It was just another Monday.  Three hours to get 5 people out the door.  Three hours of snapping at Koa for being a kid and taking her time to do kid things.  Three hours of not getting to spend any quality time with my babies.  Three hours of, at times, literally, running around the house from one task to the next….of babies crying…of the dog whining…of telling Koa, “No, I don’t have time to read that book to you now.  We’re late, hurry up and get dressed.”  Three hours of not talking to my husband beyond barking instructions to him.

Three hours of running, intense effort and frustration and we were still driving to work and school late.

The evening is the same, only in reverse.  Three hours from the time I race to school to pick up the kids to get them home, dinner made, rushed to bath, quick kiss, goodnight.  After fighting the bedtime battle, Ryan and I have just enough time to race downstairs, clean up the mess that results from feeding three kids under three their dinner and crash into bed.

Just another day.

There was nothing particularly bad about this day.  It is just our life.

Except on this particular Monday, about a month ago, Ryan and I dropped the kids off at school and got back in the car.  I was already disgruntled, drained and annoyed with the day and I just blurted out, “what if I just stayed at home with the kids?”  Ryan’s response indicated that he’d been pondering the same thing.

What followed was a downpour of emotions, brainstorming, envisioning and scenario-running that made us realize that we were not living our ideal lives.  I was not being the Mom I wanted to be or the wife I wanted to be or the person I wanted to be.  My actions were not in alignment with my values.

In the space of just a few hours, Ryan and I decided that it would be the best thing for me to stay home with the kids for a few years.

“I could never be a stay at home mom.”  I swear I have said that 100 times in the last few years.  I, mostly subconsciously, associated that with somehow compromising my own worth.  The most interesting thing happened, though, after deciding to make this huge transition.  I have felt more empowered than I have felt in these last several months of trying to make everything work.  I feel stronger than I have felt in a while.  I believe it’s because this decision makes me authentic to who I want to be.  True, I want to have a successful career.  That used to be all that I wanted.  But,that’s not the case anymore.  For me, for now, all I want to do is be a stay at home mom to these three babies.  I want to have more time to spend with Ryan aside from just being teammates focused on simply surviving the day.  I want to live a more present, less reactive, more purposeful life.

I am so grateful that I have fostered and grown our business for the last 13 years and allowed me to make this decision.  I recognize that I am fortunate to have this opportunity.  I can still see a small handful of clients throughout the year, keep my licenses active and my mind sharp.  I can still have a voice in the strategic vision and development of our company, but in a more consultative way.  I can take these next few years and still be present in the direction of our company, but not be a part of day to day operations.  We have a great team in place and I am supremely confident with their ability to run a first class financial services practice.  I am so happy that I stuck it out in the early, difficult stages of building this business to allow me this flexibility.

So, this week is my last week in the office.  It’s the kids last week of daycare.  It’s the beginning of my next big exciting journey.  I know it will be exhausting and trying and that there will be a transition period, but I’m so relieved.

I’ve tried to start explaining the process to Koa in the last few weeks.  This morning as we were doing our normal Monday rush around she asked me, “Mommy, are we going to go on adventures?”

Yes, we are, my love.  Yes we are.


Retraining the brain

Since getting into triathlon, I’ve been an all or nothing person.  I either do a workout ferociously and fully or I don’t do it at all.  That works out when you have time to devote to it.  It’s not so good when you’re so tired your bones hurt and you have three little ones constantly needing something.  Prior to kids I fell on the “all” swing of the pendulum.  Post twins, I find myself hitting the “none” more often than not.  If I didn’t have time for my entire scheduled 90 minute ride, I’d opt for moping at home, lamenting how I couldn’t get my shit together enough to get in a workout.

Each freshly missed workout was a new stick to beat myself with.

After a mediocre race in May, I decided to take a different tactic.

For June I made a few changes.

I created monthly goals instead of getting wrapped around the day to day.

50 miles Running and 100 miles riding.  That was my goal.  However it got done was fine by me.  With a day to day training plan, each new day dawns as it’s own triumph or victory.  If I hit a workout, I’d feel great.  If I bailed because I was too tired or just too pressed for time, I’d mentally whip myself.  Instead of building me up, I found I was using it as a tool to tear myself down.  With a monthly goal I was able to give myself the grace to have a bad day without feeling like I was failing.    If I was feeling good, I’d run a bit longer.  If I had been up 8 times through the night with the babies, I’d skip the day and not feel bad about it.  There was no failure.

I scaled back my effort

Instead of chasing goal paces that were probably ahead of my current level of fitness, I forgot about pace and just ran for the love of it. I ran slow.  I stopped to check out an interesting flower I’d never seen before.  I ran through the woods and enjoyed the sound of my footfall on the loose gravel (is there a better sound?).  I forgot my Garmin at home.  I got back to why I started running in the first place.  I renewed my love with the zen physicality of being active.

I embraced how fitness now fits into my crazy, never stopping, baby-filled life

Gone, or, at least, more rare, are the days where I have time to head out for a designated workout.  Instead, my month’s workouts include a tempo ride on my mountain bike while pulling Koa in the trailer, a sprint with the babies in the double jogger to get them to school in time for breakfast, a ride to the car shop to pick up the Jeep, a ride to and from the pool to meet Ryan and the kiddos, a 20 minute run because it’s just all I had time for before dinner.  It’s amazing the miles you can rack up just living your life.

129 biking miles and 58 running miles later, June is over.  I’m happy to have reached the June goal.  I feel better than I’ve felt in a while.  I’m learning that thing I’ve had to train the most, is my mind.

Coming up next:

  • August 16th: IronGirl Columbia sprint triathlon.
  • …and hopefully a full nights sleep (unlikely)

bike mileage run mileageIMG_20150610_184635

Vision turned nightmare: the prologue of the world’s most epic race report

Way before I became a mom. Heck, way before I was even pregnant, I had this vision. In it, I imagined myself victoriously crossing the finish line at Eagleman. Ryan and our little girl would be there waiting for me. I further imagined standing on the podium on a brilliantly sunny and hot Cambridge day and accepting my Kona spot.

Fast forward to reality, training had gone no where near as well as I had planned. I probably hit less than 50% of my scheduled workouts. It’s been extremely tough trying to find the balance of training, still nursing Koa, spending time with my family and work. Still, I had no real regrets. If I had to to it all over again, I’d have done it the same way. The time I’ve spent with Koa and Ryan in these first months of her life have been the happiest of my life.

I knew it would take a monumental effort to put up a Kona qualifying time at Eagleman and I knew I just wasn’t interested or prepared to do that this year. The goal became Vegas. I wanted to head to the September Vegas 70.3 championships. Further, I wanted to be there with Dina, a good friend who had a qualifying race the week before Eagleman. It’s something we’ve talked about repeatedly through the last months of training.

I saw even that dream start to crumble in the weeks leading up to my race. Between travel and work, my training become even more sporadic. I was feeling woefully unprepared for Eagleman. This is a completely unknown feeling to me. I pride myself on my preparation, both in training and in developing my race plan.

Then, the week before Eagleman, while participating in the Reston Sprint Triathlon my calf completely seized up. Honestly, I thought I had torn it. In an instant I went from running at a strong pace to hobbling to the finish. I knew it was pretty bad. I was pretty sure I wasn’t even going to be able to start at Eagleman in a week. I talked to Ryan about cancelling our plans to make the trip.

I stayed off it until Thursday when I rode. Even riding, it was hurting me. I still couldn’t walk without a limp. I was worried. Still, there was enough daily improvement that I thought I could try to start.

At the same time, the next round of Daycare Baby Plague started to take victims in our house. Koa had a mild fever on Thursday and I was hoping I would be spared, but I could feel the internal war in process. Things weren’t looking good.

We left for Cambridge on Friday. It took us 5 hours to make a 3 hour trip. It poured. Traffic was stopped. Koa screamed.

I was sore. I was hobbling. I was feeling sick. I was tired. I was defeated. I arrived in Cambridge feeling completely hopeless.

Then, an Angel was delivered to me. Through the strangest of circumstances, Sister Madonna Buder was staying in the garage apartment of the house that Team FeXY had rented. She is a legend in the sport. At 83 years old she is still competing in long distance triathlons. She was here at Eagleman to punch her ticket to Kona.

On a rainy Saturday afternoon I headed out to do the short bike and run that I usually do the day before the race. The ride felt okay, but I stopped 1.5 minutes into the 10 minute run. The calf was terrible. It was the first time I had run on it since feeling it shut down the weekend prior. I couldn’t even run the length of the block. I stopped and turned around for the short walk back to the house. The rain matched my mood. There was no way I was going to be able to keep it together for a half marathon in less than 24 hours. No way. I knew a DNF was in my future.

Dejected, I went back into the house, changed into my bathing suit and headed out by myself to the hot tub. When I got there, Sister Madonna was also there. We talked about the challenges of both of our seasons. We shared stories about not being able to hit our training goals….and then, we talked about how the greatest part of the sport wasn’t succeeding on your good days. It is perservering on your bad ones that counts. I knew then, that if I had to walk to the whole half marathon, I would.

My tests would keep coming, though. I laid down with Koa to take a nap later in the day. When I woke up I felt like my body had thrown in the towel against the Daycare Plague. I had felt okay when I went to sleep, but when I opened my eyes, I suddenly felt feverish. Seriously? This just wasn’t meant to be. I cannot deal with all of this, I thought. I can not deal. Maybe I could have dealt with the calf. Maybe I could have dealt with an illness but, I cannot deal with both. I just give up.

I completely shut down. I told Ryan I wanted to pack up the car and head home. I officially give up. This was just not meant to be. I sat and stared at my transition bag willing myself to pack it but, my brain just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t think straight. I was in the darkest place I have ever been in triathlon.

Ryan stepped in as I sat there staring blankly at my mess of triathlon gear. He packed my bag. He filled my bottles with race day nutrition.

I threw in the towel and went to bed. I laid in bed with the chills and was confident that I was not starting the race the next day. Most alarmingly, I didn’t care. I didn’t care about triathlon or this race or my goals. I just didn’t care. I was sick of fighting and I was ready to go home.

That night, Koa barely slept. She had been sleeping through the night pretty consistently for weeks. This night, though, she was up at 10:30pm and again at 12:30am. Finally, I brought her into bed with me. When we both woke up again at 2:30am, we were covered in sweat and laying in a puddle. It appeared my fever had broken.

The alarm went off at 4:30am. I was feeling okay, but I was covered in sweat, exhausted from not sleeping, confident my calf was going to buckle the second I started to run and in no mood to race.

I have never gone into a race so dejected. This is not at all how the vision had gone. This was not, at all, how this day was supposed to look.

Working on Happy

Over a year ago, I bought this e-book called Better Each Day by Jessica Cassity. It’s a compilation of 365 best practices for living a happy life. I had completely forgotten about it until a few weeks ago when I was cleaning out my e-library. I decided then that my impending birthday would be a great day to start reading it. That day dawned today. I made a mental note to crack it open tonight.

In the meantime, though, I had a great, great day. I didn’t do anything flashy or extravagant. I just spent time with my family. Every year I love going to Barrel Oak winery on my birthday. I love it because they are dog friendly, so I can truly spend my special day with my whole family. Ryan had packed a picnic. Roo made friends with the house Labrador. Koa sat staring at the puppies and playing with her toys and Ryan and I sipped wine, all while overlooking the gorgeous Blue Ridge mountains. As I sat there, looking at my family and the rest of my surroundings I just felt overwhelmed by how fortunate I felt.

At times like this I frequently wonder, am i grateful because of the life i lead or does my life just feel blessed because I find reasons to be grateful? Which is the cause and which is the effect?

Fast forward to this evening, I remembered that I wanted to start reading Better Each Day. I read the first lesson and it, eerily, addressed the very same issue I had been pondering all day.

How do you become the master of your own happiness? What would make you happy? Have you ever said, I would be happy if only ________? Have you just waited for that thing, that silver bullet, to come along to magically make you content with your life? I know there have been periods of time when I have hoped and wished for that silver bullet to solve my discontent. It never came.

Cassity’s book goes on to reference another book, The How of Happiness: A Scientific Approach to Getting the Life You Want, by Sonja Lyubomirsky. It describes a situation in which only 10% of a persons happiness can be attributed to their circumstances in life, 50% is caused by their genetic proclivity and 40% is impacted by their individual actions and responsiveness to their surroundings.

Forty percent is a lot. So, to answer my musings from earlier, it is likely that I feel happy because I honed an individual ability to look for things to be grateful for. I’ll share with you, this hasn’t always been the case. For many years I struggled with an underlying feeling of depression. For a few years I actually took medication for it. I thought, at the time, that it would be something I would always need medication for. I was wrong. It’s been several years since I have taken pills to help my mood. So, I am left to ponder, what has changed?

Cassity suggests that you make a list of activities that give you energy and make you feel positive and turn to them when you are feeling down. I would take that suggestion a step further. Each activity that you partake in impacts your mood, either positive or negative. Look for patterns. Some things make us feel really good. Maybe for you it’s volunteerism, running or spending time decluttering your home.
On the other side of the coin, some things make us feel drained and regretful. Maybe it’s spending too much time attached to your technology or dealing with particular group that is no longer fulfilling. People are the same way. Some energize you. Some are energy suckers.

Make a list of these people and activities. One column should read, “I feel energized and good about myself when I………..”. Just write. See what comes out of you. You might be surprised. Then, do the opposite. “I feel bad about myself when I……”. From there it’s simple. Do more of the former and less of the latter.

What is simple, though, it not necessarily what is easy. This will take some time. It might take some heartache and pain to start eliminating your energy suckers. It might take some deep soul-searching. I know it has for me. It is an ongoing process. I will never be done.

I write this all as a reminder to myself to do this same thing. I have thought of these energy suckers and givers before, but I have never made a formal list. Never was there a better time for us to start. Together.

So, as I sit here thinking about this I am questioning, what has changed? Why did I once think I was destined to be tied to antidepressants, but now I have no problem weathering the ups and downs and feeling gratitude. For me, I think the correlation is triathlon. Triathlon has given me a way to channel my energy into something positive. It truly has changed the way I think of myself and my world. I am fortunate to have found it.

Your energy giver might not be triathlon, but whatever it is, spend time and energy finding it. Make your lists. Do more of the stuff that makes you feel truly good about yourself and less of the bad. Surround yourself with people who enable you to be happy.

Let go of your energy suckers. This doesn’t make you a quitter. It just means that you are well on your way to being a healthier, happier, more genuine you.

Unexpected reminders

What’s happened in Boston this week has defied explanation and reason.  The images that came out of the city were horrific.  Through the uncertainty there is one thing that is clear, we are runners and we will prevail.  One act of cowardice, will not keep us down or afraid to take our next steps.  If anything, it has made us more resolute.

There is one image from Boston, though, that has stayed in my mind above all.  This picture has stayed with me since first seeing it on Monday and it has given me hope and happiness during a time when there seems like there should be none. 

It’s taken on Saturday, in the calm days before the marathon at the race expo.  A friend and amazing Momthlete, Margaret, was in Boston to run the marathon.  Her husband and three kids were there with her to cheer her on.  In the picture were Margaret’s two young daughters each holding their own autographed poster featuring Shalane Flanagan and Kara Goucher and these girls were beaming.  In the poster, Shalane and Kara are standing, strong and proud, with a quote printed that reads, “We train together to make each other great.”

At once, I felt moved by so many things in this photo.

I love how happy these girls looked.  They looked completely starstruck by the experience….and it wasn’t from meeting a member of the latest boy band or from getting the autograph of the hottest Hollywood starlet.  It was from meeting their running icons, strong, fast, successful female runners.  It’s just so refreshing to see young women idolizing women who are actually worthy of their respect. 

I was also completely struck by the quote.  “We train together to make each other great.”  It’s so moving to me.  I have found that women in triathlon, especially, can be very catty with each other and immediately suspicious and hostile to other women who they view as competitive.  I am not proud, but I have fallen into this same trap myself.

I know I’ve said, mostly joking, “who is that Bitch?”, when I’ve seen another fast woman on the trail riding or at a trainer session.  I have seen friendships tested and broken under the pressure of competitiveness.  And this is just among weekend warriors.  The most I could possibly gain from a great triathlon performance is a glamorous No Expenses Paid trip to Hawaii or Vegas.  On the flip side, here are two women whose livelihoods are at stake, where the difference between 1st and 2nd place is $75,000.  Yet, they still realize that by training together, pushing each other, supporting each other, their own chances of winning and being successful are greater. 

It’s just a great reminder of how it’s possible to conduct yourself.  It’s a reminder that being competitive and being supportive of other women are not mutually exclusive characteristics.  This lesson goes well beyond running as well.  It can be applied to business, to running, to politics, virtually every facet of life. 

It’s a reminder to learn to be successful because of each other, not at the expense of each other.

Nice days and questionable decisions

Yesterday the workout gods and the weather gods cooperated with me.  I had an easy paced run on my schedule and the weather was the perfect introduction to spring.  It was the ideal combination for taking my sidekick out with me in the jogging stroller.  She had been feeling under the weather and running a fever for a few days, but I thought the nice day and fresh air would be good for us both.

I was supposed to run 11 miles, which I had never come close to with the stroller, but I thought it would be okay since the pace was easy.

8 miles, as it turns out, is the limit of both of our comfort levels with the stroller.  For my part, it was one of those days where you actually catch a headwind both ways.  Which, is especially fun with a parachute of a jogging stroller.

As for her,  I didn’t hear a peep out of her until the 8 mile mark and even after she was only mildly grumbling here and there.  Now, to be fair, at some point along our adventure she had crapped her pants.  Which is strange, because I nearly did as well.  This probably had to do with both of our 8 mile expirations.  But, we made it the full 11 miles without incident.

The run was not without entertainment.  I passed a few burly male landscapers doing some work on a house.  I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they were listening to the radio and it was the luck of the draw, but when I passed them it was timed perfectly with them working along to the chorus of Whitney Houston’s,  I’m Every Woman.  Yes, yes you are Mr. Landscaper.

At any rate, it was a great run and I’m glad I had her with me.  I feel so much less lonely when I’m running with her.  Like she really is my little running partner.

We met up with Ryan for our last mile.  He pushed her briefly and it was amazing how much easier my running felt.  Having her with me is good for both of us, I think.  She loves riding along and I’m getting the benefit of adding some resistance to my runs.  We’ll both be better for it.

The Sidekick and I post run.
This baby’s recovery fueled by First Endurance Ultragen. (She did not actually drink any. Please don’t call CPS.)

I’m glad we are both enjoying our runs together now because I am registered for the Marine Corps Marathon in the fall.  I’d like to train for a nice, fast race.  It will be nice to be able to bring her along for some of the easy training. 

And as long as I’m registered for the Marine Corps, I figured what the hell, let’s just get crazy.  So, just today I mailed off an application for the JFK 50 ultra marathon.  Did you ever have one of those seasons that just spiraled out of control?  Like, okay, I’m registered for a half ironman.  I’ll have a nice base of fitness, let me register for a marathon.  Well, as long as I’m registered for a marathon, I may as well do a 50 miler a few weeks after that.  Before you know it, your nice easy fall has turned into quite the adventure.  Yeh, that kind of happened to me.  Three weeks ago I didn’t have anything on my fall schedule.  Now, I have a marathon and, hopefully, an ultra.  JFK is tough to get into, so I won’t know if I made it in for a week or so, but keep your fingers crossed for me…..I think.

I suffer from the worst case of sport amnesia.  I’ve done a 50 miler before.  I’m pretty sure as I was crossing the finish line in part shuffle, part crawl I made Ryan promise me that he’d never let me register for another one again.  Yet, somehow, now all I remember is that it was a nice jog through the woods that involved unicorns drinking out of a babbling brook.  Oh well.  It’s this same amnesia, I guess, that makes women want more kids.

The best thing about JFK is that it is the weekend before Thanksgiving.  I am already planning on how much stuffing I get to cram in my pie hole, guilt free.  The table won’t be able to hold it all. 

We better get a trough.

The lucky JFK envelope?  I'm committed now.  Let's hope I get in.
The lucky JFK envelope? I’m committed now. Let’s hope I get in.


I have spent the last few years of my life idolizing women who I see balancing the role of Mom and Athlete. Moms with young kiddos who train for Ironman. Moms who are holding their kids while accepting an award at the podium. Moms who I see out crushing a run while their little one rides their bike just ahead of them on the trail. These women have been my heroes. I’ve observed them with admiration, respect and awe. I’ve dreamt of being just like them, of being able to return to being the athlete that I was while also being a mom. A good mom.

As the weather turns nicer now and I’ve started taking my workouts outside, it’s been so strange to see myself tiptoeing into the role of Momthlete. I’ve daydreamed about it for so many years that i find it so strange to be standing squarely in it. At times, I feel like I’m an actor auditioning for the role of Momthlete. There’s a part of it that just seems so foreign to me. I remember what I felt like as an athlete, before becoming pregnant. During these winter and spring months, since Koa was born I’ve grown into my role as Mom. But, as the racing season starts, I’m just learning what these two positions feel like together….and I have loved it.  I love everything about being a Momthlete.

I love the juxtaposition of the roles, the hard and the soft. I love the aggression of pushing through the pain of the last few miles of a half marathon, feeling my muscles strain and the pounding of my breathing in my chest and then getting to the finish line and immediately thinking of my girl and feeling gentle again. I love dropping into aero and hammering a stretch of road, feeling strong, and then coming home to her and spending the afternoon holding her, nursing and watching her breath as she naps. Mostly, though, i just love coming home to her. I love feeling good about a workout, muscles burning, and then walking in the door to my daughter.  I have experienced nothing in my life more fulfilling.

She has made me a better person already. Because of the softness that she’s created in me, I feel more balanced than I ever used to feel. I can be aggressive when I need to be aggressive and then come home to her, bury my face in her soft, little neck, breathe her in and feel centered and calm again.

Remind me of this all, please, when she learns to say the word, “No”.

Enjoying a post-long ride nap with my sidekick.