The Other Side of the Fence
In life, I find it interesting to see other perspectives, to be on the other side of the fence. As most of you know, I am a triathlon and life coach. Being a coach gives me so much energy inside — I thrive on seeing someone achieve a goal or dream; I love being part of the journey helping someone become their true self by igniting their dreams.
For the past 6 years, I have been competing in Ironman and half Ironman races. This past November, I got to be on the other side of the fence as a coach at an Ironman. Talk about a different perspective! I took in so much more than I had when I was racing; I was aware of each athlete’s emotion in their voice, body language, and eyes, and all the funny, quirky things we do as triathletes. I remember sitting in one spot by myself just taking in everything and wondering why I could not experience these moments the same way as an athlete? As a coach, I slowed down and was able to be in the moment. It’s truly a gift.
Every day, I strive to find something to be grateful for, but, for the purpose of this blog today, I am truly grateful to have had the opportunity to watch one of my athletes, Stephen Crossland, become an Ironman. I am also thankful for the trust he put in me and the growth I experienced as a coach.
I have been coaching Stephen for six months. The progress I saw was incredible. He went from no triathlons to a half Ironman at Calgary 70.3 to an Ironman in Arizona! His determination, persistence, and dedication, his willingness to grow and learn, and his sheer desire to achieve this goal was incredible to watch as a coach.
Stephen was so committed to training, I am pretty sure he had to be kicked out of the lake at the end of the season and forced into the pool. The process of building Stephen’s swim was inspiring to watch. Seeing the support from his family was heartwarming, too. His wife Mandy joined in on many swim workouts and runs, and as a family, they all did the Winterstart run in Banff with Stephen Jr. killing it out on the run. I’d put money on it that the son, like his father, will do a triathlon soon along with his other family members.
The day of the Arizona Ironman was an epic experience. Experiencing the emotion on the other side of the fence as coach was so different, and I took in so much more from the different perspective. I even saw a man in a thong — really, how you could not remember something like that? But seriously, watching the day unfold was incredible: I saw powerful athletes, each racing for different reasons, families supporting family members with love, supporters giving athletes a boost, saying “Hey, you’re hot, will you date me?” It sure put a smile on the athletes’ faces to hear that kind of praise when they are working so hard.
I remember the day well, but what stood out for me was following Stephen’s family and making sure we were in certain spots on the run to cheer him on to keep him moving forward. This was a bucket list goal for Stephen and there was no way he would EVER give up, and we were there to help give him that extra energy. We were “Team Crossland.” After hours of cheering, we stood at the finish line, celebrating athletes, giving high fives, taking in the energy, and seeing all the different finish line celebrations. Athletes danced, a few rolled on the ground and over the finish line; some stood there for a moment and just took it all in; others collapsed or flew across the line with their arms wide or kneeled on the ground to show their gratitude.
Stephen came around the corner looking strong and proud. He said to me at the start of our coaching that he wanted to do these races and train to inspire his family; well, I can tell you this intention was 100 percent achieved. Seeing the emotion and just how proud each family member was of him was something I will never forget. Stephen Crossland is now officially an Ironman. He achieved his bucket list goal, while also being an inspiration to his family. Being on the other side of the fence gave me a different perspective and opened my eyes up to what I want in my life moving forward, what I value most: quality, equality, love, compassion and community.
As I mentioned at the beginning, trying a different perspective creates the opportunity to see things you may have missed. I have to admit that once in a while in life there may be a perspective or two you wish you could ignore, and this is ok, too. Acknowledging that is being true to yourself and taking care of your heart and soul. So challenge yourself to be on the other side of the fence every once in a while, see those different perspectives, and grow as a human with much love and compassion for yourself and the world.
And always be gentle with yourself. If you need time to see a certain perspective that is okay— your heart is important and loving yourself is the most important thing of all.