It was Thanksgiving in America over the weekend (I guess, because Instagram was filled with pictures of Turkeys and pumpkin pies and people with smiling faces)
So I am naming this post Thanksgiving because I have something special to be thankful for, and I don’t mind jumping on an American holiday with a fantastic name. In fact, I think we should consider renaming Christmas Eve (not Christmas Day, don’t panic) to Hopegiving. Or New Years Eve to Startafreshgiving.
When I started this triathlon journey only a couple of months ago, I knew that finishing a triathlon was an impossibility for me. I knew I would have to change physically and mentally to withstand the requirements of a proper triathlon, which I will be doing in October next year (please note that I keep thinking it is November next year and I have been saying that aloud to lots of people, but that is just some bizarre internal wishful thinking and I apologise for misleading you – the Noosa Traithlon is definitely in October 2016)
To say ‘triathlon is impossible’ was true for me – I could not swim, I did not own a bike, and I could not run. I thought I was starting from scratch, but I have slowly come to realise that I did have some advantages behind me that would help me towards making it all ‘un-impossible’. Like my weight-lifting, which I wrote about yesterday. And my champion eating skills, which I will write about tomorrow. And my family, which I am thankful for today.
Firstly, of course, there is the crazy Grandpa who already seems to be under the impression that I am an Elite Triathlete who should be flying to Hawaii for the world championships next year. He is my most vocal supporter behind Matilda the Dog and his gifts of a new helmet and new cycling shorts will make a huge difference to my training and, in turn, my performance on race days.
There is my sister, who yelled at me through typeface to start this self-indulgent blog in the first place. It has been more helpful than she would probably realise, to know that I have somewhere to share my progress and release my silly thoughts. It’s like a diary, but one that keeps me accountable.
And of course, there is my mum. How has my mum helped me with triathlon though?
I’ve already written that my mum was a serious runner when we were little. She was a better runner than I will ever be; absolutely none of her talent made its way down to me in the gene pool unfortunately. After I finally figured out how to run without pain a few weeks ago (after I had been complaining about it on and off for over 7 years) mum called me on the phone and said she was a bit embarrassed she hadn’t thought to give me those tips herself. Because she was well aware of all of the tricks I am now using to keep knee pain at bay.
So it’s not the inheritance of her athletic ability that will help me with triathlon, nor her wise words of wisdom and pearls of knowledge about running. No.
It is simply the incredible example she set for me.
She is just my mum, not superwoman; she fed, clothed and loved me. Naturally, I loved and admired her back. And… I watched her, when she put her running shoes on. I heard her stopwatch beep when she pressed the start button. I listened to her conversations with Dad about what time she had run that day’s 10km in. I saw her buying running shorts when we went to the shops. I waited at Nanny’s while she dedicated some time to her daily run. I was a little girl soaking every bit of it in.
Some memories stick out to me more than others, like when she was training for a ‘cross-country’ – aka trail run – and the only place to practice whilst wearing her spiked shoes was the local park, so she ran round and round the park in the same circle dozens and dozens of times (to reach 20km) every day for weeks on end until there was literally a small ditch around the perimeter of the field, where her feet had worn away the dirt.
I was a witness to that crazy dedication, and it seemed wonderful to me. I was so proud. I have always looked up to my mum so much.
So because of my mum, I grew up believing that being sporty and healthy is totally cool. That putting time aside for fitness is valuable. Thanks to mum, I think it is normal to get disgustingly sweaty and smelly for fun. And I think going to a running race on a Sunday is a pleasant thing to do.
Mum demonstrated to me hundreds of times that being out of breath didn’t mean the breath was gone forever. She showed me that the pain only lasts a little while, but the pride lasts a long while. She was the embodiment of consistency and commitment to training, so I knew exactly what I was aiming for when I began to try and emulate the same thing with my triathlon training.
I don’t know if she meant to show me all those things, or whether she knew what she was doing for her children. Intended or not, I grew up learning that fitness is a good thing, and that training is a way of life whether you are an athlete or a short little lady with two children. My mum showed me that sport, fitness and health actually translates to strength, pride and happiness.
Day in, day out, for years my mum proved that life has no limits, and things are only impossible until you do them. Today I have no doubt that this knowledge will be the biggest strength I take into my triathlons, and I am thankful for it.
I don’t have children and I may never have them, so I don’t really know how I’d fit everything in, or what sport I would choose if I were a mum looking to inspire her children into a healthy lifestyle. But I’d like to think I’d try something. Because I couldn’t tell you how many medals my mum won in her running races, but I remember her always trying. That is the example she set me. It’s not her winning or success that has changed my life, it is her effort and dedication; the healthy life she shared with me. So thank you mum… I hope I will make you proud.