In fact, snuggling with either or both of my kids is so nurturing to me, it seems as helpful to my training as a good night’s sleep or adequate nutrition.
But, some days snuggling must be limited. And yesterday was one of those days. 10 minutes of snuggle time then Mommy had to get up, get dressed and gather gear and supplies for a kick-ass workout at the community center. Because… life is short, I want to live it to (what is for me) its fullest extent, working out is a primary way I show myself love and self-love makes all things possible.
In case you don’t know, reader, a sprint-distance triathlon is usually around a 500 meter swim (this varies, depending on the race course – I’ve seen sprint-distances as high as 1000 meters), a 20k bike (also varies slightly) and a 5k run (pretty standard). In normal-human language, that’s 20 lengths of a pool, 12.5 mile bike and a 3.1 mile run. Now, if you’re still reading, you are having one of several reactions. 1) “holy moley, that’s crazy! I could never do that!” 2) “Oh, that’s it? Wow. Doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal.” 3) “That’s cute. I remember starting out on those dinky courses too. Now, I’m training for an Ironman.” In 2010, I would’ve been right there with any of you having the first reaction. I’m now squarely in the second reaction for sure (and p.s., you only really have the right to have reaction #2 if you will actually get up off the couch and complete a sprint-distance triathlon. Otherwise, zip it!) and I’m working towards the third reaction. I’ve completed nine sprint-distance triathlons in the past five years and a handful of other kinds of races (small obstacles, 5Ks, etc…).
I’ve signed up to do my first olympic-distance tri this summer. That’s (a little more than) double the distance of a sprint. 1500 meter swim, 24.8 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. Though completing this distance was unthinkable to me five years ago, I look at those miles now and think, “ya, okay, I can see myself doing that.” Those numbers don’t seem insurmountable, even when mashed all together in one continuous block as they will be in the race.
Back in 2010, when my friend, said, “You HAVE TO do it,” I knew exactly what she meant. Now that I had gotten it into my head that I would LIKE to do a race like that, accomplishing that goal was THE thing that would help most in getting me up and out of my depression. It was THE thing I HAD TO do to show myself that I was worth anything, that I was still loved, that I was still capable. And she was right. Of course, it wasn’t a magic bullet all by itself. Nothing ever is. And anyone who tells us differently is selling us something. But the consistent effort to train for that one race in 2010 was as close to a magic bullet as I’ve ever experienced. And my (more-or-less) consistent training since then has followed suit. Tri-training evens me out and makes me feel healthy and strong and well. It keeps me focused. And gives me something that is only mine and that no one can take away from me. Whenever I sign up for a new race – or even think, “man, I’d really like to do that race,” I know I HAVE TO. I have to meet my own challenges. I have to keep moving forward.
Tri-training evens me out because it’s about way more than just exercising. The working out one has to do when one is training for triathlons is only the beginning. Healthy nutrition is key. Sleep is key (though when I’m writing at 4am, I’m getting a little less of that than I should). Not indulging in excessive drinking (or some weeks, months ANY drinking) is key. Knowing when to rest is ABSOLUTELY key. Shoring myself up so that I can emotionally and mentally handle and stay flexible to the challenges, the changes, the hiccups along the way – not just in my training but also in my life – is key. Tri-training creates such a strong bond between my body and my mind that, on my best days, life feels like a smooth unfolding of exciting, interesting events.
-an hour of hard swimming in the pool
-an hour and fifteen minutes of hard spinning
-a very quick tiny half mile run on the track (because someone told me “never waste a bike” when tri-training
-a quick trip to the grocery store for bananas and chocolate chips (amid a flurry of texts from hubby -- oh, he came back after a few months back in 2010 – about how hungry everyone at home was for pancakes)
-preparing and setting table for chocolate chip pancake brunch with fam, while hubby cooked (amid several rapid-fire updates from children about what all they had been up to in the last couple of hours)
- EAT! (good lord, I was ready for some food after all of that activity)
-live through the storm of one of my son’s regular (and wildly abnormal for his age) temper tantrums then the subsequent intense conversation/ teachable moment about controlling his feelings which somehow devolved into how he could make $20 each week for doing (A LOT) of chores around the house – dammit! He’s a diabolical mastermind!
-an in depth look at finances to plan our activities for the rest of the weekend (while mastermind son did dishes and adorable mop-top played with her toys)
-another quick teachable moment with son about how good it feels to control our emotions, about staying “even” instead of letting ourselves go too low or too high (I may be speaking from a little bit of experience here)
-walk dog (a balmy 20 degrees in Mid-Michigan yesterday!)
-get ourselves and kids ready for tobogganing, including phone call to a friend to invite her two children to go with us (what? Are we insane?)
-Tobogganing at City Forest (my favorite place in this town) with four children!
-(husband stays to run with a friend at City Forest)
-drop boys off at home for a quick minute while girls and I take (yet, another) quick trip to the grocery store for cocoa and dinner supplies
-make cocoa, clean off table, serve cocoa
-make dinner, text with husband (run was awesome!)
-serve dinner to children and husband
-FINALLY take a LOOOOOONG HOT shower! And put my jammies on.
-get girls settled in (they are having a sleepover, as it turns out) to watch a movie
-say goodbye to son’s friend (his dad has come to pick him up)
-make a cup of tea
-make popcorn for girls (some regular and some chocolate – ay-yae-yae!)
-fold laundry while I watch some of the movie (my favorite, Maleficent) with them
-put laundry away (continually tell girls to settle down)
-read through a few Triathlete magazine articles in my room, finish drinking cold tea
-realize I MUST SLEEP NOW!
Somewhere in all of that, there was also some instagramming, some facebooking, some messaging, some texting, and hugs and kisses and lots of laughing.
Today will be similar to this (except I’ll shower earlier).
Tomorrow will be similar to this (except I’ll be at work so, a different flurry of activities but similar in flurry-ness)
I am privileged and lucky for all of this. For the money it takes to have all of this. For the mobility it takes to be able to do all of this. For my health. For my family’s health. For the (probably, mostly) clean water that runs from our tap every time we want it. For the heat in our home. For friends we can call to hang out at a moment’s notice. For a partner who definitely does his fair share of everything. For my mother’s cocoa recipe (which, psst… is just the recipe on the back of the Hershey’s cocoa powder box) and having watched her make it a thousand times so it’s the easiest thing in the world for me to do. For everything…
And there are some days I do fixate on the negative still. We all do this. We can’t help it sometimes. Bad things happen. Life can be a storm at times. I have been through some pretty tough storms. During those times, it’s hard to see clearly. But in the last five years, returning to my training has consistently been the action I need to take to make things right in my head and in my heart again.
I’ve heard from many sources that running is only 10% physical and 90% mental. This is true, I believe, of any strenuous physical activity. And life – if you are doing it right -- is a strenuous physical activity. If you are doing it right, life is full – of love, of friends, of family, of things-you-love-to-do, of things-you-get-to-do for yourself and for others. This kind of fullness requires flexibility, resilience, stamina, strength and a strong, relentless will. Life IS an endurance sport.
Now, OBVIOUSLY, I am not trying to say that everyone should train for triathlons in order to develop those qualities in themselves BUT I am saying… life is short. Do what you love. Find THE THING for you that makes it possible or worth developing and maintaining these qualities. What helps you stay flexible? Resilient? Builds your strength and your endurance? What do you LOVE to do that keeps your willpower (your ability to get through things that are less enjoyable) strong? What activity creates such a strong bond, for you, between your body and your mind that the two become inseparable and are capable, together, of weathering any storm?
Find out what that activity is. Do it. Life is short. Self-love is essential. Gratitude must be cultivated. And, snuggling is mandatory.
Your QueenPrincess has spoken.
And as Ramona would say, Vaya Con Dios!