Quite a few months ago, I wrote about how I registered for my first Iron Man 70.3 race. I was stoked to start training for this new challenge and exploring the boundaries of my fitness beyond running.
Now, some 2 months before the event´s starting date, I will have to accept that I will not start nor finish my first Iron Man 70.3 this year. This is a tough feat to acknowledge but I am not near fit enough to pull it off and here is why..
One wise man once compared our lives to houses. When one or two foundation pillars are slightly shaky, the other ones will hold up the structure of the house, but if two or more pillars start to really wobble, the foundation of the house will come down.
And my house came crashing down earlier this year. It started with my pillar “family”:
About a year ago, with a 9 month old son at home and a few months into a new, challenging fulltime job after maternity leave, my husband ruptured his biceps. Not only is my husband an impossible patient to look after, with one arm he wasn’t allowed to drive, couldn’t tie his shoelaces, couldn’t cut his food and he couldn’t physically lift our son in or out of his cot, get him dressed or change his diaper. You get the picture. This lasted for some 8 weeks. Leaving them alone in the house was a little difficult and this severely impacted my ability to exercise when off work and generally find some work/life balance.
And then came the shakiness of the “work” pillar:
A few times during my husband´s recovery, I had to travel for work and had to catch an early plane. So I got the baby ready at 5 am, carried him down 4 flights of stairs and put him in his pram. My husband would then push him around the block with his “good arm” until he could bring him to daycare at 7 am. We have a wonderful babysitter who would pick him up in the evenings and put him in his cot to sleep, which my husband couldn’t do either.
With that kind of investment into work, I seriously started to question the satisfaction I got out of my job. The work wasn´t challenging, the environment less than stimulating too. But the additional home workload really drove that point home.
This all led to a wobbling “social and friends” pillar:
Between my husband’s injury, our little one and my job, it was pretty stressful getting on with life in general. I internalized that stress, feeling that I should be able to cope by myself. Internalizing the stress meant that many people I thought were my friends, started dropping away too. I get it, I hardly had time at all and was feeling pretty down, so I wasn´t that convenient (nor fun) to hang out with anymore. “Friends” stopped contacting me or would walk or cycle right past me, their interaction reduced to a mere “hey” or “hello”. This was a tough one to deal with, as it was really disappointing to find out that the people I thought were friends, were actually just acquaintances for convenience.
And then finally, the “sports” pillar was the last one to start becoming undone, bringing down the house with it.
Exercising is a definite mood lifter for me. Where I can recharge, straighten my thoughts, and gain positive energy. And with my husband doing better, I decided to set myself an ambitious goal to exercise towards (the IM70.3). My mental strength had suffered a little between work, loss of perceived friendships and having to give up on a few personal goals, but I was confident I could build that up again. Unfortunately, the shaky pillars caused more stress than I had realised and that started to affect my body too. I began developing skin reactions, which left large open wounds on my hands and feet, making it impossible to run and bike, let alone swim in chlorinated water. And thus the structure came down…
“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.”
My house falling down was a tough life lesson to learn. This is a life lesson though, that I am now extremely happy to have learned. It made me a little harder, definitely stronger and was a catalyst for change. Currently, as a family we are facing a lot of changes but I have been the happiest I have been in years, feeling my stress reduce by being a happier mom and wife. With the knowledge that I can now provide my family an actual stimulating environment to be in, a free and inspiring place for my son to grow up in and a place where we will be accepted as we are, I am content. And my hands and feet are recovering quickly too, which is amazing considering that I have had large open wounds for over 6 months and doctors could not find a reason for the wounds in the first place. I believe that stress does crazy things to the body that regular symptom driven doctors find difficult to explain.
So, I can start picking up a training regime again, run and cycle with friends. For this year though, I mainly look forward to regaining my sparkle and health. Purely for the joy of competing, I have registered for some smaller events with friends and colleagues. I am going to challenge myself, regain my baseline fitness and finish the IM 70.3 in 2017!