Friday, January 23, 2015

Time Limit

Fridays are supposed to be be my long swim workouts.  That's tricky for me because the gym pool is very crowded, especially during the resolution months, and I also have to work around my family.  This morning was awesome - a friend allowed me to swim with her at a private pool, so it was empty and free.  A nice combination for lap swimming!  Plus, I was able to get in my swim and come home in time to finish helping out with breakfast. 

Today's swim had to be completed in forty-five minutes - that was the time limit.  My approach for my workout was nice and easy this morning, just see how much I could do and see how I felt at the end.

That's a tricky aspect to endurance training - when you're relatively new, you're not certain how much you have "in the tank".  It's like getting into a car and driving with a broken fuel gauge.   The one thing I have learned is I always have a lot more in the tank than I realized. Could have pushed myself a bit harder!  So, I make a mental note to kick it up a notch at my next workout.

I pondered this on my ride home, and I found myself thinking about Jon Blais and Andrea Peet.  With ALS - the "time limit" becomes your whole life.  You're cognitively aware of the increasing limitations ALS places on the body.  And much like the decision to participate in long-course training, you can either stop or you can keep searching for "just how much do I have?"

Jon did this every single day as a triathlete, even before being diagnosed with ALS.  But he really kicked it into high gear after that diagnosis, and Andrea is exactly the same.  They want their lives, their journeys, to mean something.  And - my goodness - how they mean everything to so many people.  To me.

The truth is none of us know how much "time" we have.  Far too few of us figure out how much "life" we have.  But those who do, the people who dig deep, the folks who work until their hands callous, those who run until they're exhausted, the people who swim until their shoulders burn - they search every day for how much.  

It is about living, it's a gift, and they reclaim it each and every day.

This is what I love about triathlons and the training.  It's about living so hard, pushing, feeling it all, hurting and recovering.  Tears of joy, shudders toward the unknown, a broad smile at the newly found.  Life.  So much life.

As researchers make progress with treatments and eventually a cure for ALS, I want to make sure I don't focus on the time limit, but the life now - the "how much" can I swim, bike, run and everything else during that time.  

It's a journey.  Push yourself.  Get up and go.  No matter how you're moving your body, give yourself a chance to try something new.  The strength you will find is inspiring and far-reaching.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


I feel as though I have been three distinctly different mothers.  The mother I ASSUMED I would be before actually having a child.  The mother I was with one child.  And the mother I am with two children.

The mother I am now wings 100% of parenting on an hourly basis.

   "My little brother hadn't voluntarily eaten a meal in over three years."

The thing you eventually discover about children is that they have free will.  From the moment they come out of the womb, they can cry whenever they want to.  They poo and pee whenever (wherever and HOWever) they please.  As they age and their intelligence grows, that free-will muscle also grows.  And it's the most frustrating thing in the entire world.

Logic.  Out the window.

Reason.  Whatever.

Whining.  All of it.  (From them, too).

Anger.  Regrettably, a lot.

Thankfully, every now and then we get a second, a very overdue second, to breathe in and out.

You look at a moment and wish you could press "hold."  But you can't - it just doesn't work that way.

Thankfully the echo of laughter is much longer and louder than that of the whining/crying.

Thankfully, your heart never forgets the snuggles even if your arms are empty at the moment.

Life isn't one Hallmark moment after another.  Life isn't a Christmas Card letter, or an Instagram feed.  It's nitty-gritty, it's dirty and it's ugly.

But, as long as we forgive ourselves - every day - and admit when we have fallen short, and honestly take as much time as possible to embrace one another - well, I would say that's a good life.  No, a great life.  A life with a mommy who is trying.

So today I am just going to try to be "mommy."  Not the best mommy, not the worst, not sporty mommy or hippie mommy - just ... mommy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

It's Never a Flat Road

A friend shared this hilarious meme on Facebook a few days ago.

  Thanks, Linds. :-)

After my first full season of triathlon, running and bike events - I can say that's been true more than once!  If they say it's flat, it never really is a flat course.

Sometimes I would give my left arm to just have two days in a row without something dramatic (usually kid-related).  Heck - how about an hour of no drama?  There is always something, it seems - even when I do my best to not give a ... hoot.

I have been incredibly fortunate, in the world of running/triathlon/cycling to have found women and men who are superbly kind, generous with their time and knowledge, and quite pleasant to be around.

Unfortunately - just like every other aspect of life - there are also people who are not that way.  It stinks when you come across people you considered to be supportive, only to find out they're not kind.  I am usually good at sniffing out those people early on, and keep them at arm's length as best as I can.  But you can't focus on those - you just focus on those in your life who don't seem to want to relive middle school years. :-)

Millions of people made New Year's resolutions and many people are probably failing at them about now.  I have.  Oh well!  You just try again.

Because moments of laughter mean more than hours of exercise ... sometimes.

Because it's ok to skip a rainy run for this kid's happiness.

Because the Girl Scout Thin Mints are vegan. 😜

But it doesn't mean you just stop.  You get up the next day and eat better, live better, run harder.

You don't quit a race just because the course isn't what you expected.  You might walk a hill.  You might walk it all.  

Any "one" positive thing you do, is better than "no" thing.

Keep your chin up, friends.  It's never going to be a flat course, no matter what they say.  

Sunday, January 4, 2015

For A Reason

Several months ago, I applied for a spot on an ambassador triathlon team.  I wasn't accepted and it stung a little.  The women who were chosen are so unbelievably amazing and inspiring, but I still felt sorry for myself and questioned my own "story." A month later, I applied for a different team, but they are located across the country and it was an "elite" team.  It was a long shot, and again I wasn't accepted - not a bit surprised.

    Finishing Wakefield Sprint Tri

Stuff happens.  Some say "things happen for a reason."

After we celebrated a lovely New Year's Eve with another couple (the woman is a fellow "noob" triathlete), a friend-of-a-friend commented on the Facebook picture of our game night and remarked she and her husband also had a low-key New Year's Eve.  I knew the commenter.  I knew of her from a triathlete Facebook group and also from Ramblin' Rose Chapel Hill.  She had been diagnosed with ALS shortly after completing her first half-iron distance triathlon (70.3).  Her journey had always touched my heart, made me feel an entire range of emotions.  But her race at Ramblin Rose was simply inspiring.  My friend had been there as well, and watched this woman - Drea  - cross the finish line. 

Everyone there described it as the most emotional and uplifting experience they had ever encountered in triathlon, perhaps ever in their life.  From learning about Drea, I also learned about Jon Blais and Team Blazeman.  

This past Thursday and Friday, I started thinking about my training and upcoming races.  I wasn't excited.  I have been running sluggish.  Wondered about "teams" and "clubs."  The few times I had to leave the kids over the break some sort of mini-disaster happened.  I felt the guilt, and the usual self-doubt.  Then something, like a whisper in my ear, said to make my training mean *something*.  

I knew right away.  My training would be be dedicated to Team Drea and Team Blazeman.  It was then I realized I might not have ever considered this if I had been selected for a team - I might not have thought about it or even had the time, or it could have been a conflict of interest.  

Some things happen for a reason.

Please read Andrea's and Jon's stories.  Researchers are making progress everyday for treatments for those with ALS.  If you can, please consider making a small donation to my page:

I would like to raise $250 before Raleigh Ironman 70.3 on May 31.

Each step of this journey, each day of training - it is about becoming healthier for me and my children - but it's also about many other people.  "So that others may live."

What a unique and beautiful sport we have in triathlon.  Pushing yourself, truly knowing life's inner beauty and hardships, perseverance - and meeting selfless people.  Andrea (and Jon) want their journeys to mean something, and as long as I live I will make sure they mean everything.  My training and races will happen for a reason.