Cait and I went to Herbivore Clothing (leather boots and all ... oops) in Portland last week to see Matt Frazier speak about being a vegan athlete. Matt is the author of The No Meat Athlete blog and book, and Portland was one of his many book tour stops. Vineman 70.3

Matt opened his talk with an invitation to choose a goal--preferably a big one. Right. Lately, my goals have simply been to get out of the house for a walk and to not eat my weight in cookies. My list of priorities is so incredibly long, and athletic pursuits always seem to fall in the "too selfish to spend time on" category. When faced with the choice to work out or spend precious time with my kids, the kids usually win out. So, choosing a big goal felt a bit uncomfortable. I thought to myself, "I'll play along, but just for today." After all, I'm a mom; Matt's a dad. He's wired differently.

To be a good sport, I chose Ironman as my goal. Insane, right? Those who know me know that I have repeatedly said I would never do an Ironman race. After all, I barely survived my 70.3 race, which is a mere half the distance of an Ironman. I trained 9-10 hours a week for more than 6 months in 2009 to bake for 6 hours and 45 minutes under the hot sun in Sonoma. It was not pretty. I was sick to my stomach for days.

So what was I thinking choosing Ironman?

Matt's instructions were to go big or go home. I chose a goal that was attainable (albeit with some effort), but outside the realm of anything I'd considered in the past. Now I will be honest here--I am not too naive to know that Ironman is a huge effort. I'd have to give up weekends and vacations and lunches. I'd be (more) exhausted all the time, and I'd have to spend a fortune on food and gels. Ironman would involve buy-in from everyone in my life. My family, my employer, and others would have to make sacrifices for me to pursue this selfish goal. But it wasn't impossible.

By then end of Matt's talk, I began to realize that setting athletic goals was, in fact, somewhat selfless ... or rather, not entirely selfish. Let me explain:

  • Exercise makes me happy. Happy Meg means happy family. Done and done.
  • Seeing mom run, swim, and bike shows the kiddos that fun can be had and happiness attained without a glowing screen.
  • Setting goals and achieving them is an invaluable life lesson.

I know you'd all like me to say "all of this is why I am registered for an Ironman in 2014!" Well, sorry to disappoint, but that ain't gonna happen. At least not in 2014. My goal next year is another Half Ironman (I can't believe I just typed that). If I can come out of that alive and still married, I will consider the 14-plus-hour torturefest called Ironman for 2015.

Who's with me?