Sunday, July 15, 2007


How do you avoid triathlon burnout?

Get knocked up.


I think this is great advice. I was thinking about it the other day, and I really haven't stopped moving in a while. 2004 saw a bunch of triathlons, a Masters degree, and a marriage. 2005 brought me another marathon, some olympic and sprint tris, and my first half ironman. 2006 brought me another half ironman, 2 half marathons, a few shorter tris, and an Ironman. I did a half marathon in late November, 2006.

I didn't stop.

Until February rolled around. When my body gave me the proverbial middle finger and sort of FORCED me to stop.

I kicked and screamed. I tried to keep going...and mostly failed. I slept. A lot. In short, I really didn't know what to do with myself. If I'm not moving, then who am I?

I think that's a good question for all triathletes out there to ask themselves.

Because this thing can be taken away from you at a moment's notice. And not always for good, exciting reasons.

You really, really need to know who you are when you're not moving.

I'm getting to know her...and maybe starting to like her a bit. I'm realizing how much of a dreamer she is--that she can't stop thinking about the future. She thinks about school...will she really be able to handle an AP class and a bunch of honors kids? She hasn't really had the honors kids...ever. Far from it. Especially not with a new (or at least MUCH more detailed) subject and when 9 months pregnant.

Then, she remembers...yeah. Cum laude, Miami University. Armonk Scholar. James Madison Scholar. 3.9 GPA in MA program.

She can do it somehow. She'll make it work.

She thinks about the fall. How the room that used to be an office is now starting to fill up with blue, yellow, and green things. How she can't deny what's about to happen when she feels a strong kick to the rib cage. How sometimes it's all so overwhelming it brings tears of frustration to her eyes...this thing is so much bigger than anything she's ever done. It's so damn scary.

But she's never let herself down before. She remembers mile 5 of the bike course last year, she knew if she was going to make it that day she was going to have to adapt to the situation and throw all prior goals out the window. It was going to be all about surviving.

So she knows she'll somehow do that, too.

She dreams about next year. Of how happy she'll be to get on her bike for the first time, after watching so many rain-less, brisk mornings go by this summer. Of how she can't wait to really, really run again. To do a track workout. To gasp for air again. To see a "7" on her watch--at the front--after running a mile. To feel her heart pounding.

Of how good it will feel to be at a starting line next year.

Any starting line. And how good it will feel to finish.

But for now, she's forcing herself to be in the present, because she has to. The kicks remind her. Snap out of it. Think about now.

She's packed away all her trophies and age group awards, and really wasn't sad to see them move to the attic after mostly gathering dust in the old office. She's starting to realize that's not what this is really about. That she'll never, ever be in the top 3 at an Ironman, a marathon, or for that matter, probably at a half-ironman. But she knows that those races are where she needs to be.

She's getting as ready as she can...because you never will be ready. You can wait your whole life to be "ready," and still not be there. She's figured that part out, at least.

But sooner or later, she knows she's going to have to trust herself and her abilities.

And that's who I am when I am not moving.


TriBoomer said...

"You really, really need to know who you are when you're not moving." ...Wonderful perspective.

This post is a must read for my 21 year old daughter. Thank you for your good words.

Stay tuned...

Phil said...

Great Post. I think all of us would do well to ask ourselves that question periodically for the rest of our lives.


Wes said...

Our minds are always in motion, though, eh? Even when our body is not :-) Baby Z will be one more piece of the puzzle of life. Keep the wheels turnin!

Try@thlete said...

You're on a different 140.2 now - the triathlete trimesters.

Keep well.

Siren said...

I've been thinking a lot of the same thoughts. Especially the part about how I kicked and screamed and cried at first because I felt like something was being stolen away. Now I've come to accept this is an ideal break that will prevent burnout in the long run, because I was (as usual) pushing myself really hard to keep moving onward and upward without allowing for breaks or breathing room.

(I got my first good kick a couple days ago. Talk about a reality check!)

jkrunning said...

It will be worth it. I promise.

Wil said...

LOVE this post. You rock, in motion or at rest. But remember you are HARDLY at rest right now sis ;)

Cara said...

OMG, can I just copy and paste this into my blog? Seriously, just...Exactly.

I'm so glad to have "met" you!!!

tri-mama said...

I kept hearing about the pregnancy picture on vacation-you look awesome! Certainly in 13 weeks a lot of things will change, but you will be who you are, and you will be a great mom and a great AP teacher and a great athlete and a great wife and a great friend; a person that a lot of us adore and are happy to be in acquaintance with. BTW-it's the sweet, humourous, easy going, solid woman- not the trophy winning ironman :-) so let the hardware collect the dust- you speak for "you" just fine.

Run for Chocolate said...

Just so you know, I love your blog and half the time blogger won't let me leave you comments. But I love this post, one friend told me recently that my motor is always running. time to slow down and get to know myself too.

kim said...

you are going to love being a mom and a triathlete. and you will definitely be able to do it all.

Steve S. said...

I'm sorry, I didn't have time to read your entire post, but the first 2 sentances are GREAT!

Kim said...

what a wonderfully insightful post z is going to learn oodles from you my dear :)
by the way, i have some questions i want to ask you when you get a chance... email me!

Josh said...

Nice post...

BTW - I just noticed your countdown timer. You are due the same day as my wife and me.

Lana said...

Good post, Sara. You are so right that this can be taken away from us at a moments notice-just like anything else. My kids are continually reminding me that even though I LOVE's not what life is really, really about. Granted, it teaches me lots about life, and has made me a better person...but there's a whole lot more to life and even a whole lot more to me. It's got it's place in our lives though, and I'm sure it's tough to have to do without it for now. Hang in there...and hang on to that baby until Oct. 6th, okay? That's my I'm pulling for THAT to be THE DAY. ;)