ONE OF THE BEAUTIFUL THINGS ABOUT THE ATHENA TRIATHLETES COMMUNITY IS THE RALLYING OF SUPPORT WHICH OCCURS WHEN A FELLOW ATHENA IS IN NEED. LESLIE BATTLE HAS BEEN A KEY DRIVER OF THAT SUPPORT FOR MANY OF US OVER THE YEARS BUT RECENTLY, IT WAS TIME FOR US TO RALLY FOR LESLIE AFTER THE LOSS OF HER AMAZING SISTER-IN-LAW, REBECCA. LESLIE HAS KINDLY SHARED WITH US THE GIFTS AND THE LEGACY WHICH BOTH REBECCA AND HER LIFE WITH CLARK HAVE IMPARTED ON HER, AND NOW, ON US.
TIME IS WHAT’S IMPORTANT.
Time. Heart Rate. Speed. Watts. Wind resistance. FTP. Reps. Weight/Power Ratio. Laps. Tire pressure. Distance.
We as multisport athletes live and die by the data. It fuels our passion. We constantly measure performance and chase improvement. A one second drop in 50m free intervals or holding 5 more watts for an additional minute are grounds for a giant fist pump. If we don’t know where we are, how will we chart our path to where we are going, and when will we know when we get there? How will we know where we stack up?
I have been comfortably dwelling among the data set. Chasing the dream of more +1. Further, faster, longer, stronger.
And then she died.
My brother’s wife died at 47 from cancer. She was not an athlete, nor is my brother; but, in her death I immediately realized the missed opportunity that arises in a life focused on the next accomplishment, the next PR.
And you may be on the verge of stopping reading this saying: “No, I am not THAT type of data junkie, I’m NOT the typical self absorbed, Type A triathlete forever chasing the proverbial Holy Tri Grail. No, THAT’S not ME. I have balance. I am NOT all about the win.” But, hear me out. To some degree, this IS all of us as multisport athletes. It is the nature of the beast. Whether we are focused on a KQ, earning an age group podium spot, or “stepping up” to the Olympic distance, we all are chasing a future something greater then we are today. We are training for it, planning for it, chasing our own personal N+1.
So, where do my sister in law and brother fit in to this story?
Despite living in the tech capital of the Pacific Northwest, and despite their careers in the software and architectural design industries, their personal life together was uncomplicated, without most conventions of measurement and the ever present din of the latest newsy noise. There were no clocks in their sleek modern home, not even on the microwave. There was no microwave, nor an automatic coffee maker with a built in clock. There was no bathroom scale, nor a food scale. And no radio, nor TV. Obviously, no TV dinners, everything was made from scratch. Even soup! Who makes organic tomato soup from scratch, with homegrown basil?
This all drove me CRAZY. How could anyone live like THAT? Skating through life like everything is an unplanned whim; no diet to honor, no training schedule to complete….unfathomable.
How does one know what time it is, when to wake up, how early or late one would be getting to where she had to go by when? And, if one could not shake up, reheat, and gulp down a precise measure of the latest nutrition miracle food in a microwaved instant, think of the time one would be wasting. Doing this all in blissful ignorance of the frenetic happenings in the outside world, no weather reports to factor into the next run or ride, no Iron-news, no advertisements for the latest gizmos and gadgets . . .
What they DID share was hand held walks to the market to purchase those ripe tomatoes, and unplanned detours trough the misty cedars on the return, whereupon they might happen upon some edible chanterelle mushrooms to add to the feast, eaten an hour later than estimated, because why not, there was nothing more important than their NOW.
Every day was a Sunday morning sleep in, with cuddles and pillow talk long after the sun breached the gap in the drapes and had reached its peak, because these were the times to be harvested and savored, for they are not promised to any of us.
Oh, and they traveled, but there was no prerequisite Iron-anything inexorably tied to the trip. It was just a let’s go away together now and experience the present, no schedule, no agenda, just a bountiful and relaxed wander. There were no long solo runs at daybreak. There was no postponing of enjoying a gourmet chocolate or savory whatever nor a succulent and exotic whatnot. Their daily diet was filled with live music and art, not recordings and photos held solely for a future later someday. They lived in the moment, and were perfectly content with the pace of life, whatever that turned out to be.
No, I don’t think I will ever be as “present in the now” as these two; I am not wired that way. But, in all of the overwhelming sadness of Rebecca’s death, I have gained a deeper understanding of what it means to live, rather than to simply chase a future life. In forever chasing a dream, I have been asleep to many of the simple joys around me. It’s time to wake up and make each training run, swim, and ride a purposeful destination in itself. Time is what is important. Timing your time here, not so much.
Written by Leslie Battle