Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Does there need to be a Reason??

Earlier today, I read a passage. It was written by someone curious about Ironman. She is struggling to understand the why. What is the drive behind it? Why do we subject ourselves to countless hours of training, constant consideration of our food intake, extraordinary fatigue, fights with injuries, to have it all culminate in a 140.6 mile race that is sure to involve much suffering and pain. It can't be all about the temporary high at the finish line...or can it?
I haven't stopped thinking about this since I read it this morning.
Why do I do this?
And then I realized. I don't have to have a reason. Do I? Is it necessary for me to justify why I love something.
I have moved away from simply considering the Ironman journey to thinking about all triathlon races. Ironman is the Papa Bear of the endurance tests I will embark upon but this way of life involves all the races.
If all the athletes I knew wrote this same post...they would likely all have different responses. You see, we all have our own reasons. On paper, some are more inspiring than others. To each individual however, any reason is enough. It is all it takes. One reason.
I am an athlete. I am a competitor. I am a hard working and motivated woman who loves to push herself beyond where I once thought possible. I thrive on setting goals just above where they once were and fighting to reach them. And to me, those goals involve sport.
Triathlon keeps me healthy, fit and strong. I motivate my children. My boys call me strong. Here's a funny quote from my 5 y.o.. "Daddy, will you carry me upstairs?" M-"I don't know Nick...." N,"Am I too heavy? Ok, Mommy you can do it." Now of course, I am not as strong as my husband but in my little one's eyes, I am an Ironman and therefore I can do anything. He tells me this daily. Hard to beat that.
I am teaching my kids to set goals and do what it takes to reach them. Even if it hurts. Even if you suffer and want to quit. Keep going. And daily, I teach them to eat right and why that is important in their own lives. At their young ages, they get it. Of course,they love cookies just like their Mom but they also know why they need carbs And protein with their meals and what happens if they eat fast food too often. Among other things.

But you know what? Most of the time it's much simpler than that. My reasons don't involve anyone else. Just me.
I. just. love. it.
I love to sweat. ( you hear people say sometimes,'it's hard to exercise because I dont' like to sweat.') Come ON! Take a shower! I love to sweat. I love to run and run and run until I have forgotten how far I have gone or how far I have left to go. I love to pull in the driveway from a hard 50 mile ride, toss the bike to the side, pull on the run shoes and hammer up the hill for another hard 5 miles and feel amazing. It's empowering.
It feels good to work hard. That's it. You put all that together into a race with competition and what more can I ask for? It's what makes me happy. It makes me, me. period.
Is this selfish? I don't think so. I do believe that it is ok for mothers to have personal enjoyment in addition to being the caretaker of the family. Should I be thankful that my family supports me? Absolutely. And you know what, I support them too. We all have things we do that we love and when it's their turn, I am there for them. These are the things that make us who we are.

I rarely hear this question posed to people with other hobbies. Have you ever heard anyone say, "But why do you like to make quilts?" "Why do you enjoy golfing?" "What do you get out of snowmobiling?" It's FUN! Hopefully we all participate in our hobbies because they give us pleasure.
Why is Triathlon so questioned? Is it just my perception? Am I creating this in my head? Is it because one might have to suffer...or push past a level of comfort?
what do you think?


Mary IronMatron said...

I loved this post, Ange! You don't need a reason. Loving it is enough. It is.
We all have our reasons beyond just the love of it--but who cares in the end. I get it. The people who read this get it. Sister, you don't even need to explain... :)

Anonymous said...

Wow, did I spark all that musing? Awesome!

I think I was needing to go beyond the reason of just loving it because I wanted to know more about Nate, because it had such a baring in and on our relationship. Also, because I love philosophy and all sorts of 'why' questions.

But, in general--like Mary said, loving it is enough. I think people question it more intensely though, because triathletes tend to self-identify more than other hobbyists. I've heard the phrase "it's not a hobby, it's a way of life" so many times. If you define it as such, I think you're begging for questions. Quilters and snowmobilers are not as likely to say that. And there is a lot of pain and suffering involved... ;)

Mostly, I suspect that people are just curious, like me. If they are making judgments about how it affects your family life or ability to mother, well--explain to them what aero bars are and where they can put them.

Ange said...

Megan! too funny...yes you did but in a good way!!! :) You were speaking in personal terms but it caused me to think about myself personally. You made very good points..this is an issue that I ponder a lot because I get questioned a lot and not always in a postive tone. I feel like I have to defend what I do...
I like your idea about the aero bars. I'm happy to find your blog!! And I didn't know you read mine! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, I know all about being questioned in not-so-nice tones--try telling people you are going to homeschool! The opinion floodgates open with a woosh! People can be so judgmental (sadly, especially other women.. what's up with that?) I can only imagine how some people are about triathlon... like many things, I think it's all about what works for you, and your family. Period.

Jennifer Harrison said...

Exactly! We all do it for the same reason but at the end of the day we like to test ourselves and see how hard we can push the limit of life - and this is our outlet for that!

Better for me to be competitive in Triathlon than the that could be VERY ugly!

Mama Simmons said...

Ha! JH cracks me up... yes- this is an outlet for our competitive energy. And it's best left at the races so people don't totally hate us. ;)

Melissa said...

Good question Ange! And, I don't think there is an easy answer. Just like you said, you thought long an hard about why you do IM and then realized you don't need a reason. You don't have to explain to someone who just doesn't understand all of the many reasons why you do IM.

FFigawi said...

I think you answered your own question: you do it because you love it. That's the why, and that's all the explanation anyone should need. It's the same reason we do any of the things we choose to do, as opposed to work which we kind of have to do.

I wouldn't really worry about what anyone else thinks about why you love it. To use your quilting example, I can easily understand why someone would love doing an Ironman. I can't for the life of me understand why someone would love quilting.

Laura said...

I am right there with you feeling like loving it is enough...and if any woman or mother has anything that she loves, she should and probably does understand...I think it goes back even deeper than the love for something though...respect, and support for others whatever their choice of lifestyle or hobby might be...I think we as women unfortunately are way to judgy of each other We all know that there is way more than meets the eye that goes into our I am choosing to be more supportive of other women!

Running and living said...

I think type A competitive people are attracted to the sport. It starts out small, but then you want more and more. I think it is a fine ballance, and I have seen it destroy relationships and careers. I always have to be careful with this myself. Great post!

Barry's said...

I think this explains why you are so good! Your passion is exceptional

rungirl said...

Great post! We were kind of discussing this last Sat.

I love it too. I love walking into work knowing I've already busted out a workout and then probably have another later in the day. I love the sense of accomplishment when you finish a 20 miler or a 5 hour brick.

I struggled with motivation in 2008 and thought about quitting triathlons all together. My best friend was pushing me to get back out there. I asked him why ... his response ... because I know it makes you happy. He was right!!

I don't think you ever have to explain yourself, about triathlon or anything else. What is that saying? Do what you love and love what you do. Period.

GoBigGreen said...

Ange, I just had to explain to some swimmers today WHY i had just done a bike wko. And like you said, i finally just said, BECAUSE. Then the masters coach ( who is a nice woman, but should be coaching basket weaving 101) said " Julia, do you have GOALS?"
( like RU just working out bc you have no life?) and then I kinda got ticked and just told her my race schedule and then started swimming.

Point is...I just think sometimes people dont get it, or they are jealous or...maybe some, really do want to know. And those peeps I usually can tell are not judging me, but are just curious.

I agree, You do it bc it is there and bc it jazzes you. And for the same reason that some people want to go listen to opera for 4 hours straight, we ride our bikes.

Jennifer Cunnane said...

I wholeheartedly agree... there does not need to be a reason, if it makes you truly happy. No one ever questions other hobbies - why golf? ha! Seriously though, sometimes I just don't even bring it up to non triathletes because my core group of friends don't have any interest in tri and I am afraid it would just bore them!