A Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Beers…

Triathlon and all endurance sports for that matter are very time-consuming pursuits. Once a person decides to tackle the journey, other things in life often get pushed aside.

The house may not be as clean as it once was and perhaps laundry sits on the table a few days longer than in the past. The weekly happy hour with the guys may not fit into a schedule that is now closer to marine basic training than to that of a college frat guy. And lunch with the ladies might now be a rare occurance instead of the once weekly norm, as mid-day swims or a quick weight training session have now taken the place of a relaxed social outing.

While we as athletes like to think we sacrifice a great deal to do what we love, this week I took a minute to step back and see what my “passion” might be doing to those around me. Specifically, the one I married.

My husband and I both train and race for various events, but I am far more structured and intense than he. Some may call it obsessed, I prefer focused and/or driven.

Like most of us, this sport bleeds into every aspect of my life…what and when I eat, drink, sleep and even wear. For example, this HAS actually come out of my mouth, “We can’t go there, I’ll have to wear heels and I can’t wear high heels, my back will be sore and I need to run 10 miles tomorrow.”

When I began reviewing my last training block, to prepare for this one, I realized that our anniversary came and went and we did nothing. NOTHING. 100%, absolutely nothing. I asked AquaDoc, WTF??? Why did we not celebrate, go to dinner, get a hotel room…SOMETHING??? He replied that I was so knee-deep in training that I simply would have said, “No, that’s ok because I really shouldn’t drink and I need a good night sleep for my long ride/run tomorrow but thanks anyway.” 

WOW! But he was right. That’s exactly what I would’ve said.

And now that most delightful, fine race has come and gone. I didn’t set a world record, gain any sponsorship opportunities, or even win top 3 in my age group. I did ok and simply met a goal I set for myself.

But I ask you this…would a late night out, sharing a good meal (EVEN dessert) and a bottle of wine with the person I love more than anything else in the world have changed those results?

I don’t think so.

Again, it always comes back to 1 thing : BALANCE

So last night we celebrated our anniversary the right way. We made reservations, got dressed up, had a great bottle of wine, a fabulous meal, and even ordered up some bananas foster for dessert.  We laughed hysterically about the amount of butter they were using to make the sauce, but we ate as much as we could and we enjoyed every minute of it.

Most importantly it was a chance to simply enjoy each other for a few hours and reconnect. It was a chance to remember that we aren’t always the hot, sweaty, hungry, tired, sore, injured, bitchy, anxious, individuals wearing nothing but dry fit, compression gear, visors and racing flats. Sometimes we can actually clean up nicely, go to a public venue that doesn’t have a transition area, aid stations, or even a finish line and carry on a conversation about something other than our next group ride or hill repeat. Shocking, I know!

Yes it was a few weeks late, but in the end, it really isn’t about a specific date on a calendar is it?

Which brings me to an email I received from a friend that spurred this whole thing on and really got me thinking.

So I thought I’d share….

 A Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers….

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 Beers.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in  front of him. 

When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls.

He then asked the students if the jar was full.

They agreed that it was. 

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.

The pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls..

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.

They agreed it was. 

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it  into the jar. 

Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full. 

The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

The professor then produced two beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. 

The students laughed.

‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your  life.. 

The golf  balls are the important things–your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions–and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. 

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.

The sand is everything else–the small stuff.  ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room  for the pebbles or golf balls.

The same goes for life. 

If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never  have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your  happiness. 

Spend time with your children.

Spend time with your  parents. 

Visit with grandparents.

Take time to get medical checkups. 

Take your spouse out to dinner.

Play another 18. 

There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. 

Take care of the golf balls first–the things that really matter.

Set your priorities….. 

The rest is just sand. 

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.. 

The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ 

The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend!


Run Happy, My Friends!



6 thoughts on “A Mayonnaise Jar and 2 Beers…

  1. Nice post, Jenn. Thanks for sharing the story. My “A” race for the year just happens to fall on the same day as my wedding anniversary, and I feel bad about it. It’s not just the race in the morning but the fact that I’ll be mentally consumed with triathlon for weeks leading up to the big day, This is a good reminder to think about the effect that my tri obsession has on those around me, and to make sure to aim for balance. On the other hand, I’ll have two good reasons to celebrate after the race – if I can stay awake!

    • You know, I think acknowledging the fact that the race is on your anniversary and that you appreciate the fact that she’s not stopping you from doing what you enjoy goes a long way…Again, it’s not about a day on the calender…sometimes life gets in the way, but appreciating the other people day in and day out helps keep the balance…it’s really hard, but not impossible!!!

    • It is so easy to let it consume you….and so hard to pull back and realize time off is not going to make or break a race, but it might make or break a relationship.

  2. The 20 mile training run for Chicago Marathon ALWAYS falls on my anniversary weekend. Last year and this year I made a point to request off of work on Friday so I can get that training run done on Friday while he’s at work, and then we have the weekend to celebrate. You’re right, BALANCE is necessary, but so is planning ahead.
    Glad you went out and celebrated properly!

    • There is a definite learning curve in all this….learning from the past is part of it and I totally agree, planning ahead is essential !!!!! And I think a 20 mile training run deserves a day off work BTW!!! 🙂

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