It’s become almost normal for me to get up before the kids and go off to exercise. I do it once a week, now. I plan for more, but can carry through about once. I can’t decide if it’s the new wave or if it is purely unsustainable. If I keep this up, I will soon have to go to sleep before my son. I will lose an hour a day with my husband….And yet, I keep doing it.
A year ago I couldn’t fathom that. Last summer, in fact, I was intending to go to 6:15 am boot camp classes rather than take two miserable kids to the gym with me later in the day. Instead, I let my membership lapse and never went at all. Problem solved!
What has changed? 1. (And this is huge.) The children are sleeping. Mostly. In better ways and places and for longer stretches than ever before. It took seven years for us to get here. I know some people sing a song called “Find time for you, take care of yourself first! You could get up before the kids and get your workout in!”….but these people have never had beautiful barnacles for children. Children who need you every hour of the day and night. Children for whom waking up and having their mom gone, finding out she left while they were sleeping, would be terrifying. Or maybe they do and have better problem-solving skills than I. Who knows, and now that mine sleep better and are fine if they wake and I’m not there, who cares. 2. I guess, the MS thing. Not that it actually changed anything. Except that the specter of disability and/or vision loss looms. And I fight disability with ability? Ah, yes, I suppose. Enter the triathlon thing.
So…I worried my way through a spin class this morning. It didn’t help that I know and admire the woman teaching and the woman sweating next to me. It’s energetic and exciting, but it is also new and dark and overwhelming. Usually, when I worry (panic) in a class, it hits like lightning and I either step outside to cry or catch it just in time to quit. It hasn’t happened in months, though. This spin class, worries just sort of rolled in and out, and since I was sort of stuck in that room (because the door is behind the instructor)….I just kept it, and wore the worry home and it didn’t come off in the shower.
I worried about putting pedal straps on my bike and doing that instead of getting clip-in shoes and pedals. I don’t plan on getting a new bike for the race. I’ll just use my hybrid sorta road/sorta mountain bike, but I worried about the way my gears jump from 4th to 5th unexpectedly even after a tune-up this morning. And about getting a flat tire or dropping the chain and if I need different handlebars, even though I like the ones I have and I’m not doing this for time. I started to worry about whether or not to get a wet suit for the swim. My plan was not to wear one. No claustrophobia to worry about, no hassle getting it on or off, plus cooling me down. I know, hashtag a firstworldproblem, I know.
I’m not sure how this is going to work. At about two miles of running, my feet start to sting. I can just barely make it to three before sparks start flying, it hurts so much. And that’s on a slow treadmill without an 18 mile bike first. If the water is cold (and it probably will be 60F), a wet suit could be necessary and I started thinking about how ridiculous it is to spend the first half a race trying to stay warm and the last half not trying not to overheat because your body will stop working either way. In other words, what the hell? Why would I voluntarily do this to my body when I spend the rest of my time trying not to get into either too hot or too cold conditions.
This is dumb. Doing a triathlon is dumb.
Also, training is hella hard and I haven’t figured out how to do it without crashing and burning. Because I was worried and tired all day. Because I ate a giant anxiety muffin this afternoon (it’s the flavor you get when you are anxious but you can’t go for a run or do some yoga or meditate or do anything other than the grocery shopping you need to do because you already biked too far today AND, uh, you’re a responsible adult.) Because I bent down to look at something in the grocery store and stayed there for a while because my legs were too tired to stand back up.
In the middle of my anxiety muffin, I remembered why I signed up in the first place: Be
cause someone cool suggested it and I said “sure!” without thinking it through….To give me options while being healthy. To do something good and active every day, but with a rotation of things so I didn’t get injured. To get and stay strong(er). To have a handful of different ways to keep moving if (when) I did get injured. To have something better to think about. To have stress-relief built in. To make sure that stupid printout after every visit from the neurologist doesn’t have shameful BMI numbers. Because once, I enjoyed running. Because once, I loved biking the back roads around my home. Because I’ve always wanted to be a mermaid, or, er..comfortable in the water, I mean.
AND. My husband supports me. Even if I quit. Even if I let myself go like we joked about after we got married. Even if I do the race. Sassy California friend is doing a 5k and is training and posting gorgeous, smug selfies and it makes me so proud. We’ll run 5ks “together” next weekend 2,000 miles apart. Madison friends have stepped up and offered to run the 5k with me. As slow as I need. Other bootcampers I know have created a very helpful online group where some of us talk about our open water fears (me, and in order it is: lake monsters, dead bodies, weeds touching me, being cold, being wet, drowning, and lastly being really slow) and some of us post links to coaches and have helpful advice and calming words (everyone else).
Some days I worry. And some days I think about braver days and the good people in my life. And then I go to bed early and save the declarations for tomorrow because nothing good happens after nine at night if you get up at five in the morning.