That is what was going through my head during the last hundred yards or so of the recent 1/2 Ironman I completed. I mean I had just done a 1.2 mile swim, 56 miles on the bike and run nearly a half marathon, a few yards in the sand wasn’t going to kill me.
Or was it?
I don’t know if you have ever run in the sand, but it’s not easy. And let me be clear, this wasn’t the nice packed sand down close to the water which after 6+ hours of racing could be mistaken for road. No, this was the soft sand which felt like it was grabbing your feet and pulling you backwards every step. Yes - I have to say, those last few yards were brutal. That being said, I made it through; not very gracefully, and certainly not very prettily, but I made it through. I just kept telling myself, “A few more steps, just make it through these few yards.” In the big picture it was a very small part of the race, but at the time it felt huge.
Now that my body has recovered from that day, I find myself looking back and trying to glean wisdom from what I put my body through that day. Completing a race which less than .5% of the population has even started is an accomplishment of which I am proud. But for me it’s much more than the physical.
For me it’s the sense of completion, of setting my mind to something which a few years ago would have been impossible for me to even contemplate, let alone complete, and finishing it. I am by no means fast at the races, but I complete them, slowly and methodically; one step at a time. In looking at it, in many ways the races I do are analogous to my sobriety.
At Loeta we work with a great number of people who are struggling with substance use. People contemplating how to live a life free of alcohol or drugs, and what that would look like. I know many clients have said the same thing to themselves that I have said when first presented with doing a race of a seemingly insane length. No way; that’s impossible.
But just like I do with the race, when we break it down into small chunks, it becomes a bit more manageable.
Don’t think about the 1.2 mile swim, just swim to the next buoy.
Let’s not think about how to make it through the holidays, let’s talk about what to do today.
Use this transition time to get yourself ready for your ride, you made it through the swim.
Before I rush off to work, I’m going to take time to set my intentions for the day.
And so on…
Before we know it, we are slowly making it through; we realize every step is getting us closer to the end of the race, and every minute sober is a victory in its own.
We also realize we can’t do it alone. We need the support and love of family and friends to make it through. Additionally, some of us need a coach, a professional to guide us through the process. Sure we can do it alone, but it is a lot easier to be able to talk with someone to bounce ideas off of. Someone to have as a guide and a support who has been there and knows what’s coming up for us so we can lean in and finish what we started.
And of course, there are the inevitable obstacles; the hills, the cocktail parties, the broken chains and the family reunions.
And then there’s the sand.
The damn sand...
But we make it through that as well.
And, just like that it’s over. We made it through the race and through the day. But of course tomorrow presents a whole new set of challenges and opportunities which we will tackle when it’s time to do so.
Like maybe the full Ironman…
“Let’s see what TripAdvisor says.”
That is a familiar refrain in my house.
We love to travel, and we love to go places that are a bit off the beaten path, so we lean heavily on sites like TripAdvisor to help us see through the glossy webpages and promotional videos resorts and hotels put together.
You see, at heart, my wife Lauren is a researcher. She loves to compare different hotels and packages. She will pour over websites and will read countless reviews. She gets more done on her phone and laptop in an hour than I would get done in days of old school phone calls. And, as it turns out Lauren is in good company. According to Pew Research the trend of using our phones for applications beyond calling and texting is only increasing.
In short, our cell phones, for better or for worse, are quickly becoming the first place we, as a society, turn for information. As a small business owner, I say it’s time to embrace the change.
If you’ve been following the rebrand and relaunch of Loeta, you will notice that we have embraced the impact that new technology and social media play in today’s world. We are using Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube and we post regularly on all of these platforms. Additionally, we embrace Facetime and Skype to meet with clients, and we not only post videos on social media, but we also have linked them into our website. These are all platforms which take me out of my comfort zone a bit, but it’s the way that people research now. In short, it’s the most effective way for us to spread our message of help and support.
All that being said, it is very important to me that we don’t forget the importance of the old school way of doing things. We absolutely value the importance of visiting programs, and meeting people face to face. We know that a video can’t compare with a handshake, and that there is a lot to be said about getting to a program or meeting a person and going with a gut feeling.
To us, it’s all about balance. Sure, some people are going to find out about what we do and the services we provide through more traditional means, but if we are going to get the word out to the families and individuals who desperately need our help in finding a safe environment where they can help themselves get to the next step on their path, then we must, in short, be where they look in those desperate and dark times.
It’s streaming videos on Instagram coupled with sitting down for a cup of coffee.
Oh, in case you were wondering, Lauren is batting 1.000 on her vacation spots!