Friday, October 28, 2011

Prepare To Be Inspired: Lauren's Story

If you have wanted to reach out to your dreams, but been afraid of failing, read this story.

If you think that doing a triathlon is something you can't achieve, read this story.

If you want to start out your Friday being motivated and inspired, read this story.

Lauren commented on my Training Plan post awhile back and I asked her to share her story here because I just find it so inspiring. This is exactly the kind of thing I hope to be able to share on this blog - how we inspire each other to become our best.

Lauren's Triathlon Journey:

Before I start this post, there are a few things you should know about me:
-I am overweight.
-I had never completely finished anything before in my life (except pregnancy, haha!)
-I (used to!) have very low self-esteem and self-confidence.
-I’m not an ace at writing, and it takes me a while to get to the point while I tell a story.
(Brace yourself.)

I'd always been fairly in shape and fairly active, and while I've never had what one might call a "knock-out" body, I've always been pretty proud of my “Athena” curves. I grew up swimming competitively, and I’ve played soccer here and there, but I have never pushed myself to see what I could really be capable of. Basically, when it hurt, when it got tough, or when I got tired, I went home.

Fast forward to spring 2009. My husband and I were blessed to learn that we'd be expecting twins, and I took very good care of myself by watching what I ate and exercising lightly. I gained the average 35lbs with the twins and delivered them full-term. After they were born, I caught a cold that progressed into pneumonia. Eventually, I ended up breaking one of my ribs and had to be out-of-commission for 11 weeks. Finally, when the twins were about 6 months old, I was able to return to the gym and start working out. I was working steadily to lose my "baby weight", and after 3 months of diligently working my tush off (literally), we found out we were pregnant again!

As much as I wanted to be excited, I was a teensy bit sad. I went through some mild postpartum depression mostly because of the way my body looked (and because we don't live within driving distance of our family, my husband is a full-time student, and we had just moved to a new town; I really had ZERO help with the babies.) Cue the violins. Ha! Anyway. Pregnancy #2 went off without a hitch, and our precious baby girl was born healthy and vibrant on June 26, 2011.

Again, I wanted to be happy because I had this perfect, new, little baby to love, and the twins were so excited to have "their baby" outside Mommy's tummy. But because I hadn't lost all of the weight I'd gained with the twins, and then gained even more weight, my body looked like a nightmare.

My husband would tell me day after day that I looked beautiful, but how could I believe him? After all, I was carrying 50 extra pounds, my stretch marks made it look as if I'd gone 5 rounds with Wolverine, and everything, well... it just sagged. I knew I NEEDED to ditch the extra weight, but how? I began to feel myself slipping into that same funk that I was in after the twins were born. Then one night, while feeding my 5 1/2 week-old baby, it came to me: I need to do something to prove to myself that I AM worthwhile. I needed something drastic, something really far-out, something that I (and everyone else) would never expect me to do.

I was going to do a triathlon.
I researched to see if there were any in my area. I didn't know the first thing about a triathlon; I didn't know the distances, the order of the sports, I didn't even know that there was a "season" for triathlons! All I knew is that I was going to do one, and I wanted to do it soon. I found one that was about 2 months away. (It also happened to be a reverse triathlon.) And it was only about an hour or so from our town! When I looked at the distances (.25 mile swim/12 mile bike/ 5K run) I almost fainted. Again, I felt those seeds of self-doubt creeping back into my brain: "I'm not a runner; I can't run that far! I don't have a bicycle! What if I come in last place? Everyone will laugh at me!"

That night while laying in bed, I told my husband I wanted to do a triathlon. He looked at me in his sweet, soft, loving way and said, "Good job, baby. I believe in you, and I know you can do it!"
"Well.", I thought to myself. "That makes one of us."

I asked my girlfriend, Mallory (who happens to be 100lbs soaking wet, very athletic, and is in training for her umpteenth marathon) if she'd like to do this tri with me. (It would be her first triathlon, also.) She shrugged and said, "Ok.", as if it were no big deal. Me, on the other hand, I felt exhausted and out of breath just thinking about it!

Since I clearly didn't know anything about triathlon training, I did what every other child who was born in the 80's and became a product of the “Internet Age” would do: I googled it. I came across a blog with a name that I thought was inspirational: “Everymom to Ironmom.” I skimmed through and found a post entitled: “8 Weeks to Your First Triathlon,” and saved it on my phone and showed it to Mallory. She thought it looked good and was on board with the plan. The very next week, I had my 6 week postpartum appointment with my midwife. I told her my plan, and after looking at me like I was a lunatic, she gave me the green light to start training.

I decided I'd start the 8-week plan on the following Monday because well...I just like starting things on Mondays. I had already decided to put the twins (who were 18 months old when Baby#3 was born) into day care part time to give myself a little "Mama Time." What better way to use that "Mama Time" than to do something like workout and work on Mama?!

That very first Monday morning, I dropped them off at "school," and Baby #3 and I headed straight to the gym. (Thank heaven we belong to a fitness center that provides childcare for infants!) I cranked out the first workout (a 6-mile bike ride) in about 30 minutes and I. Felt. Great! This was my new schedule now: wake up, drop tots off at "school", and head to the gym. I had a goal I was now working toward, and I had someone (Mallory) to keep me on track. Day after day, week after week, I stayed steady on the plan. If I had to miss a day (which only happened once or twice), I made sure to fit the missed exercise in sometime later on in the week. As it turns out, Mallory and I only trained together twice throughout the whole 8 weeks, but we texted each other many, many times daily to check in and keep each other motivated. For further motivation, I actually signed up online (on my phone) for the triathlon pool-side, immediately after finishing one of the swim workouts! I was ecstatic! I even called my mom and dad to let them know I was actually going to do this! (They were excited, too, of course.)

On race day, I was jittery, to say the least. I was so  nervous that I wasn't going to be able to finish (I still wasn't able to completely run 3 miles without walking a little), and I was very intimidated by all of the slim, muscular physiques that I suddenly found myself surrounded by. I was the largest woman there! I seriously considered turning around and running back to the
safety of my car. Ten minutes before the race started, all of the participants lined up at the starting line for a little pre-race meeting. My husband and 3 babies stood on the other side of the mesh fence just watching and listening. I kept glancing over at them, and I'm sure they could see the fear in my eyes. My husband just smiled and gave me a very enthusiastic thumbs up. My sweet baby boy raised his fist and yelled out, "Gooooo Mama!" The next thing I knew, a gun shot was fired, and we were off and running. Literally. I'm not going to lie, the run sucked. I'm just not a great runner, but I want to be, so I know that's something I need to work on. The bike portion was difficult too, but only because the course was very hilly, and I didn't train for that. The swim part was a piece of cake, just as I knew it would be for me. Plus, it was in a pool, and I'm sure that made all the difference in the world.

When I climbed out of the pool and saw my precious husband smiling at me, holding our excited babies, I felt unstoppable! I had just done something I never in a million light years thought I could do. And not only did I do it, it was the first thing I've really ever completed. My self-confidence sky rocketed! I can now say that I am a triathlete, and I have done something that not too many folks have done. And that feels fantastic. I also learned to not be so hard on my body, to appreciate it more, and give it some credit! Sure, I'm not supermodel skinny, and I'll probably never look like I did when I was 18, but my body did something amazing. Just as I will always remember my wedding anniversary and my children's birthdays, October 9, 2011 is a day that I will never forget. That was the day I started and finished a triathlon. Me. The overweight, (now slightly less) out-of-shape mommy of 3, who always told herself she couldn't, did.

If you are teetering on the edge of "Should I do a triathlon? CAN I do a triathlon?" The answers are YES! and YES! I can honestly say that my life has been forever changed by this event, and I now believe that this mama can do ANYTHING she sets her mind to do. Thank you again, Robin, for your 8 week plan. I truly, truly could not have done it without you. Well, without you and the four best cheerleaders a Mommy and wife could ever have!


Velma said...


ThreeBoysFull said...

Beautifully written! Lauren's story is so relateable. Beating PPD is what drove me to the sport. Funny how motherhood can catapult women into directions they never dreamed! Awesome!


Beggan said...

That was absolutely wonderful Lauren! As I have told you before, you inspire me. You are making me believe that I can get this extra 80 pounds off of me as long as I get up and move. I'm not ready for a triathalon yet and one day I'll actually get to do a 5k, but I already feel a lot better about myself and I'm getting "me" back. All because of you! I can't thank you enough :)

donna said...

Wonderful story ... you're on your way, Lauren!

Beth said...

Lauren writes very well imo! Great job Lauren!

I love this story, very inspiring.

Mallory said...

I would just like to say a few things as the infamous friend Mallory in this story. First, I am definitely not very athletic, definitely not 100lbs wet (maybe if you cut off a few limbs or all of them...). When Lauren asked me to do this I was terrified!

Lauren was such an inspiration for me during those 2 months of training. Several times I would send her a message complaining how I didn't want to go to the work out and she demanded I go do it and inspired me to get my tooshie off that couch.

She's an amazing friend and an amazing mama. Can't wait to do our next try together! She's got me hooked!

Robin said...

That's great Mallory, it's awesome to have a training partner for just that reason, to motivate us on those days when it's sooooo hard to get off the couch. I hope you both continue to Tri!