When first time expecting moms ask me how motherhood changes you, I often reply that at your core, it doesn’t change you. If you are a traveler, you’ll find ways to travel together and if you are an athlete, you’ll find ways to be active. What I don’t often share is that your relationship with exercise, training and racing may be drastically different.
The most significant change for me as a mom is that I held on to my training and racing more fiercely than I would have guessed. My transition to motherhood was fairly typical, but it also turned my world around. I gave up sleep, my body, my schedule and quite frankly, some sanity, but I made a decision that it would NOT claim my training and racing.
So we bought jogging strollers and bike chariots and I plodded along and I raced 4 months after my daughter was born and it was the worst experience ever. I was slow. I felt awful. People cheered “you can make it”. I was so sad.
But after my second child, my husband treated me to a new bike and I started again. Differently.
And lo and behold, I found a newly ignited passion for racing and pushing limits. I loved my time training. It’s my mental sanity. It’s my “me” time. Unlike parenthood, it’s been a linear progression: the work I put in = the results get out. And that equation makes the math geek in me really happy.
But there is guilt involved too, sometimes, with being away from family to do my own training. I can understand why some might see endurance sports training as selfish. But what I also see is the kind of modeling that I am doing for both of my children. It’s sometimes easy to see the benefits for my daughter in having a mother who is active, has her own goals and shows commitment to training for and completing those goals. My son sees something too, though. He (hopefully) sees a multidimensional woman and perhaps has a deeper understanding for what a woman, wife, mother can look like.
The greatest part, hands down, is the way this mulit-sport lifestyle is just part of my family. I have THE best/cutest/amazing supporters on race day and I now get to return the favor and watch them participate in their own events. We see from each others perspective what it is to be the ‘man who is actually in the arena’, giving our all in front of a crowd as well as be the supporter who’s only job is to cheer for our loved one and somehow transfer our love and energy to their body as they compete.
There will always be things that make me question my abilities and decisions I make as a mother. Continuing triathlon training and encouraging this active lifestyle in my children may be the one thing I feel more right about than anything else.