Since its inception, the tagline for my blog has been “Trying to be my best self.” That phrase perfectly encapsulates the purpose of my journey to this point as a runner and triathlete. The fact of the matter is that I’m never going to win any races, or qualify for Kona, or go pro, but I can develop myself as a person through these pursuits. I believe I have developed as a person through swimming, biking, and running over the past several years.
I never really did anything athletic growing up. I took a couple of years of figure skating lessons, played one season of field hockey when I was 9 or 10, and that was really it. Even in school gym class, though, it was obvious I didn’t possess any athletic talents. I never have and never will. That’s just how it is.
In college, I started running on the treadmill at the campus fitness center to burn off the copious amounts of beer and pizza I consumed my freshman year. That’s when I first discovered how great running made me feel about myself. I still remember how amazing I felt – accomplished, really – the first time I ran a full 5 miles on the treadmill. The power of that experience was incredible. It may sound odd, but simply put, I felt better about myself after that run.
After college, I went to law school and other things were happening in my life. I moved a few times. I had lots of stops and starts with running. Then, in the fall of 2008, I decided that I wanted to start running again – and this time, I was not going to stop. I was going to stick with it and become a “real runner.” I started with run/walking and my (very modest) goal was to run at least three times a week.
Soon enough, I got up the courage to register for my first race (in full disclosure, I actually had registered for a race previously, during the “stops and starts” phase of my running life, but I never even made it to the start line of that one). My first race would be a half marathon in Annapolis, MD in May of 2009. I slowly built up my running mileage in training and with every new milestone that amazing feeling of accomplishment came rushing back – a feeling of strength and confidence. It was exhilarating.
Of course, I was scared (actually, terrified) about running 13.1 miles. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. But, come race day, I did. The process of training for and completing that first race really solidified for me the value of setting an athletic goal and working my a@s off to achieve it.
My second race was the 2009 Richmond Marathon and that was, undoubtedly, one of the best experiences of my life. Again, I was very scared about signing-up and I questioned whether I could do it. I experienced lots of emotional ups and downs training for the marathon (there were even some tears). But, when all was said and done, I crossed that finish line. I was beaming. I can’t even really express in words how I felt finishing that race. I could barely wrap my head around the fact that I was strong enough to run 26.2 miles. I did it. It was just me out there, on my own, and I did it. There is no feeling more amazing than doing something you just didn’t think you were capable of doing. My sense of personal pride and accomplishment was immeasurable.
And, since then, I have continued on, challenging myself with new tests, setting new goals, pushing my limits, all in an effort to be my “best self.” I started beginner swimming lessons and bought a bike so that I could race my first triathlon in 2012. In 2013, I completed my first century ride. A year ago, in February of 2014, I attended a triathlon camp in Tucson and rode to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Last summer, I finished my first 70.3. In the fall, I challenged myself with another marathon (number 5) and had my best finish time ever. But, I’m not done. I want to continue to grow and develop myself as a person.
So, the obvious question, then, is: “what is next?”. What is the next scary, seemingly impossible, goal I will set for myself to continue on this journey to being my best self? The answer to that question is reflected in what will be the new tagline for my blog for the next 7 months: “Training for my first Ironman.”