Upon retiring from the military in 2007, I made up my mind that I was not going to run another mile in my life. After 20 years of early morning physical training (PT), I was over it. lol! I quickly recognized that physical fitness, specifically running, had grown to be a large part of my life and my daily routine. I missed it and realized that it’s never too late to start again.
In 2010, I experienced the tragic loss of my mother. I gradually returned to a regular running routine for therapeutic purposes. Running provided the space for me to be alone with my thoughts and process the loss of my mother. Many days I reflected on our relationship, often laughing out loud at a fond memory or crying away my sadness. Unlike other activities, running allowed me to grieve privately – all the while embracing the beauty of the outdoors, breathing in the crisp morning air and experiencing a feeling of gratitude with every stride.
Let’s Give Triathlon A Try
Running was a great outlet for me. My love for running led me to complete numerous half marathons, a few marathons, 50k and 50-mile distances. Along my journey I was reintroduced to triathlon from friends in the running and triathlon communities. It would be well over 20 years since my last triathlon. I desired a change in my running routine which led me to revisit triathlon. I signed up for my first sprint distance, trained and never looked back. I often ask myself what specifically excites me about triathlon? What motivates me to tri? I have come to the conclusion that I enjoy the challenge and the community. The challenge of being able to successfully complete each discipline within the allotted time, at my age and with my physical limitations. I am drawn to the idea of competing with myself – me vs. me vs. the clock. What inspires me on race day are the numerous athletes who arrive with nervous energy, mentally and physically trained to take on whatever the race day brings. Each with at a different level of fitness, each with a personal story that embodies their “why”, and each with the passion to reach the finish line. It takes courage. Each time I stand in the swim start line, I get a nervous excitement. Each time I am nearing the finish line, I get a nervous excitement. Each time I get to share this experience with my family and fellow triathletes, I am overcome with excitement. We get to do this. This is what keeps me coming back.
It’s Never Too Late To Start Again
Returning to triathlon after a 20-year hiatus was not easy. My first race I was extremely nervous. I was equally stressed out about the swim and the bike. The run, not so much. At the time I had not adopted a mindset of focusing on completing one discipline at a time. Reflecting on my military training, I was reminded that I could do hard things. My goal for my return triathlon was to simply execute the plan I had trained for and accomplish the mission. Since then, I have adopted a meditation practice to mentally prepare myself for each race. Even so, I do believe that my military training has been an integral part of helping me achieve success as a triathlete.
After completing several sprint and olympic distances, I was ready to experience the next level of triathlon. Listening to friends tell their stories about their Ironman journey sparked my curiosity. I wanted to experience the Ironman journey for myself. In 2019 I completed the Ironman 70.3 and 140.6 distances. I completed both in Florida and could not have asked for better race day conditions. The love and support of my family and friends, coupled with the volunteers, gave me the push I needed to complete both races.
Ironman Isn’t Easy
When I started the full Ironman race I knew that I was ready. I was well trained which gave me the confidence I needed to relax and enjoy the day. The amazing volunteers and support from fellow triathletes on the course helped to keep me moving toward the finish line. The full Ironman distance is not easy. It requires extensive time, training, self-discipline and self-motivation. While triathlon is an individual sport, I am thankful for my village. Those for those who support me through training, to the finish line, and beyond. I’m not certain that I will embark on another 140.6 distance. The time commitment is challenging. Today, I am truly satisfied with completing just the one.
We Can Do Hard Things!
Triathlon means so many things to each athlete. It’s healing, it’s rewarding and, in some cases, it’s defeating. I approach each triathlon as an individual and personal journey. I don’t compare my race to previous races or to other triathletes. As the saying goes, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” It is an honor to be a part of the both the running and triathlon communities. I have met and learned from so many incredible athletes. My hope is that my presence in this space will inspire, encourage and motivate others to Tri.
Because we can do hard things!