When the first wave crashed into me, I’ll admit I started to panic. I’d only been swimming in the ocean for a month and a half (I’m not a Jersey-girl born and bred- I grew up in the land of lakes Midwest), and I was not used to the rough surf. My husband did not like the fact that I was swimming in the ocean (he was worried I would drown), so all I could think was “I’m going to drown and prove him right.” Then I saw the lifeguard next to me. He yelled to me to dive underneath the next wave. “You can do it,” he said. His words registered with me- he did not say I should quit. So I dived underneath the wave and then started to swim.
Several months earlier, I signed up for a sprint triathlon. A triathlon consists of a swim, bike and run. It was a pretty crazy thing for me to do. I was taking a wonderful stroller class and exercised regularly, but as I mentioned before, I had no ocean swimming experience. And I had just started running. And I hadn’t ridden a bike since before my children were born. Ok, so now that I’m writing this, I realize it really did seem crazy.
But I felt I had to do something to get out of my comfort zone. I had spent the winter before in a bit of a funk. The day-to-day of being a stay-at-home mom was beginning to get me down, and I needed a shot of something to make me feel like I was accomplishing more than getting the kids dressed for the day and buying groceries. Of course I know I was doing much more than that, but sometimes I got lost in my routine.
My husband took care of the kids on Saturday mornings so I could take a beginning running class. After 12 weeks I ran in a 5K race. In addition, I joined a gym and woke up at 4:30 in the morning to go swimming a couple of days per week. I also joined a women’s triathlon club so I could learn to swim in the ocean. Finally, with a borrowed bike, I started riding. A good friend also signed up for the triathlon and we trained together.
This may seem strange, but I believe training for this triathlon helped me to be a better mom. Allowing a little “me time” on Saturdays and before the children woke up during the week was the best thing I could have done for myself. I started to feel proud of myself again and I had much more energy. This translated to a more positive relationship with my children. I had more patience and I played with them more. And hopefully, by my example, I showed them they can accomplish anything they want to do if they try hard enough.
Finally came the day of my first triathlon. Once I got through the giant waves and started swimming, I kept the orange marker buoys in my sight and managed to get back to shore.
I ran up the beach and into the transition area to put on my running shoes and grab my bike. Once I got on the course and started riding, it occurred to me- I am doing really this – and I’m having fun! I finished the 10 mile bike ride and dropped off my bike in the transition area to begin the 5K run. My legs felt like rubber, but I slowly started running. I looked out at the ocean and reminded myself that all I needed to do was keep running.
Finally, I saw the finish line and started to run faster. And I finished.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog. Elizabeth, a New Jersey mom, signed up for two triathlons this year. She hopes to someday complete a ½ marathon and an Olympic distance triathlon.