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Holly Harvin on Overcoming Obstacles and Climbing to the Top!

This week, we bring you Holly Harvin's story! She talks about overcoming obstacles as a single mom and surprised herself with how strong she has become. She emphasized how we can do anything we set our minds to, we can surpass the most horrific moments in life and still come out on top winning in life!

Holly recounts her experience...

We all have a story, and only we know the blood, sweat, and tears it’s taken us to get to this very moment in time. Life can be beautiful and utterly brutal. I’ve been through some gnarly sh*t just like almost every other human; no one is immune to difficult times. They grow character, strength, compassion, and, of course, moxy and grit! Those moments where we’ve had to dig so damn deep within our souls in order to face uncontrollable obstacles, fears, death(s), sickness, etc., don’t go to waste. They are building an inner fire and strength within us that is always accessible.

As a single, working mom that has honestly only slept about 6 months in 3 years on top of a FULL plate of injuries and navigating life with a toddler, I’ve had to get creative in the ways that I get my workouts in. To make sure I’m continuing to take care of myself as I know I can’t give from an empty tank, as well as having something to look forward to, I began signing up for half marathons and some sprint triathlons.

I hadn’t raced since CO mountain biking racing days (last race was ~2008 and where I met the lovely Sonya Looney). In 2008, I left Boulder to move to NYC for nursing school. I never knew I would be entering the most challenging time of my life. In my last semester of nursing school, my health & life took a drastic turn. I ended up being sick for 3 years which took me down both mentally and physically, but I did fight to rebuild my life. Through that process, I learned a new normal and how to still live and carry with me the after-effects of this brutal time with grace [most of the time].

My first race since 2008 was a local sprint triathlon (2017) I completed exactly a year after my daughter was born. It was a milestone for me in the fact that I hadn’t raced since I was sick, and I also wanted to celebrate the first year of motherhood. I ended up winning in my age group and had a great time! I forgot how good racing felt despite it “only” being a sprint triathlon (used to be an endurance mountain biker). That sprint tri allowed me to access a part of myself that I mourned the loss of when I was in the dark depths of my sickness.

Just recently, two years later (September 2019), I just completed the same exact triathlon at the ripe age of 40! Ha. I started tapering a week too early as I messed up on the date (hello sleep deprivation-oops), had a solid fall, not even a week prior where I busted my knee open that already has torn cartilage [at a splash pad, epic I know], 3-year-old daughter hasn’t slept thru the night since June 1, started my cycle (aka period), and I woke up with a sinus infection the day before the race. I still showed up on race morning just as I was as quitting wasn’t an option for this race! Some may think I wasn’t listening to my body and should’ve sat it out, but I knew I had all past experiences to tap into the strength to do this thing. If I can hike for 7 hours with a 50 pound pack (toddler, food, water, toys, think traveling circus, etc) while also carrying my 8 pound dog totally sleep deprived, show up at work as a nurse for a 12 hour shift after no sleep, if I can log in 13 miles on the hottest summer days in ATL, navigate this parenting thing solo, take on a life-changing illness for 3 years, then I could 100% rally for this race. My body and mind were also telling me we were good to go! Side note: I did have to pull out of triathlon nationals in Ohio around a year ago as my daughter had 5 consecutive, bilateral ear infections, and there was way too much going on. Sometimes you have to drop out when it’s the only thing that feels right or the only option. Always listen to your body!!

This race was a gift to myself. It was time to give back to myself. It was time to tap into my inner strength. If you’re a parent or caretaker of a loved one, I’m sure you can relate how easy it is to get lost in the mix and forget about yourself.

Anyways, the race went well. I had the fastest time in my age group and ended up second place out of approx 70 women for the open master's women (40 and up). I got to stand up on the podium in my Moxy and Grit F*cking magical socks designed by a badass chick that I used to race with...gave me all the good feels! I also shaved off 5 min from my previous time and didn’t wig out on the swim!! The trick: not wearing my goggles (no idea why that worked but thought I would share in case anyone else struggles with this) and telling myself over and over again that I’m a damn warrior. My Tony Robbins incantation game was strong! In all seriousness though, your inner strength, self- love dialogue, and faith are all powerful tools to help sustain you during any race or hardship.

Use all you have overcome as leverage!! Don’t forget to take care of you whether you’re a parent or not. If you can’t take care of yourself in this particular season, know the tides will change. I always tell myself that “this too shall pass” and “the only constant is change.” Face your fears! Remember, you’re a damn warrior as well, no matter if you podium, don’t podium, or you don’t even race! See it. Know it. Feel it. Remember all you’ve overcome & know you can get through this chapter or challenge. You are as strong as a mother (or father or son or daughter or whatever the case may be). I know life can be challenging, but keep on keepin’ on. Deep breaths. You got this!

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