Winter 2014 - wow, it's been a tough one so far. Not just weather-wise, but personally and professionally for me. I've got some really fun things on the calendar in the coming months, but before I move on to them, I felt like I needed to write a post about (and get out of my system for good) why the little spot of sunshine I'd been looking forward to in the form of a south Florida weekend didn't happen as scheduled.
While I'm still a newbie when it comes to racing, I'm sadly not when it comes to sacrificed vacation and travel plans - very much an occupational hazard for a litigator. This time felt different, though. Miami 2014 marks the first race for which I'd signed up, made the travel plans, trained hard for and at the end of the day, didn't get to go.
Most of us learn early in life that things aren't always going to go our way...that holiday gift we saw in a TV commercial and begged for doesn't show up on the big day, wrapped in shiny paper and bearing a bow....or, despite our best efforts, we don't make the sports team we'd hoped to play for...or, we let our nerves get the best of us and screw up in front of God and everybody at the annual piano recital. "Life lessons," our parents, coaches and teachers told us, but to our young emotions, they felt like serious kicks in the gut. Nonetheless, we got over it and moved on -- some sooner than others, and hopefully learned something from the experience.
But over a lifetime, if we're honest, do we ever *really* become immune to disappointment? Or, is simply finding a better way to cope with that "gut punch" the best we can hope for?
I suspect that everyone's experience in this context is going to be incredibly personal. For me, I'd like to think that my own feelings of disappointment -- in physical pursuits or in life -- have generally stemmed from: (A) my giving a damn, and having passion about whatever it was that didn't work out; and/or (B) having high expectations for, and confidence in myself. I've told my Coach that I never have trouble convincing myself I can do a given workout. Likewise, I don't often look at a task and think I can't do it, or a to-do list and think that it's too much for me. But in reality, it is.
So, if I gave a damn about this race as I claim to above, why did we not just get on that plane headed south? It was the perfect storm of work, weather and not having any control over the decisions of others and the timing of when they made them. The Judge in a big, big case I'd been working on all of 2013 entered an order setting the case for "trial readiness" in February 2014 - which meant he had assigned our case and many others to a pool wherein the juries who'd sit in all the cases would be selected on one day (February 4), but we wouldn't know more about when we'd actually start our own individual trials until the Judge set his trial calendar.
When I signed up many months ago though, I felt pretty sure that the February "trial readiness" date wouldn't affect my racing and travel plans. First, almost all my cases are decided by the judge at the summary judgment stage; basically, just written briefs arguing why or why not the judge alone should resolve the case or certain issues in it prior to the time a jury was empaneled. Or, if they aren't, they settle outside of court, either in mediation or some other form of dispute resolution. And finally (what I now see as the most risky of my "reasons"), even if the trial didn't go away, the race was February 2 - and even though February is a short month, the chances that the Judge would set our case immediately after jury selection were slim. Right? RIGHT? WRONG.
We found out in mid-January that the Judge denied all summary judgment motions, so that meant settlement was the only thing keeping this case from going to trial. Uh oh. But it was clear to us that the Judge thought this case should be resolved between the parties. Even though we'd reported to him that we'd already had a meaningful settlement conference where the case didn't settle, we were ordered to attend another court-ordered settlement conference on January 21. Ok, another chance - maybe it will happen at this conference, I thought. Annnnnnd....wrong again. No settlement. We headed into the final pretrial conference set for the last week of January - and, believe it or not, still no trial date given to us by the Judge. So, it could start February 3 ... or February 28. Or resolve on its own! I still kept the faith.
And then Mother Nature decided to make it all even more complicated....
By now, we all know what happened in the southeastern US the last week of January 2014. Mobile, AL (where my office is located) experienced a truly historic weather event...yes, the snow and ice which crippled Atlanta and Birmingham made it all the way down to the Gulf Coast. You've all seen the pictures from around the south of abandoned cars for miles, people sleeping in the aisles of grocery stores and terrified kids being reunited with parents after spending the night at school. Admittedly, I have nothing as dramatic as those pics, but I snapped a few when I snuck away from my trial prep on Wednesday to get a few gulps of fresh air and stretch my cabin-fever'd stiff legs (I wasn't brave enough to run on the ice, and our gym along with every other business around us was closed for the better part of the week).
Adding to the "fun", in the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, my car was towed without a good reason by the police from an icy spot of quicksand. Oddly enough, my car made the news in this very storm when it was parked in front of my office while I was inside working Tuesday night. I'm grateful that the photographer got the shot which was published as opposed to what would have been depicted later that night, when I came out of the office in full lawyer costume (heels and all) and worked myself into a lather to break through (not just scrape off) the ice encapsulating my vehicle!
So, without further ado....yes, the city of Mobile awakened from its icy slumber, and the lawsuit was resolved by the parties without going to trial, just not in time for us to make it to the airport. My dear friend KBC went ahead without me, and she and her husband completed the full Miami marathon! And, the race director was kind enough to defer my entry to next year.
While I still had to work that weekend, I was able to do it from home. I got in a nice walk with my Hubs and a long run. It felt SO good just to be outside, but I still was a bit sad; just felt let down overall, and like I could have done a better job in planning and dealing with everything. I got some good advice in dealing with my disappointment from, of all places, a Salon article. Here were some highlights, all of which seemed to apply to what I was feeling and how I could make my own situation better.
1. Acknowledge what you are feeling.....Be honest with yourself about how you really feel about the situation.
2. Put and keep things in perspective. ...How much of an effect is this disappointment going to have on you tomorrow, next week, or next year?...
3. Do not doubt yourself. Sometimes disappointment can make you feel like a total failure. ... Instead of beating yourself up, think about what you could have been done differently and always, always, always learn from the experience.
4. Look for solutions or compromises. ...Take a few deep breaths, relax, and look for the “silver lining.” It is possible to find something positive in almost every situation.
5. Reassess and make adjustments, if necessary. ...Learn to be flexible. Refocusing your attention on your new goals will help you work through your disappointment.
I'm going to do what I can to put these 5 points to good use! The second one ("Perspective") is going to be key for me.
And, one more note - while my blog is written more as a "personal diary" to capture these moments in my life (as opposed to a bigger blog with significant readership), I still try to consider how the things I say might be understood by a reader. To this end, I apologize if I sound whiny or negative. Yes, I do feel better now that time some has passed since race day. I know that many of my online friends have experienced way worse, in the form of season-sidelining injuries, serious family concerns which prevented you from being able to train, or even worse. I know that there are better things to come and the best thing I can do is to work hard, keep myself healthy and be ready for them!