Thank you once again, Triathlon. You are my favorite sport; my true outlet; provider of peace and comfort; my strength trainer; and my special connection to my beautiful son.
This week triathlon was there for me…once again. Even in the off-season, this sport provided a high point in what otherwise has been a super challenging week – the first week of December.
On Sunday while running on a treadmill at my gym, I was blindsided with a seemingly innocent image on TV. I don’t usually look at the monitors when working out at my gym. I usually focus on my music, my zone and the workout at hand. However, every now and then my eyes will wander up and catch a glimpse of a reality show, cooking demo, sports game or some random commercial. Well, this time, my eyes caught a fraction of a baby commercial: new parents walking through the front door of their home for the first time with their baby. BAM! We never brought Noah home. As this joyous – for the majority of viewers – event registered in my head tears started streaming down. Thankfully all of my sweat from the run camouflaged my tears so any onlooker wouldn’t notice me crying. What a trigger. Instead of getting completely to the other side of it, I think it ignited something in the rest of my body. Up until that moment I was trying to prepare for this month but I think it was on more of an intellectual level. It’s the 12th month of the year. It has the most popular holiday of the year. It’s the month that puts an exceptional amount of attention on children and families. This is my second December without Noah which means my second Christmas without him; my second Christmas as an incomplete family. And it’s the month Noah was born. As December approached I’ve been thinking about this more and more of course. But until last Sunday, that’s what I’ve been mainly doing – thinking. My brain was processing this month. After that run though I’m now feeling the presence of December in my heart and throughout the rest of my body. Even as I type this post I can feel it in my hands, belly, feet…almost everywhere inside.
So far this week has been touch and go. The rest of Sunday and Monday were brutal. On Tuesday morning I did not want to get out of bed at all. I had a lot of meetings scheduled and planned to attend a book signing event with a friend in the evening. I had my swim session first thing that morning. I could cancel my meetings. I don’t have to go swimming. My friend had to bail on joining me in the evening so I’m not obligated to attend the event. I could have easily stayed in bed which I seriously thought about doing for a while. But I thought back to those early days after Noah passed away when I didn’t feel like training, not because I didn’t like training but because I did not want to leave home. I thought about how I took baby steps to get through those workouts. Just change into workout clothes. Just pack the gym bag. Now put on the running shoes. Don’t think. Try not to feel. Just go through the motions. I applied this same tactic on Tuesday. Just get out of bed. Just take a shower. Just collect the necessary material for my meetings. Just get in the car. Just get on the highway. And that’s how Tuesday went. During the hour between my last meeting and when I needed to leave for the book signing, I went back and forth in my head about going or not so many times that I started to give myself a headache. Once again, just take little steps.
The book to be signed was As the Crow Flies: My Journey to Ironman World Champion by Craig (Crowie) Alexander. A local bike shop in Santa Cruz hosted the event. The place was packed. This Ironman World Champion signed books and answered questions. It was great. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this truly amazing triathlete talk about training for and racing triathlons. As much as I tried to avoid it, a few guests chatted with me. Like other tri-related events my conversations were about coaches, transporting bikes, training, Nationals, Worlds and other races. I left the store with a couple of autographed books (one for my friend, who couldn’t join me, and his wife) and even a photo with Craig. I left the event feeling a bit lighter than when I arrived.
I still feel Sunday’s trigger but it’s not as piercing. I have my favorite sport to thank for this. Thank you, once again, Triathlon.