Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The making of a Triathlon Mom

Ten years ago today, my life changed drastically; I became a mom. This beautiful little person changed everything; my heart, my purpose, my life.

After my daughter was born, there was no more eating macaroni & cheese out of the pot for dinner, no more last-minute happy hours (well, that actually stopped when we got a puppy a few years earlier), no more sleeping in--in fact, not much sleeping at all-- and no more triathlons--well, at least not for seven more years.

And that was absolutely okay. Forget triathlons--being a mom has been the most important, challenging, demanding, rewarding, amazing thing I have ever done.

In the late 90's, before my first daughter was born, my husband and I were on a master's swim team and we swam 4.4-miles across the Chesapeake Bay, twice. A group of swimmers on our team registered for the Dewey Beach Sprint Triathlon and we decided to join them. Beach, bike, beer . . . why not? We loaded our mountain bikes into the car and headed for the Delaware shore, and, unknowingly, toward our future passion.

For our second trip to Dewey, we were still on mountain bikes, but better prepared, which is why I couldn't figure out why I'd performed so poorly. A few weeks later I had my answer: a positive pregnancy test. No wonder I was so completely exhausted! (In retrospect, I had no idea what it really meant to be exhausted! That lesson was learned nine months later.)

During my pregnancy, I continued to stay active and teach aerobics classes, but I gave up running in my 5th month. I know some women continue to run right up until that baby is crowning but, it wasn't for me; it hurt my belly too much. (My absolute hero in this regard was a woman I knew who had three kids and continued to push them all in her triple baby jogger while she was pregnant with . . . triplets!)

And so it went. Baby #1 became a big sister 22 months later and baby #3 arrived 26 months after that. We were in total baby mode. That is, until the baby turned two, and something changed. In the same sudden way we were immersed in a world full of diapers and bottles, one day we were suddenly on the other side of it; we'd emerged from the fog and we could breathe again. At least a little.

I'd spent seven years in the land of Gymboree and Wiggles and Pasta Pickups and I was more than ready to venture out into the world again. I'd dutifully pushed my babies around the pool in their sun-shaded floats and towed a toddler trailer behind my bike and jogged along behind the stroller, but I was ready to do these thing on my own again, free and unencumbered--alone! Triathlons were calling to me. I needed to find that part of myself again that was not just a mom but was also, me.

But where, and how, to begin? I wasn't sure if it would stick, if my mommy-brain was playing tricks on me, so I didn't want to invest a lot of time or money prematurely. I reached out to my friends and neighbors to see if anyone had a road bike I could borrow or rent and I found someone who had a Fuji he wasn't using and was happy to loan it to me for the season. The frame was much too big for me but I didn't care. I ventured back to Dewey beach on my "something borrowed" and was amazed by what a difference it made to ride on a road bike instead of a mountain bike.

When I realized my renewed interest in triathlon was not a passing phase, I bought a bike of my own on Ebay--a Cannondale that I loved--and re-entered the world of triathlons. My husband, who could no longer keep up with me while riding his mountain bike, followed suit and trolled Ebay for a bike of his own; a Trek soon showed up on our doorstep.

While it is challenging for both of us to find time to train and work while still having young children at home, we are fortunate that it is a passion we both share, otherwise one of us would be a "triathlon widow." Twice a week we hire a sitter and, instead of dinner and a movie, date night for us is a bike ride and a run. We rely on an army of babysitters and willing family members to make it all happen, but we've been fortunate to have had so much support and have transitioned over the years from novices on mountain bikes at sprint triathlons to novices on road bikes (and possibly crack) who've signed up for the Iron Man. (We upgraded our bikes in December 2009 t0 a pair of Felt tri bikes; Santa brought something for Mom & Dad too!)

Last summer, two of our daughters participated in youth triathlons and had a blast. After the first one, the first thing my oldest said after crossing the finish line was, "when can I do another one?" And so they did another one, and this year, the youngest will join them too. Someday, triathlon may be a sport we can all enjoy together--you never know what a difference a decade can make.

Today's workout: 1800 swim

Swim workout #13 (1800 m)

Warm Up (200)
200 Free, easy

Set 1 (500)
10 x 50; IM + choice down, free back @ 1 min

Set 2 (300)
300 Kick, 3 lengths of each stroke, IM order

Set 3 (300)
300 Pull

Set 4 (300)
200 Free
100 Scull down (push ups/pull ups), kick back (dips)

Cool down (200)
200 easy, IM order down, Free back

Healthy snack/dessert: Banana Pops

When bananas become too ripe, peel and cut in half. Insert popsicle stick and freeze.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there,
    My name is Jane and I'm with Dwellable.
    I was looking for blogs about Dewey Beach to share on our site and I came across your post...If you're open to it, shoot me an email at jane(at)dwellable(dot)com.
    Hope to hear from you soon!