Hell no! This would be my advice to anybody asking my opinion regarding whether it is possible and advisable to juggle a toddler, career, home life and athletic aspirations.
Personally, without all of the above challenges, I would not be a successful endurance athlete.
Prioritisation and organization I believe are the key attributes in ensuring success in all aspects of my life. I incorporate road training and intervals whilst commuting by bike to work, I swim during my ten hour work day, I complete my core, strength and yoga practice after Hayley goes to bed at 6.45pm. I meditate for 10-15 minutes each evening before I go to sleep. I ride my mountain bike on Fri, Sat, and Sun. I do housework whilst Hayley occasionally naps during the day (on another note Hayley will not nap every day she is at home which may account for the seemingly untidy house!)
The above scheduling may make my life appear smooth and straightforward, easy really! Its kind of like the facebook pictures of the sweetly smiling family and everybody assumes they have everything under control until you delve a little deeper and all is not how it seems.
Some days the pain is so horrendous I feel paralysed in bed for the first few minutes until I remind myself I have to get to work on time. I then break my day down into the components and get through each bit at a time. I concentrate first on getting to the car without forgetting anything – I’ve been known to forget various articles of clothing and have at times gone knickerless or resorted to scrubs when I forgot my trousers! Then safely riding to work, then getting changed and having breakfast, start work until midday, then go for a swim, then finish work after another 4 hours, then ride home, then family routine, then core, then meditation then bed. If I thought about the day as a whole I wouldn’t be able to start it let alone finish it.
Breaking down the day into its components is a learned skill and one I continue to develop during the long rides and 24 hours races. I am known to be tenacious, stubborn and will refuse to quit (even when I’m obviously injured can’t walk and covered in blood!). Apparently, if you break things down, for example, a 24-hour mountain race is 6×4 hour efforts when you complete a part your body produces neurochemicals which make you feel amazing and it’s these that allow you to continue.
Often when I return from training my overexcitable toddler Hayley is adamant I will sit and play tea parties with her this can be followed by dragging me around the house and the garden for hours at a time. Although Hayley has a very strong bond with her dad (Tom) when I’m home it's all me. I wouldn’t change anything for a second, however, having a toddler attached to my leg every waking hour, picking her up over 100x a day listening to her whine and scream constantly is exhausting. So exhausting that nearly on a daily basis I contemplate quitting sport and work and staying at home 24 hours a day. This alternative is not feasible and is the worst alternative in the world.
The alternative would have negative connotations such as increased pain from immobility, increased weight gain from not exercising, not socializing with others which in the end could lead to being house and even bed bound. Going down this downward spiral is not possible therefore I pick my head up high and continue knowing all this is a passing stage and things will ease up soon.
My next challenge is to complete an Everest attempt. Luckily this does not involve leaving the country or even the state to complete. The objective is simple. Find a stretch of the hill around 8-9% gradient and ride up it until you reach a height of over 8,800 meters (the height of Everest) within a single 24 hour time period without sleeping. I can not find any other females who have completed such a challenge on a mountain bike off-road. Therefore I am going to do the sensible thing and attempt to be the first. I have a lot of local support from the mountain biking community in Brisbane and many riders wishing to join me for a few laps. I am raising money for a charity which provides some additional motivation to complete the challenge.