Monday, October 6, 2008
Alice Yoo, A True Triathlete
I received this letter quite a while ago and just came across it when cleaning up my email and it made me smile - remember... everyone has to find their first race, and the reason to do a second... And thanks for the kind words Alice!
Dear Mr. Thrower,
This is a letter to share how a few words go a long way. Last spring I completed my first triathlon, which was a 1/2 Ironman. The fact that I completed the event on my feet instead of in an ambulance is nothing short of a miracle. Training began in December with my coach balancing me against a tree. I didn't know how to clip in or out without destroying myself in the process.
Days later, I nearly lost all my teeth and both eyeballs during our first group swim. I already knew how to swim, but my teammates had the skills of guppies on crack. I'll never forget the night last January where I fell hard, bled on the pavement, looked at my bike and declared that I should quit. But I never got around to doing that. I was too busy waking up at 5 AM in the dead of winter to swim, bike or Brick (coupled with perpetual nose blowing and the occasional cough).
My sedentary friends began spreading word that I had, in fact, completely lost my mind. As they sipped martinis and snuggled under the covers, I forced myself to practice changing my tires. I molested and fondled my bike for hours. Covered in grease, sweaty and exhausted, I felt so gratified you would think I'd just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. I often felt very isolated and alone.
I constantly questioned my commitment, especially as I noticed I was getting bigger physically and gaining weight. I missed the simplicity of marathon training and...well, felt really stressed. But then one day I saw Triathlete Magazine staring at me in the running store.
I couldn't call myself a triathlete yet, and wondered if I'd understand any of the content. Flipping through some pages, I read your letter to the readers about gorging yourself at Denny's with your friends and how life is a menu. I loved it. I mean, I really. truly. LOVED it. Suddenly, I didn't feel so sheepish. I realized that I didn't have to count myself as a fool in a sport that I thought was set aside for only the very lean and fast (who live in warm climates).
I embraced that it was actually okay to be someone who was simply trying hard and loving the sport for what it was - a way to increase fitness, exercise the mind, and view challenges related to fear, fatigue and weight as opportunities to learn.
Every month I look forward to reading your letter to the readers of Triathlete Magazine. Somehow, you manage to say exactly what I need to hear for both confidence and focus. Mitch Thrower, thank you so very much! YOU make a positive difference in people's lives.