By Ann Brennan
This year is a big year for me. In October I will be competing in my first Ironman distance race at Beach to Battleship in North Carolina. As a working mom, I already experience the guilt that comes with not spending enough time with my family. Add Ironman training to the mix and the guilt could prove to be insurmountable. But I am not sure it has to be.
There are a lot of things I am not sure I am doing right as a mom but the one thing I know I have done right is to make fitness a priority in our lives.
This week we will be heading to Maine for a two-week vacation that is perfect for Ironman training. I will wake with the sun and head out for a few hours on my bike, a swim in the lake or a quick run through the trails near our house and generally be home before the rest of the house begins to stir.
But I am also able to involve my children in my workouts. My sixteen-year-old daughter has adopted my old road bike
and can accompany me on some of my shorter rides through beautiful Mount Desert Island. My son, who will be leaving for his first year at West Point, the United States Military Academy, will accompany me on some of my runs. And even my six-year-old can get in on the fun by kayaking beside me on his brand new six-foot sit-on-top kayak as I get in a swim.
Because my husband and I have made fitness a priority in our own lives, it has become a major part of our children’s lives. They have been cycling with us since before they could walk, sitting in a seat on the back of our bikes, graduating to a tandem before they learned to ride their own and eventually biking side by side with us on our local Rails to Trails system.
I am not foolish enough to believe that my training will not get in the way at all this year. As I get closer and closer to race day I know there will be days when all of us are cursing my training schedule. But I also know that my family understands. They know that my training stems from more than a desire to push myself to the limits. It comes from a desire to be a role model for them.
If mom can run Ironman, their possible becomes so much more. They will never say, “I can’t run a mile,” because they know that is not true. They watch us train and race and though they learn a lot from us, they also see people who swim the Chesapeake Bay swim with no arms and legs, they watch Corey Davis complete triathlons only four years after a near fatal motorcycle accident and they watch our wounded veterans compete in races of every distance.
Yes, Ironman training can be selfish but by sharing my training and my racing with my children I expose them to a world that is absolutely limitless.