One month and eleven days after the inception of MamaTriDOc, bookending the parent-recognition season (in the US), I found myself reflecting on an especially eventful handful of days during which writing was precluded by being. Complete with belated birthday celebrations at Comerica Park with biggest and middlest, introduction to the newest babe in our friend circle, return to last year’s qualifying race course, annual debut at the driving range and panicked last-minute training – the last eleven of these 42 days have been packed with activity. As I took my Team USA uniform for a test-drive on the bike as the sun set on summer solstice, I found myself reflecting on my triathlon career, attempting mental preparation for the pending trip to Sweden and contemplating all that is Father’s Day.
As I approach (in less than one week!) the Long Course World Championships, I remain excited for the experience, uncertain about the unexpectedly long distance and grateful for the opportunity to represent the USA in what will be my personal Olympic-esque moment. In an unusual late-night act exploring the race bulletin cover-to-cover for the Grand Rapids Triathlon last week, my initial disappointment at being omitted from the list of Michigan participants in the World Championships was quickly eclipsed by a sentence noting the distance increased significantly beyond that of the qualifier. With one brief statement, the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run I had anticipated were lengthened to a whopping 2.4-mile swim, 74.8-mile bike and 18.6-mile run. Somehow, this was a detail overlooked in all the preparation for Sweden, rendering me shocked and sheepish, shifting my goals from finish time to survival and hanging my hopes on the months (and even at this point years!) of training invested to pay dividends in this event.
Though I’m not sure experience from years or decades past can translate directly to my physical readiness for the World Championships, I am drawing on the miles, the hardships, the successes and the support of these last thirteen years in triathlon to get me through. My main objective is to soak it all in, from the flag ceremony to the 7 loops covering 154 kilometers…one step at a time.
Steps…days….taken singularly with best effort to each was the motto of my father, gone 20 years this past Monday. Though his days on this earth were fewer than all of us who knew him would have liked, they were certainly not lacking in fullness and were especially full with words – both written and spoken. From an early age, I was encouraged to express myself and found my niche in writing, using letters of persuasion to obtain rabbits and swap out of violin into cello. Finding a new outlet for writing here these past two months has reconnected me to this bond from many years ago.
Though my husband never had the opportunity to meet my father, he often comments on having a good sense of who he was through knowing my siblings and me. Considering “father” to be the originator of, it seems an honor to his memory that the six of us can carry on the traits that characterized the best of our patriarch. Welcoming all, an open kitchen table, stories told, letters written, endless ideas and time to listen – I see these in myself and in the five who were fathered with me and hope they will trickle down to the, now nine, grandchildren.
As the seasons change, summer eases in on the solstice and daylight extends long into the evening hours I find myself as I have each year of these past two decades in a contemplative state and, in light of the racing adventure of this week, reminded of the encouragement to express myself, not only in writing but through physical effort and, one step at a time, conquer all 154 kilometers as part of Team USA.
May we all honor the originators in our lives and carry on legacy established through our own experience.