“So what are we doing on the 19th?” Bob asked the other day, pawing through the desk calendar.
“Um … Ben and I are doing a triathlon?”
“Is that the one at Fox Island?” I braced myself for the usual unanticipated conflict. But it turns out he’d been asked to shoot pictures at the event — a rare chance to simplify our overly complicated family schedule.
If I measured my life by how I perform in triathlons, I would be freaking out right about now. With less than a week to go, I have yet to do my first outdoor “brick” workout.
Instead, I’ve been feeling increasingly grateful for how triathlon training is enhancing the rest of my life. Consider:
1. Inspired by my sister and a yoga instructor, I swam 500 meters of nonstop freestyle for the first time in my life last week. That may or may not translate into a faster triathlon swim. I went slowly, head up, focusing on regular breathing patterns guiding my stroke rather than allowing my usual flailing motion to disrupt my breathing.
Even if I don’t beat last year’s sidestroke time, knowing I can do this makes me feel stronger and more confident and — yes, I’ll go ahead and say it, silly as it sounds — more alive.
2. Having done one team triathlon as a family, it’s fun to consider other possible events and work on the skills we each bring to the process. Even though I’m not a fast runner in the world at large, among our family team members I’m considered a decent runner. That feels cool.
3. After ruminating on it for months, I finally made that long (for me) bike ride to Zanesville and back last week. It was an amazing ride in all kinds of ways, from meditating on my grandma to picking up a few groceries without burning any fossil fuel. It may not have been the best kind of triathlon training, but I doubt I would’ve gotten around to doing it without that triathlon deadline coming up. It made me really happy, and I can’t wait to do it again.
4. Traci and I ultimately didn’t work out together as much as we hoped with our new training plan, but we did compare notes on strategy and felt more in sync. One night when it didn’t work out for us to run intervals together, we each ran with our kids. That was fun for everybody — and may prove useful for future family triathlons.
These days I often feel more like a triathlon evangelist than a triathlete. But as I long as I get to play, it works for me.