Monthly Archives: October 2014

Border Wars: Ready or Not

My favorite piece of advice to give a bride before her wedding day is this: The experience is surreal, so every once in a while just stop whatever you’re doing and take a mental snapshot of the moment. There are few times in your life that you get to be surrounded by everyone you love, so do what you can to freeze those moments and tuck them inside your heart pocket.

I really should be sleeping right now since I have to be up in about 6 hours for my race tomorrow. But everyone knows it’s impossible to sleep the night before a big event.  Tomorrow is my 2nd ever 70.3.

This morning was chaos. After rounding up two of my three from various friends’ houses, we did a quick swing by Dunkin’ Donuts so I could bribe my kids into pretending they were enjoying themselves and then we made our way over to Swim Bike Run to meet up with several members of my crew.

From there, we had a 6 vehicle caravan out to Alton, IL, about an hour away where we are competing in the inaugural race of Border Wars: East vs West, tomorrow morning.

It’s been a gorgeous Indian summer here for the past week. Until 2 days ago.  Storms blew in and the temps have plummeted.  This morning the wind was fierce!  We were bundled in hoodies as we made our way into the building where packet pick up was being held.

This being the first year of the event, it’s been more than a little chaotic, so we’ve all flown way past freak out mode and right on into hyper-spaztic freak out mode. There were only 2 gals working the packets, so we waited in line for 20-30 minutes until we all had our packets and our race swag.  But I could see people I knew no matter which direction I turned.  It was like a party.  I’m sure anyone who didn’t know me was probably wondering who in the world brought all these kids to the event.  Fortunately, Jen had brought her 4 year old, too, which made me feel a little less obvious.

After we had our gear, we headed into the room that had been designated for the athlete meeting. It was set up with about 20 chairs.  We took up all of them.  The meeting didn’t start until 11, so we had some time to kill.  I was in and out of the packet pick up line…out to the car to get the ipad to entertain my kiddos, taking Silas to the bathroom, saying hi to everyone along the way.

By the time the meeting finally started, the room was packed as full of people as we could make it. Some standing, some on the floor, most of the chairs occupied at least 2 people.  I was flanked with Jen’s and had another one in front of me.  Allison was on the floor directly behind me.  Everywhere I looked I saw a familiar face. Silas was on my lap, Ally was leaning against a trashcan and Ethan was the most efficient one in the room, sitting under a table.  I’m sure the Fire Marshall would have approved of the situation.  The meeting was a whirlwind of information.  My kids were troopers.  They played silently, thanks to technology.  At one point Silas whispered in an excited voice, “Mom, I have a loose tooth!”  His first.  I was surrounded by people that make me smile.

As we left the meeting room, we all talked details. Ken called me “Miss Popularity” since he seemed to think that if anyone had a question they’d say, “Let’s ask Lindsey, she’ll know the answer.”  Now, let’s be clear, I don’t actually know anything, but being fortunate enough to work where I do, I know EVERYONE, so I know where to go to find the answer.

Then we headed down the road to T1 (Transition Area 1 for the rookies) to drop off our bikes. The wind was howling!  We set our bikes on our assigned spots on the transition racks according to our ages, hoping they might still be upright when we get back in the morning.

We fought our way back to the cars discussing what to wear, how to stay warm on that transition from the swim to the bike and the fact that when we get into the water tomorrow morning, it’s going to feel about 30 degrees warmer than the air. This is like nothing else I have ever experienced.  It’s going to be an adventure.

When we were finished at the race sight, some had to bolt to get back for other commitments. Those of us who had a free afternoon decided to head to Alton for some lunch.  We’re saving Fast Eddie’s for tomorrow after the race.  So today, I just picked somewhere that seemed reasonable and attempted to lead everyone there.  You would think by now my friends would know better than to let me make any decisions that require navigation, but I lead, they followed.  We arrived at my decided location to find it was closed.  So, we stood in the street surrounding Vega’s car until we agreed on our next destination.

We found our restaurant, sat at our table and finally the whole crew was assembled. We ate and laughed and talked about the race.  And as I looked around, I realized I was doing one of those mental snapshot moments.  I had my kids there and some of my best friends in the world.  And I thought, This.  This is what makes me keep doing these crazy things.  Things like getting up at 4 am to go swimming when its 40 degrees out and then jump on a bike and follow it up with a run.  Because I get to have my adventures with some of the most amazing, wonderful people I know.  I love these people.  Partly because they are just as crazy as me.

My kids have been dropped at their dad’s, my gear is packed, my alarm is set. All that’s left to do now is sleep.  I received a text earlier from Ally with a picture of a smiling Silas showing a gap in the bottom front of his smile.  The tooth is gone.  I wasn’t able to be there when he lost it, and I don’t get to be the Tooth Fairy tonight.  But that mental snapshot of him on my lap, in that room full of athletes prepping for a crazy experience, when he whispered to me, I will keep that tucked in my heart pocket.

Tomorrow, I’ll drag my crabby butt out of bed while it’s still dark. And I’ll make my coffee and drive over to meet Kris and Jen so we can caravan out to Alton.  And I will dread getting into the water, and even more so, I will dread getting OUT of the water.  And I will ultimately get to the run, my favorite part, and I will be tired, but I will keep going.  And then, before I know it, it will all be over.

I don’t know what snapshots tomorrow will hold, but I’ll be looking for them and ready with my “camera”.

To my crew, I love you guys. Crazy as it is, I can’t wait to do this with you tomorrow.

Precious and Terrifying

Perhaps it’s because I turn 39 in just a few short hours, but I have been feeling somewhat reflective today.

This morning, my kids were at my door bright and early. Ally had requested to come to my house before school so I could help do her hair for picture day.  The boys ran inside to grab more breakfast while Ally got the curling iron heated up.  During the backpack handoff, their dad and I came to an agreement on ordering a picture package that we can just split rather than ordering two as we have done in the past.  Dare I say we are making progress?

A whirlwind 20 minutes later we were in the car on our way to school and while we sat at the world’s longest stoplight, I looked over at my daughter as she told a story about horses. “Who is this kid?” I thought.  How am I possibly old enough to be her mom?  She’s so grown up.

When I pulled into the drop off circle, Ally and Ethan jumped out fairly quickly. Silas, as usual, was the pokey one.  He is also the only one who will still give me a kiss goodbye upon request.  Sadly, I don’t know how much longer he’ll do that.

I went about my morning. A trip to the post office to mail some bills (yes, I still do that even though the majority of the world does it online) followed by a visit to Dr. Brian to get me ready for my race on Sunday.  A stop at the bank, and the gas station and finally Starbucks.

By the time I got to the gym, it was closing in on noon. I ran into Maria at the door.  Even though I half expected to see her, it’s still funny to randomly run into a friend from 30 years ago.  I did a warm up on the elliptical before changing into my swimsuit and heading to the pool.  I had the pool to myself at first, which is pretty typical.  It’s funny, a couple weeks ago when I signed up at Gold’s, it occurred to me that it was the first time I have ever in my life signed up for a gym membership by my own decision and completely on my own dime.  Weird.  Even weirder still?  That the very first thing I did after signing the papers was go jump in the pool.  I’ve used the pool more than any other part of the facility so far.  So when I say I usually have the pool to myself, I mean all 5 times I’ve been in it.

But today, interestingly enough, the pool was the happening place to be. And before I tell this story, let me offer 2 things.  1.  I am in absolutely no position to make fun of anyone’s abilities, so please don’t take this as such.  And 2. I don’t claim to be an expert at much of anything, least of all swimming.

So, anyway, after about 10 minutes, I noticed a fellow in the far lane from me. My initial reaction whenever I see anyone else in the pool is…Oh boy, I hope they don’t notice how slow I am.  But as I paused to fix a leak in my goggles, I noticed that the fella in the far lane didn’t even have goggles.  He was barely putting his face in the water.  That was the first thing Coach Andy told me to do 2 years ago.  The second was “relax your shoulders”.  “Far Lane” looked just as tense as I had initially.  Which is probably why a guy at Lifetime had suggested I take some lessons a couple years ago.  Granted he was right, but no one likes unsolicited advice.  I never showed my face (or any other part of me) in that pool ever again.  I think “Far Lane” did 4 lengths.  Two full laps in the pool, I calculated as I passed him with ease, and then he resigned.  Yeah, I remember those days of only being able to swim a couple laps and then giving up out of exhaustion or frustration.  Or both. No judgment from me, Far Lane.

Again, I had the pool to myself. And then a moment later, a girl in a Tyr two-piece suit came in and set her towel and water bottle near the end of the pool, taking the place of Far Lane.  She put on her swim cap and goggles and looked the part of a real swimmer.  Again I thought, “Please don’t notice how painfully slow I am…”

I continued my swim, paying no mind to how many laps I was doing today. I just wanted to do a consistent swim for 30 minutes without using the end of the pool to take a break or push off toward the other end.  I don’t have the slightest idea how to do flip turns, but as a triathlete I don’t really need to.  Basically, I just get to the end of the blue line on the bottom of the pool and then change my stroke to get turned around going in the other direction.  We’ll call that the “triathlete’s adaptation of open water swim in a pool”.  Anyway, I was just doing my thing, watching the clock, trying not to be obvious that I was trying to see “Looks the part” through the peripheral view of my goggles.  Wait…did I just pass her?  No, I had to be imagining that.  And besides, even if I did, she’s probably still doing a warm up.  But several minutes went by and I realized that I was doing almost 2 lengths to her 1.  Ok, so it is entirely possible that my competitive juices kicked in and I began trying to see how much faster I could swim than her.  But can you blame me?  I’m never faster than anyone in the pool!  As I climbed out of the pool, I patted myself on the back for the fact that now I can go knock out a 30 or 45 minute or hour long swim, my biggest concern being boredom.  Not breathing, not exhausted shoulders, not wondering whether or not I can do it.  Just simply I don’t want to stare at that blue line while counting my strokes any longer.  In a race setting, it’s relentless forward progress toward a tangible finish line.  Training in the pool is relentless forward progress toward the wall, and then back, over and over again.  But it trains your mind to keep going, even when you really, really, REALLY don’t want to.

As I wrapped my towel around me, I noticed that “Looks the part” didn’t so much cut through the water like a pro, but sort of wound through the water more like a snake. Since I don’t know that much about swimming technique, I won’t even try to pretend that I could coach her into a more efficient stroke.  I just know that she probably could glide through the water more effectively if she didn’t have the limp noodle thing going on.  But, who am I to evaluate?

So, whoever sent me an early birthday gift of not one, but TWO slower swimmers than myself today, Thank you! But in seriousness, that whole experience again made me take note of how far I’ve come.  3 years ago I had no desire to even attempt a triathlon, even less desire to go the distance of an Ironman.  And why was that?  One thing: the great unknown.  I knew nothing about swimming.  Or racing a bike.  And especially not putting 3 sports together.  But at that same time, as I was facing so many other unknowns, I decided to give it a Go.

I always say the hardest part about running up hill is that you only see how far you have left to go, and not how far you’ve come. But today reminded me to turn around every once in a while and be proud of how far I’ve come.

Right now, as I type this, my kids are asleep upstairs after a crazy evening of homework, dinner, Tae Kwon Do, Gymnastics and buying crickets for the lizard. There is wrapping paper strewn about Ally’s bedroom floor.  There is a poster board and markers all over the dining room table, even though I’m not supposed to look in there.  And when I put Silas to bed tonight, he made me set an alarm for the morning so that he and Ally can get up to do “birthday things”.  It’s precious and terrifying at the same time.  But that pretty accurately describes my life.  Precious and terrifying.  After the “birthday things”, I will spend the day doing things I love.  I will get my first pumpkin spice latte of the season.  It’s tradition.  And I will go to lunch with my girlfriends.  And spend time with my kids.  And tomorrow evening my beau is making dinner for me.  But after I drop the kids at school, I will go for my annual reflection run.

I will look back over the past 39 years and I acknowledge how blessed I am to be standing right here right now, right where I am. I’ll looking back at the valleys I’ve climbed out of and know that God willing, I’ve got a whole lot more climbing to do.  I don’t know what hills are still ahead of me, but I know that I’m courageous and strong enough to get over them. I’ll turn around once in a while to remember where I’m coming from. And it will be worth it.  Because as challenging as it is to get there, the view from the top is always magnificent.  My life is not perfect, but it’s mine. My journey. Relentless forward progress into the unknown. Precious and terrifying.