The swim leg of a triathlon was always the most challenging-- both physically and mentally. Finding your stride amidst kicking legs, trying to find the buoys past the endless sea of swim caps, not being intimidated by seeing the course laid out entirely before you. Confidence has always been a fleeting companion of mine; I've often (longingly so) wanted to be a girl who exudes confidence and an outgoing personality. Several years ago, freshly divorced and completely scattered, confidence was elusive. And quite by accident, something saved me. Training for triathlons was more than just a physical endeavor, I was emotionally and mentally challenged: to believe in myself, to push through pain and discouragement. The journey from having to hold my nose underwater, to swimming more than a half mile in open water required patience and courage. During this tumultuous time in my life, I found a strength I didn't know I had, and it drove me. On the other side, I found myself more confident, more courageous, and more proud than I had ever been before.
Here I am in September 2007 at the Sandman Triathlon:
Here I am in May 2008. I was the fittest I've ever been:
I look longingly at pictures like these.
And now, here I am. My life is much different now-- I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful new family. I have a beautiful, newborn daughter who delights me to no end. But what is sometimes lost during pregnancy and the months that follow is a sense of self. Pregnancy is preoccupying. Consuming. I told Husband recently, I miss me. I miss who I was. And right now, I'm frustrated with having to work so hard again at getting me back.
Admittedly, this wasn't an overnight change nor was it a nine month change, either. The total life altering experience of a new baby simply enhances it, makes it more palpable. And now, after nine months of pregnancy, I feel sluggish. I feel frustrated with having to lose baby weight. Again. Especially stubborn, I'm in my thirties and breastfeeding baby weight. The confidence that I worked so hard to grasp has dwindled-- I see the swim course before me, and sometimes it feels overwhelming. Despite the fact that I know confidence isn't only found in physical qualities-- whether it's the size of clothes or the speed of a 5k-- I feel like the person I was is lost and in her place is someone who can barely run a mile and doesn't have time to fix her hair. Sometimes I can't find the buoy amidst the swim caps.
And I know feeling all of this is completely normal. I wouldn't trade anything I have now to escape it.
So where does it leave me? Once again, on a quest to drop weight. Once again, on a quest to run for ten minutes without having to stop to breathe and recover. Once again, on a quest to remember that the dust will settle, and I will feel normal again. I can draw on the strength I found in training and remember to breathe and calmly find the buoy. To see that life has already begun to groove with this new brown baby of ours. We are all finding our stride, and through patience and perseverance, a new me will emerge, strong and confident. Especially with the help of my little running partner.