Sunday, August 18, 2013

Giving it a Tri

It is good for me to have goals. They motivate me to work more than I would naturally. I am a bit; okay a lot of a procrastinator in most areas of my life. So without a specific goal I become rather stagnant and set in my ways. After having a newborn baby I was perfectly content with just being a mom and having that be my goal and daily ambition. If I got a shower every day and changed out of my pajamas I figured I was coming out ahead. I would be lying if I didn’t say, when JJ was at her toughest of stages, that alone was often a challenge bigger than I could handle.
But for the last year or so I have been lacking in drive, or maybe it is more related to the fact that when your goal is a somewhat intangible idea like “being a good mom” it is hard to judge if you are really making forward progress or just treading water. Now I am not saying that being a good mom isn’t enough or a worthy endeavor; it is in my opinion one of the hardest tasks on earth. It is just that I personally wanted or needed something to measure. Not in a compare your kid to all the others (drives me nuts) sense but more to test the inner strength I had. Could I still pick a goal, work towards it, and see the task through? I didn’t know… after months of feeling like my life was often controlled by a cranky little dictator demanding food/diaper changes/sleep at less than a moment’s notice, I didn’t know what I was capable of anymore  but I was ready for something I felt like I could choose. Something that was just for me, not set by someone else agenda.
  I toyed with the idea of learning something entirely new. Karate? Or going back to something I haven’t done in years, yes piano. Or developing skills I enjoy, but haven’t really been professionally trained in like cooking or photography.  But they all required too much money, equipment or time commitments I didn’t have available. My prego-brain had turned into mommy-brain so I wasn’t sure how much of any new skill I would be able retain if it required much brain power.  I wasn’t really set on doing something physical either , especially with a still nursing baby zapping my energy, at that time I was not seeking out more ways to burn calories.
But something kept lingering at the back of my mind.  One word kept popping into my head. Triathlon! A sprint triathlon, (meaning a shorter distance, not necessarily faster speed) to be specific. I had friends and family who had done several. But me? I had never even seriously considered it before. But I literally dreamed (at the time it seem more like a nightmare) of running, swimming and biking. Things I had not done or really thought much about for years. Plus the mention of triathlon was just in my face far too often to ignore. Randomly turning on the TV and its showing triathlons, my Facebook feed had people sharing their triathlon achievements and I had friends tell me about their own plans to do one and even suggest that I should it too. What, me? But between the constant, weird athletic dreams, strong feeling like I needed some goal, and encouragement (intended or not) from others, I decided to see what would happen if I gave the idea a test drive.
 I sat on the plan for weeks without saying a word to anyone and the idea grew on me. At first I tried to talk myself out of it. I thought “Oh, just register for a 5k and don’t kill yourself” There were several races I was familiar with and I tried to convince myself to go do them. But they came and went, I never trained, I never registered and I never did anything...Each time I said I would do the next one.  Although I knew, if I went to the race it would be UGLY, my ancient days of high school running had built up such a familiarity with the idea of doing a 5k that I was over confident that I could still do it. This lead to the procrastinator brain, deciding it wasn’t a big deal. Then came the voice of reality. Always right before a race day and I would realize that I would be ridiculous to go without training a single step. But I still lacked the completion of a goal I so desired. I recognized that I needed something to push me way out of my comfort zone, if I was ever going to get my post-baby-butt out the door and meet a goal.
So I told a few close friends and family I was considering the idea. Surprisingly nobody laughed at my joke, most smiled and nodded and a few even gave me advice or support. Self-conscious as I was with my out of shape slow stagger of a run, I started going for jogs with Jayney. I swam and biked a time or two at the YMCA. Then I borrowed a bike. We used our Costco rewards and bought a bike trailer/jogger for Jayney. I did all the parts and pieces of a triathlon to test my stamina and estimate what my overall time might be. Each piece was slow going but I got it done. I was reasonably comfortable estimating, that I would be able to finish under three hours. I researched what past years sprint-tri results were to make sure there was a not too big of a chance of being dead last. I had set backs and doubts. I grew in my faith; not only in myself but also the One who created me and made me capable of taking on the task. Along the way I was graciously given a new road bike to enhance my endeavors. Oh man, things were looking up! I actually got out and trained.
 That in its self could have been enough of an accomplishment for me. The story could end right here and I would still say it was a win. But it doesn’t. I registered for a race, paid my 100 bucks and kept training for 3+ months; even on vacation. I surprised myself at how easy the biking and swimming came back to me, and how much the running did not! It didn’t matter though.  I knew I would not be in the top group of athletes but knowing where I had started from and how much I had improved was more than a victory for me.
My real goal was not to win the race or even place in my age group. My challenge was just have something to train for, finish the race and not die along the way! I have loved seeing an improvement in myself; knowing that while I am a mom, I am still capable of doing something that is just for me. I can set a goal and meet it! Actually to be perfectly honest, I blew my time goal out of the water. Initially, I hoped to be less than three hours. Then as the race got closer I thought I might be under two and a half hours or if everything went absolutely perfect there was a slight chance I could be close to two hours. I never imagined that even with a few bumps in my race like getting kicked pretty hard in the swim, having to ride blind since my watch/GPS had a dead battery, and dropping my water bottle on the bike (yes, I stopped, went back, got off my bike to picked it up) I would finish my 1/4 mile swim, 10.21 bike and 3mile run with a total time of 1:38:55. No, not a course record but easily a full 20 minutes under MY optimistic time goal!!
There were even some unexpected bonuses in my journey. Best of all, I was reminded that I had the unconditional support (probably from him before I even gave it to myself) and set of activities I could do “shoulder to shoulder” with my wonderful husband. The CUTEST little cheerleader, Jayney, chanting “ GO, GO!” on all of our training runs. Getting to spend more time with my Aunt Dori as she coached me in the months before the race and took me out to the course at the crack of dawn on race morning, was lots of fun too. My overall confidence grew in other seemingly unrelated areas. Additionally, the combination of training and knowing that junk doesn’t sit very well when are going for a run later made it so I got back into some clothes I had not seen in years and one swim suit that never fit before but does now! Also, the slight time crunch that I currently had, trying to fit in a workout here or there, made me more focused and deliberate with my priorities. And despite the scattered hours taken away by training, I am certain I became a better mom by being more intentional with my time when I was back with Jayney.  So in a way, I not only achieved my new goal but also continued to improve my previous one too. 

Now the only thing left unattained is to decide what I am going to tackle next!

Toes in the water, waiting on go
Trying to spot me
And we are off, out and around the big buoys  
I'm attempting a smile for the camera. It didn't work.

Racking my bike
Out of the transition zon
Chugging along
I made it!!!!

Hugs for finishing
I survived and am still smiling

My cheering babe
Hats off to the Mama

Playing peekaboo while I load up my gear
Some of my awesome support crew!


  1. Pretty certain that I have mentioned how PROUD this Mommy is of her 1st born! It does seem that history is repeating itself. Can't wait to see what you set as your NEXT adventure.

  2. Wow Erin! What a great accomplishment! That is something to be very proud of for sure.

  3. Nice job! Have fun on your next adventure!

  4. Good job sis! Proud of youuuu! What are you going to do next!