This is not the first time I sat down to write in the past four months. There have been moments, fleeting thoughts, feelings to share and ideas brewing but none seemed ready, few felt true to the MamaTriDoc theme and I simply never made it past the first paragraph. Encouraged by dual e-mails congratulating me on my qualification for USAT Age Group Nationals 2016, I renewed my focus (along with my USAT membership), affirmed my dedication to another year of racing triathlon and found my way to the keyboard.
MamaTriDOc began as a means to document my participation with Team USA in the Age Group Long Course Triathlon World Championships. Inspired by friends who urged me to share my experience, I embraced the opportunity to stretch writing muscles as I strengthened those that powered me through the swim, bike and run. The spring and summer were filled as usual with the games and performances of my children, a busy racing season for me and the ongoing demands of my job, experiences made new this year as they were united by words on the page and shared. Perhaps it was the enhanced opportunity for reflection or the awakening of the writer within, but what began as a journaling challenge developed into a bit of a personal renaissance.
The final finish line of my 2015 racing season in Milwaukee last August would mark the end of an era geographically and a new beginning personally and professionally. Filled with many unknowns, as all great adventures should be, this restart was ripe with opportunity to redefine the MamaTriDOc mission of seeking greatness, finding balance and pursuing passion as a parent-athlete-physician.
After a decade in the town that is the birthplace for biggest, middlest and littlest, where I logged countless loops in the lakes, along the roads and on the trails and where my growth from medical student to resident to attending and program director was fostered, I was ready for change. With much love for all that Michigan gave us – family and friends, swimming and sunsets, forests and farms – secured safely in our hearts, I set out with my family for the Oregon Trail.
In the quarter of the year that has passed since this next chapter in our story began, we have immersed ourselves fully in our new community. There has been an overwhelming sense of welcome and inclusion along with opportunity to explore areas of interest that seemed previously out of reach. Aided by proximity and populous, now living in a town covering twelve square miles and populated by 40,000, the shift in participation has been catalyzed as much by relaxation of schedule as it has by the change in perception. Though I have long maintained the outlook of, “just give it a go,” I have been inhibited by fear – of failure, disappointment of self and others – and felt responsible to live up to a particular reputation. Once the decision was made to make such a seismic move in life and career, additional choices of participation suddenly became much easier. Accompanied by the perceived prestige of outside experience and courage of anonymity that came with the change of scenery, I found myself ready to take on a host of new challenges – to turn the page and start a new chapter of me.
I have found myself managing my own private practice, racing with the crew team, performing with a professional symphony, “Rx-ing” CrossFit workouts at an official affiliate, swimming with masters, circling the track with a running group (outside in January!) all with more time to spend with family, walking and biking, dining and reading, encouraging dream chasing for all four of my favorite people. We are endlessly grateful for the opportunity and we best honor the experience by “giving it a go” whenever we can.
And so it seems that while the setting and details have certainly changed, MamaTriDOc remains committed to seeking greatness, finding balance and pursuing passion as a parent-athlete-physician and will proudly wear Team USA racing kit, now representing the Pacific Northwest Region in Omaha this August at Age Group National Championships.
Having long dared to dream, writing here has reinforced for me that it is most important to then do something. May we remember that there is bravery and strength enough within to turn the page and write the next chapter!