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Follow This Mother!

Meredith going strong on her 56-mile ride.

I’m not sure how I landed on Meredith A.'s blog, Swim Bike Mom, but I’m so glad I did. This 32-year-old attorney and mother of two, who lives in Lawrenceville, Georgia, just finished her first half-Ironman triathlon in Miami. I loved her honest and inspiring race report. One snippet:

As I "ran" to transition from swim to bike, I felt like the crowd of people was judging me. I might as well have been naked. I felt huge and seriously out of place.
In that moment, I had a decision to make.
Was I going to spend the rest of the race looking down? Thinking I didn't belong? And why? Because (to quote Bridget Jones) "I can't ski, I can't ride, I can't speak Latin, my legs only come up to here and yes.... I will always be just a little bit fat"? 
No. I wasn't going to do it. I held my salty head up, and made it alive into transition.

Love that: she's a mom, she's a triathlete, she's a decider. Here she is.

Best recent run: 13.1 before my big race. I did it on the Silver Comet Trail at an 11:54 pace. That was it. I’m a horrific runner.

Meredith marking her territory.

Half of an Ironwoman: I have no idea how I got myself into the race [1.2 mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run]. A year ago I thought I’d be lucky to finish a sprint triathlon. Then I did that. So I said, well, I’ll do an Olympic distance. After that, the half-Ironman felt so impossible that I registered for it, almost as a double dare. Six months after my first Olympic distance, I finished it.

Hear her roar: In a local race, there are all shapes and sizes. But at the half-Ironman, I didn’t see that at all. There were three of us Athena-types at the race (that I saw anyway). Three. I was dumbfounded. But I reminded myself, I had put in the same work. I may have been a “little bit fat,” but my little bit fat butt had worked just as hard, and I had earned my place in that race. That’s important to remember: be okay in your own head. At the end of the day, the race may be full of people, but the fight is against yourself.

Meredith in mom mode.

Iron Maiden: I was into basketball and volleyball in middle school. My coach would gently grab us kids by our arms and move us all over the court, teaching us screens and plays in basketball. Every time he grabbed me, I didn’t move. I was like a boulder. He laughed and hooked me up with the Savannah weightlifting coach, Michael Cohen. Before I knew it, I had dropped all school sports and was training two hours a day in Olympic weightlifting. I won Junior Nationals in 1995, and placed 7th overall in the Junior World Championships in 1997. My best lift was 105 kg clean & jerk (231 lbs), 97.5kg (214 lbs) snatch and a 140kg back squat (308 lbs.). I hung up the sport in 2000, but I was able to walk into any gym, anywhere and lift about 150 pounds on a whim for years after that. I tried to backsquat 120 pounds about a year ago, and I almost died. All of my former weightlifting “prowess” is long gone.

Fave quote from her Good Stuff page: "The question isn't who is going to let me; it's who is going to stop me." —Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

That's what I'm talking about. Nice finish, Meredith.

Keeping it real: I struggle, and I am clear about that in my writing. As a working mom and triathlete, I often want to huddle in a corner and weep. That’s the truth. I have a great (excellent, super, amazing) husband, happy and healthy kids, but 90% of the time, I think I’m losing my mind. Working, mothering, laundry, all of it: it’s so hard. I think women swallow the troubles and act like they are beautiful, strong and important—and we are. But really, most of us are struggling, beautiful, strong and important. I learned quickly that I am very less “Mommy Dearest” and more “June Cleaver” when I’ve run seven miles before the sun’s come up. I will never be a full June Cleaver, but maybe I can pull off some pearls and bake a loaf of bread.

Next goal: It’s hard for me to put this out there. I did Miami in 7 hours, 15 minutes. My next goal is New Orleans 70.3 in 6 hours, 30 minutes, which is a huge reduction, but I believe I can. The super scary goal: a full 140.6. I have my crazy eyes on Ironman Florida 2013, for my 33rd birthday. Eeeek.

Follow this mother at: swimbikemom.com and @swimbikemom

32 responses to “Follow This Mother!

  1. Meredith you inspire me and now I am all up in your blog. I ran my first marathon this year and deep down inside want to do a triathlon for 2012, you got me all excited for the challenge now. Congrats!

  2. Meredith you are amazing. I had the “struggling” conversation with my dearest friend today. I am a mostly single mom, run a company, train like a devil, race, wear pearls and generally feel like a disaster and a fraud. I think we are all struggling, but succeeding in it. After losing 75lbs this year and doing my first 5 tris I am trying to convince myself that as long as I am training, racing, showing up for work and being a mom that, that is success. Stay out there and thank you more than I can convey for sharing so much.

  3. You guys are so amazing! I am not supposed to cry at work. And I am so honored to be Google-stalked. Sers, though… thank you all for your uber, super awesome kind words. I am humbled by this process, but am so THANKFUL to get to do this!

    All I can say… just dream big, and before you know it… you’re eating 10 pizzas and saying “I can do this… I just did a HALF IRONMAN” (although at some point, I have to stop all this eating…”

    Love and hugs!!

  4. You are totally awesome Meredith – and you may have just inspired me to finally go for the 70.3! I am also an attorney, mom of two, and related to everything you said. I’m not an Athena, but feel like people judge my times – I’ve run 9 marathons, but none of them are “fast”. I’ve had people say, “I thought you were fast” more times than I can count. I dream of a half ironman as well as an Ironman. Whether or not you reach your next goal, you’re out there showing all of us that what seems impossible is possible. Thank you.

  5. Thank you for this! You have no idea how much I needed to read this today, actually this week . Well, at this point in my life. Thank you for the real words. You go girl!

  6. You rock. So glad to hear from Athena women! Your sentiments and honesty are inspiring. I “only” run, but completed my first half at age 50 last month. I also used to do my share of powerlifting for my javelin “career” back in the 80s. I never thought I would love running this much. I’m not a big blog follower but I’m definitely going to follow this mother! The commenters above are right – you are getting out there and doing the hard work, embrace it!!!

  7. Great post! I can sooooo relate!! I am one large meal shy of an Athena and totally feel the same way but I like the part about how we are still putting in the hard work to make it to race day. I just completed my first duathlon a couple of months ago and while it felt awesome, I felt like I didn’t belong. Now I’m going to have to rethink that sentiment. Thank you and good luck with your next challange!

  8. What a genuine post. You had me with this line: “As I “ran” to transition from swim to bike, I felt like the crowd of people was judging me. I might as well have been naked. I felt huge and seriously out of place.” Totally get it. I’m not an Athena but sometimes when I’m running l feel like I’m on display for people to make judgments – about my body, how I look, why I’m running. Reading this was reaffirming. I love how you have been stepping it up with each race. Congratulations on your accomplishments!

  9. Keep on roaring, IronGirl!!
    I also don’t have the runner girl body but I have the shapely guts to go for it at my 3rd marathon on Sunday. Looking forward to hearing you rock it w/ a 6:30 at the NO Half IM. Giddy up!!

  10. Yes!!!! This post made my day! As an Athena runner, i totally relate! But it’s so awesome to remember that we put in the same amount of work to train! You are awesome, and you will achieve your goals. I can’t wait to read about your ironman finish!!!!

  11. 11:54 does not make you a horrific runner. You are out there doing things that other women (myself included) shake in their running shoes thinking about attempting! Go get ’em, Momma!

  12. I loved this and am now following Meredith! I love the fact that she is not the “typical” body type for a triathlete. I don’t have a “typical” runner’s body and yet I have finished 2 marathons. Most people in a marathon are pretty darn skinny.

    When people hear that I’ve finished marathons they often tell me they want to run, but they don’t have a “runner’s” body. You can tell they are scared that people will laugh at them if they try.

    People like Meredith empower others to do what they want no matter what their body looks like on the outside. It’s what’s on the inside that matters.

  13. I google-stalked your firm bio because I am fascinated by women attorneys. Before I read it, I guessed, Articles Editor, Moot Court, and undergrad student council. I was sure there were more. The bio didn’t disappoint.

    There’s a whole class (okay, gender) of us, and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess you are one of them, who cannot stop heaping it on (and/or cannot stop others from heaping it on us because if they give it to us, it gets done and it gets done well) and who have this innate ability to keep trudging through the heaps even when we feel like we will die and even when others have long since bailed. And, somehow, it seems fun, right? Most of the time, I think, and usually afterwards. But, sometimes in the midst of it, it feels like you’re losing your mind. I feel this way on occasion when everything hits at once, and I often think I should curtail, reduce, check out, or otherwise slow down, but, if I were to do that, I would have missed out on 90% of what makes my life fun and interesting. I could probably be better at everything if I didn’t do so much, but, honestly, I’d be bored.

    I recently heaped on another activity, and I think you’d like it too. I do Crossfit two mornings a week as a crosstraining from running, and it’s made me faster and stronger. I bet you’d love having a chance to do some clean and jerks. I bet there’s one near you, or, if not, you could start a franchise in your spare time.

    Enjoy the mothering, attorneying, tri-ing, and blogging. And, thanks for writing honestly about it all.

  14. Holy freaking amazing!!!!! 🙂

    I’m officially motivated for my run now. Thank you for sharing such honest and real sentiments!

  15. Awesome! I am so connected to these sentiments! I am now following Meredith. I really needed this, heading into marathon weekend. I will hold my head up, and finish strong, knowing it’s not what I look like, it’s how I feel. I feel strong and fit! Thank you for this one!!

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