Maggie Rusch

Professional Triathlete

On Positivity

I'm generally a very positive, optimistic person. But traveling to and getting settled in Nice for Ironman France has done nothing but challenge me. This afternoon, frustrated by a very long and very complicated last 48 hours, I think I shot enough dirty looks to fill a lifetime quota (I'm looking at you, guy smoking in the middle of the Ironman Expo). 

I would share photos but my phone is effectively a lifeless brick after it decided to stop charging, whether plugged directly into a wall or into my laptop.

But I'm drawing the line. I'm done letting it get to me. 

The last few weeks I have been following the #everestnofilter saga, as two experienced Everest climbers (one a guide with six summits under his belt, another a professional climber) attempted to climb Everest without supplemental oxygen. Not a big deal, you think?

Not quite—while over 4,000 have successfully climbed it with supplemental oxygen, fewer than 200 have done so without. In the climbing world, they even compare using oxygen (or "Os" for short) to doping—which makes sense as it is effectively a performance-enhancing drug a la EPO. Critical for safety, but bringing the mountain down to a more-achievable, breathable level. 

Last week, I watched as Cory and Adrian made it to 6500m to acclimate, came down, resettled at Base camp for a few days and then they made their final push to the top. I would wake up each morning to check snapchat, unable to pull myself away from the expedition—whether the banal photos of them waiting around for their summit bid or the radio call at Base Camp announcing that Cory had made it to the peak safely. No joke, you guys—I cried for them, out of happiness. 

But in the days leading up to their final summit push, I noticed Adrian start to turn negative. He complained about the cold, about some shady things taking place on the mountain by other teams. It was subtle, but noticeable. That, paired with his cough, and I started to worry for him.

Meanwhile, in every snap from Cory, the stoke was high. He was positive. He was focused on himself and Adrian. I would not find out until after the summit that this was actually Cory's second attempt at a no-Os summit after the last one ended in failure. I would not have known otherwise.

Not that I'm a sherpa or an Everest expert or even know the slightest thing about high-altitude mountaineering, but I think a huge factor just came down to mindset, and how each dealt with the way they approached the challenge at hand. Cory was laser-focused in what their team had to do and kept it completely positive and upbeat. Nothing could distract him—and that all helped attribute to his amazing feat. 

So while I may not stop giving the sidewalk janglers here in France a hefty dose of side-eye as I struggle to pass, I am going to say that all focus turns to Sunday and to my race and on having an amazing day—and nothing else—as I look to summit my own little (no-Os) Everest here at Ironman France.

all photos via @coryrichards

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