Find Your Strong

Saucony did an advertising campaign recently called Find Your Strong.  If I could have had a theme to the past week, I think that pretty much covers it.

Last week I was feeling pretty discouraged about my training for Racine and just my abilities in general.  After I blogged my pity party the other night, I decided it was time to put on my big girl panties and get to work.  So on Thursday afternoon when I left FLEET FEET, I went off to Lake St. Louis to meet up with Farrell for a little open water swim.  I got to see her new house, which is awesome.  But we spent a little too much time chatting and didn’t end up with a ton of time to swim.   We walked over to the beach and jumped in for a quick 1000 meters (I supposed quick is a relative term).  It wasn’t much, but considering that was the first time I’ve been in that lake since my first and only triathlon last August, it was somewhat monumental.  I swam 500m out and then back again in the open water, freestyle the whole way, practiced sighting and felt great.  I acknowledged how far I’ve come in less than a year and that alone was enough to restore my confidence in my upcoming attempt at 70.3.  After that swim, I got in a short 40 minute bike ride, before getting over to the Marquette High School track to be the guest leader for Thursday night Speedwork.  Cole, who usually leads, had been given concert tickets for his birthday from his girlfriend and had asked me several weeks ago to fill in.  I didn’t get to run too much of the workout with the group, but I got in a couple of slow, rather painful (my hip is still sketchy) laps around the track.  So, all in all, it was a successful day since it involved swim, bike and run.  Sort of.

Thursday morning was tough though.  As I dropped my kiddos off at their camp, I said goodbye to them until I see them again on Tuesday.  5 days straight without my babies.  Ally and I got each of the boys settled in their rooms and then we began the trek up the stairs.  She started walking slower, I could tell it was coming.  As we got in sight of her group, she threw her arms around me and started sobbing.  “I don’t want to be away from you for 5 days, Mom.  It’s too long.  I miss you so much!” she cried.  I hugged her and pulled her to the bench along the wall of the hallway.  I held her for a few minutes and reassured her that she’d have a great time at the water park with her cousins, the time would fly and we’d be back together before she knew it.  I asked if there was anything I could do to help make it easier and we agreed on a 7pm phone call Friday night.  Ultimately, I wrestled free of my baby girl’s grip and headed back down the stairs.  As soon as my back was to her, my own tears began to fall.  You see, sometimes we put on a brave face and we stay strong only because we have to, in order to help someone else feel strong.

When the kids are with their dad, I usually fill the time pretty well.  Thursday was packed with activities.  Friday I worked most of the day, then went down to Forest Park, did a couple loops on my bike, and just as I was transitioning to run, Diana showed up.  We did one loop around the park before heading back to the rooftop of her apartment building for some sunset wine and sushi.  During which, I made a call to my Ally-girl, as promised.

Saturday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn to head out to Newtown to meet up with Kris for a swim/bike.  I got in two whole laps for a whopping total of a MILE of open water swimming, no stopping, all freestyle!  Holy Schnikes I’m making progress!  We followed that up with about 15 miles on the bike before Kris and I both had to hit the road.  I grabbed coffee and food on my way to work, where I jumped in the shower. I am so grateful for this particular amenity of my job, though probably not as grateful as my co-workers, considering that as I stood in Starbucks wondering why it smelled like a fishy lake, I ultimately realized it was my own stench.  Gross.  Anyway, I fit some folks for running shoes on Saturday afternoon and then did a quick change into a little black dress to head out to dinner with a group of friends, during which I had to respond to several  “I miss you” texts from Ally.

On Saturday evening I came to the realization that I have officially become “That Triathlete Girl” who has her bike locked to the bike rack and a bike pump, helmet, cycling shoes, wetsuit, towel, swim cap, goggles, running gear and evening out clothes all in the back of my car at any given time.  Always prepared to squeeze in one form of recreation or another whenever I can.  But I digress…

This morning I was planning to cycle.  Well, it didn’t happen, for a myriad of reasons.  I had some other stuff to tend to before going off to work, which involved sending an email I didn’t really want to send but I knew it needed to happen.  After work, I was hoping to get in a long run in the rain which probably would have been good for my head and my heart, which are very obviously not on the same page these days.  The heart wants what it wants, even though the head sometimes knows better.  Or maybe the head just thinks it knows better.  I’m still not really sure.  At any rate, the lightening  extravaganza that was on display about the time I rolled up to Creve Coeur Lake, quickly put an end to the idea of my rain run.  So, I went with Plan B instead, I picked up Thai food and went to hang out with Farrell.  I needed some Linds time.

So, what’s the moral here?  Well, sometimes we have to do things we don’t particularly want to do in an effort to be strong for ourselves or someone else.  Sometimes we have to find our strong.  Sometimes it doesn’t look the way we thought it would.  Sometimes we find confidence in that.  Sometimes it means we have to let go of something.  And sometimes, it just plain breaks our hearts.  But when it comes down to it, as this weekend comes to a close, I’m proud of me for finding my strong when I needed to.  Sometimes being strong means facing a fear, sometimes it means pushing ourselves through it and sometimes it means making ourselves vulnerable.  I believe it was Nelson Mandela who said something to the effect of, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave (person) is not (one) who does not feel afraid, but (one) who conquers that fear.”  I think he was saying, Be Brave…Go find your strong.

Yesterday morning as I drove out to Newtown, the sun was shining, but I had my wipers going because it was also raining at the same time.  I thought, This is so odd.  And then in my rear-view mirror, I saw a rainbow.  But isn’t that just so representative of life…it can be sunny and raining all at the same time.  And sometimes you have to look behind you, in order to see the rainbow.

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear...

Objects in mirror are closer than they appear…

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