Being a mother is hard. Scratch that. Being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever done, and I've done some pretty hard things. It's somewhere between doing the Ironman twice, and doing the Ironman naked, hard. It's also one of those things that once you do it, you wonder how you ever lived without this small person in your life.
Somewhere between the worrying, planning, scheduling, reading, making bottles, washing clothes, picking up, dropping off, cleaning up poop and giving baths you realize that you're so in love with this person you can hardly explain it and you'd literally pick up a car (and I've heard some mothers do if necessary) if it meant saving your child's life.
The funny part is, I never even thought that much about having kids before a few years ago. I was busy racing, living, training, working and traveling. My life felt pretty complete to tell you the truth! Kyle and I were very happy and our lives seemed to be overflowing with productivity. We had predictable schedules and we were both able to go as hard as necessary working on our projects to make sure they were successful. It was a fun time going where and when we pleased and not worrying too much about the details. At some point, we realized our opportunity window to have children was closing if we didn't get a move on it. We thought about all aspects and realized it was something that neither of us wanted to miss in this lifetime. We decided if it was meant to be it would be eventually. Eventually was definitely the operative word in that sentence! It didn't take forever, but it did take a bit of time! I was already trying to start to adapt to the idea that it might not be a possibility for us when we saw the plus sign on the magic stick!
In the mean time, it's not like your competitive drive as an athlete is gone. I'd say it's just a bit dormant. It goes into a bit of hibernation on purpose to allow you to prepare for the onslaught of hormones and baby weight that is about to occur. You have to let go of the idea of looking fit to look healthily pregnant. For many athletes, it's hard (as it was for me too!). You wonder if you'll ever even have an ab or bicep muscle again! You also sort of adapt to living in the regular people world. It's kind of a more laid back world that doesn't require getting up many hours before the crack of dawn to get in some eyeball popping, gut wrenching workout before you make your recovery smoothie and transition to work in 5.7 minutes. "The slower pace is kind of nice," you think! You start to wonder if you'll be even want to do the things you used to do, like ride your bike a zillion miles or run until you're in another county.
For me, it was definitely like that. I transitioned slowed after having Emma into training again and tried not to put too much pressure on the trajectory of that transition. I didn't necessarily enjoy riding 100 watts my first ride back, but it was a ride, and I was doing it. I celebrated small victories and eventually starting seeing glimpses of my old training self. However, the difference was this was now sandwiched between getting less sleep, doing much more juggling of work/life balance and hoping to pull off everything else I had to do that day with Emma etc. What I've found is the workouts are still enjoyable, but I'm definitely in a different place than I was five or ten years ago. When I come to a race, I come because I want an experience I can remember. Of course I care about the race, but not in a way where I'm using it to judge my self-worth or my ability to do this sport. I'm convinced if I was willing to cut out a lot of other things, I could pretty much get to whatever level I want, probably even win one of these puppies (barring the Olympics, that ship has sailed). I'm old enough and wise enough to realize what I want to keep and what I'm willing to let go. While the outcome is semi-important to me, it's really that I still have the small question of what I can do with the life I lead now, the mommy life. Can I find a way to compete some more and still be a good mom and wife? Can I still run my business and help my athletes fulfill their dreams? I hope so. My racing life will have to take a second seat to those other things now and I'm fine with that. I'll have to miss a few workouts and do much less in terms of hours of training so I can see my daughter and still have a career when I'm done with triathlon. However, I want to suck the last bit of life out of this scene before I'm ready to hang up my hat. When I'm ready, I'll know it.
In the mean time, I'll be performing (like many of us), the biggest juggling act of all time. I'll salute the young bucks who are leading the full time pro life and have made it their mission to be at their peak for this stage in life. They deserve every bit of the podium they earn. It's not an easy life either. Not one is better than the other. They are two different paths due to two different stages of life. Both are equally awesome, and equally difficult. When I see them it reminds me of the beginning parts of my career where I was hungry for the top spots and was willing to do whatever it took to get there with wrapping my life around the process. These days, I'm just happy to make sure Emma's touche is wrapped in a diaper before she pees on the bathroom carpet!
I'll see all of you out there at Chattanooga 70.3 tomorrow! Best of luck to everyone competing and thanks to my sponsors Ultragrain, Quintana Roo, Coeur Sports, Rudy Project, QT2 Systems, ROKA, NormaTec Recovery, Field Work Nutrition Primo Smoohie meal and Brooks.