Monday, June 11, 2007

Studying Abroad

I had a little realization yesterday.

As tri season is in full-swing for the first time since 2001 without me, I feel like I'm missing out. I worry that I'm doing nothing but getting fatter and slower, as my friends are all getting fitter and faster. This is pretty silly, and I am fully aware of that. My tragic flaw is worrying to the point of irrationality. I'm working on it. It's quite a work in progress.

So yesterday, as I was feeling pretty low after friends/coworkers little observations about (brace yourself, here) how I DON'T look like I did during Ironman training (I SHIZ Sherlock), for some reason I remembered back in high school how my friend at the time, Joy, was going to spend her junior year as an AFS student in France and how I couldn't possibly wrap my head around it.

But, she's going to MISS SO MUCH! Like, FOOTBALL GAMES! And, GOING TO FRIENDLY'S AFTER FOOTBALL GAMES! And, like, the big yearly BAND CONCERT! I mean, how will she LIVE knowing she didn't get to go to HOMECOMING? Why on EARTH would you want to miss all THAT and spend a year in PARIS? What about SWIM SEASON?! And, like, AP ENGLISH?! How could you want to be ANYWHERE BUT HERE?????

Yeah. Pretty ridiculous.

Let's see....France, or small-town Ohio?

To 16 year old me I couldn't POSSIBLY GRASP anything but small-town Ohio. That was my little world I had created for myself, and that was all I knew.

This is a good thing that I'm being forced to study abroad this year. I've gotten a few books and have been reading about how I can fine-tune things: my bike, my nutrition, etc. I've been forced to step back and have fought it kicking and screaming the whole way. Workouts are getting shorter. Stomach is getting bigger. Kicks are getting stronger.

I'm being forced to live in the moment. Not thinking about this week's plans, or this month's goals, or hours on this or that.

This, to me, is a foreign country.

I'm sure that I'll look back on this I'll laugh, just like I do when I tell the story of how I thought Joy was absolutely insane for leaving my little world for 9 months. It all seems so silly now. High school didn't go anywhere, but she had an amazing experience. Neither are these races.

When you're at minute 32 of a 7 mile ride, you can't start thinking about all your insecurities and worries. You just keep spinning. If you worry too much, you waste energy. And that's DUMB. You just go minute by minute and deal with each thought as they come to you, and each problem as it arises. And then you move on.

How did I get through the Ironman last year, with my nutrition that I left in the trunk of my car, the surprise weather forecast that left many on the side of the road with hypothermia, the clock that ticked away and the initial goals in my head that slipped away, too?

I think, really, for the first time in my life actually, I didn't think about it. I just did it. I stayed in the moment or I would never, EVER have made it to that finish line.

Somehow, I need to do that here. I will get fitter again. I will get faster again. I've never let myself down before, and I damn well know that I won't now.

So maybe instead of worrying, I'd better just enjoy the view from the Eiffel Tower this tri season.


Jennifer P said...

What a great analogy. Not racing last year gave me the chance to volunteer at the local races. It's a great way to give back to a sport that gives us so much.
Enjoy the view!

JenC said...

I have plenty of friends who are faster/fitter now than they were pre-pregnancy (and yes, they were athletes to begin with). Enjoy your time now and remember to remind me of this when it is my turn. Gaining a new perspective can only be a good thing, right?

I used the "don't think" methodology yesterday and it worked rather well.

Oh, and I think you look great buddy! Can't wait to see you next Monday!

Bolder said...


i worry that i'm getting fit and faster, while all my friends are...

bet you a dollar and a donut, Joy while -- en france -- eventually felt sorry for everyone back home who missed out...

something tells me you'll be experiencing Joy soon enough.

tri-mama said...

I got pregnant with our oldest my senior year of college. So, while my internship friends were busying resumes, I was picking out nursery wallpaper. While they were interviewing for careers, I was going to prenatal appointments. It was weird. There was no one in my student world having babies, so for all of us, pregnancy was a novelty. Then with my second, I'd started running road races, training and working out, and to my stay at home mom friends, I was an engima. Now I'm an Ironman. Don't need to say much there. Every time we change position or identity it leaves us on the outside looking in at our former world. Funny, when the baby comes you'll move into the world of being a "Wow! you're a mom and you do triathlon?" It's a journey worth taking, it's a great country to live in- but certainly unusual and awkward the first time you visit. I think you are going to be surprised at how quickly you get your body back-and it will be a plesant surprise. Enjoy the summer.

jkrunning said...

This is totally not the point of your post AT ALL, but I love Friendly's. I miss it. We don't have them down south.

Kickstand Pam said...

I got pregnant with twins in at age 38 in 2002. I believed I would never be the same again. 4 years later, I'm strong and faster than I was before. Plus - there is no way to explain what you will feel, your first race back, seeing your husband and baby cheering you. It's better than any podium finish or PR.

Cliff Tam said...

Great post TriSaraTops..

we need to think less and do more. When you mentioned kciking is getting first thought was swimming :D..hahah

Robin said...

Great analogy and great post! It is such a cool country, and I know you'll love being there.

As for fitter/faster, my first half-IM post-kids was a PR, 'nuff said. You'll be amazed at how much tougher you get, being a mom. Living in the moment becomes par for the course. And as kickstandpam says, seeing your baby there cheering for you is so cool!