Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

Believing in Yourself

I want to talk about goals, and about believing in yourself. Three years ago, a full year-and-a-half before I even did my first triathlon, I wrote down that I wanted to break five hours in a half-ironman. No joke, my boss (a triathlete) laughed at me. I might have too if I was her. But first, let me back up. To explain: I spent my Senior year during college working part-time for Lululemon, where each employee maps out their one-, five- and ten-year goals as part of a larger goal-setting process put in place by the company. As one of the youngest on staff, who had only recently switched majors and still had no clue what she was going to do after college, this was daunting. You mean I had to condense my hopes and dreams into a one-page set of goals and then publicly post them in a place for all to see (and to judge if i fell short)?

No thank you.

But it was a required exercise so up those goals went.

And, somewhat surprisingly, it seems to have worked. Aside from my failed dreams of being a semi-regular yogi, I have managed to stay on track and hit most of my goals. In fact, some of them could be revised to be even more bold.

The biggest thing I have taken away from looking back, is dare to dream big. Write down your next  big "holy shit that's unobtainable" dream goal somewhere—whether in your private journal, embedded in a daily routine or up on the wall of your favorite luon-pushing retailer—so that you have to face it on a daily basis. my personal favorite is the goal-oriented password.

My company forces you to change passwords about every five or eight months. i used to think it was a huge pain until this past January when I realized that I could think of something more creative than "childhood dogs name + zip code" or some other crazy combination. Ever since, each password has been some iteration on my next upcoming A-race and time goal. Without giving away any password secrets, my first password goal was for Eagleman and included the time "5:05". I felt silly putting it in there, and never told anyone that i'd be shooting for such a seemingly-unobtainable time for my first half-ironman.

Still, having to type 5:05 every single day, multiple times a day, only made me want to hit it even more. Having to confront the goal so regularly made it that much easier to pass on post-work happy hours when I knew all I had waiting for me back home was a date with the trainer and a brick-run in the dark. In the end, it paid off.

A few weeks ago it was time for a new password. I had been thinking about goals—both achieving them and falling short of the mark—and I decided that i wanted to push beyond my comfort zone even further. I've also realized that triathlon is so much more of who I am today than it was even back at the beginning of this year. In the theme of going all-in, I signed up for Ironman Mont Tremblant. I wanted a semi-exotic race locale where I wouldn't risk getting sick, one I could bookend with a ton of awesome Rev3 races and one my coach would approve.

Done—deposit down, password updated.

But telling my mom that i had signed up for an full Ironman was worse than introducing her to a new boyfriend. You see, I don't think she fully approves. There will be Friday nights where I'm telling her about the 4-hour brick planned for the next day and she'll ask why i'm not out with my friends. I don't think she understood why I was nearly to the point of (happy) tears when my parents chipped in for a set of Zipp wheels last christmas. And when I used to mention that a full-Ironman was in my ten-year plan, somewhere, she mentioned that she never understood why anyone would give up so much for it. Plus, the possibility of getting injured.

And here I am reading blog posts by other triathletes mentioning how their parents flew across the country to sherpa their latest adventure and all I can think is that my own mother has never seen me race. (though as to not make her out to be a horrible person, she really is fantastic and attended every single one of my cross-country meets, volleyball games, swim meets, you name it, growing up).

Sometimes you have to just have to write down your goal and go for it—regardless of whether or not someone approves and whether or not someone laughs in your face when you're brave enough to declare it out loud. And while I'm not publicly writing any time goals for next August (because August is far, far away and because the Ironman is a beast), I do plan on committing to the following:

  • it's going to be an all-in affair. training starts for real in November
  • I'm not racing to "just finish"
  • I'm not going to let anyone tell me what I can and cannot do

The secret? You have to believe in yourself, that's it.

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