This is 40.

Yesterday, I competed in a race that, besides giving birth, was the most challenging physical thing I have ever done. And it’s still very much on my mind. I competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge, which was a half-marathon run on Bear Mountain in New York. It was a largely uphill race, and the terrain was so rocky and intense that at times it really took my breath away. I had never seen, or done, anything like it.

I’m still in a post-race glow today. I usually am after a race. There’s no denying it, as 1:  I am in a decent amount of pain today, and 2:  I’m pretty damn proud of myself. Maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I did my first 5K. My husband was training with a Muay Thai gym at the time, and those guys ran a lot. I decided to do one of their races with them (after not running at all-ever)-and really tried to keep up. I kept a decent pace, but afterwards, dry heaved into a garbage can for a good 20 minutes. Not pretty. I did one more with them, but after that pretty much didn’t do any other races at all. I always went to the gym, went to my spin class, lifted some weights, but that competitive bug hadn’t taken root.

That is, until after having kids. I had gained an enormous amount of weight while pregnant. Enormous. We’re talking about 70 pounds. (It’s ok to be grossed out at me. I am too.) 2 babies in 2 years, and it had left my body a mess, head to toe. I got back to the gym a month after my son was born, lost 20 pounds rather easily, but then it just stopped. I had hit a plateau doing my same-old, same-old workout, so I enlisted the help of a trainer.

I had seem him around the gym-he seemed really friendly and was always chatting with everyone around the gym. I watched him interact with his clients for awhile before I approached him and asked if he would take me on as a client. He agreed, and that was the start of a beautiful friendship. After only a couple of weeks, I felt as if I had known him for years-and he voiced the same sentiment. We got on like old friends. I knew I had made a lifelong friend. But he also did more than that-he ignited something in me. He talked about wanting to do a triathlon-something I knew nothing about. Our workouts began geared towards them-we spent more and more time in the pool and I joined a running group that went on weekly trail runs. We talked more and more about it, I read up on them, and before you knew it, I had signed up for 5 of them, as well as a 100-mile bike ride.

That season, I became a triathlete. Through and through. It’s in my blood now-and it will always be. The thrill of crossing a finish line after hours of physically pushing yourself-there’s nothing like it. It’s a rush. The other thing that happened that season-most of that baby weight fell off, and I had a blast doing it. And now, this new race season is upon us, and I plan on pushing myself physically more than ever before-and it started with my race yesterday and will end with a half-Ironman distance triathlon in September, which will include a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile mile bike ride, and a 13.1 mile run. A few years ago, I never would have thought it was possible. But that’s the thing-not to sound cheezy and cliche, but anything is possible. It’s amazing what your body can do when you test its limits. Truly amazing. My mindset is such that I believe I can do anything I set out to do. “I gave birth, surely I can do this” often goes through my head. I pushed out 2 living things the size of watermelons out of something the size of a pie-hole, surely a run is no problem, right?

Later this year, I’ll be turning 40, and it has me thinking. We are so much stronger than we realize and capable of so much more than we know. I plan on pushing this theory to the limit. Each year my goals get bigger; my sights higher. Who knows what next year will bring? If you had told me 20 years ago that at 40, I’d be my strongest ever, I’d have told you you were crazy. And now I’ll tell you that I’m just getting started. And it all started with 2 beautiful babies and an amazing trainer.

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