There are likely millions of reasons people participate, race and or embrace the triathlon lifestyle. Personally, I love the training, the traveling, the racing, the stress relieving "runners high"and of course one of the best parts is connecting with amazing people in the sport. However, there are always the the other driving reasons people do triathlon specifically.
For me, I am a Type A "planimal". I love exploring potential, planning, working extremely hard for a purpose, investing passionately into a project and pushing progress for something special. It's probably why my non-tri ventures I barely even gloss upon here often lead me to start up operations and cultures that value innovation. I love progress.
What is at the core for me with triathlon is that it is the perfect venue for working hard towards achieving exciting gigantic GOALS! Triathlon is an EXTREMELY cool & unique opportunity to transform dreams into goals and then work hard to achieve them. My last coach said my commitment to my goals is "unlike anyone else I have ever coached." It may be rather unique and extreme but it is how I am wired. THAT is what I have loved best from the very start and continue to love best. Triathlon is the most comprehensively rewarding outlet I've discovered. It presents a challenging platform to always be working on something, learning and pushing limits to make things happen. When success is ultimately achieved through passion, hard work and dedication despite all odds...well that is beautiful. The icing in tri is the adventure along the way and connecting with amazing people.
I love so many things about the sport that is now integrated into my life. So, it was hard to pick what exactly attracted me in the first place and drives me to continue in the sport. I went back to the start. For my very first tri I borrowed a paperback book for 12 weeks to your first tri. I followed the plan by myself meticulously putting in the training and getting organized and ready for the big goal. Training, learning and progressing then finally racing was such a feeling of tremendous accomplishment. I didn't know other athletes but that was OK because it was the process of training and the finish line that meant so much to me and Nick was right there supporting every step. It was an exciting goal and only the first of many. I'm addicted to progress. I fell in LOVE with triathlon all for the spirit of chasing a crazy goal. That's what drives me in triathlon.
A catalyst in the sport for me was the 2011 traumatic bike wreck which brought on a lot of heartbreak and soul searching. I had seen one small podium (3rd in a little event) before that crash but I was devastated, then angry then suddenly I reached clarity & began to be hungry for a very serious challenge. I vowed to come back stronger. While waiting for bones to heal, I wrote out an expansive list of seemingly impossible goals. These were so wild that I just kept them neatly and boldly on my excel planning sheet/checklist with a little link to a UTube clip of the "million dollar man"...better. stronger. faster. I do not think ANYONE could have understood the level of serious commitment I had but the desire and fire was blazing inside me. Well, maybe some saw it.... my husband and possibly even my physical therapist, Kevin at Tidewater who saw me 3x a week and got experience with my ummmm... Fierce determination.
I was going not only see podiums but to win races! I was going to PR in every tri distance. I was going to PR in every leg in all 4 traditional distances in tri. I would not share most of the "crazy" goals with others, until the idea was within grasp but they were written down for me, to keep me hopeful & working. I was at the time, a back to mid pack athlete with a mid point average VO2 and no big endurance background. Yet, I mapped out tasks & times far beyond my logically foreseeable capabilities. Maybe it was from being on pain meds but I said I was going it have an "unparalleled dominating come back" and I wrote out a list and progression of EXACTLY what that would mean as well as the resources I would need... Like a coach for example. I wanted to show myself and other athletes that it is possible to face fears and get back on the bike after trauma and more so, it is possible to come back strong! I got to work remaining focused & a bit intense but also having fun and hoping to bring others up around me along the way.
The goals were so WILD that I did not achieve everything I wrote down in April of 2011 until this August of 2014. That darn ironman bike split PR took me a long while and filled me with doubt at times. Yet, I knew back then that it would take a long time. I did it all and even went FAR beyond anything that girl with the broken, jaw, collarbone, scapula and broken heart would have dreamed. I even made it to 70.3 Worlds which post wreck would have seemed actually impossible & wasn't even on that 2011 list.
I finally checked off every box despite many obstacles but with a tremendous network of supporters. That chapter is now concluded.
So, with everything achieved, what is next? What is the new GOAL?
Well last year I started seriously thinking...maybe in 5 years I could be in contention for AND qualify for...Kona. Yes, the Ironman World Championship. I laid out a plan last year. I planned it all out and showed the tri coach at the time. The difference now vs post wreck is that my BIG, CRAZY, Unimaginable goal is being shared because that's way more fun. It's fun to strive for our individual goals TOGETHER in tri world.
I want to see how far I can go. My ironman progress to date is this: 13:27 2009 IMFL, 12:46 2012 IMWI, 11:32 2014 IMMT.
For those unfamiliar Quakifying for Kona... it's not like Boston qualifying with a time to hit. You don't know the time you need. It's extremely hard to get there. You actually have to race for spots to Kona at certain ironman events. Woman in my age group are generally racing to place for up to 3 spots. People throw out this goal a lot but it's very hard to actually get there. It requires being In TOP shape and having luck in training to stay heathy and luck in race day itself. Race opportunitues are few as well. You can't do an ironman every month until you qualify due to the load on the body. Those with great genes & natural talent (those who get podiums in the sport from their very first season) have to work hard to earn a spot. I'm not close enough for it to be reasonable with my IMMT 11:32 PR...but I will be. I believe the last spot at my age group at that race went to a 10:57 finisher and she was lucky because we had 4 spots. The winner was at 10:21.
I want to see if I can (with in 5 years) as a regular athlete with no endurance background and clearly no natural gift or talent (took me 4 years to see a local AG podium) still earn a coveted spot at ironman distance Worlds and get the opportunity to race in the most iconic tri on the planet. I want to do all that while maintaining a happy life balance. For someone who hates waiting...within the structures of a goal driven plan, I have patience. My husband and I are a team in this together & with his full support and my drive & attitude it may very well happen. 2015 is development year 2 out of the 5 years I've decided we can dedicate to chipping away at my race times. There are a lot of exciting changes and hard training sessions ahead.
Here's to the next chapter!
Years ago I committed to a multi year goal that was a totally intense study phase, landing us here. Hopefully, we will have a reason to return to this...but with a much cooler journey!