The below article was originally written for Infozine online magazine. Infozine is a free digital magazine with sections on arts and entertainment, business and finance, computers, community, and food. It was the first place my writing was published and I will always appreciate the opportunities it offered. This article was written more than ten years ago when I was in an entirely different phase of my life. While I no longer compete, and my life has changed in more ways than I have time to count right now, it is still amusing to look back at that time in my life.
My family is nothing if not loving and supportive. They’ve put up with many phases in my life. They loved me when I was over-weight and a complete couch potato. They loved me when I decided to lose weight and get in shape. They loved me when I refused to eat anything that had any measurable amount of fat or calories. They loved me when I took up running when I had never done anything remotely athletic in my adult life. They really had to love me when I was training for my marathons and went a little bonkers those last few weeks before the events. I know they love me now that I’m doing triathlons, but I know they have a lot of questions as they try to understand why I do the things I do.
Their questions have been varied and heartfelt. I’ve usually laughed at their questions or shrugged off their complaints. Well, I think the time is right for me to finally address their questions and concerns. Following is a list of actual statements I’ve heard and, until now, ignored.
My youngest daughter, Molly: “Whatever happened to my fat mama who was always around?” Your fat mama is alive and well in my mirror about half the time I look in it. And when I am around, I’m able to relate to you as a woman who’s active and more or less happy with herself, not just as your mother. Trust me, you like me better this way.
My middle daughter, Meagan: “None of my friends believe that my mother does marathons and triathlons. They can’t understand why anyone would run so far without someone chasing them.” I actually hear this a lot. No, no one’s chasing me. Yes, there are times when it really hurts and I can’t understand why I’m doing it either. But there are other times when I can’t tell you how proud I am of myself or how good it feels to do something that the average person doesn’t even attempt.
My oldest daughter, Michelle: “You’re psycho, Mom. Probably, but my blood runs in your veins too. Who knows what you’ll attempt to try when you’re my age? I hope I’ve enabled you to envision yourself doing anything you want to do if you’re willing to work at it. I also hope you’re able to see yourself doing something outside the norm that other people may laugh at, just because you love it.
My significant other of 14 years and best friend, John: What on earth ever made you decide to become a competitive athlete at 38?” Beats the hell out of me. I just know that I tried it and have to keep on trying it. I didn’t mean to fall in love with triathlons, I just did. Just like I fell in love with you. I’m not running from you, I’m not avoiding you. I’m just doing something that makes me very happy and makes me feel good about myself. It also allows me to laugh at myself and not be afraid to risk looking ridiculous.
My mother: (to me) “Honey, if you want to do it, do it”; (to my sister, with her next breath) “Do you know what you’re stupid sister’s doing?” I know you support me, Mom, and admire what I do. I know you brag about my exploits to family, friends and any stranger who you happen to engage in conversation with while in line at the store. I also know you truly don’t understand why I do the things I do or where my desire comes from. Neither do I, but thanks for bragging about me anyway.
My co-workers: I really admire how you make time for all this fitness stuff. Okay, you’re lying, but that’s okay. The way I make time is I don’t clean my house, we eat out a lot and I’m not always sure where my grown children are or what they’re doing, but I know they’re okay and someone can fill me in on a need to know basis. My house doesn’t need to be that clean, there are worse vices than eating out and my children know that I love them and will be there for them when they need me.
I’d like to belatedly thank my loved ones for all they put up with and all their support. I love you and I know you have to love me. How else would you have put up with the mysterious evolution that has baffled both you and me?