"Tri" to take a step back in life!

Posted on May 30, 2012 by Mary Patterson


When I started competing in triathlons 7 years ago, I tried it for a new challenge. I knew I could run. I knew I could bike. I knew I could swim (kind of). But could I do all three within the same time period. My biggest fear was the swim. Before my first race, I swam in the pool less then the fingers I have on one hand and I believe I might have gone out in the ocean one time. Come race day.... yes, it was a long swim. It was a swim full of breast stroke, side stroke, floating on the back, hanging on surf boards gasping for breathe, and a sad attempt to freestyle. I think I almost hugged the sand and mother earth when I finally got to the shore. However, when I hopped on that bike and continued into the run, I felt awesome. I felt strength, determination, power, and self confidence. Things I work hard at to feel in my every day life with work, family, relationships, and spirituality. They just came natural and all I would say to myself is Go! Go! You can do this! No stopping! You are strong! Go!

Throughout the next couple of years and in-between babies, I sat out some seasons being well into my third trimester and feeling jealous and couldn't wait until it was my turn again. After our second son, we knew that was it and I had decided, OK my turn again, let's get it! However, I struggled. I struggled emotionally, physically, mentally. I fought the struggle because that is what I was suppose to do. Right? I tried to train. I tried to set training schedules for myself. I read about different ways to train. I even hired the help of a fantastic colleague to help me learn how to swim better. Something was missing. I blamed time. I blamed working more. I blamed having two children. You name it, I probably had some excuse. 

Finally, something clicked and I told myself to chill out. I spent a year taking a step back from training or signing up for races. I still worked out and I told everyone I just needed to have fun and not think too much about my workouts. I was just going to play the season by ear. In hind sight, it turns out that I did that with many aspects of my life. I started to say, no. I made less commitments. I focused on one thing at a time. Through out the process, I was confused. I thought something must be wrong with me. When the negative starting chirping in my ear, I would take a step back and again tell myself to relax. It is OK. You don't have to do everything.

I spent a year taking a step back from training or signing up for races. I still worked out and I told everyone I just needed to have fun and not think too much about my workouts.Something really cool happened at the end of that year (maybe two years) of just taking a step back from everything.

Thoughts became clearer - with everything - family, work, physically, emotionally. Amazingly, things started to blossom - family life, professional clarity, emotional self confidence. Somewhere in there, I signed up for the Red Bank Triathlon. It was in May and this would help me get back on the tri scene and ready to compete early. The week before the tri, panic started to set in a bit. Three days before the tri, I stopped and thought for a moment. Isn't this suppose to be fun? Who am I competing with? I do this because I can. I do this to challenge my physically well being and emotional spirit in a good way. I thought.....why am I panicking?

I don't want to swim

For so many reasons and yes, most of them are really silly (sharks and other creatures, being swam over, being so inefficient, getting tangled in my wet suit). Then I remembered the duathlon option. Why don't I do this? So, three days before the race, I switched from the sprint triathlon to the sprint duathlon. After I switched, I thought I should maybe check to see how far and how much I needed to run.

I think I laughed at myself thinking this might even be a little more challenging for me and my body. However, that chuckle quickly was over come with, but I know I can do it! What a great challenge! Let's give it a go and see what happens. I was still nervous and anxious, but I was excited! For the first time since that very first triathlon, I LOVED the race. I felt blessed to be able to do it. I smiled. I cheered others on. I was challenging myself. Even while my legs felt like they were going to fall off, I was telling myself once again....Go! Go! You can do this! No stopping! You are strong! Go!

Why do I share this story with you?

The pursuit of happiness may play a bigger role in your health, weight, and fitness then you realize. Stop forcing yourself to do things because everyone else is doing it or you think you have to do it. (Yes, some things in life we have to do. Take a look at your self made to do list - what do you really have to do?) It is OK to change your mind. It is OK to take a step back in the game of life. Take control over the things you have control over. You have more control over your life then you allow yourself to have. You have one life. Cherish your relationships and loved ones. Cherish you. Have fun. It is a curvy, bumpy road to the pursuit of happiness. Cherish the bumps and curves. Learn from them and step forward. Listen. Listen to your loved ones, but most important listen to yourself. 

Go! Go! You can do this! No stopping! You are strong! Go!

Posted in fitness, Mary Patterson, pursuit of happiness


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