Why I Tri

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Why I Tri

It’s still dark outside as I slip into the pool and begin swimming at 5 am.

There will be just enough time to swim, shower and drive home to be with my 6 school-aged children before they leave for school. It’s important to me that I’m available for them both before and after school and that can mean some super early workouts.

Pretty much everything I do is for my children. They are primary reason I fled a 27 year long abusive marriage.

My children are also the primary motivating force behind me training for and competing in triathlons.

This year I am training to participate in my first full IronMan triathlon.

The first question asked when someone finds out that I’m doing this is “How far is that?”

I’ll explain that it’s a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and then a marathon run to finish it all off.

There is usually a pause and then: “All in one day?!”

Yes. All in one day. Crazy, isn’t it?

99% of the time I *love* training for triathlons, but even I sometimes question my sanity in pursuing this.

Earlier this year I had to have knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. My recovery ended up being much slower than anticipated. Thankfully, as I rehabbed my knee I was able to work with an excellent physical therapist ~ a triathlete himself, who understood my IronMan goals. During one of my PT sessions he asked me, “So, why do you tri (do triathlons)?”

What a great question! As I answered BJ, I was surprised to find myself fighting tears. Triathlon has played a *huge* role in my life in the past 6 or 7 years. I thought that it would be helpful to think about that question and explain here “Why I Tri”, both for me, and for others who are curious.

First of all, learning to open water swim and compete in triathlons was something that I feel certain the Lord used to show me how to be strong and brave in preparation for escaping a 27 year long abusive marriage and rescuing my 12 children.

Now, as a single mom of a large family dealing with ongoing legal battles, trying to advocate for adult children who have PTSD after so many years of abuse and learning to navigate my own PTSD, training for triathlons keeps me going.

Three and one-half years after escaping my abusive marriage I continue to “tri.”  Here’s my why.

I Tri to Manage My PTSD

  • Part of the fallout from living with abuse for 27 years is that I have Complex PTSD. Training for triathlons has been the most effective way I’ve found to deal with the flashbacks, invasive memories, depression and unpredictable emotions that go along with C-PTSD.
  • PTSD can be incredibly overwhelming and scary. It’s also scary doing new things like learning to swim open water, bike long distances and run. Learning something new makes me feel brave. I need all the brave I can get in my life right now.
  • If getting a hard workout in is good, getting a hard workout in outdoors is at least 50% better. There’s something about being out in the sun, observing changing skies and catching glimpses of wildlife that grounds and calms me.
  • Restful sleep can be elusive with PTSD. Daily triathlon training helps.
  • There is a meditative quality to some of my workouts, especially swimming laps and biking long distances that I love.
  • Triathlon training also gives me small daily goals to accomplish.  This gives me a reason (other than my children) to get up each day. Many days the routine of showing up for my workout pulls me through very dark and overwhelming times.
  • When I am managing my PTSD I am better able to be the mom that my children need me to be.
nature run

Running in the woods

I Tri for my Children

  • I tri to be an example for my children of healthy ways to deal with life challenges and stress. I hope that in watching me, my children will be inspired to take on their own challenges and accomplish their own big goals.
  •  I am a much better version of myself when I’m working out each day. I’m not nearly as overwhelmed with my life and am able to be more present and available for my kids.
  •  My kids have told me numerous times how proud they are of me ~ that they love telling their friends, “My mom is an IronMan!” (They don’t care at all that I’m slow and will never be an elite athlete.)


I Tri for Me

  • Triathlon is one thing that I do just for me.
  • As a single mom of a dozen children, time alone is a rare commodity. Swimming, biking and running gives me quiet time to think, pray and be alone.
  • You guys, riding my bike is just plain fun. My parents can tell you some pretty hilarious stories from my childhood of all of the ways I tried to “fly.” I no longer need to sew a cape or make my own wings and jump off of picnic tables. (Don’t laugh ~ I was four, forheavenssake!) Riding my bike is probably the closest I’ll ever get to flying and I love it!
  • Not only is it fun, but I have made numerous friends. The local triathlon community is quite close-knit and so supportive. Triathlon is one of the few sports in which everyone competing is cheering for everyone else.
  • Learning something new shatters a preconception of myself. Once I shattered one (I can’t swim), I went on to take on more difficult challenges.
  • When I am fit and strong I feel good physically. I love it that I am more athletic now, at 52, than I was when I played sports in high school!
  • Triathlon training allow me to challenge myself in ways that I choose. So much of my life right now consists of extremely difficult situations that are thrust upon me ~ that I never would have chosen.  When I train for triathlons, I have some very challenging workouts. It is tremendously satisfying to accomplish a workout that I wasn’t totally sure I could do.
  • I am very aware that being able to train like this is a privilege. Many people simply can’t physically do this and I know that I won’t always be able to do train this way. Each day that I can swim, bike or run is a gift that I don’t want to squander.
flying on my bike

Flying on my bike

I Tri to Give Others Hope

  • Finally, I tri to give others hope. Hope for those that are broken, for those who are deeply wounded and feel alone. Hope that it can get better. Hope that overwhelming circumstances which feel like they’ll sink you might actually be the catalyst to teach you to swim and even fly!
  • I’m not sharing this here to tell everyone how wonderful I am. I truly am not a particularly gifted athlete, just somewhat desperate and very persistent. I’m an extremely ordinary person ~ a very broken ordinary person, with huge challenges. Triathlon is something that the Lord has used in my life to give me the strength to keep going, to keep “showing up” each day for my kids.

It’s hard to say where one small act of bravery might lead you.

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  1. Stephanie May 17, 2016 at 10:04 pm

    Susan, I really, really like this. It makes so much sense, and I can relate to it, not because I am doing it, but that perhaps I can aspire to doing something to grow in these ways. Thank you for your articulate way of sharing your thoughts, heart, and life. XO

    • susanmoore May 17, 2016 at 10:37 pm

      You are so sweet. Thanks so much Stephanie. I miss you guys!

  2. Stephanie Jones May 17, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    You are amazing!!!

    • susanmoore May 18, 2016 at 7:38 am

      Honestly, I feel way more desperate and broken than “amazing,” but thank you so much for your kind words. I really do appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  3. Marla Boone May 18, 2016 at 7:17 am

    You are so right! I can identify in a very small way. Endurance running was a place to pray and weep and get moving for me. Thank you for sharing, you’re such an inspiration.

    • susanmoore May 18, 2016 at 7:36 am

      Thanks Maria. You understand! Yes, it’s amazing how helpful endurance sports can be,isn’t it?

  4. Lesley Boyer May 18, 2016 at 9:08 am

    (((((Dear Susan))))). You are brave. How lovely. Thank you for sharing why you ‘tri.’

    I am learning to be brave. Like you. Like Matthew, my youngest child. Matthew once cried when a lab tech tried to give him a Hero sticker because he had been brave during a blood draw. “I don’t want to be a hero,” he wailed. “Heroes are brave and to be brave, you have to be afraid first. I don’t like being afraid!”

    Matthew was a hero. So are you. So am I. Here’s to being brave. And here’s to the One who keeps us safe and gives us strength in times of fear and darkness.

    Onward, then! The best is yet to come.

    • susanmoore May 18, 2016 at 9:15 pm

      Leslie, thank you so much. What a wonderful story! I agree with Matthew. Being a hero isn’t my goal, but I’m really glad that the Lord is the God who is with us, no matter how fearful we are.

  5. Kristin Jones May 20, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    So touched. Keep getting out there as you reach for your goals, hopes,and deep healing! Love you, maybe I can see you early June when we will be in town for Melinda’s wedding on the 10th!

    • susanmoore May 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      Kristin, thank you so much. You’ve always been so encouraging. Yes! Maybe I can see you in June. How exciting that Melinda is getting married! And how does everyone grow up so fast, anyway?!

  6. Andrea Deo May 26, 2016 at 10:36 pm

    You are auch an inspiration. Triathlon training is also the time that I get alone to pray and talk to myself. My 9 months of training were hard after my hip surgery but I got it and I did my Full IM. I did because I needed to show me that I was able to do whataever I wanted to and to be a role model to my two daughters. God bless you and thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • susanmoore May 27, 2016 at 7:20 am

      Andrea, thanks so much. Recovering from hip surgery is not fun. How cool that you still did your IM!

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