Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Holding onto it all

The past week and a half has been filled with readjusting to life that is not consumed with workout plans and event logistics.  We are not packing lunches and throwing them into a cooler to head to the beach for the day, instead we are running late for the bus, oversleeping and running in circles on the weekends.  We enjoyed our family time more than I thought we would..saying we enjoyed ourselves would be an understatement, it was truly amazing.  We had fewer disagreements, more play time with siblings,  silly charades for post dinner entertainment and all went to bed exhausted every night to wake up to the sunshine and birds each morning. As soon as we landed in Baltimore I felt the home stress creep back into our lives.  In an effort to not have this trip of a lifetime kill me mentally with the biggest let down ever post return...I am trying to focus on little things that my kids can do that still amaze me.
grahamfam six pack doing our thing
This past weekend we finally made it to Sunday School and I was sitting in the back of church during the opening and watched my kiddos from afar.  My nine year old was standing and singing songs that she sings every week and doing all the hand motions.  She was in her element of fun and friends and was not concerned with anything else around her.  She looked so peaceful and happy.  If you have a nine year old girl you know that is not always a daily occurrence.  Music is one of her favorite things and at church she just loves to get into it with her whole body and heart.  It pretty much melts me.

While our leader was discussing the upcoming season of children's choir she mentioned the ages of the members of choir and called out to my five year old specifically saying how happy she was that she was finally old enough to join in.  Within a second of that special announcement my little sweetie turned her head so quickly on a swivel and smiled with glee and excitement at me that she is finally big enough to sing in the choir.  Her innocence and sweet eyes get me every day...she brings so much to our family...making me laugh out loud when she leans over the older kids shoulders while they are reading and says...it's okay...I can't read anyway!

Next up is the big guy.  Not only is he almost as tall as me but his heart is big enough for our whole family to fit in to.  He takes the time when he walks in the door after school to go around to each of his siblings and give them a kiss on the head.  He asks them each how their day was and then he circles around to me.  After he completed his Family Consumer Science Project last night which consisted of him making meatloaf, roasted sweet potatoes, asparagus and cleaning all the dishes he gave me a huge hug and said, I have no idea how you do this every day.  Me either buddy, me either.  Thank you for always knowing when I need a hug and pitching in without asking...you are my number one helper.

Last up is my baby boy.  I keep referring to him as the baby but he will be four in just a few months.  There is nothing baby about him other then his tantrums that he can get away with from time to time as he is still three.  He is the hug and play magnet in the house, everyone needs to know what he is up to and wants to be a part of it.  His laughter is medicine for all of us and his smile can brighten anyone's mood.  He puts out his hand to hold mine as we walk into the grocery store or head to the corner to get the "big kids" from the bus.  He doesn't know of a life that consists of just him...his life is filled with so many people that love him that he can't help but give that love back to all of us.  

just us
Then we have hubby...he will be the first to say that Kona was amazing and a challenge he was so happy to have the opportunity to compete in.  But much like all of his races the day in and day out come right back to you after the finish line is crossed.  We were lucky enough to stay and celebrate him and our family a little bit more on the big island.  The day after the race just the two of us headed into Kona and walked and held hands and just took in the moment a little bit more, a little bit longer, and definitely a little quieter.

For all the times I hear that the days are long and the years are short...I know this to be true...I also know that before I know it the years will be long behind me and the days will be short ahead and my kids will be grown and on their own and all of this will hopefully be an amazing memory in their hearts.  My little one just asked how I can come up with all of these words...and I guess in all of my chaos of life with four kids, a hubby and running endless miles and trying to keep us all together...I have a lot of time in my own head.  I take my alone time on the road while running to breath quietly, I try to think of my kids and what they have going on.   I try not to focus on the pressures of it all and trying to solve the problems that are upon us, instead I take that time to reflect on the good...it helps the miles tick by more quickly.  Sometimes I just think of the tree I need to reach to get to the top of the hill.  

and done
So now that this has come and gone...we move onto our next big thing because that is just what we do.  I will identify my spring marathon, I will start to train, and I will try again for the Boston Qualifier.  I will sit down with my coach/hubby and figure out the best way to tackle this monster of a dream.  I will meet my mileage goal for 2016 and pick a much smaller number for 2017.  Hubby can tackle the to do list that I have been compiling for post Kona...he'll love that!  Our kids will keep being themselves and that will cause us to scream, laugh, and love all at the same time and we will all try to slow it down as best as we can and not feel like we are stuck on the hamster wheel..and continue to look to find the special in the day in and day out...and hold onto it all.

Embrace the suck...choose you...slow it down and hold on to it before it's over.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The ugly side...it makes you even stronger.

As many of you may already know I am currently in Hawaii to support and cheer on my husband as he competes in the World Championship event IronMan Kona on Saturday with the rest of the best of the best.  Ben tipped his toe into the triathlon world about eight years ago with a sprint distance then an Olympic...which lead to a half then his first full four years ago.  He was over his head in the sport of triathlon and loving it.

I have run the past few mornings we have been here and seeing these athletes running down the road that they will have to tackle on Saturday afternoon in the glaring heat with pure exhaustion beating down on them along with the Hawaiian sunshine, makes me happy and sad at the same time...it is going to be a long day for everyone involved.  Knowing their scarifies and their commitment to the sport...just really blows me away.  As I post my pics of the beautiful sunsets and beaches we are lucky enough to take part in, I have to realize that we did not make it here on Ben's qualifying finish time alone...and that finish time came at a price as well.

For every time you see a picture of us with a smile, or a success, or a new personal record, or a yummy post workout treat, or a coordinated family picture on the beach, or a weekend get away with a fun race tucked into the activities...none of that came easy.  For every smile has a corresponding angry face resulted in frustration, our successes come with failures, our personal records come with Did Not Finish, our post workout treat is a result of many hours of biking or running and may have been a week in the making.  Our family picture on the beach probably had many minutes of Ben and I screaming at them to just stand nicely and not make that horrible smile, the weekend getaways are often filled with guilt of missing out on our kids actives and a true logistical nightmare.  With every "perfect post" there is more than likely something crappy leading up to it.

ben taking it all in at Kona
The reason I started this whole blogging thing is to show people that anything is possible.  That my family is really just like every other family out there.  We all choose to do things that bring us joy and happiness and we just choose to be crazy and focus our energies on fitness and try our best to make sure our kids understand commitment and determination.  We have worked really hard for this trip to Hawaii, literally and figuratively.  I started a part time job to help defer costs, hubby continued to work two jobs and coach a few triathletes as well.  Our families near and far supported our efforts of what IronMan meant to us.  Our friends locally created a fund to help us get there.  Anyone and everyone pitched in one way or another, if that meant watching my littles while I got a run in during the day before I headed to work or throwing a crazy send off party with pictures of Ben's bib all around the house with everyone decked out in leis, complete with Hawaiian desserts.  Every little part of those that know us best helped us get to this point.   

It has not all been easy, it has not all been fun, but it has all been worth it.  That is the lesson, as I watch these people to continue to train their butts off on Ali'i Drive and drench themselves in sweat, and have family and friends wishing them nothing but the best on maybe their first or fifth time racing at Kona...it will be worth it.  This journey, although started with just a sprint triathlon, has ended with so much more.  It also did not end with my husband, it will continue on.  He has inspired me which lead to me tackling that half Iron distance last fall...and I will soon tackle another.  It has lead to friends giving it a "tri" as well and surprising themselves with a new appreciation for a sport they can fit into their lifestyle.  The sport of triathlon is competitive, but it is also a place where you can find yourself, just you, not compared to anyone.  It is a moment where you have goals for yourself and you rise to the challenge and tackle them, you may even crush them...and that is the exciting part.

For every good training day there is a handful of bad ones.  For every good nutrition choice I made today I probably made at least three bad ones.  I never thought this journey would lead me to perfection, and it has not, but I do hope it can lead me to a stronger, healthier, happier version of me.  One that knows what hard work feels like, one that wants to work hard because the reward is that much sweeter, one that understands you cannot do anything alone.  

the reasons why we try
If you take anything from my ramblings, please take that you can really do anything, hard is not impossible and everyone is watching, for the good and the bad.  Be sure to share the bad stuff too, that makes you more human, more real, more tangible.  We all know it's hard and we want to throw the towel in on many things, but be the one that doesn't...the one that sticks it out...the one that sees it through to the end...that is where your friends and family will be waiting to congratulate you and wipe your tears away...the happy and sad ones.

Embrace the suck....choose you.