Last Tuesday was the final day of my 10-week coaching program with Deb (Cheslow) and, honestly, all I can say is “WOW”! When I had the bright idea in the pool last October to ask Deb to coach me for real again after Ironman Florida, I was really just grasping at straws – trying to ward off the post-Ironman crash what would inevitably consume me without some sort of intervention.
I didn’t know if working with Deb again would/could do that or not. I didn’t know if we had grown too close to be able to separate all of our different life roles for the sessions to be productive (we have always been very good at compartmentalizing “roles” because Deb was my coach first, then my karate instructor, then my business partner, and THEN my life partner, but it’s been a long time since there was intensive one-on-one coaching between us). I wasn’t sure that I wasn’t too close to the material to make the process anything more than a rhetorical exercise, and whether I would get as much out of it as someone with less “experience”. We started the program on Tuesday, November 8th. I was still riding the high after the IMFL race only 3 days before and I was excited about figuring out my next big obsession.
But then I felt like all my fears were coming to fruition when, just days before Thanksgiving, the Ironman high wore off and I was left wondering what on earth I could ever do to top that day? The cascade came and even as I felt it coming and was very aware of what was happening, I was powerless to stop it. It was as if I had leaped off a cliff and gravity was pulling me to the ground regardless of how hard I flapped my arms and tried to fly.
I won’t kid you… I was scared… and worried… What if I couldn’t get my mojo back – for work, for triathlon, for my family, for ME? My coaching sessions took a more somber turn. I remember saying, “I just don’t know who to BE…” more than once. But Deb never wavered. She shook the program up and did unexpected things to catch me (and my logic) off guard – and there was no small measure of tough love thrown in there too. There was plenty of her telling me what I NEEDED to hear, rather than what I might have WANTED to hear. It took several weeks, but suddenly just before Christmas, I had a fire lit under my ass that suddenly had me doing at 90 mph!
Our company had decided it was time to put out a new book in the Spring of 2017. The way we create new book manuscripts is for me to take Deb’s outline and create a rough draft of content from it. Then Deb takes my draft and completely decimates it – changing almost everything about it in the process. In the end, the finished product looks NOTHING like my draft, but without that draft the book would never get written. It’s a process and it works for us. Anyhow, I was completely unenthusiastic about starting the manuscript draft of the content sections, and yet it HAD to be written – and SOON!
As November turned into December, and our coaching program continued, I was still trying to identify my “what’s next”. What was I going to focus on in 2017? Business? Triathlon? I still felt so lost, and I didn’t want to do much of anything – business, triathlon, or even life in general. Then, during my session on 12/20, Deb said something to me that turned everything around. I was once again saying that I didn’t know what I wanted and that I was so lost after Ironman, and blah, blah, blah… when she got up in my face and said, “Angie! You are living in the past trying to train for a race that’s already been run! You HAVE to redefine the race you’re training for NOW!”
Something about that resonated so strongly with me. And she was right! It was time to let Ironman go and move forward. I snipped off my Ironman wristband later that day and asked Deb for a meeting on the new book so I could get very clear on what and how I was supposed to be writing. I woke up the next morning at 3am and started writing. I took the week off between Christmas and New Years like I always do, and jumped back into the book on January 2nd. In only 12 DAYS I created the draft manuscript for the new book’s content – it became an obsession. I was back! Now we’re finishing up the final edits and the book goes to the publisher early next month.
I had no clue how this coaching program with Deb would go when I initially got the idea in the pool. But I was desperate! Not as desperate as I was back in 2009, but still I knew I could not afford a prolonged crash after Ironman was over. Now that the initial coaching program is over and I look back, I am thrilled with the results! Was there a crash? Yes – of course – they can’t be prevented, only mitigated, but I think I did a great job – with Deb’s help – of shortening the refractory period and pulling out of the nosedive in a very short span of time. I know people who have the Ironman Blues for YEARS, and mine lasted for less than a month. I’ll take it! It wasn’t a pleasant month, but now I am refocused on things that are important. I have a great “A” race for 2017 that I’ll begin training for next month and I’m happier and more productive than I’ve been in a VERY long time.
I’ve decided to retain Deb as my “official” coach indefinitely. And I know there are people who are reading this post right now who are saying, “Yeah Ang, nice for you to have your partner as your coach… everyone else has to PAY for it!” To that I say this… Free coaching never works because there is no skin in the game and when the going gets tough – and it always gets tough somewhere along the way – sometimes it is only the fact that there is money on the line that keeps you moving. I cut Deb a check every month out of my own bank account to keep me accountable to myself for this process.
I know I will always have a coach – someone to push me further than I believe I can go on my own. It’s worked pretty darned well for me so far – I think I’ll just keep going!