Thursday, June 4, 2009

My 10 Year Love Affair...

I have Carrie to thank for making me realize something very special is happening this weekend. She is celebrating her 7th year of triathlon and I am celebrating my 10th.

Ironically enough, I volunteered to be a Swim Angel at this weekend's Danskin Triathlon. My very first triathlon ever and I am giving back to the one race and the one portion of the event that has always been very special to me. Without the Danskin I would never have become a triathlete...without the Swim Angels I never would have finished the race.

I owe so much to this event.

For four years I participated in the Danskin...that was my one event of the season...of the year. Every February I would think about signing up and by March I would start "training". I trained alone, it was just something I did every year. Sometimes I would do another sprint race later in the summer, but I never trained during the winter. I took the term "off seaon" at face value.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought I would still be involved in the sport, much less to the extent that I am - about to participate in my 4th Ironman race and Volunteer Coordinator for a race series, Texas Tri Series. I never would have thought that I would be more fit at 37 than at 27. I never thought that I would say that a 7 mile run was a "short run"...that I would ever swim 100 meters in anything less than 2:15...that I would ever consider a 20 mile bike ride to be a "warm up". My how things have changed!!

I'm still not a great swimmer, but I have gone from back of the pack (of the two waves behind me) to a mid-pack (mid of my pack) swimmer. I've gotten stronger on the bike - enough to be able to "hold my own"...and I'm not a fast runner, but I have taken home some hardware; so I know I'm improving.

The challenges of the sport have driven me in ways I never would have imagined. It has been with me through the good and the bad; even those dark years I didn't race, it was there...letting me know it would always be there. It has given me the strength and confidence to make some tough decisions and has served as an outlet for me to vent and cry and laugh and love. It has allowed me to see others who have faced greater obstacles than I have to be there and has made me grateful for the privilage to race and humbled by their perserverance.

Triathlon has given me the opportunity to meet wonderful people and make life-long friends. I have also had the pleasure of introducing others to the sport and watching their talents blossom. Sharing the joys and benefits of the sport brings it full circle.

So "Thank You", Danskin...thank you for changing my life. The road I was on was dark and far from healthy. Thank you for bringing light into my world.


Kevin said...

Great post!

etg said...

Nicely said, Michelle! And hooray for many happy (and probably happier!)returns of your first triathlon experience!

Michael Garel said...

37?? I thought you were 29...

greyhound said...

Ditto what Michael said. I did not consider you anywhere near a contemporary.

BTW, I saw that Inside Triathlon has a reader-submitted column now. You should consider submitting this with a few changes/additions, and I'd be happy to edit or make suggestions if you have any interest. (I write for a living, although not for magazines.)