“I am proud of myself for not giving up. I just feel so grateful for everyone’s help also. I really could not even try this without it.” This was the response from Gail Hurn, who is in pursuit of competing in her first triathlon next month after a tough workout with the team yesterday morning. I often end a team post online with the phrase, “We got better today.” Here I will share a few examples of the power of helping each other get better.
Let me share a bit more about the phrase. There is a lot there. First is the We. It simply is phenomenal what we can do when we do things with and for others. It can be as simple as allowing someone to help us or finding an opportunity to help someone else that is open to our help. Helping can be in the form of sharing experiences, education, pushing and stretching, and providing encouragement. I’m sure there are many other examples. The point is many times we grow from being around others that provide just the help we need at the given time. Gail referred to this in the opening quote. She is around some amazing people that are helping her grow.
Two of them are Jenn Torr and Chris Smith. There is a great dynamic between this group of friends. In 2019, Jenn and Chris set out to celebrate their 20 year wedding anniversary by doing their first full Ironman. See the impacts of the we in Jenn’s post on Facebook following the race.
“Chris and I started this Ironman journey seven months ago as a way to celebrate 20 years of our marriage. Never did I ever imagine the overwhelming amount of encouragement, support, and love we would feel from our friends and family throughout the grueling training and especially over the race weekend. Each and every one of your texts, comments, messages, likes, loves, and phone calls has made this life event for us that much more special. Many of you were with me throughout the day as I recalled things you had said to me when training or messages you sent before the race that I drew from to keep going, stay strong, and race smart. Seeing the smiling faces and hearing the cheers of our unbelievable cheer squad was the push that got me from one leg to the next. I truly have no words to capture what you all have made this experience for us that started out as our small personal celebration.”
There is some amazing video illustrating the life this brought to the both of them and to those supporting. One of the people making the trek up to Chattanooga, TN to see Jenn and Chris take on this feat was Gail along with several other teammates and friends. If you want a cheerleader and friend, Gail is a role model…endless enthusiasm with a full heart.
The blood, sweat and tears they put into training and completing the race in grand fashion was inspiring. #dedication
Now the tables have turned a bit. Gail, who has run in several races over the years and has a nickname, PR, as she always seems to pull off a new Personal Record at each race, decided to try a triathlon for the first time. This means adding a swim and bike to the routine and not just adding a swim and a bike, but competing with a swim and bike. Don’t let me forget, Gail didn’t have a road bike. The “didn’t” has been replaced with “has” a road bike now as Jenn and Chris searched and searched for a suitable bike and surprised Gail with one recently. Wow…
Back to the part where I mentioned allowing someone to help you. Gail has been extremely coachable and this is helping her make some amazing leaps in her growth in both swimming and bicycling. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it as there are many failures along the way when learning but believe me, she is learning, growing, and gaining confidence. She is receiving coaching from a lot of different sources too from her formal coaches to teammates and friends.
Jenn shared this note with me yesterday as she has been helping Gail tremendously and look again at the we aspect of how we help each other get better.
“I was recently on the receiving end of so much encouragement and support that came in such abundance, I realized the full impact that others can have on someone working toward reaching a goal. I accomplished an amazing feat and life experience that would never have been as fulfilling and well performed without the heartfelt and sincere acts of my teammates and athlete friends. While I always enjoyed encouraging and helping others, after this experience, I could see firsthand the true difference it makes to have people believe in you and genuinely care about you doing your best that was shown through all of their actions while I was attempting to reach my goal. I want to pay that forward as much as I can having been so fortunate to be on that receiving end at a level I never anticipated or could imagine. It brings me so much happiness to have the opportunity to do that and see the smiles that result from doing what others did for me.”
What a special friendship…
Yesterday was another example of how Gail and others got better during a single workout. After an overnight thunderstorm, the water was quite choppy at Fred Howard Park in Tarpon Springs. I arrived at the park an hour early to do a run prior and ensure we were safe to do our thing as we had a practice including a swim, bike and run. I checked the weather and surf and we were clear from danger but the water was still quite rough.
In my mind I knew this would be the best thing for those having concerns about swimming in choppy waters. At some point if you are racing there will be a day where the surf if choppy (and more than choppy), the wind blows you around on the bike or stands you up on the run, rain peppers you where you question grip on the tires, or heat making it feel like the sun is literally on your back. The best thing to do is practice in all conditions as it will happen at some point during a race and you will have confidence from being in the situation previously.
We all discussed the conditions prior to entering the water and did an assessment when we went out. It was a challenging swim and in the end just what I anticipated. It was the best thing that could have happened for those with some fear. One of them being Gail. I sent a note to Gail after practice stating how doing the workout in those conditions was the best thing that could have happened to her.
She responded by saying, “I was thinking on the way home the same thing and at least for myself, I can’t stress this enough having such strong and supportive teammates are the only way I could do this.”
The power of we.
The second part of the phrase, “we got better today” that I love is the word “better.” It’s not about being perfect or being better than someone else. It’s simply about being better than before. Oddly enough it can mean failure as well. How many times are we better by failing and learning from it? I know for myself I fail all the time and that will never stop. I’m not a failure but boy can I fail. But being better is about making progress, an attempt at progress, aspiring to get to some point, etc. And that some point is up to each and everyone of us and can big really small, really big or somewhere in between. It sure does feel good to just be better…making progress.
The last part of the phrase is the word “today.” It’s just about today. Being in the moment, not trying to think too far out in the future or bringing too many things with you from the past but being focused on today, in today’s workout or meeting or class (or whatever). Be present and focused on being better today. Adding up all the small wins of getting better today can lead to some pretty big wins down the road but the focus has to be on today. Do what you can do today to make yourself better.
Yesterday was a great example for me as well working with others to get me better. One of the best age group triathletes in the country and Team USA member, Jeff Turner, was present. This guy is an absolute monster on the bike. Not to take anything away from his swim or run but he is in another league on the bike. During the bike portion of the workout, Jeff pushed me to just try to keep him in sight. I was working my tail off to keep up and I certainly got better by chasing him…wow.
Once we got on the run it was the reverse. Jeff was chasing me and we were really pushing the pace in the final mile. I was simulating in my head the end of a race where I was trying to hold him off and he was conversely pushing himself to catch me. We both pushed the heck out of each other and left the park better for it.
These are just a couple examples of the power of we and how we can help each other meet our own goals and aspirations.
– Add Health to Your Life
Featured Blog Photo
- Upper Left – Jenn, Chris and Dave Harris competing at Ironman last year and Gail second from left
- Upper Right – Jeff, Gail, Kevin and me doing our thing yesterday morning at Fred Howard Park
- Bottom Left – Gail receiving her bike from Jenn, Chris and Ian
- Bottom Right – Chris and Jenn post Ironman race