I’ve asked myself this question numerous times, usually during the last 3 miles of a race. Funny how I forget about it as soon as I see the finish line.
My life up to this point can be divided into 3 parts: the ice skating years, the searching years, and the triathlon years.
I grew up in an ice rink, skating competitively from the age of 6 until about 14. I was pulled out of public school in the 3rd grade and tutored so that I could focus on skating, and nothing but skating from 5 AM to 5 PM every day. I had to make the Olympic team by the time I turned 16; that’s what they told me anyway. Genetics had a different plan. At the age of 12 I started to turn into this weird giant that couldn’t jump anymore. I really tried, but by the time I was 14 the writing was on the wall. All I heard those last 2 years was that I wasn’t good enough; I wasn’t fast enough; I couldn’t jump high enough. I couldn’t take it anymore. The disappointment felt when I finally quit was far better than hearing how much I sucked every day.
And so, began the searching years. They lasted a long time, until about 2010. I went through a lot of rebellion, self-hatred, and misguided angst. I also fell in love, got married to a wonderful man, and had 2 amazing kids. But, I was always searching for me. Who was I when not defined in the context of others? I had no hobbies, no personal interests, and no goals for myself. I ate a lot and took a lot of naps.
In 2010, I joined the Lifetime Fitness in Chanhassen, MN. I had some serious weight to lose (see the searching years) and started hitting some spin classes because you can burn a lot of calories in an hour of that. There were a lot of false starts and a lack of motivation to just “work out”. I didn’t really get it. It’s like laying out to get a tan. Isn’t that something that happens while you are doing something meaningful in the sun? And then it happened, I saw a sign, literally, for the Lifetime Triathlon. Man, those people look fit. They look like bad asses. They do not look like they suck. They look consumed by some desire to achieve… something.
It may have taken me 4 years to work up the courage. But, I finished my first sprint triathlon, RTB’s Lake Meridian, in August of 2014. My husband said he has never seen me smile bigger than I did when I crossed that finish line. That smile was for me. No one but me. On that day, I was not a quitter. I was not too lazy or too fat. I did not suck. I was strong and brave. And I was hooked.
Since then I’ve done a number of sprints, Olympics and I’ll be doing my 4th half-Ironman in CdA this June. I’ve learned a lot along the way like don’t push so hard on the bike that you sabotage your run. And don’t get a wedgie before starting the swim because you won’t be able to get it out with a wetsuit on. I’ve also found an amazing group of people that love this sport as much as I do, but who are much more balanced when it comes to being competitive. They’ve taught me to appreciate exactly where I am at right now and that I can appreciate others without measuring myself against them. Every race has been a stepping stone to finding myself again. So, when I get to those last 3 miles of a race and start asking myself why the hell I’m doing this, the answer is simple – because I love myself, because I’m strong, because I’m a triathlete.
Raise the Bar
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