These races give me a lot of time to think as I swim, bike and run. It takes me about an hour and 45 minutes to complete a sprint triathlon. Often as I am in the midst of a race I remember a speaker I heard at a literacy conference several years ago. She was talking about having students write poetry and that people often think it isn't such a great idea because kids write such terrible poetry. She showed a picture of her husband at a triathlon and asked, "What do you call the person who comes in last in a triathlon?" A triathlete.
Anyway, I often think about this as I plod my way through a race. This time it got me thinking about how I define myself. The order is mostly random and not meant to suggest priority.
- As a mother
- As a teacher
- As a wife
- As a reader
- As a triathlete
- As a cultured individual
- As a musician
- As a member of a family (sister, daughter, granddaughter, niece, daughter-in-law, etc.)
A large part of my mulling over this during the race was thinking about how much effort I put into each of the above. I work at being a mother and a teacher - reflecting, reading, talking to others. I could certainly work harder, but I put in a reasonable effort. That's not so true as a triathlete and it shows. There was a period in my life when I put in that kind of effort as a musician but not now.
The question this raises for me is where to set the bar. Do I work to put more effort into the areas that I feel I'm falling down in? Doing so would require letting other areas drop a bit. Or do I accept the level of effort that exists now? That feels like lowering the bar which sounds bad to me. But is it?
Oddly enough, I'm also a bit fascinated by the things that aren't on the above list. Things I would expect to be how I define myself but don't seem to be.
*I've never been able to come up with the right verb for this. Run isn't appropriate because I also biked and swam. Competed might work for some folks but is not the right term for what I do in a triathlon. Any thoughts?