Monday, August 13, 2012




I’ve had this quote on my computer desktop for the past 6 months, and because I spend way too much time on my laptop, it’s engraved into my brain. It was my mantra when the going got tough, and believe me, the going got pretty darn tough. A simple but important reminder to ignore the noise, stay positive and just keep on truckin’ through all the roadblocks.

Getting to the start line on August 4th was a feat in itself. Injuries, appeals, coaching changes, politics, and a less than ideal time frame to get into race shape. Despite all this, I wasn’t headed to the Olympics just to participate and call myself an Olympian. I wanted to be on the podium. I was aware that my chances of accomplishing this were significantly lower after my difficult year, but it never lessened my desire to be the best. I lined up against 54 of the worlds fastest triathletes wanting to beat them, and believing that maybe I could. If I didn’t believe that it could happen, then there’s no way it was going to happen. (Yeah I know, it didn’t happen).

I had a fairly solid 8 weeks of training behind me and was feeling fit. My injury was gone and I was running more consistently than ever. What I didn’t anticipate was that the lack of race-specific experience would really hit me hard. I started the swim feeling good, thinking that I was in okay position, but after getting trampled at the first turn buoy there was a sea of girls in front of me. I didn’t lose hope, this has happened before in races that I’ve won, but it’s not a good feeling to know I’m not up where I need to be. I came out of the water well back of the leaders, got on my bike to chase and had no power in my legs. I worked with a few other girls to catch the pack in front of us, but we couldn't. I contemplated pulling out of the race several times on the bike and it felt like the longest ride I’ve ever done in my life. It’s a big mental challenge to stay in the game when you’re so far out of the game it’s not even funny. I came off the bike to a similar wobbly, powerless feeling, and stumbled my way around the first lap. I pulled off to our team doctor, crying that there was no way I could physically finish 3 more. He encouraged me pull myself together and finish if I could, I’d be more satisfied with crossing the line than not. So I ran 3 of the most painful, embarrassing laps ever, being lapped by the race that I was supposed to be a contender in, humiliated and screaming at myself inside. It was the Canada flags along the course, my family in the stands, and the roaring crowd that pulled me along to the finish line. 





An enormous thank you to coach Jon Brown, physio Marilyn Adams, massage therapist Kim Ward and the one and only Simon Whitfield who were my amazing little team for the past few months. I couldn’t have got to the start line without the huge efforts from each of you. Thanks to Triathlon Canada and Own The Podium who made sure I had all the resources I needed to get to London. And finally thanks to my wonderful family and friends who came to London to support me. Check out this awesome crew!


The outpouring of support has been touching and overwhelming, and I appreciate it more than you know. My race aside, the Olympics were an incredible experience. I’m so inspired by our Canadian team. What a bunch of champions and I’m honoured to have been a part of it all.

I need to make some changes and I’m not entirely sure what the next few months have in store for me. I think I’ll keep that quote on my laptop for now. Never give up, finish what you start, and keep on believing.


Thanks a million to you all.

Paula

56 comments:

Russell Storring said...

Paula...you are an absolute rockstar, and a shining example of dedication and determination. I am always telling my soldiers "You can never quit...slow down if you have to, catch your breath, but never quit." One of my personal favorite quotes is "Pain is temporary...quitting lasts forever". I have been where you are...in 1998 I was leading the Army Ironman (32km run, 4km portage, 8km canoe, 6km run - all with a 40lbs backpack)...I had ongoing knee pain, but unlike you...I pulled out. It has haunted me ever since. It has taken me until 2011 to get back to the top...and at 38 years old (last year) ran the Ironman in a time of 5:45 to finish 3rd. I cant do it this year (2012 - due to injuries) but I will rock it in 2013 and win my race at 39 years old !! You are an inspiration to me and so many others. You are an absolute ROCKSTAR !!

Emerson said...

The future reserves something great for yourself! You set a great example for age groupers like me to never give up. Rest, recharge your batteries and come back stronger! Cheers!

nathan said...

Hey Paula, woke up the morning of your race and checked my phone. I saw your position and I smiled. Why? Because I am proud of you. I want you to know that any stereotypical Canadian will be proud of you too... and the others, well -they don't count. You made us all proud to be Canadian. You are the best but that is not all that important in the end. You honoured us by fighting to the end, by being a true sportsman. Looking forward to watching you on the ITU circuit!

Peter Jarrett said...

Patience and determination is all you need to get back up there. Talent doesn't disappear.

You inspire people all over the world, not just in your home country. Being an Aussie cheering for a Canadian triathlete is not exactly usual, but I love the way you race. Even on your bad days.

That same spirit that kept you going is the one that will get you back to the top. Learn and grow.

Bron said...

Paula it broke my heart to see you upset on the run. But not giving up, seeing it to the end made me so happy. I stood and cheered at the TV screen, all the way from Brisbane Australia as I saw you crossed the line. You did it.

I've seen many people pull out of races, some only a couple of km into the ride, because the flat tyre or bike problem has affected their time too much and they would rather DNF than post a bad time.

They're not triathletes to me.

A triathlete learns from every experience, good or bad. You told your body and brain to be quiet, that you WERE going to finish. There was no PB, no place on the podium. You finished to finish.

From this experience you will be stronger, more focused, with new limits to push.

Stacy P said...
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Stacy P said...

You are my 7 yr old daughter's hero & she wants to be just like you. We cried with you & cheered for you. I think your quote is one that everyone could learn to live by.
Good luck with your training, stay positive & we look forward to see where the road leads you.
Thank you for doing Canada proud!

fusion cycling said...

Paula, your determination and commitment is incredibly admiral. Choosing to not quit despite your unfortunate circumstances and position is inspirational and a great lesson to all of us who are very proud of you.
I know you will be on top of the world again! Rest and heal and see you back at it soon.
PS Kim Ward is the BEST - glad you gave her a shout out

Triangelica said...

This has been one of the most deep and kind of "funny" reads I've ever made. I think that more than other people can comment, or see the only person who knows the sacrifice, attitude and the rest of things you did for getting to the olympics is YOU no one else more than you, it's really impacting for me to see how sad and frustrated you were for not being able to give your best, because the ones who believe on you we know how strong and determinated you are. The way you express your pain (not only physical pain) was defenetly the most impresive and expresive feeling I've seen but that's exactly what your family and canadian saw.
I apologize if you (and the ones who maybe could read this)didn't understand what I just wrote but anyway... YOU ARE THE BEST PAULA FINDLAY AND YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE SO MUCH MORE OPORTUNITIES TO SHOW WHO YOU REALLY ARE! I'm sure about it. I really hope to see you on next olympics (Brazil 2016) maybe it's too soon to even mention it BUT I trust you :) Cheer up and as you said "Life goes on".

Ian Childs said...

Paula,
Your performance was exactly what I wanted to see. Gutsy, and determined, like any real champion. I am a big fan of itu racing, and it is very rare to see an athlete struggling finish the race. Your story became one of the most inspiring stories of the Olympics. The tears and demonstration of heart is something rarely seen. You gave us an insight into your incredible character, and made us all excited for your continued rise.

All the best in your training Paula.Good luck.

Ian

P.S. Who would I contact about having you speak to the students at my school? PR director?

Marinus said...

What I have on my computer is: "Failure isn't falling down. Failure is staying down." You didn't fail. And in fact you inspired us more than you realize!

Becky H said...

Your race was not the race you hoped it would be, but you had a nation behind you and we are proud Paula. The next 4 years will be filled with hard work, you will carry the feeling you had at these Olympics through tough times. We saw your utter despair as you crossed the finish line on August 4th, this will fuel your fire for 2016. I hope you have good changes coming your way, you inspired me as I learned of the year you had been through that brought you across the finish line. I like your motto, it is simple and heartfelt and I am going to borrow it! All the best to you in your new adventure along the path to Rio 2016!

Mike Moriarty said...

Hey Paula
I coach tri in SA.One of my girls,Lauren Dance, had a similar experience at World Champs Beijing. Her finishing last took way more guts than just pulling out. Same as you. She will race with you one day.....I can't wait!!!!!!
Everything of the best for getting back to where you can be. You certainly got what matters most...
HEART!

Gregwh said...


We your fans, understand completely. Your wins were fresh in my mind. Domination, control, finishing kicks, and a quick ascension to the top. We always learn more from our setbacks than our wins. Which seems incredibly unfair in the moment. The future victories will be that much sweeter!

André Potte said...

Paula - you did great. This year I had my 5th ironman - but it was horrible from the start. I thought about quitting at km 60 on the bike. Much pain in my back, no power in my legs - I finished bike anyhow and start running (don´t know why, because I told my friends I don´t start running). I walked 6 km and came after a long day to the finish line - 1.5 hours later as I have planned. It was the most horrible triathlon in my life and thought about quitting the whole marathon. But I didn´t - and I am proud that I didn´t. You find out how strong you are in your weakest moments, if you find a lot of barricades on your way. It is easy to finish if anything is fine, but you are a hero if you finish against all odds. I - as a germany triahlon supporter who is impressed by your achievments and followed your blog in your tough times - had tears in my eyes if I saw you fighting. Because of my experiences I made a few weeks earlier, I knew (a bit) how you felt and how disappointed you are, but I am sure: That day (and the last 12 month) teaches you a lot of important things for your life and you can be so proud of you and your iron-will! Become totaly healthy again and decide what you will do in the future. I am sure you will do it right and you will look back to London 2012 with a special feeling - it will be an important and interesting story of your life. And I hope to see you again in the itu races - winning races again! You are a great talent and you showed many times that you are one of the best! Stay strong! All the best

kristen said...

I think most of the country was crying with you as you suffered through that run. I hope you find a way to end your season with a smile!

Trevor Morgan said...

Your desktop has a Winston Churchill quote on it - mine has a picture of Paula Findlay.


Don't be hard on yourself. I'm sure you have a long athletic career ahead of you. You're still an inspiration.

Dave Nogas said...

Paula,
After devoting your life for the past year+ to treating your injuries and doing your utmost to prepare to be at your peak for the Olympics, it was a disappointment to find out that your injuries never healed sufficiently for you to have anything close to a best performance in London.
It is likely that you are at an important crossroads in your life. Do you continue to direct your life to the sport of triathlon as a world class competitor or do you pursue your dream of becoming a medical doctor? Take lots of time to consider your decision.
If you decide to continue to compete in triathlon for Canada do it because you want to and not because you feel you owe Canadians something. We couldn't be more proud of you for what you have already achieved in sport and we understand that you have your own dreams to chase. We know that you will excel, no matter what you decide to do in the future.
Thanks for giving it your best!

Hoop said...

Paula,

I think that the way you finished the race, hanging in there despite the challenges, showed more about your character than any win has. You continue to be an inspiration and a true roll model for how you carry yourself both in and out of competition. Keep your head up, despite this speed-bump you'll have many great days ahead of you.

Hoop said...
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Andy Armstyrong said...

You inspire me with ur never give up attitude thanks!

Abdullah Salim said...

A win, a podium finish, a top 10. All could have been great outcomes. But by finishing the way you did. By fighting until the end when so many parts of you said no, it can't be done. That had more of an impact on me and probably the country and world. It's what the Olympics are about. It's what sports are about. And you truly showed that in London. You made us proud! Looking forward to the future, wherever it takes you. All the best!

Alyssa Duhe said...

Girl you are KICKASSSSSSSSS and don't you dare question that for one second. You are an inspiration to so many people. Thank you.

darcy brown said...

Paula my wife and I have a 5 month old daughter and if she grows up to have even a fraction of the resolve that you've shown us all - or your athletic ability no less - we'll be thrilled.

You're an awesome role model and we wish you a speedy return to the top of the podium.

JHGS said...

You are just amazing, rock on

Chris Chen said...

I admire your courage and positive attitude. You're a wonderful role model for lots of Canadians and authentically exemplify the Olympic spirit.

Tony Barrand said...

Water under the bridge, what's next for a world champion!

Tony Barrand said...

Paula, water under the bridge, what's next for a world champion?

GlobeMasterOne said...

Come to think of it...I can't remember who won your event. BUT I do know that it was Paul Findlay who won the ♥ of a nation. Thank you... and congratulations Paula.

Racing Raisins said...

Always proud of you!! :-)

Al B Here said...

Paula,

You're an amazing woman, and an amazing example to our nation. Take some time to refocus and you'll be back stronger than ever.

Mike said...

Paula, thank you for representing Canada.
I think you have come away from London stronger and wiser, learning about yourself and putting that in the bank is worth more than any gold medal. And yes, you never never give up (unless you are being taken away by a medic). Good luck

Carla said...

You are my new hero! My heart broke when I saw how upset you were as you were running...and you are an inspiration for hanging in there when you wanted to drop out. You are a winner in my eyes!

~ Forever on the Dance Floor ~ said...

Dear Paula,

My name is Kate and I am a dancer. I don't have cable so for the first time ever I missed watching most of the Olympics but the end of your event was the one thing I saw and I feel that it was fate that it worked out that way. For the past four years I had been training in University to be a professional dancer and half way through this past year, my last, I began experiencing hip pain, which I later found out was a labral tear in my right hip. Having to finish my degree, feeling like I was finishing weaker and less able than what I had previously been capable of, and what I knew I was capable of, was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. Watching you finish your race and seeing the disappointment and the sadness reminded me of how I felt. In the months since finishing school I have come to realize that although it did not end the way I had imagined, pushing through and finishing has perhaps given me a far greater reward than finishing at my best could have. I hope that this is what you come to realize too. Doing the thing you love takes guts, but you're willing to give it because it's what you love. You reminded me of this and you reminded me that there is hope in my future. As I navigate my own treatment and surgery options I understand the scary and long road to recovery that lies ahead and I wish you all the best in your own future recovery. Thank you for showing the world your perseverance and heart and know that along with giving your all, finishing your race has given me renewed perseverance to not give up and to continue fighting and pushing through. I don't know much about what happened and who won what in London but I know that I won't ever forget the emotion I felt watching you cross the finish line.

kiwi rules the roost said...

If you can go through that whole race in the state you were in and still push yourself to finish then youll do just fine in future, youre champ with a champions attitude, keep it mate .

One Red Sock said...

Dear Paula,
I'm pretty sure that you'll inspire just as many people - if not more - by your loss and your reaction to it, than you would've had you won. Keep on truckin'.
Best Wishes,
Noah Aiken-Klar

Stephen Smith said...

You are one of 55 people in the world able to compete at your level at the Olympics - you earned a spot at the Olympics, and despite everything that went wrong, you finished what you started. Be proud of that. I don't know you or half of what you went through and I'm proud of you.

I'm looking forward to seeing you triumph in the future, and you know you will.

Sandra Yaworski said...

Proud of you Paula. You will come back stronger and more determined than you alreay are.

MellyPotter said...
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Desmond's Dad said...

I love that quote. So simple and yet so clear and effective. Best of luck to you :)

MellyPotter said...

Dear Paula,

I am a Canadian living in London. I am really glad that I brought my flag to cheer you up along the running path in High Park that day, if only to lift your spirit up a little bit. I did look very painful, indeed... As I kept screaming on the day, we're still SO proud of you!

You know what? I am currently learning to run properly these days. I decided to give triathlon a try (I am a keen swimmer and an ok cyclist but I kept avoided running...). I am never going to be anywhere close to you performance-wise, but I certainly have been inspired by you!!

You still have many years in front of you, including a couple of Olympics. Get a good rest, but don't give up!

Robyn Wilham said...

Hi Paula,
You showed true perseverance. I know that if you do not give up, you will accomplish your dreams. Never stop dreaming. I'm just a girl with a dream, injured at the moment, but seeing athletes like you, push through the hard times, encourages me & others like me. Bless you & Happy Trails, Robyn

Lindsay said...
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Lindsay said...

Paula,
I once raced against you in XC and you kicked my butt. I was impressed with you back then and I still am today! You are an incredible athlete and a shining example of excellence and grace in everything you do. I know that you will persevere and be back on top again. Keep focusing on all the love and support you have received and ignore the critics...they don't know what they're talking about! I would like to add my name to the LONG list of people who believe in you!

Lindsay

Amazon said...
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Amazon said...

Paula, for those of us "normal" people who are trying to get into shape, who are trying to fit some sort of fitness into our busy lives, who struggle to get up and hit the gym for a half hour or an hour five days a week...you are MORE than an inspiration. I cried with you during that race because of your diligence and your refusal to give up. When I think about athletes who are inspirations and of whom I am proud, winners do come to mind. However, I have more pride in you as a Canadian because you did us all proud and you finished your race. Despite it all, you represented yourself and our country and you finished the race. Thank you. You are EXTRAORDINARY!

I can't wait to see you compete again in four years!

Amazon said...
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Amazon said...
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Unknown said...

I'm English and live in the south of England.. due to work commitments I was barely able to get up to London at all for the Olympics.

One event I could make though was the ladies triathlon and I was so thrilled to be able to see you compete.

Not the best race for you, I appreciate, but amazing for me to get to see one of my favourite athletes (and probably favourite triathlete that isn't in the Brownlee family!) racing.

Thank you for not giving up, you could see that you'd given it everything... we were all so proud.

JJ said...

Hi Paula,
I wanted to let you know that you are a Canadian hero, and you inspired us all. Even though it was not the race you wanted to run, you still showed the world that Team Canada never gives up.
I was in my first sprint triathlon last weekend, and I am a strong runner/biker and I was hoping this would make up for being a novice swimmer. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Despite the best training I could do at the time, I got flustered in the water, and ended up reaching shore dead last, by quite a bit. I was so embarrassed, I wanted to quit. I thought of you, and the fact that you did not give up, and that kept me going. I finished the race, and I am glad I did. Even though it was a really hard day, I am glad I also didn't give up.
You faced so much pressure with grace and strength. I can only imagine how difficult it has been, but please know that it was not in vain. We will see you on the podium again soon.

becca said...

Hi paula! I admire what you did in the olympics- your drive and attitude since london have really been commendable! Something i am happy to share with my students at school and my son at home- a real example to us all! :)
I wrote a blog post about you on How to be a Redhead -
Http://howtobearedhead.com/2012/08/redheads-dont-give-up-an-honorable-tale-from-the-2012-olympics/
We Canadians are proud of you! :)
-becca-

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FatDad said...

Watching you stand in there and take questions like punches on the chin after London 2012 was one of the bravest things I've ever seen in sport. Findlay fan before, more so after. You in 2012, Colin in 2008, Canadian Olympic triathletes crossing the finish line have filled me with pride and reminded me of the beauty and agony of the essence of sport. Thank you.

FatDad said...
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William Lamothe said...

Some words to safeguard your mental morale against the sadness of poor performances;

Recently, I’ve read your blog history. I had information about what you do, how you do it, how excellent you are at doing it and for progressing. I am quite astonished you are able to run like a gazelle, a Kenyan sort of gazelle with a pb of 33.47 for 10k!
Initially, what make stick my attention on you, was your outstanding performances, witnessing a promising Olympic result and a promising athletic career. What makes keep my attention on you is not only what you do, but also who you are. Throughout my readings, I find you are a beautiful, humble and brilliant person (except for being a bulldog from time to time, but you seem to be conscious about it and if it’s helpful to get gold or for being on the path of your father, that can also be an advantage). So, my like is not only related to your performances: be 1st, be last or even DNF: ‘Just be’ and ‘Just do it’, such as the Nike ad.
August 4th was a difficult day. August 5th was a new beginning, the start of a new four years cycle which possibility leads to Rio de Janerio during the summer of 2016. I wish you’ll honor your genetic potential in the next 4 years such as you did in the past. Whatever happens, remember that people, especially your family and friends, like you, first of all, for the person you are.

My wishes for 2013: You are a gazelle but also become a shark! I bet your success relies on sticking on feet of the fastest swimmers, leaving water in the firsts, making a quick first which is crucial for biking in the first pack, and for the rest I assume your powerful legs will make the job! And, no injuries, good health indicators (iron level...), good balance between your athletic and academic life and little things of life that bring happiness.

I’m cheering for you Ms. Findlay !

My Photos said...
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