I admit, when I hit the register button for Ironman Coeur d’Alene my stomach sank a little and I got really nervous. Not nervous about the race per se, but nervous about how training for this is going to further change my already chaotic life. Nothing like throwing Ironman training into the mix when your world has already been turned upside down by a new baby!
I keep asking myself, “Am I really ready for this? Should I really be doing this?” Last year I wouldn’t have thought twice about the amount of training that would be required to get across the finish line of a 140.6-mile race in one piece. I’ve trained under all kinds of obstacles and conditions in my life, but never with a voice in the back of my head reminding me that my son is at home and I could be missing out.
After signing up last week, I spent the entire day riding an emotional rollercoaster. While I was excited (you better be excited when you spend $700+ on a SINGLE race), I also felt overwhelmed and uncertain. Every time I looked at my son or husband, I questioned whether they would be okay with me not being there all the time. Would this take away from my son? Would he be affected by me not being there as much as I could if I weren’t training? Would my husband resent me? While I know I have an entire support crew behind me – it really does take an army – I still couldn’t help but feel a little selfish.
Now that I’ve had a few days to really weave through my emotions, what it comes down to is making sure I am doing this for the right reasons. I decided that this year is going to be different when it comes to training and racing. I am making a number of promises to myself, my son, and all those supporting me moving forward. These include:
Fun. First and foremost, I want to have fun and not take myself too seriously. I tend to be an extremely competitive person and I train with a mindset of performing at my absolute best. Of course I love triathlon (okay, maybe not the swimming part) and it is fun, but it is also something I take very seriously. This year I feel it is really important to emphasize the “FUN” and not get caught up in the numbers or where I “place” in my age group. There will come a time when I will train for some pretty momentous goals, but I do not think this should be that year. Don’t get me wrong, when I pull on my wetsuit in Coeur d’Alene I will have put in plenty of “work” to get to that point. As Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson likes to say, “the separation is in the preparation,” and I will be prepared to compete. But I will also be prepared to have fun. After all, this will be my first Ironman and it will be good to get a baseline feel for what the race is like before I can physically and mentally prepare for stepping up my game.
Family. Not that I think it will, but if at any point my training or being away from home starts to disrupt my family life, I am prepared to put the Ironman on hold. My number one priority is and always will be my family. While I am pretty good at time management and am pretty efficient when it comes to my workouts, if training begins to significantly interfere with ‘home life’ I will reevaluate and reassess my goals and priorities. I know that Justin is committed to the sacrifices he will have to make in order to help me realize my goals, and Axel is along for the ride no matter what, but it’s not worth it to me if it creates an unhappy home environment.
Honesty. I need me, and everyone who is taking this journey with me, to be open and honest and stay true to my feelings. It’s important that I do this for the right reasons and for the joy and fulfillment that it brings to my life. If at any time it brings excessive amounts of guilt, fatigue, stress, or unhappiness (all of which would hinder me as a wife and mom) I will stop and reprioritize. I would also hope that others in my life would be honest with me as well and throw up a red flag if there were any problems that perhaps I wasn’t seeing.
Flexibility. I need to give myself permission to be flexible and not be such a structure queen. While I do get super giddy when I see my schedule magically appear each week in TrainingPeaks (thanks, coach!), I can’t get down on myself if things don’t go as planned. Something I have learned over the past few months is that flexibility is both important and inevitable when you have a child. When it comes to my schedule, my day-to-day life, and taking care of Axel, flexibility is going to be critical to making it all work. If I need to move around workouts, cut a workout short, or take an unplanned day off, so be it. I need to mentally go into this knowing I am okay with being flexible.
Axel. I want to invite and to the extent possible encourage my son to take this journey with me. Although Axel has no idea what I am doing when I throw on my running shoes, kiss him goodbye, and run out the door, or spend countless hours sitting on a weird shaped object spinning my legs in a cold room, there is some part of him that is always absorbing bits and pieces of his environment. I want him to see and know that his mom is living out her dreams, but with much more purpose and motivation because of him. I want to involve him in my lifestyle, teach him about health and fitness as he grows, and show him that anything is possible if you work hard and believe. I know one day he will understand.
A promise made means nothing until it becomes a promise kept, which can be easier said than done. That’s why it will be good for me to revisit this post from time to time as a reminder of these promises I am making to myself, what my priorities truly are or have become, and how all the aforementioned pieces (and then some!) fit within the puzzle that is my life as a mother, a wife, a daughter, and a friend. Not just this year as I train for Ironman CdA, but for the rest of my life.