On my college cross-country team, I was known by two possible titles, "DeNo" and "Rudy" both of which I was very proud of donning. "DeNo" was short for my full last name, DeNovellis, and happen to be the same nickname my Father had during his collegiate football years. "Rudy" was because of an article that was written in my final season which chronicled my transition from a timid walk-on my sophomore year to a team captain and contributing scorer as a 5th year senior. I credit that transition to a combination of exceptional coaching and team support, willingness to do whatever was asked of me and a whole darn lot of heart.
I wanted to write a blog at the end of year assessing the triathlon season as people often do, but I still wasn’t quite far enough away from it to give it the perspective it deserved. My emotions were beyond mixed. If you looked at my "on paper goals" I devised with my coach at the beginning of the season, it matched the execution almost exactly through Ironman Lake Placid. Yet the foundation started eroding somewhere toward the middle of the season, and at the time, I couldn’t quite figure out why. One of the things so great about early last season at Ironman Melbourne was the mental state I had going into that race and having my focus on the right things – doing my best and executing the plan. I raced without a care in the world and not an expectation of the outcome. It all came together in such a beautiful journey from the people I met to the experience as a whole that I couldn't have scripted it any better if I wrote it out in advance for myself.
After Melbourne, I started realizing what was possible and that maybe an Ironman win was somewhere in my future if it was meant to be. I started pushing myself harder and harder toward that as a possibility. Somewhere in there, I lost a little bit of sight of the girl who set out to do this pro thing and was just happy being out there. It became about a place, points and a time more than about giving it everything and seeing where the chips fell. The difficult part is that you have to believe that it’s possible to win before it every can become a reality. HOWEVER, you can’t let that be the reason you line up or the overriding theme of any longer term training. It’s a difficult balance to master for any athlete, and in my third year at this level, I am the first to say that last year I didn’t master that critical balance. The pressure we put on ourselves can cause us to crumble under the weight and no one, and I mean no one, functions well in that type of environment. My body gave me a fairly clear sign of that when one week out from Lake Placid I was at the ER with what I was HOPING was poison ivy, but what I knew in my heart was probably shingles. I thought shingles were just for people over 60 – not so much! Who knew! The good news was that as long as I could stand the pain, I could compete. The bad news was the pain was pretty awful at times that final week and my immune system was finally crying uncle. Thank heavens for the support of my husband, family, friends and partners, or I would have never even made it to the starting line in one piece.
I don’t regret anything about 2014. I learned so much about what it takes to compete at this level and how I want to function as a pro. After my third year, I’m not even remotely the same athlete I was when I started in 2005, nor when I got my card in 2012. I also truly believe this is only one chapter in my life and not even remotely the only thing I want to excel in long term. My husband and I have some other areas of life we would like to explore and those wants and hopes weigh heavily on my mind. For now, what I know is that I am getting back to where I first started. That’s the place I am happiest and most in love with this sport and the people in it. I needed to get back to basics, step away so I could come back with a “full cup” (as Mary E. so eloquently put it) and be able to give of myself again to see where the next steps take me. The girl who wrote so many blogs about the exciting, wonderful, parts of this sport and how much she loved it got lost somewhere along there as she started pushing herself way too hard toward an outcome that really doesn’t matter much in the scheme of things.
Our vision of our lives and who we want to be is one of the main determent's in our future path. It lights our step and helps guide us to the next area of our development as people. At this time in my life, I am 100% open. I’m no longer forcing the door that seems like it has to be the one or all will be lost. I’m looking forward with faith in my heart and the belief that the very best is yet to come, whatever that may be. I’m getting back to the basics of putting in the work day in and day out to be a stronger, healthier athlete and worrying less about what that will mean at the end of the race. That’s my happy place. That’s the best place to find our inner strength and be able to step back and love our bodies and lives just the way they are at this very moment. It's got to be about heart. Heart is what keeps us going and keeps us alive when things aren't going the way we expected. When I hang up my hat on this triathlon career, more than a result or paycheck, I want people to talk about me as one of the athletes that kept things in the right perspective and raced with her heart in the right place throughout my career. THAT's what's important to me. That's where I needed to get back to so I could find my way home again.
Looking ahead to the upcoming year, I would encourage you to be patient and willing to accept the curve balls that life throws at you with grace and understanding that this too is part of your develeopment. The path may not be straight, but you’ll eventually find your way if your vision is one of positivity and belief that there is a greater plan for all of us. Take the time to be thankful for what you are experiencing right now, for it’s a gift too even if it’s a painful lesson or a character revealing one.
Instead of talking about long term goals or points, I’ll instead talk about how thankful I am just to have had these experiences and the journey does continue as I get to race this upcoming weekend at Mercury Man half in the Grand Cayman Islands on January 18th. There will be some other exceptional women professionals joining me and others to support the Estella Scott-RobertsFoundation which was created to provide funds to organizations advocating the equality of women and girls, empowering men, women and children, support gender equality and live violence free. I’m very honored to have the opportunity to participate in this event and I’m thankful to be able to help raise awareness of this amazing foundation. It will be a fun weekend of doing what I love and helping others at the same time.
I’m excited to be working with many of the same partners from last year including
Coeur Sports - Women's Specific Clothing where fashion and performance intersect.
Ultragrain - All Purpose and 100% White Whole Wheat Flours providing whole grain nutrition with the taste and texture of white flour.
QT2 Systems- Customized coaching through my coach, Jesse Kropelnicki, and his team of exceptional coaches.
Powerbar - Sports Nutrition products to give athletes the Power to Push!
RudyProject - Technically cool eyeware and helmets outfitting athletes in the gear they need to perform at their peak!
NormaTec Recovery -Massaging air compression boots to assist in recovery so you can get back in the game feeling great!
Biotta -Non GMO. Vegan. 100% pure juice from fruits and vegetables. Great for healthy and to maximize endurance potential through nitrate consumption!
Top Gear Bicycle - Pittsburgh's premier bicycle shop located in the North Hills.
FuelBelt -Hydration systems for a world on the move!
These companies support me in multiple ways and I am proud to be continuing forward with with them in 2015! More on all of that to come! I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday and New Year!