Thursday, September 3, 2015

Triathlon Part One - I Needed A Fight

I am not sure what the "natural" response to dealing with a situation that is beyond your control should be, but for me it was to find something that could be managed.  You see in the face of my hearing loss I had allowed small, seemingly insignificant doubts and fears to control my actions. 

Being forced to acknowledge my limitations hurt my independence and began to drive a need in me to prove that I could rise above and become more than what I was at that very moment.   In essence, I needed a fight.

What?  I recently blogged about passive peace right?  Ha! Exactly.  But the truth is the truth and I could feel that old familiar feeling welling up inside threatening to erupt if ignored.

I instinctively knew that my opponent had to be something that would really challenge me physically.  It also had to be a pass or fail so I would have no choice but to commit 100%.  An "all in" or "take up the cause" mentality was what I craved. 

The adversary I chose was a Triathlon. 

This is that story, condensed and aptly divided into three sections.



I hate to say that I just woke up one day and decided I would run a triathlon but that is exactly how it happened.  I was sitting in Caitlyn's room nursing her in the wee hours of the morning and relishing the complete peacefulness of the house.  I was calm and happy.

Then, discontent.  

What happened to that sweet serenity?  How is it that moments are stolen by dissatisfaction and self doubt?

Perhaps you all have been in my place before.  Maybe you understand more than I know the power of that distorted looking glass as it stares back at you not only revealing but accentuating all of your most embarrassing flaws. 
  
I began to think about my baby weight with great frustration.  About 9 months in was always the hardest time for me after having my babies.  It just seemed like for all a mom's effort and care that she takes carrying and birthing a baby it should only be fair that we are reciprocated on the back end of that journey by losing weight easily.
  
Truth be told, I was mainly frustrated that I did not have time to workout and that even if I did there was so much guilt attached to it that it was not enjoyable. 

Cartoon bubbles of 5K options began circling my head but I dismissed them as too easy.  I believed I knew that training for such a short distance was not necessary for me as long as I didn't care about my race completion time.  I honestly didn't even think about marathon or half marathon because while I enjoy running, something about those distances just didn't appeal to me.

I remember thinking that I loved to swim and then the idea was just there.

No, I had never biked before.
No, I didn't even own a road bike, helmet, water bottle, etc.
No, I didn't own goggles or a triathlon suit.
No, I didn't belong to a gym, community center or fitness group of any kind.

I only had me, a mountain bike and the very small pool at our subdivision.  What I was armed with was my S5 phone that had the new S-Health application and more determination than I had felt in a very long time.

I began my mental journey on Instagram with the user handle tritokeepup  This allowed me to hashtag items that would then connect me with other triathletes in training.  Watching their journey helped motivate me on mine. 

I started the physical part that very next Monday.  I used what I had, a mountain bike.  Slowly at first with one mile, two, five and then ten.  It became rapidly apparent that biking suited me as I looked forward to it and was excited by it.  I would also pass cyclists in my car and feel happiness for them and for my next upcoming ride.   Something about feeling the wind on my face during a sweltering day invigorated me. 

My most favorite route was a regular 12 mile course that took me down car driven roads to a bike trail.

It is important here to focus on the word TRAIL.

You see, this became the focus of my ride - the destination, the inspiration.  I would anticipate and look forward to the trail from the second I pedaled out of my driveway.  In fact, the entire distance to the entrance filled me with an unexplained excitement and joy.   Right before the entrance appeared I would cross a busy four lane road, hit an expected bump where the sidewalk was just slightly too high and cross a bridge overlooking a train.

Then there it would be.  Instantly I would be covered by the overhanging shaded greenery of the trees creating a sun dusted path full of twists and turns.   Along the trail nature would reach out in all its glory, the trail bending and weaving with the earth.  

Deep in the fabric of the ride there were two hills that always beat me yet I still loved the path.  Even knowing they were coming did not ever dampen my joy.   

Two hills always beat me yet I still loved the path.  There was a lesson hidden here, I am sure of it...and then there it was:  Things like my hearing will always beat me, I am unable to correct it or change it yet I still love my path, my life.   

Now, back to those hills, they were steep my friends and I am afraid of heights. But this journey wasn't about being held back.  No, this was about being pushed forward again and again into an unknown outcome with an unexplained peace. 

And so, going up I would pedal hard and fast getting as far as I could before having to dismount and walk.  Going down in parallel to the incline I would walk slowly down beside my bike until I reached a comfortable distance in which I feel safe riding down.  Importantly, with each bike ride that spot rose and my comfort level increased. 

I never did make it to the top of either one hill but every time I rode, I was beating something.  My previous ride, expectations, responsibilities, fears and much more.  I found that I was growing not only in physical strength but also in character, just by taking a few minutes to take care of me.

Not really a popular subject with mothers...taking care of themselves.  In fact, that thought holds such a negative connotation by so many that women are often unfairly judged and held to an unhealthy standard.  This was the other reason that running a triathlon came to mind when I was thinking about losing weight and taking time for myself.  Because if I was going to take time away from my family it had to have value in order for me to avoid that guilt.        

After about a month of consistent biking I added a short run afterwards.  But, lacking mental endurance I never really made it more than a mile with my jello legs.  And so, biking 12 and running 1 (or less) miles became my regular workout.

I was surprised that even with that large dose of exercise I did not lose any weight.  I was even more surprised to realize that this journey had nothing to do with that motivation at all.  It was a drive born out of the peace and acceptance of my hearing loss.  

That even if I never beat those hills I would not give up the fight.  

One of my favorite songs from Tenth Avenue North comes to mind:

You are more than the choices that you've made, 
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes, 
You are more than the problems you create, 
You've been remade. 

'Cause this is not about what you've done, 
But what's been done for you. 
This is not about where you've been, 
But where your brokenness brings you to 

My brokenness brought me to that place in Caitlyn's room.  The spot where I woke up and decided that win or lose I needed a fight.