never willing to toe the line and take a risk.  I was scared of failure.  What would people think if I took a chance and made a fool of myself?

As the years progressed, I began to fall more in love with running and competing.  I would train harder and as a result I would be more confident in ‘laying it on the line’ at races.  I began to realize, “I deserve to be here”.  If I didn’t take chances, how would I discover my true potential?

Please do not misinterpret this as a call for you to become super competitive.  But I want to encourage you to lay aside your doubts and insecurities this season.  Many of us have become complacent and content with past results and therefore have lowered our expectations for ourselves.  Don’t do that to yourself.  It’s not fair.  You owe it to yourself to see what you can do.  Why not train a bit harder and see if you can’t accomplish those goals that you have tucked away for no one to see?

Spring racing season is right around the corner.  I would love to help you uncover the potential that is already within you.  As you begin to discover this, I guarantee that you will feel more alive that you have ever felt.  So, what do you say?  How about let’s make 2016 your best year yet?

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