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Her Turn
Her Turn is a regularly appearing column presented by the USA Triathlon Women’s Committee and is intended to address topics affecting female participants in our sport.


Family First
By Barb Lindquist 
When moms in my small town find out I had a previous life as an Olympic triathlete, they often ask how I have handled the transition to motherhood. For 10 years, I was focused on my triathlon career. While I raced with a bigger purpose beyond myself, the simple truth is that my job was somewhat selfish in making sure my body and mind were ready for each workout or race. Traveling the world, being on magazine covers, meeting great friends, racing hard and getting paid to do it was an exciting life.


After racing in the Athens Olympics, my husband and I decided that 2005 would be my last season. I was 36, Loren was 51, and if we wanted to tackle this family thing, the clock was ticking. I’d been an athlete since age 9, so I thought it would be a major sacrifice to stop racing. But an amazing thing happened. My last year of racing, I felt as if God had his hand on my competitive juices’ tap, and with each race it closed a bit more. By my last race, I felt there was no more to give, and we were free to move onto the next phase of life without looking back. Five months after my last race, I was pregnant … with twins.


Some athletes may be reluctant to have kids because they are afraid it will change their lifestyle. Let me reassure you, it will! Instead of thinking the change is a huge sacrifice, embrace the new opportunities. For example, the friends that I have now all have young kids. I can inspire a whole new circle of people to do triathlon, or at minimum, go for a walk, and these friends will in turn be role models to their kids.


One piece of advice given at my baby shower was to get the boys outside every day, even if it meant putting their car seats on the front porch in a snowstorm. I cannot tell you how many days in that first year the boys motivated me to get out the door, even if it was for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood with un-brushed hair in sweatpants covered in spit-up — or worse. Those first 18 months, I included the boys in most of what I did athletically — pushing them on the run and pulling them on the bike or skate ski. I brought them to the pool an hour away for workouts and they slept in the stroller on the deck for about 30 minutes. Now that they are almost 4, I complete my “exercise for sanity” early in the morning or at the end of the day. I am thankful that Loren understands the exercise routine that has been part of my life as an athlete is equally important now to make me a better mom. I do my best thinking during the solitude of exercise, when the silence is only interrupted by the sound of my breathing or a squeaky chain.


Throughout motherhood, I have worked 25-28 hours a week from home. I have early mornings every day to either work or exercise or both, never needing to set an alarm clock because my body wakes up naturally if I go to bed shortly after putting the boys down. I utilize the focus I had while training and racing to work from home. Working while watching the kids is about learning to take advantage of small windows of quiet (or not so quiet) to get into my job, and then being able to transition from worker to mom in a millisecond when there is a meltdown because blankie is lost.


I don’t miss racing at the elite level. Racing is now a chance to catch up with others or to encourage my friends. I have been passed in the last mile of running races, and the competitor within me has not reacted. I have come to terms with the fact that it’s OK if my limited energy is doled out elsewhere and doesn’t need to be spent in a race. Instead of resisting the change in goals or getting mad at myself for not being a racer on the day, I have embraced the change of goals and am content with doing my best with where I am in life.


Do I wish I could exercise more than seven hours a week? Sure. Who wouldn’t? But what has allowed me to set that aside is this: From birth to kindergarten is five years. That is such a tiny window of time in my life, and yet such a critical time in our children’s development. At 5, they are gone all day in school. When that day comes, I will cry. But that will be the next transition.


When that day comes, I will justify the hour drive to swim once a week. I will ride my bike more than two times a week, for longer than an hour, with more than 3 minutes warm-up and warm-down. I might even bring my nap back into my daily routine. Most definitely, I will spend more time with Loren. And maybe my house will be cleaner. So for this short window of time, I have found just the right amount of exercise, the volume and intensity that gives me energy yet doesn’t tire me out so that I can be mom when I walk in the door — sweaty and smiling.


The exciting, thrilling, adventurous and challenging life of Olympic triathlete seems a lifetime ago. I am amazed that I can now sit at the boys’ little table completely content to make a snow-blower or dinosaur out of clay. The feeling I used to get after nailing a track workout, I get daily by seeing who our children are becoming. All the effort Loren and I put into making the Olympic team, we now put into creating the most loving, adventurous and fun learning environment for our kids. And yes, motherhood is about the same fatigue as doing 6 miles of quality on the track. Multiple times a day, without a nap, day after day, with no recovery days nor an offseason. But it is not a sacrifice to be here, it is a joy.


Barb Lindquist is a 2004 Olympic triathlete, mother, member of the USAT Women’s Committee, the USAT collegiate recruitment coordinator and a coach. Visit www.barblindquist.com.


USATRIATHLON.ORG USA TRIATHLON 29

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