I train to race. I race to move forward. Its that simple.
Life went sideways the day Kristi was diagnosed. A sideways life is out of sync. It requires WAY more effort to simply complete each day than synchronization did. After eighteen years of marriage we had our processes figured out. We moved in synchronization. Our processes and methods may not have been the most efficient and certainly not the best, but they were ingrained, they were habitual (in the best use of that word). Two parents, two mates, two lives working as one, raising four more made a lot of forward progress.
But then there was just one. One trying to survive. One trying to keep all the old processes in motion but finding out that one cannot do what two did. One trying to keep the other going. But one ending up just trying to make it to the end of each day. One trying to keep hope alive in the other four. One trying to keep hope alive in himself. And then hope died.
One found himself adrift, floating sideways. But there was a race coming for the one. Because there was a race, one got up before the dawn to run and swim and bike. When the gun went off, one found he was racing, not to survive, but to thrive. The reality of the forward movement captured the spirit of one and rekindled hope that life could be synchronized again. Each finish line was more than just the completion of a race. It signified forward momentum.
The race demands the focus of the one be kept looking forward, to live in expectation of growth and new achievement. The race instills discipline in the one to rise and train. And one has found that in the rising, in the training, in the racing, life moves forward, not sideways. Forward movement provided a rebirth of hope. And hope does not disappoint.
I race to move forward.
I thought I knew what Kristi did as a mom. Right. Now that I have been both dad AND mom for close to two years, reality has become clear. Its a ton of work. It takes everything I have. And it keeps on taking. I love it and am glad to do it, but…wow!
So on this Mother’s Day, I’m thankful for all the years my children had an amazing, capable, loving, talented, giving, tough, hard-working, thoughtful, patient and never-give-up mom. On the way to church I asked them to recount memories they had and we got some good stories.
Coming home, after lunch out with my mom and dad, everyone was in good spirits. The start of summer break has definitely improved the mood around the house. So for a short time this afternoon, I put aside the motherly worries and the fatherly concerns and just enjoyed their banter.
Later this afternoon my stomach tried to revolt on me so I spent several hours sitting in bed. I kept getting cautious knocks on the door and reticent peeks to make sure that dad/mom was ok. By late evening the nausea had passed, thankfully without anything to show for the misery, and this dad/mom was able to tuck each child in bed, pray with them and send them off to peaceful sleep.
Somebody asked me in the past week how I do it. How do I keep up with life and four children and all the activities. If I look at the whole picture, it quickly gets overwhelming. So I take it one step at a time. Its just like a long endurance race. You can’t look at a 5 hr and 45 minute race as a whole. You have to break it down: 33 minutes for swimming. Then a 3 hr bike ride. Then a two hour, 13.1 mile run, checking the pace each mile and focusing on each step, knowing that for every step taken, you’re one step closer to the end. You do what’s at hand, trusting the Father above for the strength to continue and to do it to the best of your abilities. And oh yeah… a huge shout-out to all those moms in our life who bring the touch and presence of a real mother for my children. It adds immeasurably to this dad/mom’s efforts. You’re the best!
My quads are sore! That was the predominant thought on my mind as my feet hit the floor at 5AM yesterday morning. It was time for my post-race recovery run. I was headed to run with the tri group. I knew I needed to do it, but it sure didn’t sound fun. My legs were sore after all from the general thrashing I gave them on Saturday during the race. Its just a recovery run I thought. No biggie. Not much to learn here. Hobble through, move on.
As we started off at a very easy pace I figured we would go for 15-20 minutes and turn around for an easy 3 to maybe 3.5 miles. Left to my own devices I would have put in two miles and called it good. But each of us had raced 70.3 miles over the weekend and we had stories to share. Trotting along at a slow gate, our breath was easy and we chatted it up. Next thing I knew it was time to turn around.
“Wait, we’re at the low water crossing?! This is 2.5 miles in. That means a five mile recovery run! I’m gonna pay for this!” We had gone much farther than I expected. I actually felt good. The longer I ran, the better I felt.
I woke up this morning and my quads were almost entirely pain free. Wow! It worked! The five miles actually paid off; they didn’t cost me!
Three years into endurance sports and I’m still learning, still growing. I’ll tuck this nugget of experience away for future post-race and heavy training session recovery. Go a little farther than you think you need. Do it with friends if possible.
Sounds like grief recovery too! The emotions and body are often frayed and worn down after a significant loss. There will be a recovery period. There needs to be a recovery period. The pace needs to be slower, and it probably needs to go longer than you thought. But you’ll survive. Yes, its painful to work those exposed nerves and broken hearts, that’s why you need a friend along for support, but there’s healing on the other side.
Its a choice. How you live each day is a choice. You don’t have to work on those broken and injured spots. But if you just bury the pain, it can’t ever come out and leave you free to live and thrive again.
Yeah, it was just a recovery run. Right.