The Crossroads of Life – where the Empty Nest Meets Triathlon

I started to write a post the other day I was going to title ‘Glued To My Bed’ because I was. I was waking up every morning to an early alarm and a routine that involved hitting ‘snooze’ repeatedly and finally just lying there – inert and unwilling to swing my legs over the edge of the bed and get going. The bed monster didn’t win every day but in the first 4 weeks following my marathon I ran once a week (3 miles) and made it to the pool once a week. Not exactly kicking ass in the training department. Fortunately I had a 65 mile bike ride to prepare for so I did get out at the crack of dawn on Sundays to train for that.

Then the ride was over and I was on my own and there I was – glued to the bed. What was wrong with me??!! It all came to a head on Friday when I was just overcome with a pain in my heart that held my whole body down like Gulliver tethered by the Liliputians.

Saturday some friends and I did what we called the Soup Chicken Triathlon. We called it that because we are too old to be Spring Chickens so we must be soup chickens. Of course compared to Mary Streobe, the 88 year old triathlete we are Spring chickens but that’s another story.

We rode our bikes for about 10 miles, stopped for coffee, rode back, swam and then the other ladies walked half an hour, stopped for bagels and walked back. One of the women claims it was a Pentathlon – bike, coffee, swim, walk, bagel. I had to leave early to take my CASA kid to a picnic so mine was really just a triathlon, of sorts. In any case it was fun and I enjoyed the company and I felt a lot better for having done it.

It didn’t exactly scratch my itch for a good workout, though, since we took the ride at about 10 mph and I really felt like I needed to go out and handle some hills on my bike to make up for my failure to ascend Ink Grade the weekend before. My other biking friends were not around and I was on my own and found myself playing dodgeball with my drive. I really wanted to go out and ride but I was afraid to. It wasn’t that I was afraid of getting a flat or falling down and being all by myself (although I did manage to do that), I just wasn’t sure I could find the inner drive to put on the biking gear and get in the saddle. I had nothing pushing me out the door but me so I had to stare myself down and say, “Go! Get out there”! It worked.

Once I got on the bike I remembered that I have a real triathlon to train for that is coming up in 3 weeks. I rode a hard 19 miles and I thought about going for a run when I got home but it was Sunday and I decided to be at least a little bit lazy. Today I went to masters workout at 5:30 AM and then I ran 4 miles.

I feel better. I feel less hollow and more buoyant and a lot less like poor Gulliver. I’m pretty sure that the problem I’m having is that my nest is getting very empty and I’m not really ready for that. Raising my kids has been my only real focus for the last 14 years. That’s how long I’ve been single. I’ve had to work but work has always just been a means to an end – paying the bills. I don’t really care about my work at an emotional level. Up until about 5 years ago I had lots of boyfriends but frankly I didn’t really care that much about them, either, except for the one stupid @#!@ who broke my heart and even he only got a little sliver of me. I’ve been a Mom (that’s Mom with a bolded, capital “M”) for a long time and I still am a Mom but the babies are grown up and mostly out the door and now I’ve got to fill that spot with something else.

Enter Triathlon! Bring it on, baby – fill me up.

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6 Responses to The Crossroads of Life – where the Empty Nest Meets Triathlon

  1. greyhound says:

    Man, an athlete that busts out with the English Lit references and goes all Jonathan Swift on us. Awesome.

  2. Yurtle says:

    Wow, we are leading parallel lives! Finished my first marathon in the spring, just sent my oldest off for a year, and am desperate to push my athletic limits while there is still time (I’m 46) as a way of dealing with this huge hole in my heart. I am with you. BTW- buy the Subaru. I’ve had one for 3 years and it is a great car. The Legacy model is just a less fancy Outback, with tires that are 15″ instead of 16″- I bought mine brand new (automatic, no less) for 19k…

  3. Fe-lady says:

    Oh yeah- I can relate to a degree. Sometimes I wish my kid were out and on her own…but other times I miss her so much it hurts. A real physical hurt. I guess that is why some moms (mine for one) keep some of the kids dependent, somehow (she did this with my two younger sisters). I know you have let yours fly. It is what we are supposed to do…Part of me just can’t wait to do NOTHING but some of my hobbies- not work, not mother, but be really selfish and focus on ME! You deserve that too!

  4. David says:

    I think the tri is where you may need to open up to the prospect of finding some more playmates.In my house, the youngest went around the lake two weeks ago – into a dorm room – and we debated whether to change the locks and phone number.I think it’s okay. They keep coming back.

  5. Mother of Chaos says:

    I can’t imagine what that shift is going to be like for me. Right now my whole life is Mom. Everything I do is for The Family. I like it, don’t get me wrong…but it will be weird when the day comes that I’m back to having to decide what *I* want.I might just go to bed and never get up again. 😉

  6. Vickie says:

    That’s where I am right now too. One left at home, but starting college, one just came back and WON’T leave, two gone, one 800 miles away. So, like you said, enter triathlon. It has pulled me out of my dark hole I was in for a while, so hopefully it does the same for you.

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