Recently I’ve been forced to do a little reflection on things in my life, one of which would be triathlon which leads to so much more.   My life prior to baby was triathlon, and revolved around that for a good 5 years.  Clearly focused machine.  I analyzed my results, studied maps, and reviewed workouts like a job.  I loved it, I loved racing, and I loved the people.

I know we all grow up, lives get complicated, kids come into the picture but triathlon ….I was determined to keep this sacred thing still in it’s perfect little box w/PR’s, new goals, and the people I considered family.  I’m not going to rehash what happens when you have a kid, but did want to give a little background into how things used to be and how I’d hoped they’d be down the road.  I was in for a rude awakening.  Regardless of how I saw things changing, I made a decision that Ironman was still in the cards for me and something I was passionate enough about was worth it.

The life of an Ironman athlete is daunting enough just on it’s own, but the life of an Ironman athlete turned parent is considerably different.  The fun rides w/friends, rare.  The countless long runs pushing a toddler, never ending.  The social activity is suddenly very lonely b/c of babysitters or crazy scheduling w/the spouse or just b/c you don’t want to miss time w/your child.  So the question of the hour is why would I still do it?  Why do I want to?

I started this sport as an underdog.  No background what so ever in any of the three disciplines.  My husband probably thought it was a joke, he was the athletic one.  My family, they probably thought to themselves I’d not finish much less go on to compete in Ironman.  I’ve spent most of my tri career surprising people and doing the unexpected.  I liked it.  I loved it.  I thrived when people doubted me most.  I did an Ironman with a separated tailbone.  I came back from bedrest and pregnancy doing a tri 7 weeks later.  There always seemed to be this challenge present that made me want to prove myself even more.  Doubt me, and I’d show you tenfold you were wrong.  Insert weird idea that people thought I’d get faster after having my son. ….NOT THE CASE.  Suddenly, I’m no longer the underdog but someone who’s trying to live up to these crazy expectations that were clearly not happening.  Now one of the huge joys of this sport, proving people wrong and getting them out of their comfort zone is suddenly not there.  I’m no longer setting PR’s, and it began to feel like every race was chasing a time that just wasn’t possible anymore.  So self doubt sets in, exhaustion from life in general, and someone asking me why I do this brings me back to reality.

I do triathlon now for many reasons.  I still love the camaraderie of it, I love those same people regardless of how things change.  I love that I’m leading my family by example.  I feel like my kid not only needs to see me being active, he needs to know life doesn’t stop just b/c he’s here.  I think it’s important that I don’t lose myself in being a mother.  Most importantly, triathlon frees me.  When I race, I can focus on something entirely uncomplicated in my life.  When I’m racing, the rest of the world disappears for just that short time period.  My problems disappear, my mind clears, and I get to focus on just me.  I literally turn into this different person that doesn’t look back, always strives for the best outcome, and pushes out the self doubt and negativity.   A little bit of that well oiled machine I used to be peeks its head out.  Triathlon racing, we won’t go as far as to say training, brings out the person I dream of always being.  That is why I love triathlon.

Thank you to that special person for reminding me to remember WHY I love this sport.  A lot has changed over the years, and a lot continues to change, but I have to believe it’s for the better.   Don’t ever give up on what you believe in, and regardless of the day, you and only you truly control your future.   So dig deep, and go after what you want it’s just a stride away.

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