I’ve changed. Sometimes you’ll hear that people don’t change; It’s just the circumstances around them. I’m not sure I believe that. Perhaps a little backstory is necessary if you’re to understand where I’m coming from.
I’ve been competing in triathlons of various distances since 2002. Our first child, Isabella Hope, was born in 2004, just before triathlon season. I decided then that she would always come first, no matter what. The way I approached triathlon changed a lot in 2004, but I kept racing.
In August 2008 my wife was admitted to the hospital in preterm labor at just 20 weeks while carrying our twins Max and Kate. She stayed in the hospital for 10 weeks. Isabella and I visited every day. We also had to learn to live without Mommy for a while. Though it was difficult being without my wife, I’ll never forget the quiet evenings at our lonely table with Izzy. Brushing her hair, finding matching hair bows to go with her outfits, tucking her into her bed, doing my best to explain why Mommy was staying in the hospital. I’m grateful to have connected with my daughter in such a way.
While in the hospital my wife Karen contracted a mysterious infection. She nearly died. Really. The sort of closeness to death that you never imagine and certainly never forget. The sort of closeness where you see it on the Doctors faces. Max and Kate were delivered at 30 weeks, so the doctors could focus on saving Karen. They did. And we had preemies. They stayed in a variety of hospitals over the next 6 weeks. There were days when we weren’t sure how our story would end. We’d come close with Karen and now closer with our children.
I learned during that time in my life that you meet real endurance, for the first time in your life, in the face of your greatest fears. We’re far stronger than most of us imagine.
Wrapping up the long story, eventually health was restored to our family. Max and Kate are 4 years old now and perfectly healthy. Karen is better and enjoys being a stay at home mom. Izzy and I still talk sometimes about our time during those months when Mommy was “taking care of Max and Kate.” She’s a triathlete now herself.
Triathlon was far from my mind during that hard year, but it stayed in my heart. Nowhere near the surface. It was deep. Hidden somewhere in subterranean currents of my conscience.
I made my “comeback” to racing, after what ended up being a nearly two year hiatus. Reenergized by learning the important things in life, I took a big step forward and signed up for my first 70.3 event. I’ve since raced that distance 4 times, including my favorite race – Rev3 Knoxville, which I’ll race again this year. I’ve rediscovered my passion for triathlon, but there are more factors at play than ever before. A young family, demanding work, and long course triathlon training is a juggling act. There’s more though. It’s that change that I mentioned. It tugs at me.
I’m 38 years old. As 40 approaches I’ve reflected on where I’ve been – being careful not to feel like a victim. That’s not it all. I’m fortunate beyond measure. As I reflected though I began to wonder what sort of legacy I was leaving for my kids after the journey we have been on. Not just a shadow box of medals from events, but life lessons taught through example. I’m not certain I was doing that before. I was getting by. Getting through it. But not seizing it.
I sat and wondered what the world and Izzy, Max, and Kate would remember about me. Was it that I got up every day and went through the motions? The bleakness of that gripped me. Shook me. A revolution began.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “Revolution” as: a fundamental change in the way of thinking about or visualizing something : a change of paradigm
That’s what I needed. A fundamental change in how I viewed life. A trip into those underground currents where my questions about who I am might be answered. So I started a revolution to overthrow the fear that’s ruled my heart for most of my adult life. Fear of failure. Fear of mistakes. Fear of letting my kids down somehow with my life.
I sat one cold winter afternoon, staring blankly at my computer monitor. Surrounded by photos of my wife and kids. The idea of personal revolution pulsing in my veins. Like I needed to jump out of my own skin and do something. Someway to put the hard memories and monotony and safety of sameness, behind me.
I sat there that day and signed up for my first 140.6 mile event at Rev3 Cedar Point. It’s a step over the line. My personal revolution. A getting back to the way I used to be. An acknowledgement of who I’ve become. Complete change by Revolution.
Maybe I changed all the way back in 2008, but didn’t learn to accept it until now. As I mentioned before, you meet real endurance in the face of your greatest fears. I don’t have much to fear in my life anymore. But I’m ready to meet real endurance again. On September 7th I’ll spend an entire day and 140.6 miles shaking it’s hand again.
We’re far stronger than most of us imagine. You’re far stronger than you know. What will be your revolution this year?
You Can Follow Chad’s Blog here: