Todays Guest post comes from one of the coolest chicks I know! I met Moka through GPP and have admired her in every way! She is the nicest, funniest person I know. She has a way to make anyone happy and is always laughing!
I asked her to post about what it takes to be a mother of 4 and train for an Ironman! She completed the Ironman St. George this past year. It takes determination, skill, endurance, physical and mental prepardness to get through such an amazing feat. Not to mention a sense of humor...
Take it away Moka!!
It Takes an Army
By: Moka Allen
November 8, 2010, I called a family meeting. My husband had said for quite some time he would support me when I was ready to do an Ironman. Well, the time had come. I sat down with my husband and 4 small children (8,5,2,&1) that evening to discuss how this would impact the family and if they were okay with the sacrifices we’d all have to make. Everyone quickly agreed and acted like it was no big deal. We really didn’t know just how many sacrifices we’d make and what we were in for. But this one race and the next six months changed our family and brought us closer than ever imagined. November 9, 2010 I had registered for Ironman St. George. Oh geeze.
I immediately got online and started doing research on training plans and finding support. I was officially in ironman training mode. I found a training group through the Ironman St. George Facebook page, they were some of the best people I could have met to cover the other side of my support group. These people had it all together. Family, fun, and fitness. They were the real deal and I wanted to join their ranks.
A typical day went like this, my mornings started between 4:00am and 5:00am so I could get in the bulk of my workout and be home in time for carpool and to get my husband off to work. To my surprise most mornings I would come home and the kids would be up and fed and mostly clothed. My two oldest children started making their beds so I wouldn’t have to and putting everyone’s dishes in the dishwasher instead of the sink. All of these little tasks made mornings so much smoother. After carpool, we’d usually head straight to the gym to finish whatever of my workout wasn’t done or do some strength training. After I slugged my way through my gym sesh, I’d run home and feed my kids lunch just in time for round 2 of carpool. After carpool I’d head back home where my 2 babies and I would lay down and take a hard earned nap. I always used this time to read a book or two to my now 3 year old and we fall asleep cuddling.
Not long after I registered, I was diagnosed with a stress fracture in my left foot. I felt defeated and that my race was over before it had began. I laid in bed for a week sobbing myself back to sleep as soon as I’d wake up. I felt like I had let everyone down. I was a mess. This bump in the road I did not see coming at all.
Just as my family had agreed, they were there wiping my tears, my kids made me cards and cuddled me in bed. My husband let me just be upset and run my course. Several people from my new training group were calling me daily as well and gladly lending an ear as I cried over the end of my triathlon career (insert sarcasm and a drama queen). With some new ironman vets who had shared in similar experiences and coping mechanism I was back in action and taking it a day at a time. As soon as I was ready, I had a giant family lifting me out of bed and throwing me back into a cold pool.
Several months into training as my workouts were getting longer and more intense, I also started traveling more to train outside in a warmer climate. What better place to train than on the actual ironmann course! This was great, or so I thought. Although I was getting the time and miles in and my family traveled with me some of the time, they’re was quite a bit of scrutiny and judgment coming my way from outsiders. These people just didn’t get it. I hated the comment “I just don’t have time for that.” Well, guess what? I don’t have time to scrapbook or host a book club. Priorities. At the time this weighed heavily on me. I often cried and beat myself up thinking that I was failing and not juggling life as well as I thought. My family helped me realize that I wasn’t the only one invested in this race and that this was their priority as well. They were just as deep into this as me and loving every moment, good and bad. If you want something you will find a way. And that’s exactly what I did.
I often felt like people thought my training was more important than my family. Which is absolutely NOT true. We learned to work as a team and enjoy and take advantage of the time we did have together even if that meant lots of cuddling and movies. What was important is that we all laughed and enjoyed each other. We started really appreciating the time we spent together instead of taking it for granted. My kids really started looking up to me like I was superwoman and could do it all. They would hear my family and friends talking about this adventure I had embarked on and starting see their Mom as a powerful and strong woman with goals, dreams and a passion. They first hand witnessed my blood, sweat, and tears. My kids decided they to wanted a piece of the tri pie too.
During Ironman week my 3 year old, Bentley, participated in the the Ironman Kids Fun Run. They started their run in the park. The crowds lined the finishers chute cheering on all these young kids striving to follow in their parents foot steps. The crowds cheered so loudly and families had made signs. The love and support by these kids fans was so impressive. Several of my new triathlon family members came to the kids fun run just to cheer on my Bentley without me even inviting them. They, just as family does, tend to show up for family events because we are family and thats exactly what family does. The kids fun run finished at the actual Ironman finish line where I would cross the following night. Bentley got a t-shirt, a finishers picture and a medal just like her mommy. Two months later and she still announces that she “did an Ironman” and shows off her medal every chance she gets.. She couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishment.
Race Day. Didn’t go as planned. Two days before my race I came down with the stomach flu. Only we were all convinced it was race nerves until about mile 21 of the marathon when it had dawned on me that my kids had the stomach bug the week before. I started the race on an empty stomach since I couldn’t eat a thing nor had I eaten much for two days prior. I somehow by the grace of God and support of my family finished. It was the longest and lonliest day of my life.I hit delirious somewhere on the bike and managed to escape a police officer attempting to pull me off the course and let a medic check me out. My husband chased me around the marathon course cheering me on.My coaches, parents, kids, niece and nephews all cheered me on at mile 13. I wanted to drop dead. At the time I was heavily annoyed by everyone. I just wanted to crawl into a hole and die. I knew I was going to be minutes from making the midnight cutoff and still had another 13 miles ahead of me. As frusterated as I was I just wanted to fall into everyone’s arms and call it a day, a good attempt, and a nice try. But I couldn’t. They all had faith in me and pushed me far beyond what ones body should be able to do. If I couldn’t do it for me I had to do it for them. I left my family with the hopes of making it back to the finish line as an Ironman. It was dark at this point and I had never felt exhaustion like this in my life! Not even after nursing babies several times in the middle of the night for months . My husband met me one last time at mile 23 and told me I was going to make it. I just had to hold a 15 min/mi. I told him my epiphany about the stomach flu. His response was “ I know, I’ve had it all day and didn’t want to tell you thats what it was.” I was shocked and yet still somehow found humor in this. My husband left so he could watch me finish. Those last few miles were the hardest. I wanted my husband to carry me, to be my crutch. I didn’t want to do this on my own any longer. I just wanted to be reunited with my family. I crossed the finish line with just 10 minutes to spare. My husband caught me across the finish line and I cried in my fathers arms. My sister in law held me and we cried together. My daughter was so excited and proud that I endured to the end. My training partners and tri family came back long after they had finished to cheer me on as I was the last one of our tri family to cross the finish line that night. My friends and family from afar stayed up til midnight and even 2 am on the east coast to watch my finish on Ironman Live. My little ones clearly didn’t make it til midnight to watch me finish but they hear the stories of that day and know that we all did something great together and are so proud of our accomplishment.
My husband and I plan on returning next year as a team but this time without the stomach flu. I definitely feel as though I have unfinished business on that course yet still have learned so much about myself and the strength of family.
It takes an army to get one athlete across an Ironman finish line. This is one army you don’t want to be against.
I am chef, personal cheuffeur, a maid, stage mom,doctor, therapist, referee, guidance counclor, soccer mom, wife, a mother of 4. I am an Ironman.