(Travis Siehndel took the photo of me after I finished my first Ironman. I love this photo because I remember exactly what I was feeling – the enormity of having done my first Ironman & feeling sick from all of the gels etc I’d consumed on the bike!)
Almost two weeks ago, two friends of mine and I crossed the finish line of the Hartford Marathon. It was my first non-Ironman marathon, Christine’s second, and Sandra’s first.
It was a great accomplishment for all of us because we each had plenty of excuses during our months of training to derail our commitment. Like me, both Sandra and Christine have children, and needed to squeeze in their training as best they could. Christine had a mission to Haiti with resulting stomach upset, and there were the everyday excuses for all of us: kids were home sick; there was a hurricane (OK, not so normal in CT!); and Mommy Guilt over missing kids’ soccer games, hockey games, school events and an unexpected meeting or conference call. Sleep was sacrificed for the sake of keeping up with the laundry, the husband, work – and yes, training.
Shortly after finishing her marathon, Sandra collapsed into her husband’s arms. Medical personnel were summoned, and it was clear she had low blood sugar. I snapped her picture. I knew that she’d be unhappy about it, but I felt compelled to document this moment of vulnerability. . . and post it on Facebook.
Sandra responded on Facebook with something about how she was going to kill me. Sandra is a gifted athlete, an incredible mom with superhuman patience, and is gorgeous. People might think that we find it easy to get up before dawn, and leave the warmth of our homes to run the dark and chilly (or in the summer, hot and humid) streets. People think this comes naturally to all three of us. Christine, for example, does make it look easy. She places in her age group, created a 5k race that raised $20,000 for Haiti, and worked her “real job.” But this is a misperception. It’s not easy for any of us.
So when I saw Christine falter at the marathon around mile 18, and then saw Sandra being half-carried to the med tent, I felt especially proud of these women. These were moments of vulnerability, but not moments of weakness. They were evidence that we, like anyone, need to work hard to achieve our goals. We try our best to stay focused and to balance our family and work lives, and we make mistakes just like anyone else. But anyone is perfectly capable of doing what we do – of making their health and happiness a priority – if they try.