Soule Style Triathalon – Practice in Positivity

It’s not even 2 pm and this Saturday has proven to be a bit of a triathalon – Soule Style.  And it’s worked thanks to extreme and artificial positivity on my part.

I’ve never done a triathalon – haven’t ever even watched one – so I’m not sure of how it all comes together, other than it is a beastly combo of three physical tests:  running, swimming, and biking.   I don’t swim, or bike, so today’s triathalon was organized by Soule type challenges.

Last weekend, I was pumped with victorious feelings (aka – endorphins) after the 20 mile run. However, while trying to complete the final couple of miles, I got mentally weak and let bad thoughts find their way in.  My positive mantra, “I am strong, I am ready” was in a battle with very negative energy… like, “I will NEVER do this again – EVER – this is stupid – why am I running 20 miles? I hope I never do this again. Oh, wait – I do have to do this again on October 12 and October 26 and then again on Nov 17 with an extra 6.2 added on.  Hate this.”  See? Not very positive. I was trying to cram in the “I am strong” bit but, as you may recall, my body was also contributing to unhappy feelings, so it really was a test.

Honestly, after last Saturday, I really didn’t want to ever run again. I had to travel this week and I half-heartedly laced my sneaks and ran along the East River in NYC for a 4 mile go, only twice.  I didn’t enjoy it, I just got it done. I wasn’t looking forward to this weekend’s long run, which I knew I would have to do alone.

Then, last evening, I was on the phone with my daughter who was feeling some dread about taking the SATs this morning. She had prepared, she was ready as she could be, but dread was all over the phone.  I encouraged her to really employ positive thinking – to spend time, over and over, imagining herself being comfortable reading and answering the questions, calm when challenged by a tough one, and moving forward to the next with confidence.  I suggested she really embed that vision in her mind and go to it, even during the test, if anxiety started to take hold.

I realized at that moment, that I needed to really do the same thing for myself. A mantra isn’t enough. It has to be an attitude.   The “power of positive thinking” is all over the place – in meditation, in psychotherapy,  in the book and movie “The Secret” (touting a belief that you can bring good things to you by imagining them in your life.  (

I imagined myself pacing right through my 13 miles, comfortable, hydrated, enjoying the scenery. I imagined my body as compliant and supportive. I imagined myself cramp free.

My positive plan was the gun going off to my Saturday Triathalon sections:

Part 1:  I did run 13 miles – at race pace – and since I was alone and it wasn’t raining, I strapped on my phone and listened to music. I was happily cruising along and Pandora was feeling my positivity, delivering the BEST lineup of tunes I’ve ever had in a straight 90 minutes. One song after another, offering the right rhythm to keep my feet swinging, making me want to sing along (though I couldn’t because I was, after all, running 13 miles.)   Even when a ballad got thrown into the mix, it allowed me to relax just a little to a softer song, and then pick it up again on the next tune. (Thanks, Pandora!)  When my feet started to really hurt at mile 9, I decided to switch to a podcast, knowing that if I listened to talking, it would be harder for my feet to get my attention.   Fortunately, I had a very hilarious podcast of NPR’s “Wait – Wait -Don’t Tell Me” that sent me right through to mile 13.  Hooray!

Part 2:  I got home, shoveled out the stalls, and was stunned that I felt I had enough energy to squeeze in a ride. Thanks to the combo of my travel schedule and training schedule, I haven’t ridden in a month. And, Thoroughbreds, like my horse Trivilin, are not at their best when allowed to just hang around for too long. In fact, and un-exercised TB can really unleash serious shenanigans. To prepare for the rodeo, I imagined him being cool, responsive, and well behaved. I imagined him being perfect.  Even with 13 miles already into my legs, I swung up on his back and started to work him out.  He was worried about deer in the woods, squirrels and birds – but instead of exploding, he twitched his ears and tail, and kept moving along with respectful energy.  Saw-eet ride!  Here’s a photo of my guy – *after* he got his workout and was back to grazing…


Part 3:  I wasn’t looking for a triathalon, but we do own some crazy pets.  The third leg of my triathalon was cleaning.  When I came in from riding, I encountered my Labrador, Ruckus – who is, for real, an experienced thief.  He had gotten into all kinds of stuff – and I’m not even sure where it all came from since cabinets and trash were still locked up.  You can see from the photo that his escapade required some clean up:


And after that, Stella was smelling seriously bulldoggy, so I plunked her in the kitchen sink and gave her a bath. Here is a photo of Stella running , post tub-time, as if I’d doused her in gasoline and set her on fire instead of actually sudsing her with shampoo and giving her a blow dry …


And then, I was so hungry, that I opened the fridge to make lunch and decided one of the shelves had a spill that needed to be wiped up, which turned into me emptying the fridge completely and giving it a thorough cleaning.  And then I did 3 loads of laundry.

Triathalon summary:  13 miles + riding crazy TB + cleaning *everything*.  No finisher medal today, but I’m positive I’ve earned dessert.

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