A Look at the Bigger Picture

As life goes on, certain calendar dates begin to have meaning and significance to each of us. For me, September 7, 2019  will always be the day I competed in the Ironman 70.3 World Championships with ‘Mi Famila’. It was the pinnacle of my athletic career and created special memories I will hold in my heart forever. If I never step up to another start line, I know I finished racing giving ALL I had left in the tank. While there was literally blood sweat and tears, it doesn’t compare to the chronic pain I’m dealing with today … the pain that has sidelined not only my athletic life, but my entire being. Watching the start of the Tour de France this year in Nice, France I was amazed that I climbed the same French Alpes just one year ago?! But you know, I have peace knowing there is a plan and purpose for what’s next…

Identity Crisis

I’ve always been one to push, push, push and I finally did myself in after layering 70.3WC with the Berlin Marathon 3 weeks later last September. My younger self was always able to bounce back well, or so I thought? I remember walking to the run corrals with my new Croatian friend feeling significant foot pain, but ran the 26.2 at a good clip anyway.  Hey, it was Berlin!? That was the beginning of the end…

Now, after the foot injuries + chronic migraines that have kept me not only from competing, but also from my active lifestyle, I didn’t really know where to turn? It’s hard to admit this, but for most of the year I struggled with who is Jules? I was always ‘Runner Jules’ or ‘Ironman Jules’ – heck my blog is a Runners’ Sole!  My friends were my run or ride crew who over the years became the only social connections I had outside of work.   So, when I could no longer connect with my crew for weekend workouts I began to feel incredibly lost, the hardest place I’ve ever been.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that I realized I was missing the bigger picture!!!  God was right in front of me the whole time – reminding me that I was a child of God and that’s the only identity and place I needed to be.  He has slowed me down in major ways this year – as He has for many of us with COVID – but I encourage you to remember who’s in control and not lose sight of his power and mercy. I can’t quite see how he’s using me yet through his pain and struggle for good, but I can say this…My trust is in Him. 

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”

Steve Maraboli

At What Cost?

This weekend Eric Sebastian, Campus Pastor at McKinney was preaching for Pastor John at Hope Fellowship. The series was on Community and the importance of a circle of true friends. He reiterated that it’s so easy to show that you’re keeping it together on social media, to pretend in front of others, and to put on a mask at work or school.  But in these instances it’s so easy to drift – to lose sight of the reality of where and who you really are.   I felt like I really needed to hear this message

Getting to the World Championships looked glorious and exciting to the outside on social media and many were in awe of the accomplishment. But, I would mask the true strain it was putting on my health, personal life and relationships.  The cost was extremely high.. (Paul would argue that the cost was literally high too, ha! cha-ching!!) 

I trained constantly – my coach and hubby would agree I barely ever missed a workout. I was training at least 16 hours/wk – 18/hours/wk.  I missed birthday parties, baby showers, brunches, date nights — you name it!  I was either training or too exhausted to attend pretty much anything else! And I prioritized my training over everything else  in my life. I was addicted – to the point of unhealthy. Many athletes were/are the same way so I didn’t think I was that odd? But I would get so stressed trying to hit every workout that I would get anxiety looking at weekly schedules. When traveling for work I would worry and spend time trying to ensure the hotels had adequate fitness centers or safe running routes and get ansty wondering what I could fit in- would it be enough? 

On the weekends Paul and I would spend our time together working – just looking at each other over our laptops (workaholics!) and scheduling the upcoming week- pretty much down to the minute! Life was overscheduled, overwhelming and stressful – but it became my (normal) life. Training was my ‘fix’!

Needless to say, I left friends behind, my family was ignored, and we barely got to church.   I became MIA during intense Ironman training seasons year after year – getting in deeper each time.  But the plug was literally pulled on me, a switch went off, and I was left behind. Chronic pain is hard.  Transformation is hard.  But all I can say is I am so blessed by the community of friends God has put in my life – old and new! They have opened up their arms and hearts  welcoming me in without hesitation! I’m so blessed by their love, prayers and for picking me up when I need it most. I continually say, ‘Thanks for not giving up on me’.   If you have someone in your life that’s lost, or just needing someone to ‘do life together’- don’t hesitate either.  It means the world.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

— Eleanor Roosevelt

What’s Next?

My grandma always used to say, ‘Don’t let the urgent outweigh the important’ – I’m finally starting to understand and live by this more and more. I’m not perfect by any means, but I am getting my priorities straight and more balance in my life. It took a significant shift and transformation to come to this place of realization, but I’m a work in progress. There may be obstacles, broken paths, and mountains to climb – but I am a fighter! No matter the challenges ahead for Me and Paul and the long road ahead, the something tells me I’ll be back to competing again in the future, even if it looks a little different 😉 ! But I know now more than ever, that this comes from pursuing God, creating balance and creating a community around us.  We’re not in this life alone – and if you need a place to drop the mask, to be raw, truly be your true self… know that you’re never alone! 

“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

Simone Weil

You word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path | Psalm 119:105

Julie SimonA Look at the Bigger Picture