Where it all went wrong, but oh so right: The beginning of the rest of my life.
It all started in 2011...
Thats the year I signed up for, and competed in my first Triathlon. The beginning of the rest of my life. With a borrowed bike and rented wetsuit, I managed to cross the line 2nd to last after 4 hours of what I could only call "lolly gagging" my way to the finishers chute (seriously who spends a combined time nearing an hour between T1 and T2?). I remember seeing guys in unsightly tight body suits with obnoxiously large helmets and thinking to myself, "I will never take myself that seriously", but more on that later.
I told my mom about my plan to race. She cried... scratch that, wept. Mourning for my life and what was sure to be my tragic demise, she tried in vain to get me to change my mind. Training? Yeah I had done some. If you can call one swim that consisted of 8 lengths of the local pool and a handful of one mile runs "training". So with the full support of my dear mother and a strict training regime I was absolutely ready for the Daybreak Olympic Triathlon.
Where it all went wrong
2 minutes into the swim I was sure Mom's intuitions were accurate. I was going to die. Drowned in 5 feet deep of man made liquid abyss... this was it. Then I looked up. I could see the friends I had signed up with 100 yards in front of me and figured, if they were still going I could too. I pulled my goggles off my face, and swam with my head out of the water for the remainder of the swim. After a casual bike ride chatting it up, it was time to run. In true hero fashion, when one amigo cramped during the 10k around the lake, we walked with him. 4 hours later my race was finally finished. I can't fully remember if I enjoyed myself, or if I just tell myself I did to block out memories from a full blown panic attack in the water. One thing is for sure, I knew I could do better. I signed up for another race (a Sprint this time), bought a triathlon bike, a few books, and started learning more about how to train properly for a triathlon. That set the stage for the next 5 years.
The first few races were rough. I would get crushed in the water, pass a few people on the bike, then question why I signed up again on the run. I repeated this process and something happened. I started to see results. As my times slowly improved I became hooked. I became hooked not on the sport of Triathlon, but on this idea of progression. Seeing results drove me to try harder, learn more, and keep signing up. My hair got longer and my race times got shorter. I fell in love with triathlon.
Enter unsightly tight body suits:
I now own my own obnoxiously large helmet. I have 3 drawers full of body conforming lycra suits, shorts and jerseys (some of which wearing out past the point of public decency to put on again). I told myself I would never take myself that seriously. Driven by results, and thriving on the idea of getting faster I took myself more and more seriously. I got linked up with a coach who would later become my mentor and friend. Training became the necessity for improvement instead of the pursuit of the passion. I was all in, and I dragged a few poor souls in with me (sorry guys).
6 years ago I started that journey. I take myself less seriously now but I still am driven by the idea of improvement. Both as an athlete, but even more so now as a coach. Over the years my focus has changed on what I want to accomplish in the sport. Including most recently, a complete shift from on-road triathlon to off-road triathlon. This was the beginning of the rest of my life.