This is my story: how I ended up on this triathlon journey, how it has saved me over and over again.
Freshly divorced, twenty pounds overweight, and completely scattered, I watched the 2006 Shamrock half-marathon from the sidelines. My emotions bubbled. Envy, awe, and frustration intensified with each runner who passed.
It had been over a year since my last run and even then never more than three miles at a time. Yet these people, of every shape and size, were running 13.1. All at once.
Confidence had always been a fleeting companion of mine; I had longingly dreamt of being a girl who exuded confidence and an outgoing personality. The girl who watched the Shamrock from the sidelines, the girl whose life had been turned upside down knew that confidence was elusive, meant for others.
I’m no longer that girl.
Quite by accident, that cool March day saved me. Soon after, I laced up my running shoes again. I was slow, sluggish. But I was out there. I found my stride. Or more fittingly my stride found me. Somewhere in the midst of the ephemeral heat rising from the pavement, my self was reborn.
Running and training for triathlons was more than just a physical endeavor, I was emotionally and mentally challenged: to believe in myself, to push through pain and discouragement. The journey of having to hold my nose underwater, to swimming more than a half mile in open water; the journey of being able to run for less than two minutes at once to running a half-marathon, required patience and courage. I had to face the darkest parts of myself, the parts that believed that I wasn’t enough, wasn’t capable. And I had to fight back.
During this tumultuous time in my life, a strength brewed in me, and it drove me. On the other side of the finish lines, a more confident and more courageous girl emerged.
I found me. I am that girl.
Why do I tri? Because I meet myself on the pavement, on the trails, in the water. Fast or slow. Tired or pumped. I come as I am and run my race. Have I sometimes lost sight of the girl I really am over the years? Yes. But she’s always out there waiting. Waiting for me to run (or ride or swim) to her. And I always do.