3:56am: My alarm goes off, I roll out of bed, and the day begins with a short run. By 6:00am I am at work (trying to do the least amount of work-related work as possible). After battling the miserable New Jersey traffic, I pick up my son and I am home by 5:30 in time to get changed and run to the store to get something to make for dinner. After dinner, dishes, bath, and a short TV show it is time to put the kid to bed, at which point there is a 95% chance that I pass out in bed with him. How do we as athletes find the time to manage work, family, friends, and training? Are there days that we sacrifice one to accommodate the needs of the others?
It's a fine balancing act. We walk on a very narrow tight rope every day to try to fit in all the important things in life. I, like many others, drop the ball on one of these vital elements every day. I find the most important thing to make it all work is creativity and thinking outside the box. As a single parent who works full time and enjoys an active social life this is not always easy. Resourcefulness is key, and I like to utilize all of my resources. I often find myself getting up at the ass crack of dawn to drop my son off at a friend’s house, or driving an extra hour, just to squeeze in an hour work out.
Life can be crazy. The other night I finally walked in my door at 7:00pm after work and a short swim. I spent some time with my son who I had not seen all weekend and made dinner. I began to load the entire sink full of dishes into the dishwasher only to find MOLD. Mold growing on the dishes. I had not run my dishwasher in at least a week (In my defense, I live at the beach where the air tends to be more moist creating the perfect breeding ground…well that’s what I tell myself.). Clearly my dishes had been suffering over the past week, as well as the rest of my house.
Warning/Disclaimer: Some of my non-triathlete friends and family do not find this as entertaining as I do…It is late summer, around noon, and we are set up for sales at the Pine Barrens Olympic Triathlon by DQ Events. I cannot understand why my two year-old son is so cranky. He slept well, has “his” ipad, has his friends…then it occurs to me- I may have forgotten to feed him breakfast….and lunch. This is an all too common occurrence during the busy race season; I seem to be under the impression that the two year-old should know he has to remind me to feed him. I do not like to drop the ball on my kid, but on occasion the ball gets dropped.
I try to prioritize what is the most important task for the day or the week. Last fall, that meant trying to adequately prepare for the Philadelphia Marathon, which meant work, friends, bike, and swim all went on the back burner until after the race. Even with all those on hold, trying to find the time to run 40+ miles a week was difficult. I managed to hoodwink my younger sister into 2 babysitting sessions one weekend when she came to visit… she thought she was just coming for some QT (there was some of that too, of course).
While talking to one of my friends the other day, we began to talk about how we juggle it all. Being a single parent of four children and a runner herself, she knows right where I am coming from. She describes her life as a whole bunch of items delicately placed in an overstuffed refrigerator. Carefully you must open the door, as at any time one of the items hanging on the edge may just fall off the shelf. Every element--family, friends, workouts, and work--has a place in the fridge of life. Prioritizing creatively helps maintain this delicate balance so the important things can neatly be stored in the fridge--and the 12 pound frozen turkey doesn't fall out and hit you in the head.