Saturday, September 09, 2006

Just a person in training

I'm glad that I didn't run across any of these tri-blogs until about a week before my first sprint. My first was Nancy's Run Big and I'm not even sure where I happened across it, but since then I've just followed links from one blog to another, reading more than a year of many people's lives. Siren, Iron Wil, Trimama, Tri-Geek, Flatman, Misty and many others I look forward to "meeting". I can't just read the most recent posts, I have to start from the beginning so it takes me a few days to get through just one. I know about their training, their families, their philosophy and much more. I feel like they are all my friends, but none of them would know me if they tripped over me on the side of the road. If I had started reading earlier in my training I might have decided that this sport, or multisport, just isn't what I'm cut out for. Everyone is so strong, so committed, with so much heart and dedication, there's just no way I can measure up to that. I'm not an inspiration, I've had no trauma in my life to overcome, I've had no great insight into how to become a great triathlete. I'll never be a geat triathlete.

My initial plan was that this whole triathlon thing was a one shot deal. I signed up with Team in Training after losing a close friend to breast cancer. I did my first (and only so far) marathon with TNT back in 2002 after hearing a former high school friend had died of kidney cancer. This spring I had some time to myself, my two boys were out of the high needs infant stage of life and I needed something to focus my attention and activity. I had been going to the gym for over a year, I had lost almost 40 pounds, but my motivation was waning in that arena. Working out for the sake of working out just wasn't as rewarding at it had been when I was losing weight and starting out. I decided the whole triathlon thing would be good for the summer, I could add it to the list of things I've done and then move on. I know it was only a sprint and my goal was just to finish, knowing I'll never really be a competitor against anyone except myself.

I went in knowing I'm a decent swimmer, an okay biker and a pretty poor runner. This was confirmed in my second race where I was in the top half of the swim, the 75th percentile for the bike and the slowest runner of all 62 participants to cross the finish line. I was thinking of making my own t-shirt. It would have the Superman S on the front as the start of Slow triathlete. The back would say "Faster than a Couch Potato". Really, I give myself credit for getting to the start line for those 2 races when most other people chose to stay home. Of course some of them stayed home because they were training for other things like marathons, century rides, half irons and Ironman races, but most just stayed home. I think I probably hit the highlight of my entire triathlon career that very first morning in transition when I met Sarah Reinertsen. Meeting someone in person that has made me cry with her perseverance and amazing courage and seeing that she was the most incredibly nice, down-to-earth person, it was just over-whelming. The minute I hit the water on that first swim I knew I wanted to do it again. The second time I still felt the same. I was a little more nervous that race because my family was there and it was a race against co-workers. If I had a bad race in New Hampshire, no one ever would have known anything I didn't tell them, so it was safe. I was a little worried that I'd get to the finish and my parents, or Paul, or the kids would ask why I even bothered if all I could manage was a second to last place finish. I was pleasantly surprised when everyone seemed pretty proud of me, even though I hadn't done anything particularly special. I tend to think that once I've been able to accomplish something, if I could do it, anyone can, so it can't be all that great. To get an e-mail from my dad the next morning saying that what I did was impressive really hit me. To hear that I'm setting a good example for the boys made me think that maybe I am doing something important and worthy of note. Then a few days later, M. was sitting in his car seat, swimming with his arms. I asked what he was doing and he said he was in a swimming race. I asked him if he'd like to be in a swimming race when he gets bigger. He looked up and said "When I'm big I'm going to do a swimming race, a biking race and a running race. Just like Mom." To hear him say that he thinks of me as someone that races, that made it worth it to me. I have a dream that some day he'll be able to say "My Mom's an Ironman". It would be awesome to some day compete in races with the kids because we will raise them thinking that people regularly train for things like races and make it a part of their lives. That would be cool.

I read the post about the Ironman Wisconsin '07 sponsorship and it was exciting. This just isn't the time for me to take on something like that. We'd like to have another baby and my kids are still young enough that I'm not yet willing to sacrifice my time with them for what training would entail and it wouldn't be fair to expect Paul to take on more care of a toddler and preschooler while I'm off training. I'm not there yet and sometimes, like while I'm sitting here with a sprained foot, I wonder when I'll get there. I don't think it's a question of "if" I'll get there, it's a feeling of "when". That's not a question I need to answer right now, I'd like to get some more sprint races under my belt, at least a few Olympics and maybe some half IMs. I need to work the most on my running and I know that just takes time. Time, I've got. At some point I hope to have a maternity break from some aspects of training, but now that I've gotten a taste of this ultra-cool multisport I intend to stick with it.
I may not have a great philosophy to share and my blog may never be a place where people turn for inspiration or great training tips. But maybe some time another plain old person will stumble across this blog and realize that they can get there, too. I think that every blog I've read is written by someone on a level above me. Maybe they don't see it that way, maybe they feel average in their life, but I feel like they're all at a place I can only hope to get some day. They're athletes, I'm just a mom trying to survive a few little sprint races. For now that's all I can be, and as long as I'm working at being the best mom and wife I can be, that's got to be good enough. Ironman isn't going anywhere and it's good to have a dream in the wings.


crazy tri mama said...

Wow, I'm inspired! I'm just a mom trying her best too. I also have an IM dream, and know that it's a question of "when" and not "if"! Someday I'll cross that line, and I'll know that it was the right time for me. Thanks so much for putting your words down, it really makes me think hard about my ambitions and goals and why I do this thing called triathlon. It's addictive I do know that. The feeling of accomplishment can never be taken away. Sure your ambition and motivation changes over the years but to be an inspiration to your kids is huge. Keep up the good work!

Siren said...

(Sorry for the pile of comments - I've been away from blogging for a while for various reasons and am trying to catch up!)

What you said - "Everyone is so strong, so committed, with so much heart and dedication, there's just no way I can measure up to that."

That's EXACTLY how I felt when I first found the Kahuna's (and immediately thereafter) Iron Wil's blogs. I read them for months before I finally started my own, and I did it just to record my own feelings about this whole triathlon mess - it never occurred to me that anyone would care one little bit to read about someone a slow, clueless, insignificant newbie like me. Every single day that my counter says someone read my post I am honored and humbled and confused as to why they keep doing it. Because basically, I stink at this!

You have a great blog and you're an inspiration to me. I can't wait until I'm a mom even though I know it will meaning cutting way back on racing. I love learning lessons from superwomen like you about balancing tri-life and motherhood because it makes the prospect less scary to me.

If you want some cool gear a la the 'S' for slow shirt you mentioned, Jayne Williams will soon have official SFT apparal available. I can't wait to get mine! (