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I must confess that I have been a bit directionless in my training since my first (and only) Triathlon race (which coincided with the end our my triathlon training group). I race because it helps me to focus on specific performance goals that get me out the door to train; without a race I have a hard time getting motivated to do this. I have a few races that I want to do, but I have not signed up for any of them.

There are many reasons for not signing up for another race and most of them are brightly coloured pieces of paper (or plastic as the case may be) that are in decidedly short supply in my home–read wallet–at the moment.

Triathlon is not a sport for the monetarily challenged; a LOT of gear is required and quite often travel to and accommodations at a race, oh yeah–and the race fee! That all being whined about, I LOVE the tri and where there is a will there is a way. The problem has been that I have lacked the will and my running shoes and bike have not been seeing as much action as they should.

Well that all changed yesterday. I took my youngest two children to the Y for their swimming lesson. I always work out while they swim–it beats the heck out of sitting on an uncomfortable metal chair that gives my thighs a checkerboard pattern while watching my kids not listen to their instructor practice elementary back stroke. So I decided to do a workout that I found in the book, Swimming Anatomy. The illustrations are excellent and the book clearly described both the exercises and the muscle groups they target. Book in hand, I went up to the gym where I found myself surrounded by 14-year-old boys who compensated for their lack of strength and coordination by dropping the f-bomb every 5 push ups. Now, I am not opposed to the intelligent use of the f-bomb, but as a simply expletive I find it annoying. So when Martin-the-personal-trainer stopped by to chat I was happy to move away from the boys and talk shop.

He asked me about what races I was training for (none) and what my work out routine is  (hodge podge and un-focused). Then we got talking biking technique: shifting and big gears and transitions and passing. I started to feel that itch….the one that says, “you gotta try that!”.  Our talk was cut short by the end of my kid’s swimming lesson, but I had this weird feeling that took a while to identify. Then I realized It was happy-excitement. The feeling I get when I am training for and looking forward to a race. I knew just the race I wanted to do, The Toronto Triathlon Festival. Simon Whitfield is racing the sprint as his last race before the Olympics. I have really been wanting to do this one–I mean seriously, when else you can you in the same race as an olympic gold medalist???–but had decided against it because of the expense. Then I found it–my will and a way to make it happen.

So as last night I am registered for the Sprint Triathlon (750m swim, 20km bike and 5km run). I have procured race registration, transportation and accommodations with no out-of-pocket expense! How you may ask? I traded Hilton Hotel points for a race registration (a friend needed a room and could not find anything for under $300) and had enough Hilton points for left over for a room for me.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The desire to get into this race inspired some creative thinking on my part. The best part it that this arrangement allows a fellow triathlete to compete in the race when he wasn’t going to be able to do it either. Obstacles, smobstacles.  I even talked my Iron(wo)man friend into racing with me!

I am so excited I can’t stand it! Actually I am so excited that I am super-motivated to get my training back on track. Now the race is in 11 days so I won’t be making any huge improvements for this specific race, but today I went for a 5km run and got a personal best–29:10! (a whole 20 seconds off my previous time). I am calling this my ninth new thing of the year 🙂  That is huge for me! Then I enlisted my eight and ten-year olds to help me practice my transitions.  They held my bike and yelled “go!” and I pretended to run out of the water and then really put on my bike shoes and ran down the sidewalk (out of transition of course) and jumped on my bike and clipped in. I wish the jumping on and clipping in part was smooth, but I am really not very good at that. I just can never get my shoes clipped in on the first go, so more practice is needed. I realize that perhaps the tension was too tight in my pedals when I fell over WHILE STANDING STILL at the end of my street. My neighbour was driving by while I un-gracefully listed sideways and then flayed my way to the ground. The look on his face was priceless and I waved and gave him a little thumbs up–how embarrassing. Once I loosened the tension so I could get my damn shoe out of the clip, things improved nicely on the falling-over-when-standing-still front, but I still need more work on the clipping in part of the ordeal transition. I shall be out there tomorrow so if anyone needs some free entertainment bring your popcorn!

What is startling to me is how quickly my doldrums turned to motivation. A goal makes all the difference and this positive energy crosses over into other parts of my life. For instance, I now have an orderly kid craft area and can see the top of my dining room table again. The clutter had been getting out of control and I knew I really needed to deal with it, but just didn’t feel like it. Now this has nothing to do with training, but everything to do with how training makes me feel in general. Today, after transition practice, the kids and I organized the whole dining room and purged various un-needed school duo tangs and grouped together art supplies. It is now neat and orderly and everything is in its place. We actually ate dinner at the dining room table tonight. I have found it easier to choose to eat healthier things and to refrain from that tempting glass of wine (strategies for the 10 lb challenge) as well.

I feel like I am in my place. For a few weeks I was feeling very out-of-place and now I feel like I have myself back–well the self that I like–instead of the one who is cranky and irritable and unfocused. In my first blog post I talked about saying yes to the things that are good for me; what I didn’t realize when I wrote that is how hard it can be to do that sometimes. On my run today I struggled with the mental part of it…and I wished that I could just take my brain out and be all body. My body wasn’t complaining, but my mind was racing ahead and worrying about time and pace and red lights. Many mornings when my alarm goes off unbearably early and I am tempted to nestle back down under the covers instead of train, I have a mantra that I repeat to myself: don’t think, just do. As counter-intuitive as this may sound, I think I need to apply this to more of my life. I live too much in my head and there are way too many worries and doubts and frustrations in there than are good for any one person. It is time to think less and move more and to hopefully find the right balance between the two.  I’ll let you know how that goes.

What keeps you in your “right” place? How do you find your balance when things get all out of whack?