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A Joyful Noise

Triathlon has made me more alert and a better employee. I am a much better lawyer now that I am obsessed with triathlon. I think it has to do with time management and of course, the workout endorphins.

But really, most days, I want to swim, bike, and run my way right out of the legal profession. Some people are born lawyers. I just missed the legal gene.

I think about Starbucks alot. I would like a job where I could leave the work each day, and not worry about it until the morning. The coffee cups at Starbucks have no deadlines. There is no malpractice with coffee. Starbucks turns the lights out at quitting time and the cups are still there in the morning. You cannot make Venti Skinny Vanilla Soy Lattes in advance. No one is sitting at the drive-thru ready to pummel you with a bat for failing to get their brother out of prison. At Starbucks, the job is literally done when you walk out the door.

The legal profession, like most jobs, can be pretty soul-sucking. Some people, as I mentioned, love the law and all it stands for. They like the work, the deadlines, the drama, the endless boxes of paper, the perception of justice. I admire them. I wish I felt that way. I have tried to feel that way for almost ten years – ever since the first day of Civil Procedure class and not knowing what in the world Pennoyer v. Neff really held. [For the record, I understand it now…just saying.]

Turns out that personal jurisdiction is tricky. But it all makes me want to wring my hands and shake a tambourine.


During the beginning of my journey into triathlon, I was having severe trouble sleeping from the work sitting at the office, on my desk with all the 0.1 billable hours I needed or missed attached to it. Work was constantly ping-ponging around in my head. The living/breathing/screaming files sitting on my desk, the list of to-dos that I would never even scratch the surface upon, the things I should be drafting, reading, reviewing.  The up-side of law was the flexibility, the camaraderie, the fun parties and the shoes. But the rest.. whew.


BTW – this law school graduation photo is one of my favorite pictures. Not because the Expert and I look well-rested and young… but because when the kids see this picture, they say, Oooh, that’s when Mommy was a pirate.”

Anyway, triathlon became an elixir for my endless lawyer lists. Once I began to train for triathlon, I found something changed.

Despite the fact that sometimes, I felt like a real pirate (full of booty) when I laid down to sleep each night, I would think about my morning workout instead of the screaming files at the office. 

Because I had a morning workout, I was forced to barrel through said workout before I could get to the noisy files. In a strange way, triathlon put up a manageable barrier to the law. I would deal with the law when I finished doing something for myself.

And while the files were still there when I woke up, I could only see the files – I could not reach them or hear them – they were simply too far away. I had to finish my workout first.

Less Pirate-Like. Run the Vineyard, August 2011.

Triathlon was also taking up space in my head. Like the law, triathlon is also noisy.  

But triathlon is like a rocking Aerosmith concert. Whereas the law is more akin to ….noisy rush hour traffic…or, fingernails on a chalkboard while jumping on aluminum foil inside of a Styrofoam cooler with screaming kids yelling “poopy pants weiner face!” Or something like that.

The sounds of triathlon drown out these impossible life noises… oftentimes, when I need it most.

What about you? Do you tri.. because triathlon is your “good” noise?


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  • Kelly

    April 17, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Omigosh yes! I feel the same way about law too. (also a triathlon lawyer here) I wish I could just work in something triathlon or running related instead. I would enjoy it so much more. Triathlon has certainly helped me work out a lot of the frustration, etc I get with this job. And if my job ever got in the way of my training, well we know which one would have to go first.

  • Katy

    April 17, 2012 at 8:26 pm

    Im a tri-lawyer as well, and its the only thing that keeps me even somewhere close to the sane. And in normal size clothing. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    April 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    Litigation paralegal marathoner. (I know this is a tri site – please don't kick me off) I so totally identify to your Starbucks envy. No trial prep, no exhibits, no voir dire, no filings, no appeals, no limitation periods, never waking up at 3 am in a cold sweat because of the one thing you forgot to do or didn't get to that might come back to bite you – oh yeah.

    Training can add to the stress in some ways, but it also organizes my mind and my weeks, and has made me mentally tough enough for the 70 hour work weeks and endless demands. It's the one thing I do that I do alone, for me – no one demands of me, no one stands over me or supervises me, tells me what to do, revises my work – it's all just mine. I think I love that the most – that it's the one thing in my life that is truly just for me.

  • ajh

    April 18, 2012 at 12:08 am

    I get the job with leaving it there. I'm a teacher – always more to do.I also want a job where I don't have to leave extensive plans for someone to follow when I'm sick. Absolutely the worst part of the job.

  • Anonymous

    April 18, 2012 at 1:31 am

    I'm a recent reader after following a link from a fellow triathlete friend of mine. I laughed when I read this post because I was a teacher in my previous life, dabbled in non-profit for a bit and for the past year have been working at Starbucks. I have to say, it's AMAZING to not bring work home with me and could be the best job I've had. I doubt I'll be there forever, but at this point in my life, it's perfect for me!

  • Stefanie Frank

    April 18, 2012 at 1:59 am

    Definitely not — I hate noise.

    I tri because immediately after I left the legal profession I was in hell. Sheer hell. Sure I was glad to be out but then it was like WTF now?? What do I do now??? I'm trained as a lawyer that's all I can do . . . .

    Triathlon helped me believe in myself again — showed me parts of myself that had lain dormant for far too long.

    Now, it shows me the value of determination, perseverance, and pushing beyond what I "think" I can do — business wise and athletic wise.

    Triathlon has quieted so much of the awful noise that used to be there. I shudder to think where I'd be had I not discovered the sport back in 2006, and gone after Silverman in 2008 . . . . no. It would be tragic.

  • TX Runner Mom

    April 18, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Not a lawyer, but I have the same feelings about my job. I feel that I am still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up…and I'm 40! It started with running for me and evolved into triathlon. Triathlon definitely helps quiet the noise from work and helps me feel like I can actually make it through another work day! The past couple of months with no tri training have been really difficult. I definitely appreciate the workouts more now.

  • Training Mom

    April 20, 2012 at 1:10 am

    Another teacher here, sometimes dreaming of the Starbucks career! Balance is hard, but it's nice to have the triathlon noise instead of the work noise in my brain!


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