The ONLY Metric that Matters! Guest Blog by Andy Stankus

In the end, the ONLY metric that matters!I have been super blessed to be healthy and challenge myself in different ways through endurance sport over the past 5 years. And while I am still relatively new to the sport, I continued to search for something more … More confidence?  Connections?  Health?  Speed? Distance? Purpose? Often we focus on “what metrics would get me to where I wanted to go?”  We all tend to get formulaic for good reason around trusting the process and if I do this then this is the result (more speed?  health?  etc.).  Hence, the intense focus on all kinds metrics (heart rate, pacing, watts, PaHr, caloric intake – baseball statisticians beware!).I have had two sayings taped to my bike for years now — “To exercise the body, is to purify the soul” and “To be truly happy, we must believe we are the means of good for others.”  With a coach guiding and reinforcing throughout (Stacey you are great!) and scheduling the exercise to purify, I have been accomplishing many of the “mores” above.  Actions speaking louder than words, “being the means of good to others” words are on my bike, but how could my actions make good on this?  There are so many great ways: IRONMAN Foundation, fundraising while training, disciplining in various ways with other athletes.  And then an Angel (Ainsley’s Angels) tapped me on the shoulder, “what about athletes and their families who need a little more assistance in getting from the start to the finish line?”What I didn’t expect was when I decided to give to an assisted athlete (Ty) and his family, I was going to end up with so much more.  My search for “more purpose” delivered all kids of “more” I never expected: more perspective, appreciation, confidence, strength, motivation, happiness and ultimately more peace and resilience that would become critical for my survival in the months to come taking care of my mother after a severe stroke.To be clear, Ainsley’s Angels (organized locally by Amanda Piccirilli-Hall) was the Angel that helped make this happen as their mission is to: “Build awareness about the importance of inclusion, through action, while transforming populations in to all inclusive communities.”  Check them out, chances are if you let them they will change your life:  https://www.ainsleysangels.org

In late 2019, training was set to culminate with a Tri with Ty in May 2020.  Then we all were challenged over the next year and a half to keep commitments (mine with Ty) to build resilience and stay focused on all of the “mores” we were looking to accomplish.  Late October 2021 came after 4 rescheduled dates. After ALL of the months and now years of training focusing on all kinds of metrics to get me ready for today, I was about to get smacked in the face with the ONLY metric that matters!  With nerves building, and my hand on my watch to press start Tri with Ty, we got Ty in the boat and I dove into the pool with the water smacking me in the face. Half way into the swim something else smacked me in the face — I forgot to turn on my watch!  While I have been living by so many metrics for the past few years, what I needed to focus on for the next 1hr plus is the “SMILE” metric!For the next hour plus, yes it was a challenge at times and yes I was interested in making good time, but ultimately the focus was on the SMILE metric.To this day, I am not exactly sure top of mind what my exact times were, where my medal is, but I for sure know where this picture is, marked as a favorite in my phone , which has the best smile ever, a SMILE you make possible for someone else.  I promise you, consider supporting in some fashion Ainsley’s Angels and organizations like them as one thing is for sure, if you submit yourself fully in giving another a SMILE it may just change your life forever.  PS.  What is a SMILE?  The shape reminds us that a smile is a high followed by a low and then a return to a high again. We need to be reminded that without the low at some point it is difficult to have a high to create that SMILE.

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