I was raised to be a classical pianist, not an athlete. As a child, I learned the value of being nice to others and getting good grades, but as an adult, I’ve learned the importance of being fearless and pursuing seemingly impossible physical challenges. It is through these pursuits that I have gained the most appreciation for myself, my potential, for the planet, and for others’ acts of strength and will.
Living an active life, happened late for me, in my mid-30’s. After college, I moved from the east coast of the US to Seattle, WA. I was surrounded by people who had a deep appreciation for the outdoors and for hiking. I fell in love with the idea of walking long distances and decided to hike a small section of the PCT. At the end of that trip, my legs hurt, my feet were blistered, and my toenails fell off, but I was excited by what I did and craved another challenge. I became interested in running and cycling, and had swam a little bit in high school, so I entered a Sprint distance triathlon (1/2 mi. swim, 13 mi. bike, 3.1 mi. run) in 2009, and eventually upped my game to the longer distance races, completing my first half iron distance (1.2 mi. swim, 56 mi. bike, 13.1 mi. run) in 2011.
Triathlon training saved my sanity in 2012, when I went through through some massive life changes that had triggered the deepest depression of my life. I had sold my house, got a new job, and moved across the country, all in the middle of a divorce. Getting out of bed was a struggle, and when I did get out of bed, I cried. A lot. Every day, I would come home from work, drink a bottle of wine, and be in bed by 7:00 pm.
I knew this life was not sustainable, and was not going to help me accomplish my goals, so I became obsessed with something else… Ironman. I put myself on a training plan, knowing that being active was something I had to do to help my depression. Ironman was a perfect distraction because it required so much dedication to training, nutrition, and general mental preparation, and the sheer distance of the race (2.4 mi. swim, 112 mi. bike, 26.2 mi. run) scared me.
I completed my first Ironman in Panama City Beach, FL in 2013. Since finishing that race, I gained a new perspective on my potential, realizing for the first time that there are no limits in life, other than the ones that we set for ourselves.
People often ask me why I do these races. What is the point of covering these distances? How do I maintain my training with a full-time job and an already-full life? The answer is that my mental and physical health is a priority to me, and committing to a training plan is the best way for me to maintain my health. Endurance training as a metaphor for life in many ways:
There is always more distance to cover, so stop thinking about where you are in relation to the end, and just put one foot in front of the other and enjoy the moment.
If the here-and-now is filled with discomfort and pain, embrace it, because the more fully you understand the lows, the more you will appreciate the highs.
Plan, plan, plan - but always be prepared to deviate from the plan and adapt to the unexpected.
Never stop learning. Try things that feel uncomfortable, this is how you know you are growing.
Honor the hard work you put your body through by nourishing it with the highest quality fuel (whole, unprocessed foods) and hydration.
Never underestimate the importance of rest and recovery. Resting - actually sitting on the couch and doing nothing - is also part of living. It is only during rest that our bodies can repair and grow.
Live with humility and open-mindedness. No matter what you’ve done, there is always something greater to strive for.
Through swimming, biking, running, and hiking I have crossed paths with a lot of wonderful people and have observed a glow of happiness that surrounds active people. Active people are happy people - they set and strive for their goals, they see the silver lining, they are confident in themselves, they live fearlessly. Whatever life is throwing at you, get outside and play! Walk, hike, run, bike, move. And strive to live fearlessly - because the best things come to those who change.