Posted by: Sue D. Gelber | November 15, 2010

Welcome to the Off Season

As of right now, this very minute, I am not signed up for any athletic event of any kind. It has been well over a year since I have been able to say that. As my friend Lauri would say, I’ve got a big fat boatload of nothin’ on the calendar. The Austin Half Marathon in February is lingering on the edge of my mind, but just barely. Yes, I am looking at some halfs in the spring, but those are small races that I won’t even think about until March. My friend Ilyse is talking Turkey-Trot with me, but I have yet to pick a date and race. At this very moment, for the first time in over 18 months, I am not training for anything. No wonder I feel so adrift.

Contributing to my adriftiness (not a word, but should be, since it is so fun to say) is the fact that my college roommates came to visit this weekend, and they seem to be anything but adrift. They all have successful careers that generate actual income, as opposed to my piecemeal “work” which merely helps defray expenses from this nasty fitness habit that I have developed. I have never given a second thought to my lack of successful career, but suddenly I find myself awash in a sea of inadequacy.

My big accomplishment this year, of course, was my Half-Ironman, but I am not even sure my roommates knew what that was. The whole triathlon thing is so confusing to the uninitiated. Sprint? Half? Full? To most people, they all just blend together under the moniker “triathlon.” They know someone who did a triathlon once, and he/she swam a little, biked like 10 miles, and ran 3. So, if I did a “half” it must be shorter than that right? Um, no. It took me pretty much all day. Actually, it seemed like it took the better part of a week, but I think my brain is exaggerating. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, are people who know exactly what a 70.3 is, and don’t find it the least bit impressive because they do 140.6s.  So, although the Half-Ironman was my major event this year, is totally unimpressive to those who know (ie, people who do full ironmans) and totally unimpressive to those who don’t (ie, the rest of the general population). It was a big deal to me, but no one else really cares.

But then again, most of the things that have been a big deal in my life aren’t noteworthy to anyone else but me. They simply don’t rate. A friend of mine just became a federal judge. Now that rates as a big deal. Winning a Pulitzer? That rates. Being a doctor, lawyer, high-powered businesswoman?  All of those rate. Sitting on the couch typing on the computer in between doing races that I am not very good at? That does not rate. For a minute when we were on vacation in Laos, I thought I might come home with the baby who fell off the motorbike, and THAT would have rated, but alas, I didn’t. In spite of this year being filled with major personal accomplishments, I realize that nothing I have done really rates as a big deal on paper. But you know what? I don’t care. I am remarkably content with my life and how it is progressing. The problem comes when I have to present my life to other people. So really, what I have here is not so much an achievement problem, but a marketing problem.

What I need to do is rebrand all the minutiae of my life to make even the most minor accomplishment sound so-very-uber-important. This is especially true during the off-season when I don’t have any events to write about. So while I may not have posts about a marathon I ran, I triathlon I finished, or a novel I wrote, I can still boastfully post that I finally took the car in to be serviced. Or that I caught up on all the laundry, every last sock in the house. Or that I went to yoga and was able to do that damn gomukasana pose without bursting into tears.

The Off Season means taking it easy, and I plan to do that in a grand style. To hell with productivity. I am reveling in my adriftiness (there is that wonderful word again). I am embracing my lack of achievement. I am going to develop a marketing plan to celebrate my dearth of noteworthy accomplishments. It’s not about what you do, it is about how you present it. And trust me, no one accomplishes nothing quite as well as I do.


  1. Sue, thank you for making my unaccomplished life sound so much better than it is! I’ve never done a triathlon, or any ‘thon’ other than a phone-a-thon, and i certainly don’t post blogs either, but I do find my life very fulfilled – thanks for bringing it all into focus for me! you are uber-important to me!! and so is everything you do 🙂 MO

    • I am thinking of starting a slacker mom hall of fame to make us all feel better. You know, a little boost for the self-esteem. I am taking nominations. Any suggestions? (and you did a GREAT job on the phone-a-thon, so that is a ‘thon to be proud of!)

  2. Being content and happy is far more important that having an appearance of what some else thinks of as success. So many accomplished and seemingly successful people in this world who are actually quite miserable.

    Revel in your accomplishments! I know I am even if someone doesn’t understand triathlons or marathons. 🙂

    • So true, success is in the eye of the beholder, right?

  3. …… Writing a novel is more then most do!! And being a GREAT Mum + wife are BIG in my books. As well,entering races. No need to say any more. Be happy + make a difference … and that YOU do in spades!!!
    Keep writing + be happy!

    • Thanks Sheila! And I think traveling to interesting destinations is an accomplishment too, don’t you agree?

  4. I’ve just learned to accept that fat, drunk and stupid is a fine way to go through life.
    Do you want me to show you how?

    Sue, we couldn’t begin to hold a candle to your athletic prowess. So we don’t try. But we do look up to you and we think you are not only a fine mother but a fine friend. If you want to feel good about yourself, hang around us some more. You’ll be whistling Dixie in no time!

    • The jury is still out on the mother thing, but I will concede I am pretty decent in the friend department. You forgot to mention how funny I am. You are always laughing at me, so I must be funny, right?

  5. Sue – I think 70.3 is HUGE! Here is what I have learned over my life of not chasing a career. My job is what I do to pay college tuition – that is all. It does not define me in anyway. What I have gained is time for my children, not missing their events, being there for them always. What defines me is what I become when 5:00 quitting time strikes. You are a fantastic woman and mother.

    • Thanks! A well balanced life means you are not defined by any one thing, right? Career included. (Although I do like throwing that triathlete title around….)

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