Over the last nine years, I've been heavily involved in the sport of triathlon. It has taken me around the world and back landing me on other continents I never dreamed I'd experience. I've met new friends with worlds of kindness and love to give.
If you would have asked me nine years ago if this sport would have provided this kind of fulfillment, fun, adventure, camaraderie, joy, pain, learning, suffering, questioning and character development I would have said a resounding "no way". Look at where I sit now, with a career that revolves around helping others and even an occasional paycheck for doing what I love and would be doing anyway with or without a professional card.
I thought I would take a moment to write down a few of the things I've learned throughout this crazy experience thus far. Maybe some of those things will surprise you. Others, I'm sure you'll share with me as an athlete. So here they are in no particular order.
What I've learned:
1. It's supposed to be hard. Embrace it.
2. Things will not come easily. That's what will make them 100 times more worthwhile when they do.
3. There are many sincere, genuinely caring people all around you. All you have to do is look and not be afraid to ask for help.
4. Fears are normal. In fact, if you're not a little bit afraid, your goals probably aren't high enough.
5. Dream big. No, dream HUGE.
6. Don't disregard even the smallest advice. Listen to those who take time to share with you...old, young, beginner, and pro.
7. It's a journey, not a destination.
8. Find where you feel happiest (like on your bike!) and spend more time there.
9. Don't be afraid to work hard (harder than you ever thought possible) because most people are not willing to do so and that is what will separate you from the rest.
10. It's not about talent, it's about consistency.
11. Stop and look around once in awhile, this IS the dream. It's overflowing messy car, the piles of laundry, the bike grease under your nails...the finish lines, the people, the suffering. It's all part of it.
12. The alarm will go off VERY, VERY early, you best get your butt to bed.
13. When you feel you have nothing left to give, go ahead, give a little more... it's in there.
14. You will not smell like chlorine for the rest of your life, but for this part of your life, you will, every single day.
15. There isn't a hill out there you can't conquer. Stay with it and eventually you will.
16. Triathlon makes the rest of life seem easier.
17. People will judge you and the decisions you make in this sport, but once you get into it awhile, you won't care. You'll be satisfied and that's all that matters.
18. Trust yourself.
19. A DNF (did not finish) isn't the end, it's only the beginning.
20. You don't have to know how you swim when you start, but you should eventually figure it out. If you don't, you're going to have to bike and run a LOT faster than everyone else!
21. Nutrition MATTERS. Take it seriously!
22. You will meet people who will change your life. They will touch you and you will never ever be the same.
23. Hire a coach. Now. You cannot be objective with your own training and racing.
24. Give back to the sport. Coach someone for free, volunteer, speak at events, whatever it takes. Give back to what has given you so much.
25. Know your limits. Being a smart athlete sometimes means saying the workout is done.
26. Don't over-analyze. Prepare, execute to the best of your ability, recover, let it go. One day does not a week make, one week does not a month make! There is always tomorrow.
27. Riding a bike with a good friend talking about life is much cheaper than therapy (thanks Jocelyn!)
28. Training hard is good, but training smarter is better.
29. Don't get ahead of yourself. Thinking about outcomes (results) is a bad idea. Follow the plan and get out of your own way. The rest will take care of itself.
30. Be humble. What we do is a gift.
31. Thank your support system profusely. We are NOT easy to live with, eat with, vacation with or be around (especially when we are hungry).
32. Follow your heart, if it feels right, then it is right.
33. Thank the volunteers.
34. Take a shot. You will never regret trying and seeing what is possible.
34. Never, ever, EVER give up!
As I head into Ironman Wisconsin this weekend, maybe people are asking why I would race again before the big dance in Kona. Well, that's personal and that's what makes it special to me. I have my reasons and they are unique and individual. I've got to take a shot at seeing what I'm made of on Sunday. I never want to look back and say what if. "Are you sucking the marrow out of this life and this sport?" That's what I've asked myself every day on this journey thus far. I don't intend to stop now!
Someday it will all make sense. However, today is not that day. For now, I trust the plan and I believe in my heart that it will all come together in the way it's supposed to for me and those around me. I'll be praying and thanking them for 140.6 miles on Sunday!
Thanks to my husband, family, friends and sponsors for making these days possible!
So here's to digging deep, seeing what we are made of and having the time of our lives!
#32 Signing off!