When 98% of people hear you are training for an Ironman, they have one or two responses. Either "That is awesome! Good for you!" or "I could never do that. You're crazy." Or the response is some combination of the two. Then there's the 2%.
Over the years I haven't had to deal with this 2% a ton with my training. Thank Heaven for that. But they are there and I usually hear about their comments in a round about way. They come from family, friends, neighbors, strangers, coworkers, whatever. They are usually have something to do with I have no business doing this, I am taking time away from my family, I am being selfish, yada, yada, yada.
One incident was actually from someone who himself is an Ironman and bike racer! His comment once he heard I was training for (at the time) a 70.3 said, "Well, that's nice. Just make sure you are still there for your family."
Another incident was when it got back to me that other people were saying how selfish this was of me and I was "obsessed". They also felt that I was neglecting my family and husband.
Yet another comment was made to Ken at a social he attended, and I wasn't present. Another guy told Ken, "That's nice of you to let Katie do all of those races."
Now first off, I understand that sometimes people mean things well, they are not looking to offend, as is probably the case with the third incident, and maybe even the first one. I get it. However, if they really thought about what they were saying, they would realize how stupid/hypocritical/sexist they sound.
With the man that himself is an Ironman, why is it okay for him to train and take time away from his family and complete one but not for a female?
For the people talking behind my back and implying that I am obsessed and selfish...really?
And for the person who thinks Ken is so nice to let me do these races, Ken is not my parent nor am I his. We are in a partnership. The decisions that we make we make together and we support each other in whatever we choose to do together or separately. Ken went to grad school and I supported him for 3 years in that decision even though he was almost never home during that time. I knew that is was better for us and for him that he go. I got into running and racing and I truly believe that I am better and therefore my family is better because of it. He supports me in it, whole heartedly. He rarely misses my races. He talks about my training with me. He's my rock in all of the craziness of life, with or without my training.
A funny thing is, when an Olympic medalist like Noelle Pikus-Pace chooses to pursue her dreams while having a family, no one questions that (maybe they do, but no one in the media I saw).
No one questions men's intentions when they choose to spend countless hours and time away from home to train for whatever they are doing.
No one would probably question this if I spent the same amount of time on Facebook, scrapbooking or watching TV.
We all have 24 hours in a day. I choose to spend mine differently. The only TV I watch is while I am on my trainer, and even that is not much TV. I check Facebook a couple of times a day, but don't spend hours on it.
I have gone to great lengths to be the invisible athlete to my family, because they do and always will come first. I train during hours that they won't miss me anyhow - often right after school before I pick up the kids, super early in the morning, after they are in bed, or early Saturday morning when they are all sleeping in anyhow. It is not easy, it requires a great deal of sacrifice and juggling, but I think that 90% of the time I make it work.
Selfish? Yes, it is a selfish sport if you allow it to be, but like I stated in the paragraph above, I have gone to great lengths to keep it from being so. I specifically chose a training plan that doesn't have me training 18-22 hours a week so I can still be wife/mom/teacher. I have found the fine line between how much I can race/train and still keep a happy family. I can't race every weekend, or even once a month and keep a happy home. I have found that by doing 5-7 races a year, I can still have a happy home life.
Another thing I have found is, that by taking care of myself, I can then better take care of people around me. By taking the time to swim/bike/run, and having that outlet for myself to de-stress and think about things, I am a better wife and mom. Physically it has made me able to keep up with my kids and the demanding schedule we have. So maybe being selfish isn't all that bad, huh?
I also like to think that I am a better parent. I have taught my kids that they can do whatever they want to do. I have taught them about setting goals and reaching them. I am teaching my son that he has to work for things and work hard, but it pays off in the end. I am teaching my daughter about confidence and self esteem that come from exercise and physical activity as she lifts my hand weights next to me as I ride my trainer. I am teaching her that strong is beautiful and to appreciate and care for her body for the amazing things it is capable of instead of it being an object to be used or not appreciated by others.
So there. I said it. I feel better for saying it. I know that for the handful of people that actually read this blog, you are probably athletic/triathletes yourself so you "get" it. But no one has to "get" why I do these things, because I don't do it for them or anyone else. Heck, there are days I still don't "get" why I signed up for 140.6. I am just asking people not to judge, and think before they say something.
Hopefully I am in my own little bubble on this, have any of you experienced such a thing?