The past month or so has been difficult on my training schedule. First it was a trip to Wisconsin (a very important trip…), next a sinus infection that knocked me out for three days, then a solid several weeks of decent build, HALT – a terrible terrible flu from which I am still recovering … etc. etc. … no excuses but I just can’t seem to get on a roll here. I’ll have some decent training sessions and then a slew of days where nothing clicks. It’s either all there, or all frustration. There is no middle ground these days.
News on the family front has put things into perspective. To those of you who know me, you understand how close I am with my family — some of you are just as close to them. They are my family and they are my best friends. Mom’s side, dad’s side. I treat them all with love, respect, and care for them deeply. When one hurts, we all hurt. As the oldest grandkid, cousin, kid, etc. – I have always been sort of in the middle. Not as young as the bulk of my cousins, and not as old as my aunts and uncles. It has given me an interesting perspective and has made me close to all of them in different ways. As we face difficult times ahead, I find myself feeling far from home. My heart hurts and I am sad to not be sharing this journey with the people that I love so much. As the girl who always made it home at least one or two Sundays a month to visit, catch the home church service, and hang out with my family – it is difficult to be half a country away from them. Hugs, hands, tears, wishing I could share this time with them – not for myself – but for everyone. To share the love we all have. To be there to support, and also to have that support in return.
Right – so what does any of this have to do with triathlon, training, etc.? The above picture was taken last summer (July 2015) while I was home in WI for my sister’s wedding. I had just finished a 70 mile bike ride from Milwaukee out to my grandparent’s house and my dad drove and met me there. He forgot to bring my dry clothes so here I am in my gross bike gear. Stinky no doubt – but these people love me anyway. 🙂 These are my lovely grandparents. You never know what life will deal you or when it will deal…so I try to never take anything for granted. This day was spent with great loves: triathlon and family. We told wonderful stories that day and sang songs together. Grandpa told his usual naughty jokes, grandma tried not to be embarrassed as she sat holding his hand, we shared memories of old times, we talked about my upcoming race, and (of course) the terrible Milwaukee Brewers. It wasn’t easy to leave that day, but it’s a day I will remember forever.
Today I returned to my training with a different mindset. Again, it is life that reminds me to put things back into perspective. Today, just like always, I hit the pool. This time, filled with thoughts of my family. Clear, wonderful thoughts. Memories flooding through me. I heard the water in my ears and remembered wonderful times spent at my grandparents’ swimming pool. I thought of my cousins, my sister, my parents, my aunts and uncles. Love in general. I couldn’t get out of my head how lucky I am to have such beautiful family members in my life. Not everyone is so lucky. I wasn’t thinking about a specific pace, my workout data, my coach, my training partners, none of that. I don’t want to hear any of that. It is so easy to get wrapped up in drama and data and this and that. But I improve and am at my best when I am focused on my own thoughts — drowning out the drama and data and talk of those around me. In the end, my training does need to be my time. I love the group support sometimes and seeing everyone once in a while. It helps especially on very long rides to know there is support there. But I also like knowing that I can do a lot of my training on my own. I like the push and competition and it is necessary at times – but always training with a group or with other people would be a tedious task for me.
It always comes full circle. I am my happiest when I am training alone with my thoughts. Those thoughts might be sad, happy, angry – it doesn’t matter. But in the end, all of those sessions that end up being my best sessions are the ones in which I am listening to my brain and my heart. I love the times when it is me and my own mental and physical battle. Whether it is fighting something physical (flu, knee), mental, or just boredom sometimes (bike trainer), I realize that my favorite times are when I fight through those battles on my own. When I stop for just 30 seconds to watch a sunset or a heron glide across the water, to wipe a tear from a wonderful memory, or to blow a dandelion into the wind and make a wish — these things are worth it to me. What is 30 seconds during training? Would I do it in a race? Nah….I’d want that 30 seconds to try to win…but you can bet I will still be enjoying every minute and smiling as much as I can (see Ironman). Do I want to be competitive at this sport? You bet! And in time, I think I can get there. I work hard every day with the help of my coach — but it is the brain and the “me” time that really play a role in how my training goes. The training is my therapy. Sometimes I forget. My swim today proves that bit by bit I am improving. The joy for me though, comes in those moments when I can reflect. I do that with the black line, the miles on the bike in the beautiful sun, and one foot in front of the other during a run. Even with the memories flooding my brain today at the pool — I dropped my Critical Swim Speed another few seconds (yay!). My body felt balanced and smooth in the water. I didn’t even feel like I was going that fast. Today, I have to thank my family for my training session. The beautiful thoughts and memories provided a perfect backdrop as I inched through the water.
Far in distance — so close in heart.
With love, to my family at home: It truly is a wonderful life.