When I was in my late 20s I started doing triathlons. In total, I probably did about 20 and distances ranged from a sprint to the final tri I did, Ironman. Training for Ironman, at times, felt like a full time job. There was working out 6 days a week with Saturday and Sundays being very long workouts. Towards they end they were almost full day events because we were doing some swimming, biking and running. It was long, difficult, great highs, lows and definitely a mental game.
I was recently reminded of what training was like when a friend of mine told me that he was about to do a half Ironman. Then I realized how similar to an Ironman, trying to adopt is. Stay with me on this one.
Here are 10 reasons why training for an Ironman is like trying to adopt.
- People cheer for the underdog. I believe we all want the underdog to win. Someone who has raced in multiple Ironmans and failed, someone who fell during the race and has blood dripping from his/her elbow. Same goes for adoption. The more you stumble, the more the crown cheers you on.
- Be confident but not cocky. Don’t get the Ironman “mdot” tattoo before the race happens. Sure, plan to get the tattoo but don’t get inked until you’ve finished and have received your medal. Although it’s wonderful to have a baby shower and have a room all set up for the baby, what do you do when the adoption falls through and you come home to a nursery with no baby to put in it?
- The hardest part is the training. During race day, it’s all mental and being able to adapt. The pain of the training will soon disappear as will the feeling of “will this ever happen!”. Before you know it, you’ll be saying “Oh my gosh! This is really happening!” as you look at your little one.
- It’s hard to pick a “winner”. I remember being at Ironman New Zealand and seeing huge body builder guys and a nun (yes a nun!), pass an incredibly fit looking guy. In adoption, it doesn’t matter how much money you have or your past experience, we’re all in the race together. If I remember correctly, it took Sandra Bullock two years to adopt one of her children. There’s no “golden ticket” to get a child sooner than someone else. If there was, we’d all have one.
- You bounce back. The important part though is to get back up after one and not give in. I remember doing a bike ride on highway 1 and all of a sudden, my pedal fell off. Ummmm…how do you bike without a pedal? You don’t. Before I knew it, I was sitting in the back of a Toyota truck enjoying the beautiful California coast with my riding buddy because to young kids picked us up and offered to drive us to our bike start. We fixed the bike and were off riding in no time. With adoption, you can’t assume that you’re all set once you are matched. So much can happen until papers are signed, states have agreed and the baby is at home with you. Expect bumps in the road but make sure to bounce back!
- You are not a loser. Even if you don’t finish the Ironman and never adopt, the effort and work to get there, along with the stamina and persistence makes you a winner.
- Focus on the individual steps but have the end goal in mind. Day one of practice my Ironman coach didn’t tell us to swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 and run 26.2. That would be insane. We worked up to it and got better until it all came together. So don’t panic and think you can’t finish all the paperwork and the interview and the homestudy. Take it one day at a time and keep the goal of having a baby/babies in front of you.
- Have a cheering section dedicated just for you! For my Ironman, I was incredibly fortunate to have about 7 friends make the trip to see me race and they all wore “IronMaeve” t-shirts. It was pretty cool. For those who couldn’t make the trip, they called and texted before, during, and after the race. And, they all asked for 11 months how training was going and supported me. You need a village, and a strong village, for adoption. This isn’t a one or two person game. Find your people, talk to them, cry with them, laugh with them, and share the experience with them.
- Enjoy the ride. When all the training is done and the race is in progress, all your paperwork is approved and you’re waiting for the call, enjoy it! You absolutely still have to have focus, but enjoy the little things like Green Lake in Penticton and that a friend you haven’t spoken to years is now following your journey. Once it’s all in motion there’s little that you can control (weather, flat tire, nausea, agency closing) but with all the training you’ve done to get to this point. You’ll be okay.
- Not everyone moves forward. As tough as this part is, maybe completing an Ironman or adopting isn’t in your cards. If they aren’t, make sure you fought like hell, you gave it your all and you come out with an amazing learning experience. There are a lot of people sitting on the couch saying “I wish I could do an Ironman” or “I wish I could adopt.” Be proud of yourself for what you have done…few have come this far.