Everyone who knows me is aware I have diastasis recti - a condition where my abdominal muscles have separated from my pregnancies. I also have an umbilical hernia, so the area where my belly button should be is actually a large hole, and sometimes organs stick out of it. I just push them back in. I just don't have a functioning core. If I try to do a sit-up, crunch, plank, or even lean back (think: pulling up a bathing suit or tight pants) my entire stomach poofs out like in Alien. I can't bend over and reach into the van (or a crib, or a kids bed) without falling over unless I brace myself on something. BUT...
I've noticed that my other muscles step in and help out. Since my stomach can't hold my butt up while I swim, my shoulder muscles and neck muscles are much stronger than they ever have been. My obliques are pretty solid (although presently covered with a layer of french fries, beer and chocolate).
I'm thankful and lucky that other parts of my body have said, "hey - we'll help out!"
I've been thinking about Ironman training, my tri-friends and triclub teammates.
After I had my awful respiratory infection this summer, my first few long runs were painful and slow. But my running partner would run ahead at her own pace, then circle back for me and walk for a bit. It certainly added on her to her mileage, but she made sure I wasn't left behind. When I was having trouble finding the motivation to get out and run during the week because of the kiddos this summer, another mom friend invited us to all run together. Kids on bikes, and she pushed Mads in her stroller. When I knew I needed to get back on the open road to ride again because I was struggling to keep a steady pace on the greenway, multiple friends offered to ride with me on the weekends and during the week. Friends called to offer nutrition advice or to just make sure I wasn't worrying about something. And last - but CERTAINLY not least - another friend messaged me out of the blue in August and asked how training was going. When I mentioned being nervous about the swim, she immediately made plans for us to swim in the lake. I am much slower than nearly everyone who swims in the group, so she swam in front of me, stopping every so often to tread water and let me catch up. It's been an enormous help. And the funny thing - I don't think any of these friends knew I was mentally struggling to stay motivated and positive. They just stepped in and helped.
Core values. People stepping up, stepping in, helping, offering advice, sharing their experiences, riding along side of me, waiting for me at the top of a hill. Just like the other muscles do for my broken abs - the core people in my life knew to help, somehow (*peers up at the clouds*).
Unfortunately, after my 18-mile run this past Monday, I am afraid I have mild plantar fasciitis, and am quite certain what I thought was a tight muscle is actually shin splints. I also crashed my bike again over the weekend, so I haven't been able to swim - the scrapes on my arm are missing quite a few layers of skin, probably because the previous fall left it a little thin!
I don't know what any of that means for race day quite yet. Two weeks is a very short time, but it's also a long time. But, you know? When I think about this journey - from my first triathlon three years ago to this moment right now - ice on my shin, sipping coffee, thinking about the wonderful people in my life, the renewed purpose that I have found, the appreciation I have for my body and ALL of the gifts in my life - I am lucky. I am happy. I am proud. I am humbled.
And I certainly appreciate my core - my family, my friends, and all the other people who step in to help and support.