learning to fly

guest post by Sheri Ward

“I think you’re ready, Jenny.”

She started off the way most kids do, with training wheels on that cute little two-wheeler. Then one day it was time to take them off. “I can’t do it, mommy, I’m scared!”, were my daughter’s words on that sunny June morning so long ago.

I had no doubt, however, that her determination would hold her up, so off the wheels came. There were only a few wobbles and squeals of “I’m gonna fall!!” as I held onto the back of her seat, running behind her. Then, I let go. For a few minutes, she didn’t even realize that I wasn’t holding her any longer; then, a huge smile lit up her face as she felt the freedom of riding on her own for the very first time.

“Look at me, mom, I’m flying!”

Later on, she began swimming lessons, and there was another new skill to master. I watched proudly, as she transformed from floundering in the shallow end of the pool to sliding effortlessly through the deep water. Her young body was sleek and toned, cutting the surface like a knife with her strong, confident strokes. (Editor’s note: Can someone say this about me now, please?)

Jen as a child at the beach

Jen as a child at the beach

So often, we get back just what we have given. For so long the proud momma, this year, I have become the student. Over the past years, I have watched and learned from Jen as she’s been developing her skills as a triathlete. Then, this past fall, as I was pondering a triathlon to commemorate my 60th birthday, she returned the words: “I think you’re ready, Mom.”

And so I began my journey towards my first triathlon—the Ironman 70.3 in Whistler, B.C. on July 24th. It’s been a challenge at this age to learn new skills (“I can’t clip out on that side, Jen, I’m gonna fall!) and exert myself in a new way—I’m still wondering why swimming is so much harder than anything I’ve ever done.

Recently, however, I’ve noticed the past months of training fall into place.

For example, on Monday I rode 110 km on my trusty bike, Black Beauty. It was a long solitary ride on a perfect June day, and I felt strong and energetic, even long after I finished. Jen had reminded me to take Gatorade instead of just water, and to eat something every hour. I could almost feel her holding my saddle over those endless, open country roads.

On a recent ride together in Winnipeg.

On a recent ride and swim together in Winnipeg. (Jen note: Oh that rental helmet!!)

My swimming is improving, too, as I keep putting in the time. It continues to be my biggest challenge, but I like to think I’m getting there.

Because of the stress fracture in my ankle, running has been off-limits for the majority of my training. But again, my daughter came to the rescue and suggested pool running. She told me it would keep my aerobic and neuromuscular systems firing until I could return to running, or at least power walking. Last week I added pool running to my already full training schedule and am loving it, even though it tends to be a bit boring at times. Then yesterday, my doctor cleared me to start walking and light jogging again—my plan all along for July 24th’s last leg, the half-marathon.

Jen has been my coach, mentor, cheerleader, and friend. She’s been in my corner encouraging me, and sharing my passion as she watches me grow as a triathlete. I think she’s as proud of her me as I am of her—rising above, learning from mistakes, growing stronger, and building confidence that nothing can shake.

The mother teaches the daughter, then the daughter teaches the mother. Trading places, together we fly.

All the way to the finish line.

learning to fly | running out of fuel | black beauty | rest days | trust the process