We all have that ‘why I tri’.
For some it is a call to action by external forces (a doctor, a friend, a cause), for some it is internal (a desire to find out how far you can push yourself), and for others it takes some time to figure out your why.
First I Ran..
For me, it was how I felt after my very first race both about myself and the triathlon community as a whole. But let’s start at the beginning, I started running in college to help manage the stress and anxiety of Purdue University’s veterinary nursing program. However, I injured myself over training for the Chicago Marathon in 2009. For the next 4 years was pretty certain I’d never run again as this chronic injury prevented me from running more than 3-4 miles.
Then I Swam…
So I got in the pool, as recommended by my doctor but didn’t love it and had NO idea what I was doing since none of my schools growing up overseas had a pool or swim team. Fast forward to 2011, I was living in Lexington, Kentucky working the night shift in the NICU at a prominent equine hospital still really only working out when I could to manage my weight. I would get off work at 8:00 am and head over to my local YMCA and swim my laps. It was there that a kind lifeguard helped me on my stroke and gave me some breathing tips.
Next I moved…
Not long after I started my job in Kentucky, I was headhunted to work for one of the top thoroughbred racing farms in New South Wales, Australia and eagerly jumped at the opportunity to work for them. So I moved ‘Down Under’ for 7 months to work their breeding season. All the while continuing to run here and there but generally leading a more unhealthy lifestyle – and it showed. When my VISA ran up I started looking for new jobs and stumbled upon a sports medicine practice – yes equine athletes need TLC and injury management too! – in San Diego. Little did I know I was headed to the birth place of triathlon, I barely knew what the word meant! After two wonderful years in San Diego where I finally got my injury under control, my US Navy boyfriend (now husband) and I picked up everything to move coast to coast to Virginia. I joined a practice up in Richmond while he was stationed in Virginia Beach.
Finally ‘I tri-ed’…
This is all a long winded way to say, my surgeon who I closely worked with on a daily basis and would become a dear friend, bullied me into my first triathlon. He said, “You’re already running, swimming and attending spin classes… you’re there!” So I decided I would give it a tri (try? see what I did there) and signed up for my first race a sprint in Norfolk, VA called Breezy Point.
Now back to the why – I didn’t own a bike that May in 2015 so I rented one from Endorphin Fitness an elite triathlon team in RVA. On race morning, I had to get special access from the base, had no idea what I was doing, and felt like I forgot everything. I took one look at the 750m swim and thought, “That looks way further than 750m… there is no way I can make it”. Yet, I did. I swam well in my new wetsuit my parents gifted me for the previous Christmas. They have always supported whatever crazy endeavor I think up next. The bike was fun and enjoyable. I learned the rough lesson of what a “brick run” is and why one should practice before hand. Even though I thought I was going to die running down the hot flight path on the base, I didn’t. And at the finish line were my friends cheering me on in the hot sun.
I finished full of pride and self worth. I could do anything. I was so much stronger than I had imagined! I needed to do more! Then there was the ‘after party’ of local athletes who didn’t know me telling me what a good job I did. The lady who helped me get my wetsuit off and the man who ran with me to encourage me to keep going (he was 64 and breezing along!).Lastly, the staff and volunteers who wanted to make sure it was a fun race. The community and the post race feeling combined. I was hooked!
That fall, Paul went on his first deployment and I joined a training team called Tri Girls/ Tri Quest .. my ticket on the triathlon crazy train had been punched.