Wednesday, June 22, 2011

My Cathartic Experience

Sunday was a cathartic experience.

In January I signed up for the DC triathlon.

Sunday I completed the triathlon.

Sunday was about so much more than a race. It was about more than crossing a finish line.

It represented a journey. It was symbolic of hurdles overcome. It provided a sense of completion.

Back in 2006, Brad was deployed and I treated myself to some gym hours with a trainer to help me loose the baby weight from kiddo number three. This trainer was into triathlons and encouraged me to train for a race. The idea of having a goal to achieve became a great distraction from the deployment. Instead of just living to survive the months of Brad being gone I found myself working to achieve something greater.

When I learned Brad would be deploying for the first half of 2011 I knew I needed to find a triathlon. It had been 4 years since my last triathlon. I never anticipated taking such a long hiatus but life got in the way...we moved, remodeled a house, had another baby etc. Suddenly it was four years later. I had said before that I wanted to do at least one triathlon while we lived in the DC area and now was the time!

I knew it would be challenging to train while juggling the girls during Brad's absence. I was right. Actually, the training became just about as difficult as the triathlon! Morgan's decision to throw a fit at the gym about two months prior to the triathlon didn't help at all! I found myself hiring babysitters and dropping the kids off with helpful friends so I could swim, bike or run. It wasn't really how I wanted to spend my solo time but it was necessary. I still had not trained as I desired but I got to the point where I just had to accept it and do my best.

Race day I was organizing my staging area in the transition at 4:30am. Despite the ridiculously early hour and my dislike of early wake up calls...I was trying to appreciate the beauty of the quiet morning and the Washington Monument illuminated against the dark sky. I was thankful that I wasn't having any pre-race jitters...I don't think I was truly awake enough to be nervous.

The race in general went well. The swim was crowded but the water temperature was comfortable and I was able to keep my breathing fairly steady. The bike course took us through the city and took me by such iconic sights as Kennedy Center, the various Smithsonian museums, and down Pennsylvania Avenue. It was a fairly flat course and despite my frustration that it seemed like everyone was passing me I was still enjoying myself to some degree. The run was...well, its running, and I hate running. And the normal 5k run you find at the end of a sprint triathlon was 7.6k...booooo.

I found myself doing a lot of thinking on the run. Considering what a slow runner I am this means I have a lot of time to think! As I passed the various landmarks of the city I started reflecting on this deployment. I thought back to January and the emotions we felt when we said goodbye to Brad. I thought about the girls and the different ways they've coped with Daddy's absence. I thought about the friends that have stepped up to support us. I thought about our highs. I thought about our lows. I thought about our sweet dog, Jonah, who we said goodbye to in April. I thought about our 3 years in Virginia. I thought about moving to this area and still being pregnant at that time with Morgan! I thought about Brad and all the things he has experienced while he has been gone. I thought about the ways we both may have changed from this time. I thought about the challenges we'll face as we transition to being a family unit again. I thought where the heck is the finish line!!!! I thought about the ways I feel I've failed. I thought about how often God had enabled me to experience his presence and comfort in unique ways. I thought about myself and the ways I feel I've grown.

As I made the last turn in front of the US Capitol and saw the finish line ahead of me I was overcome with emotion. The time of reflection during the run took its toll and I did all I could to keep it together as my timing chip was removed from my ankle and my medal was placed around my neck. I accepted the complimentary water and quickly slipped away from the crowd. I sunk to the ground on a secluded spot on the steps of the United States Court House and I lost it. I started to bawl. I seriously felt like I was hyperventilating and would have gladly accepted a brown paper bag if someone offered. I was so overcome with emotion. It was like a floodgate of relief overcame me. Everything seemed to flash before me in my mind. Despite feeling discreet I was noticed by another racer who came to see if I was okay and offered to take me to the medical tent. I thanked them but insisted I was okay.

After a few more minutes of blubbering I pulled myself together. I managed to get back on my feet and set out to find the other women that had done the triathlon with me. I was still feeling emotionally raw from my cry. I shared briefly about my finish line experience but the impact that moment had on me hadn't even registered yet.

I'm still not sure it has.

I still have one more month of this deployment left. But after that triathlon I somehow feel like I can see the finish line. I'm sure it will also be an emotional finish.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Last Day of School

I can't believe that today is the last day of 1st and 3rd grade for the girls. It is hard to believe that we've been here for three years of school! This truly feels like home now and I was sad today as I know that the girls have made great friends and that this move is going to be tough.

Baileigh has had a huge growth spurt this year...especially since Christmas. She is the tallest girl in her class and tied with one boy for being the tallest in general. She is 4'10 and wears a size 5.5 shoe and a women's extra small! Mckenna started school without her two front teeth...but now they are in and she has new missing teeth.Back in September...Today...September 7, 2010

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Preschool Graduation

Can't believe Brooke just finished her 3rd year of preschool/pre-K at Lake Ridge Baptist. She is the only one of our kids to attend one preschool and as a result of being in the same place for 3 years she has made some great friends, like Lilly! They have been in the same class together since they were Morgan's age! That is crazy to think about!Singing with her class during the graduation program...This picture makes me jump ahead mentally to 13 years from now...graduating class of 2024! I'm sure it will be here before I know it!My sweet graduate...
My girls...

Friday, June 03, 2011

Luray Caverns

I have a list with a few places I want to go before we move from this area. Luray Caverns is on that list so I was happy to take advantage of the girls having Memorial Day off so we could make the 1.5 hr drive to Luray.I don't feel like giving a full explanation on the history and formation of Luray...its been too long of a day, but google it if you're interested. They are truly amazing and worth the drive to see at least once.
One of the unique formations...
Papa was in town over Memorial Day so he got to come, too.