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.
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.