Category Archives: Life with kids

Spring is finally here!

I never thought I would be so happy to see +1 on the weather forecast. This winter has definitely been a long, deep cold winter and most of us are desperate for any hint that spring is around the corner. It’s hard to stay motivated when you are staring at the treadmill t.v. screen again because it’s -21C outside and no matter how committed you are, -21C is just cold. Too many of the triMom runs turned into core workouts because the roads or weather were horrible.

Ready for -19C temps. I never run with a scarf but tonight it's a necessity. It kept freezing from my breath hitting the cold.

Ready for -19C temps. I never run with a scarf but tonight it’s a necessity. It kept freezing from my breath hitting the cold.

But as I type I can hear the wind blowing in warmer air and the rain is washing away the last of the snow mounds. When you lift your face to the sky you can actually feel the sun warm your face – yes, I really am vitamin D deficient I think and ready for a new season. This spring I am introducing a number of new clinics for families and individuals that are near and dear to my heart. For me, exercise is always something that I share with my family. My husband and I go for long bike rides instead of date nights. We share are enthusiasm for the sport and for pushing our limits each time we go riding. My kids are getting bigger (too big, too quickly) and now go running with me or jump in on a workout; whether, it’s doing a few push ups, burpees, planks or just hanging out and talking to me while I finish off my last set. The point is it isn’t something that tears me away from my family but is something that bonds us together. Gives us something to do together, to share, to make time for each other. I can’t wait to hear about my daughter’s day on our run. She’s guaranteed uninterrupted mummy time, something she is always looking for.

My daughter completing her first triathlon.

Whenever we hear ads about gyms or making the time to workout, or the latest Pinterest post about fitness, the slogan is always about making time for yourself. Hey, don’t get me wrong I think we all need some time to ourselves but exercising shouldn’t necessarily be yet another thing that pulls us away from our family, making our schedules that much more compressed and stressed. There are more than enough things going on in our lives to stress us out. And the sad thing is our kids are getting less and less active too.

On one of our runs my daughter had a brilliant idea. She asked me if she could start a running group with her friends, just like my triMom running group. She said she wanted her friends to see how much fun it can be to go running with your mom or dad. She was 7. So starting April 27th, she and I will be running a Family Run Clinic for 9 weeks. We are going to teach everyone some key running drills, technique, how to pace yourself and most of all …. how much fun you can have running together, being together. Participating in an activity with our kids versus watching them and spending quality time together.

I also want to start right at the beginning, the same way I started. Give moms a chance to get outside, meet other moms while exercising with their babies. It really does start at birth. The more active we are as parents, the more active our kids will be. Now triMom offers a Stroller Fit class and when the weather isn’t cooperating a Mom and Baby class. It is one of the best hours in my week. A room full of adorable babies and motivated, beautiful women.

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We do only have so many hours in a day. Or more importantly so many seconds – 86,400 seconds in fact. Each day we are blessed with another 86,400 seconds. How do you want to spend those seconds?
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36 Years in the Making

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Last winter I spoke to a grade 8 class about qualifying for the Age Group Team and about my inspiration to race triathlon. During the question period one boy asked me a really good question that I reflect on from time to time and I think I finally have a complete answer for him. He asked: “If I knew how successful I could be in triathlon when I was younger do I believe I could have gone all the way and competed for Canada at the Olympics?”

Trust me, I have no grand ideas that I am that talented but his question underlines a bigger more important question that we ask ourselves all the time – what if? We all do it. What if I had continued playing the piano? I showed potential, I just needed to work a little harder. What if I had stayed in school to pursue more education instead of going into the workforce? What if I made one choice over another, would I be in the same place? It is a very powerful question and it can excite you with the possibilities or it can gnaw away at your self-doubt.

So do I think if I had turned to athletics and triathlon earlier in life would I have been an Elite Athlete or even an Olympian? What an amazing idea, right? The short answer is – No. The long answer is – Athleticism, actually any achievement on that scale is about more than talent. People who can see, recognize, acknowledge their dream at a young age and give everything up for that dream are truly a rare breed of human being. You have to have such drive and determination, to not want “normal” teenage things. You have to want to sacrifice everything for your dream, not knowing if you will achieve it. I know I never possessed that type of drive in my youth and no amount foreknowledge would change that.

The other thing that makes our national and elite athletes stand out from the pack is their willingness to suffer for their dream. And I mean suffer. This past year I have experienced a small snapshot of the injuries and illnesses athletes suffer in their training to win and what they have to train through to win. It’s not pretty, it’s not easy and it is most definitely painful. Look at Clara Hughes who cycled with a broken back last year during the Olympics. No one knew, she had a broken vertebra as she cycled into 5th place. 5th place!! Out of the world!! With a broken back!! That is true mental toughness. And I didn’t have it when I was 15, 25 or even 30.

Instead my life has been 36 years in the making. I am where I am today because of all the good, so-so and bad choices I have made in my life. Each and every decision has put me here and I couldn’t be happier. I love my life right now at this moment. My success would have meant nothing if I hadn’t had my husband and children to share it with. I also own my success. I did not push myself and test my boundaries to please anyone but myself. No one has made me do this. No one forces me to train and no one puts pressure on me other than myself.

It took having my children and being faced with scary uncertainties to discover my mental toughness. I learned self-sacrifice through my children. Self sacrifice is a hard, humbling experience but it also builds crucial character and internal strength. Strength that I can now tap into when I want to give up. I also learned emotional and physical pain during the past 4 years. Being able to overcome pain and control pain has let me push myself to new limits.

My life has brought me to this place in time with the skills I need to succeed. It has brought people into my life who believe in me, encourage me and pick me up when I want to give up. I have a strength and vitality my 16-year-old self never new was possible or dreamed off. My father once told me he never regretted turning older or entering a new phase of life because everything in his life has made him the man he is today. I didn’t understand then but I do now.

The Olympics were never a possibility for me and I’m ok with that. I am a work in progress. Who knows what I’ll be capable of in 10 years from now.

Childhood Memories

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It’s funny the things that linger from childhood that whether you know it or not shape who you are. Seven has been a significant number for me since I was seven years old. The day after my seventh birthday my mum went to the hospital for surgery to remove the breast cancer that had been silently growing for years. She held off the surgery so that she could celebrate my birthday.

My brother and I visited Mum once while she was in the hospital. I remember being in the hall outside her room and I know I saw her but I don’t remember seeing my mum. What I do remember is a summer with my Granny. Trips to the swimming pool and the local ice cream shop, “Kid’s,” where my Granny would treat us to sinful delights. She made what was a very unusual summer normal. She surrounded my brother and I with love and routine. Everything we needed and I love her even more for it.
My Granny

The thing is I never thought my mum’s cancer had a huge impact on my childhood. When I think of that summer I remember my Granny’s visit not my mum’s sickness. But I realize that isn’t true. Now that my eldest is seven she is always asking: did you do this at 7 mum? did you go here or there at 7? did that happen to you when you were 7? Honestly, I don’t know because I have blended all my memories from when I was 5-8 into one year – seven. So even though I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time or how sick my mum was, I internalized it by connecting all my memories to that one year.

It’s not just my daughter’s questions that have brought back these memories, it’s being sick now for 7 weeks. I’ve already written about having a cold. Turned out it’s an antibiotic resistant chest and sinus infection. Not a big deal; a nuisance – yes. For a my daughter it turns out it’s been a big deal. She was 3 when our lives turned upside down. Granted I was not nearly as sick as my mother was but for a short time in our lives we lived a very scary, uncertain life where I was meeting with neurosurgeons trying to figure out if I needed brain surgery to remove the tumor on my pituitary gland. We had no answers why I was in such crippling pain, why I was struggling with my short-term memory or why I was so tired all the time.

I spent so much time lying in bed or on the couch unable to play, cranky and miserable. I still feel like I failed my daughter and son as a mother during that year; but nonetheless, I didn’t think she would remember any of it. She was 3, what could she remember. It turns out, a lot. She doesn’t remember or know the details. But she remembers me being in bed, being tired and being in pain. She remembers a sense of insecurity and fear. Fear of losing me. I had no idea.

While I’ve been complaining about being tired, headaches, sinus pain and frustrated with being unable to breathe properly she was worrying, watching me, waiting to see if I was going to get really sick. So when I came home and told my husband I was having some breathing tests done at the hospital to figure out why I am still struggling with my breath control while working out she started seriously worrying. She finally asked me while I was tucking her into bed if I was going to die. For me the question came out of no where with no context until she started telling me why. I felt horrible.

We really have no idea how much we affect and impact our kids and this was one big slap in the face for me. Not only to think about what and how I say things around the kids but to also realize how events leave lasting imprints that will forever shape how they interpret their world.

I reassured her that mummy is fine and that she just has a cold. That mummy can breathe, she just wants to improve how she breathes when she is running and swimming. I swore I would always be honest and up front with her and that she doesn’t have to worry about mummy but I know that last one isn’t true. She will always worry about me, the same way I worry about my mum. It’s imprinted in us to worry. I will do my best to not give her a reason to worry. And most of all, sick or not it will never stop me from living my life and achieving my dreams. My illness 4 years ago transformed by life, making me a better, stronger person and hopefully a better mother.

This week we were both in the pool at the same time. I was half way through my swim set when she came in with her camp group and her face lit up when she realized that she would be swimming next to me in the leisure pool. I finished a 300m set, breathing pretty hard to see her little face two feet away. She was smiling and then scowling. She asked if I was resting enough and taking it easy. I smiled at her and reassured her that I was feeling strong and that I was already getting my breath back. I let her coach me for the rest of swim. She watched the clock, cheered me on and kept an eye on me. She would swim along with me as far as she could go and wait for me to swim back, trying to race me back to the wall. We both had a blast!

I learned two lessons this week. Never underestimate the impact I have on my kids, no matter how small. They will remember. Maybe not the exact event, but the emotion, the feeling will stay. Secondly, to show my kids that life isn’t about sitting on the sidelines. No matter how long or short life is, you seize it with all your might. There is no room for what ifs and maybes.

‘Tis the Season

It’s officially 12 days to Christmas and I am behind on my posts. I’m sorry but for the next two weeks my family is going to be taking centre stage.
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Last week was a great week! I managed to fit in 7 hrs of training. I was 2 hours shy of my goal but I feel successful in increasing my volume without any strains or pains. My physio is going well and it looks like this New Year is going to be a strong and healthy one for me. Knock on wood.
I would like to say thank you for taking the time to read my posts and share your thoughts and inspirations with me. I feel truly blessed to be on this journey with my family. To share our/mine struggles and triumphs with you. And hopefully encourage you to realize your own dreams.

From my family to yours have a very Merry Christmas!
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The Best Laid Plans

This is my third draft today about training plans which is about as successful as I’ve been in trying to write my actual training plan this week. And yes, I know it’s the off season but that’s when your training schedule is most needed. It’s easy to lose focus in the off season. Whether you raced your first tri this year or your a veteran you worked hard this summer and the fall is when you get to take a break, reduce your intensity, maybe even try a new activity but you need to keep moving. That’s where your training plan comes into play.

In saying that I hate training plans; well not the plan itself, I hate writing training plans. I struggle finding that balance of the right training volume, my children’s needs, my husband’s work schedule and his training schedule, and time with my friends. Housework …. it’s a last thought and my house is a testament to that. But traditional training plans just don’t cut it.

I spent hours searching the web last year trying to find a plan that would get me to my goal of qualifying for Worlds while fitting my lifestyle requirements and I came up empty handed. The underlying problem with all of the plans was an assumption of having blocked time to train (ie. 2hrs+) and an ability to consistently train each day. I have neither. Simply put they aren’t flexible. I need a plan that is fluid and adaptable.

Peter is out of the house by 5:00am and he doesn’t get home until after 5:00pm. My older two are at school but I still have my youngest. I try to fit in 3 swims, 3 bikes, 3 runs and 2-3 strength training sessions a week. For the next 3-4 months my focus is on aerobic capacity and strength training, so I need longer blocks of time to do that. The question is how to make it work and that brings me back to why I hate writing training plans. I spent more time than I’d like to admit swearing at the computer trying to make it all fit. It’s like trying to put together a puzzle but the picture keeps changing. By the end of last night I came up with a plan that I think will work. I have 11 hours of training per week when everything is going to plan.

And that’s why I need a flexible schedule. Today I was supposed to be at the pool working on my homework (distance sets of 400m) while my baby girl was playing in kinder gym. Maybe even a run after. Instead, she has a sky high fever, has puked on me and overall she’s having a rough day. So right now I’m sitting on my trainer listing to the “I feel like superman” mix on Songza typing this post while she is watching Sagwa the Siamese Cat on PBS and the dog is lying at my feet trying to not to get hit by my pedals.

The best laid plans, right?

The Little Moments

I had a debate a while ago that it’s the little moments in life with your children that count, not the big moments. I’m not disagreeing that the big moments are important but what shapes our children are the little moments.

When I decided to try and qualify for World’s I was terrified. At the time I only told my husband and a co-worker, worried about what people would think and scared about failing. I had a few decent races up my sleeve but nothing stellar. Nothing that said “I am a champion.” So deciding to try for the team seemed like a huge leap. I believed with a lot, I mean a lot, of hard work I could do it but I was still scared. Scared of disappointing my husband, who had invested so much into me and equipment; disappointing my kids and my friends.

But this is where the little moments count. The best thing you can be as a parent is to be flawed. Every time my daughter was struggling in school I could talk to her about my struggles and why it is so important to practice. At the end of the day you may not win or get a perfect score but you can honestly say you gave it everything. If you let your kids see you struggle they learn that it’s okay to fail because it’s from our failures that we truly win.

I was reminded of this this past week when I was distributing fliers for my bootcamp, Going for Gold, to the local businesses in our town. We were about to enter the first store when my eldest daughter pulled my hand and said: “Wait mumma.” She looked at me and said: “What if they say no?” She was gnawing on her lip worried that I would be rejected and to be honest I was a little nervous too. I looked at her, squeezed her hand and said: “It’s okay baby. I’ll be disappointed but it’s okay. There’s always the next store.” So all four of us went in and asked if my poster could be displayed. Shelley at the Jitterbug Cafe was enthusiastic and asked the kids if they were excited. Their faces lit up. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.

We went to most of the stores in town and asked if they would put our poster up. I hoped someone would say no just so that I could show the kids it’s ok but everyone said yes. I live in a pretty great town! By the end, the kids were telling the stores why they should put their mumma’s poster up. I watched them get more and more confident, it was beautiful.

The little moment’s count.

Welcome to TriMom!

Thank you for visiting my site. I guess I should start off by telling you a bit about myself and why I am so passionate about triathlon. Most people know me as the woman who raced my first triathlon 5 months pregnant. What most people don’t know is why I raced that day. After the birth of my second child I became quite ill and no one really knew what was wrong. I felt like I was drowning. I was exhausted beyond reason. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office crying because I was so tired I was afraid to drive home. Essentially she told me that I was an overwhelmed mother.

The thing is I kept getting worse and it wasn’t postpartum. I developed a constant headache and then my right eye became sensitive to the touch, leading to my peripheral vision in the eye diminishing and my vision being blurred from time to time. It was my eye doctor who realised that it was more than being overwhelmed. He could see that my optic nerve was actually swollen and sent me to an eye surgeon. It was the surgeon who diagnosed me with hypothyroidism. My condition had gone undiagnosed for so long a feedback loop had been created in my body that had caused my pituitary gland to swell, putting pressure on my optic nerve. And for a short while I started to feel better, but the headaches started to come back – stronger and longer. I was sent for an MRI and it was discovered that I had a tumor on my pituitary gland. It wasn’t cancerous but they couldn’t tell if it was an adenoma or a cyst and I would have to wait for more tests to find out what it was exactly.

In the meantime, I had watched my brother race a triathlon in the summer and was blown away by him, by the environment and by the commitment of the people who raced that day. I could see what my brother had been talking about, the camaraderie and the determination it took to race. I decided that I wanted to try.

I was so tired of being in pain all the time and feeling completely out of control, so training for a triathlon seemed like a way to get my life back while we waited.

I joined my local Y’s triathlon group through Second Wind Conditioning and started training for a triathlon. A few months in I found out I was pregnant with my third child.  My husband, Peter, and I decided that I would keep training with the group under my new doctor’s direction. The funny thing is I started to feel better as each week passed by. Slowly the headaches started to recede, my memory started to improve, my energy started to return. It felt like my baby girl was healing me from the inside out. My coach and Peter were amazing. Peter went to the local junk yard and took the parts from 4 bikes to make me one road bike. Painted pink as per my eldest daughter’s request. We called it the Junk Yard Gem. So 5 months pregnant I lined up with all the try-a-triers and raced my first try-a-tri. I came almost dead last but I finished and waiting at the finish line was Peter and the kids. I felt on top of the world!

 

After my baby girl was born, I went back to training and signed up for the same race. This time I came 4th in my age group. I’ve been totally hooked since. At every race I hear my 3 monkeys screaming “go mummy, go!” with their cattle bells and see Peter beaming with pride. He calls himself the Elite Spectator. He can pick me out of the pack in the water and knows exactly where I should be on the course. He knows all my splits before the results are posted. He is my backbone!

 

It’s been three years, since then I’ve traded the junk yard gem in for a road bike and a TT (time trial bike), setting a new goal for myself this year. I wanted to qualify for the Canadian National Team to compete at the ITU World Championships as an age grouper. The race is in London, England next year where my family is from and where most of them still live, including my grandparents. My grandmother follows all my races and to have the chance to race in front of her is a dream come true. I qualified in Leamington, Ontario at the Leamington Triathlon Weekend this year and she was the first person I called.

This is where most people assume I have some kind of athletic background but the truth is I was a bookworm throughout school. My athletic activities were sailing and recreational tennis. After my son was born I joined my local YMCA, mostly to meet other moms and introduce the kids to other children their age. I started going up to the fitness area with my girlfriend. I was clueless how anything worked or what I was suppose to do. I would stalk her to figure out how to turn a treadmill on or how to use the ellipticals. Last fall I took the personal training courses at the Y and am now a trainer there. Now I train her!

Race season is over. There are only two seasons for triathletes, race season and training season. So now the real work begins as I start to train for world’s. I hope you will follow me as I talk about the highs and lows of training, the struggles and joys of doing it while balancing my family life and competing.

See you at the finish line,

Amy