Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Snow Day Dilemma

A crazy March snow/ice storm has me sitting at home, trying to take advantage of an unexpected day home from work to tackle my overwhelming to-do list. I'm a person who likes to be busy most of the time, and generally thrive on a packed schedule. Lately, though, I'm even busier than I like to be, and there's no quick fix. I just keep trudging along, trying not to fall too far behind on the most urgent tasks, and desperately wishing I had time to build toward a better future.

Meanwhile, I have also been experiencing a bit of a midlife crisis! That term has a pretty negative connotation though, and my experience has been mostly positive, so I prefer to call it a midlife crossroads. The past year of my life has been beyond difficult, leading me to spend a lot of time wondering how I got where I am. Recently, though, I decided to look at things a little differently, and evaluate literally everything I do with my time and WHY I do it, and whether I want to KEEP doing it in the future. It was quite an eye-opening exercise!

Now I'm sort of in phase 2 of the process -- I'm at this crossroads and I know where I want to go, but I have to figure out which road will get me there. Like I said, there is no quick fix, no easy way to magically change my life into what I want it to be. Most of my goals will take quite a while to achieve, especially because I am so low on free time (not to mention money!). I have to prioritize the goals, and try chipping away at them little by little. I'm not a very patient person, so this process is frustrating, and I constantly have to give myself little pep talks about what I'm working towards and why it will all be worth it in the end.

Unfortunately, my triathlon goals are not among the highest priorities, which makes me sad. This time last year, I was getting back on the bike and in the pool to start preparing for another season. I was hoping to attempt an Olympic-distance race last year, but that dream was put on hold when I lost my job in May. I was left with only the Iron Girl sprint to complete again, but I tried to channel my disappointment into hoping for a better year in 2017! Well, now it's the third month of 2017, and I am still broke, and I have two unresolved injuries I can't afford to get treatment for, and pretty much zero time to train. At the same time, amidst my midlife crossroads soul-searching, I concluded that triathlon truly is something I love to do and I want to keep doing it as long as I possibly can! So this is one area of conflict between what is desired and what is currently feasible.

That brings us to this snowy day. I know I'm lucky to have a little extra time to get things done today (even though the trade off is losing a day's pay at my temp job!), and that should be my focus. But an email appeared in my inbox today letting me know there is a snow day discount on registration for this year's Iron Girl. Oh, how I love a discount, especially on my limited budget! And I do want to race Iron Girl again -- it would be my fourth year in a row! What a powerful temptation it is just to click "Register" and figure out how to make it happen later. I can't determine whether that would be crazy and irresponsible, or brave and ambitious. I want to be a person who has the courage to chase my dreams, but I also want -- and need -- to be a responsible adult who makes wise decisions in the best interests of the family that depends on me.

The thing about a crossroads is you have to pick a path and GO, or else you'll never get anywhere at all.

This isn't my only chance to choose the road to Iron Girl, but it's a significant moment of decision regardless.

The discount is good until noon tomorrow. What will I choose?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Who Am I Anyway?

What do you call a triathlete who doesn't swim, bike, or run?


If you were hoping for a funny punchline, I apologize -- that's the best I've got right now. I promise I do mean it as a joke, though! The last thing I want is for this post to end up sounding whiny or obnoxious. I've been through a lot in the past year, and truly one thing that helps me cope is laughter. I'm trying not to take life -- or myself -- too seriously. And thus, I am the butt of my own joke.

So, I haven't been on a bike since Iron Girl, haven't run since....well, I'd say sometime in July, but there was this one time when I ran a little bit along with one of my kids during his cross country practice....yeah, that was a mistake. And I haven't darkened the doorway, much less the actual water, of my beloved pool since the summer.

To say I miss it all is an understatement. Not working out, not training for any races -- it feels like something is missing from my life! At the same time, my life is so FULL of other things that I don't have much time to dwell on what is absent.

I hardly even know how to describe my status right now. I guess I'm (officially? unofficially?) taking a break from triathlon and its elements, but it's a poorly defined break because it is not due to a single cause. I'm in the midst of a perfect storm of ridiculous life circumstances that make triathlon an unfeasible priority. Notice I didn't say "impossible" -- I'm sure with the right amount of sheer grit and determination, I could overcome my many obstacles in order to get back into training and racing. But that decision would come at a cost, and wouldn't be consistent with my current values.

Wait -- that makes it sound like I think training is morally wrong or something. That's not what I mean!! I'm talking more about how I prioritize my time. I know at times my health has suffered because I put myself last and didn't realize that taking care of myself is not selfish and in fact makes it easier to take care of everyone else. So right now I'm not talking about making myself the lowest priority again. I am trying to take care of myself, but given all of the circumstances of my life, the self-care is leaning more towards the mental/emotional/psychological/spiritual. There are a few physical aspects I'm working on too -- trying to go to bed earlier, keeping up adequate water intake, and working at recovering from past injuries.

The unfortunate irony is that working out actually helps with all the mental/emotional stuff, and I really do miss that aspect. But I have physical obstacles complicating matters, and not nearly enough hours in the day to do everything I need to be doing on a regular basis. I'm finally working again, but my commute is over an hour each way, and my volunteer responsibilities have recently increased. Since I returned to work, I've been struggling to manage my time better and I have not yet found my way.

My big picture plan right now it just to take it slow. I haven't given up on any of my fitness goals or dreams; I'm just looking at the road to achieving them as being very long. Like I mentioned above, I'm working on getting more sleep, and that is a huge underpinning for the rest of the physical stuff. When I'm exhausted all the time, I can't get anything done. And when I oversleep and start each day already running behind, not only is my productivity hindered, but my mental health suffers as well. So I'm focusing on very small goals right now and I won't move beyond them until I have them under control. The keys right now are sleep, rehabbing my formerly broken finger (which might ultimately need medical attention if I can't get it back to normal through stretches and exercises), continuing to fight the plantar fasciitis (which also might someday need medical attention for a proper diagnosis and then maybe something like physical therapy), and very gradually shifting my diet back to a little more healthy and a little less junky.

So that's where I'm at. I'm not sure if I am still entitled to call myself a triathlete, but in my mind I still am because I'm not done with this sport yet. I have a lot of race distances still to conquer, and "miles to go before I sleep." :)