2014: The Year of the Plow Horse

Recently, when reviewing my site analytics, I discovered a blog, from Russia, that was referring visitors to my site.

That’s odd, I thought. Sometimes, international sites link to my blog, which I usually determine to be spammers. But, I was curious. So, I navigated to the site, and looked through the page, to find that I was featured at the bottom.

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 8.11.11 AM
Screenshot from: http://nervo4ka.livejournal.com/305063.html

But, what does it say? Ever the curious sort, I copied the words into Google Translator, and discovered that this post was about women bloggers that this particular blogger reads. Cool. But, what was she saying about ME?!

7. Maria ( her story ) and her blog Running A Life . This woman who is very serious about running and triathlons, not only for fun but also as a plow horse on the result. In her many victories in the piggy bank in poluayronmenah AG, many times finishing the full distance IM, many times qualified for Boston. Now her goal and dream to qualify for this year’s Kona. In that year in Kona was her husband, and this year, she took his voyage wheel, and he switched to the preparations for the ultramarathon 100 miles. 8)) Plus they both coaches. Very interesting and serious blog with a serious approach to training and to achieve their goals. Not as easy hihanki-hee, like a female blogger above. And those girls over Maria 10-15 years. By the way, this family childless, suggesting that either the sport was in their life priority or did not happen or did not happen because of the sport or sport became thereby that fills their lives due to lack of children. There is something to think about.

Oh, Google Translator, I have a feeling this isn’t exactly correct. But regardless of the obvious translation errors, I was curious to see myself in the words of another blogger and reader. Moreover, this simple paragraph launched some soul searching about what I really wanted from triathlon, from life. As I read these words, I had an odd mixture of feeling offended and complimented at the same time. Was the sport “thereby that fills their lives due to lack of children”? Was I really “a plow horse on the result”?

Oh, and wait a minute, I’m serious?

There is something unsettling yet a little flattering about seeing myself through the words of a stranger who only knows me through my words. While taken aback by some of the assumptions made in this short paragraph (re: being childless means my life is not “filled” somehow?), I was ultimately gratified by the thought of being a plow horse.


My dad always warned me against being a horse’s a$$. But, in endurance sport, having the strength of a horse’s a$$ might just be a benefit.

It’s seems a really apt metaphor for endurance athletes generally: a plow horse does hard work and stays strong when it gets tough.

A plow horse is a work horse, which Wikipedia explains as having “broad, short backs with powerful hindquarters.” In short, plow horses have plenty of junk in the trunk. Yup, that’s me, for sure.

A plow horse might not be the prettiest show pony around, but it gets the job done. Clearly, my sis’ from another miss, this creature.

I also learned from the interwebs that plow horses were bred to balance both speed and muscle. Unlike the faster racing horses, plow horses have to work hard at a pace they can sustain – all day long. So, kind of like an endurance athlete.

I realize that the translation from Russian to English is off (and funny…very very funny). But, I like thinking of myself as a plow horse, and we can easily think of endurance athletes as plow horses: we are strong, hard-working, committed to the task, steady, dependable.

So, here’s to all of us, as we embark on the 2014 season, which is obviously the year of the plow horse. Let’s take our voyage wheels, and make this year the best we can.

Plow on, my friends, plow on!


  1. Pingback: Patient Aggression: Reflection on the Year of the Plow Horse - Running A Life

  2. Hi Maria,
    Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. My main purpose was to share the most inspiring foreign tri-blogs that I read with my Russian-speaking friends. And you correctly translated “working hard as a horse” in a positive way. 🙂

    I just wanted to say thank you that you share your stories and thoughts with us about your road to a Kona dream. Wish your dream comes true this year because you really working hard toward it. As a plow horse *from a perspective of a tri-newbies*. 🙂

  3. Hi, Maria!
    Actually , despite this blog is in Russian, the blogger, Elena, lives in California now.
    And among her readers there are a lot of triathletes and runners, some like Vlad from Seattle and myself, that are reading your blog regularly. And we live in USA and Canada.
    And, yes, all of us are looking to find balance between our goals in endurance sport, jobs, family life and fun time.
    Blog is only one side blogger want (decided) to show. From reading your blog we see you as a achiever in sport. And we do not know you as a fun-out-going girl, that you definitely is. We do not know you as a accomplished career woman.
    So when I read your blog, I compare myself with you as an amateur athlete and, check either I want to train this hard, if I am ready to put so much time into training, if I am same talented to achieve big goal of qualifying (somewhere) or if I even need that goal at all…
    Your honest posts help to reflect of what is happening in our lives. But that did not mean that we do not respect your choices.
    To know Elena better I invite you to read Spotlight On Elena on your Team web-site:
    If you’ll go through several other interviews you will find , that almost everyone is mentioning word BALANCE http://triathlonstars.com/spotlight-on/

    “Finding Balance” become The Resolution of 2014 for most of Team Members.
    We will appreciate if you will share your opinion.

    1. Hi, Galina! First and most importantly (and I can’t emphasize this enough): Thank you for being a regular reader, commenter and supporter of this blog. I appreciate the support that you, Vlad, Elena and the other “triathlon stars” have lent to me. I remember your group at IMLP 🙂

      I appreciate your comment. As I said, I’m pretty flattered to be featured in this way, and I am humbled that you all think I am a high achiever. I don’t think my own self-perception has caught up to the one you all have of me, as I still think of myself as the small town kid who works hard and has fun, but isn’t a stand out.

      As for balance, I completely understand. Balance between work, life, and training has been and will continue to be very important to me. I’ve learned quite a bit about time management, identifying priorities, setting reasonable goals and so on that help achieve that balance. I offer whatever tips I can to help others. I like to think I have a successful career, a life that is rich with family and friends, and a training and racing schedule that keeps me fit, focused and motivated. I suppose for me, that’s the kind of balance I want. And, truthfully, I think I do approach life like a plow horse. So, even if the google translator is off, I still like the comparison 🙂

      I think you have the right approach in considering how other people work to achieve balance – but in the end, you have to do what makes sense for you and for your life. It’s not one size fits all for sure.

      Again – many thanks for being a regular reader and thanks for your comments.

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