Rear View Mirror

Posted on December 15, 2010



2010 has been a roller coaster. Or, maybe, it really was like those scrambler rides. I never really felt grounded all year. I bounced back an forth between a graduate course, coaching at SUNY, working at the running store in New Paltz and Bikeway in Wappingers Falls, and trying to train enough so I could met the criteria to turn professional.

Added that all up and you get scrambled eggs, I mean scrambled brains! I pulled it off though. I received an A- in my class, helped coach the kids, started a cycling and triathlon team at Bikeway and met the criteria to turn pro. And, I won a couple of races.

I often ask myself, how did I do it? Or, how come everyone cannot do it sometimes? I think it comes down to a few lessons that I have learned; was forced to learn this year.

  • If you do not believe you can do it no body else will. Head Coach at SUNY New Paltz Mike Trunkes brought in a friend of his Dan to speak with our team. Dan, who happens to be a motivational speaker, said many great things but one statement hit me like a brick when one of the kids questioned, “What if you are unsure about a goal?”. Without hesitation Dan replied, “Fake it. Others will believe you. Even if your still unsure, eventually you will begin to believe it yourself.” I always knew I could be a professional athlete. When I finally decided to do this in 2008 I knew I could control my desire and feed off my motivation but, would I, at that point, even be good enough? 2009 told me maybe. Most of this year told me probably. Right now, I know that I certainly am good enough.
  • You’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with. Those who are successful essentially sacrifice a lot to get where they are. Its funny though that the most successful ones do not see sacrifice; they see joy, humility, determination, life. Anyways, how can you get from the bottom to the top when you have negativity around you? Not saying that I have had negative people around me but, I’ve made it a point to focus on the positives, stay away from complainers, and to just enjoy and revel in the process. Because it is in the process that great things always happen.  Seriously though, there are people who complain that it is too hot, too cold, its raining, etc. Do something else then. Also, I’m lucky to have such supportive parents, siblings, friends, employers, sponsors, etc.

A happy mom and Dad post SOS!

Super Fans Jan Cyr and Jay Friedman post SOS.

  • You either are or you aren’t. Doesn’t sound extremely grammatical (no comments Prinz, Kristine, Coach Pete) and it might be contradictory to my above point on fake it if you don’t believe in yourself, however, as my high school coach Steve Perks always said, “There is no try. There is only do.” Haha, I just looked up who that quote is from and its from Yoda. He was and still is the Yoda to me. But, there is so much truth in it. Its so safe of one to say, “Well, I will try.” “I’m trying.” I think the only person who called me out was Petra Trunkes when I said that I’m going to try my best and whatever happens, happens. She questioned who is judging whether I fail or succeed. I did not really have an answer to it at the time. Wait. I probably gave some bull shit, beat around the bush answer like, “Well, I guess if I’m making money from it.” Ah, money. Now though, I’m the one who judges my success. And my success, as I perceive it to be today, is based on my ability to challenge myself to be the best that Justin Harris can be. In the end I can only be a better person, friend, boyfriend, son, brother, teacher, coach — the list goes on. So, I am going to be a triathlete. Its validating to say I’m a professional triathlete but, nonetheless, I am just like everyone else; an endurance sports enthusiast.

SOS Finish: Pain is Temporary. Pride is FOREVER! (Note: Checkout Super Fan Mike Schab in the background)

  • When push comes to shove, I can tough it out. The SOS proved that once again to me but, really it was the whole year. I barely averaged 20 miles per week running and 5,000 yards a week swimming due to injuries. I still achieved my goals. How? Because I not only knew that people expected me too or hoped that I would but, ultimately, I made a declaration (another thing that Dan taught me) that I was going to do something and that’s it — I had to do it. I used to play this game with a college teammate Shawn Hopkins. I’d say I was going to run this time or beat this person and he’d laugh, tell me how hard it was and crazy that I was and say, “Oh, I’d love to see you do that.” It wasn’t sarcastic or degrading. It was like, “Yeah, you little punk. Show me!” Most of the times I did prove it to him and then there were some times that I wasn’t able to. The times I wasn’t able to live up to my declaration, well, it would eat at me. To explain to people why I did not met the criteria to turn pro or how I lost the SOS even though I was in the lead — it would be easy compared to having to answer to myself. And, I have the tendency to not forget my failures. So I went out and did it. I will have my pro card for 2011 and I won the SOS in my first attempt.

The day I earned my pro card. 2010 NYC Triathlon

The Law of 2%, that is, for example, only 2% of high school athletes go on to compete in college and 2% of those athletes go on to become professional athletes (I think it can apply to anything really), says that I’m in rare company for those achievements but, the fact that I am living the American Dream. Through blood, sweat and tears I’m working hard to challenging myself to be a better person and the people who are doing that today seem to be the rarest company of them all.

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