Thursday, March 10, 2011

Guest Post: Triathlon Saved My Life

This is the first time I've had a guest post on my blog. I think you'll understand, once you read Karen's story, why I thought it was so important to share. I have always felt that triathlon was life-changing , and in racing with and sharing my love of triathlon with other women I've seen the powerful effect it can have on women's lives.

Many of us are mothers, and we sometimes struggle with the changes that come with new motherhood. One of the biggest and potential life-threatening of these is post-partum depression, something that's only now starting to get the attention that it deserves. Karen's story is a testament to her own strength, something she discovered through triathlon. Here it is:

My name is Karen Meigs.  I am a mom, wife, and a triathlete.  Triathlons helped save my life.  Okay, I saw your eyes roll, but let me explain.  

After the birth of our first child I had a very hard time recovering.  I went through 17 hours of labor, 2 hours of that pushing, and I made little to no progress and opted for a c-section.  I was exhausted, overwhelmed, excited, sore, and I could not sleep.  Any new mom can appreciate the exhaustion which sets in after a baby is born, but sleeping for just a few hours a day was a recipe for disaster.  I knew of the baby blues, but this couldn’t possibly happen to me.  We planned for this.  

During a post-partum check-up I failed to mention that I had been crying at least once a day, that wanted to leave my husband and baby, and that I never wanted to get out of my sweats and leave the house.  I was ashamed and embarrassed that I was struggling with being a new mom.  Shoot, women have been doing this for centuries so why is this so challenging?   Our little girl was three months old and I was still crying every day.  My mother-in-law (love her) told me to call my doctor and get some help.  I was immediately put on an anti-depressant and directed to a post-partum group that I attended on a weekly basis.  

Three years later my sister-in-law asked me if I would be interested in doing a triathlon.  For sure I thought she was pulling my leg.  I was overweight, self-conscious, and still in a funk.  I just laughed it off.  

But then I got to thinking about it and started asking her a few questions here and there.  Doing a triathlon sounded like such a huge daunting thing.  For Christmas a few months later my husband bought me a book written by Sally Edwards called “Triathlon for Women”.  I devoured it.  For the first time in a very long time I was excited.  I decided to sign up for my first race.  This race wasn’t for our daughter, it wasn’t for my husband, it was for me.  

I had no clue where to start.  I took each event apart and since swimming was the first leg of the race I worked on that first.   I took a basic swim lesson to learn how to swim, as weird as that sounds.  I didn’t know what would be the most efficient way to swim for a race so I learned how.  I also started to bike and run.  I mostly walked at first to avoid injury, but slowly worked my way up to running.  I committed to doing one of these activities once a week and then I followed the training scheduled outlined in Sally Edwards’ book, as the race date drew near.

Before I knew it I was feeling better.  I started to lose a few pounds and felt better about myself.  That was six years ago and I have signed up for my fourth triathlon this summer.  I will never be the best athlete by any stretch of the imagination nor will I have the best equipment.   But as I said, this race isn’t for my children, or my husband:  I do it for me and I tri.  


midlife_swimmer said...

great post! we do it for us!

Robin said...

Awesome. Thanks for sharing!

Kovas said...

Great post, thanks for sharing!

tinaparker87 said...

Love those stories!

Beth said...

Karen, what a great post! You are a great athlete and friend. Thank you for being there with me at my first tri. What a great feeling and sense of accomplishment. You go!!!