When I was seventeen I dreamt of going to the Olympics. I left home and moved to Calgary to train with the best in Canada. When all my peers were going to first year University, I took a retail job at the Eau Claire Centre. I had to pay my way to follow my dreams. That year ended up being my last year as a synchronized swimmer. Although it took 9 years for me to step my foot in a pool again, it was where a hunger for excellence began.
My boyfriend at the time comes back to Ottawa from Kenya. I tell him “I am going to do triathlon.” “What's a triathlon?” Exactly. What is a triathlon?
What they don't tell you is that a triathlon is not just a swim, a bike and a run. They don't tell you it is an obsession we call “a lifestyle”. They don't tell you that once you do one, you become addicted and there is always another. They don't tell you that it ignites dreams.
I moved to Ottawa thinking I would raise a family there – nice city, bilingual, good benefits with the government. On paper it looked right. Soon though I was learning what indoor trainer rides, zones and bricks were. I knew what it meant when someone asks what I put in my drink. They were not thinking vodka. I started to cut back on work hours. I moved from my nice apartment to renting a room in a house. The downsize began that final year in Ottawa. I had to give triathlon everything. I had to follow my dream again to represent Canada at the Olympics. I had to get to the start line with nothing less than my whole body and spirit. Every moment for the following three years was dedicated to being nothing short of the best I could be.
I learnt about sponsorship, building a website, blogging and how to really stretch a dollar. I watched and learnt what it means to train as an Olympic Champion, a 2xWorld Champion, and a Marathon World Record holder. I learnt about the 10,000 hours that Malcolm Gladwell says it takes to be an “expert”. I believe him. I learnt about nutrition, hydration, lactate thresholds, tempo, power and how to really read a heart rate monitor. I learnt how to live out of my car. I learnt to adapt to a new home every few months, how to live in a place and not wear out your gracious host. I learnt how to keep going after the races that did not go well, the injuries that set you back for months sometimes. I learnt how to push away the desire to sleep so I could get in the 3rd workout. I learnt to be selfish because that is what it takes.
For every dream is a village of support. My village spanned the globe – Ottawa, Austin, San Francisco, Courtenay, Vancouver, Iten, Brisbane, Boulder, Calgary. Every race I went to I stayed with homestays who quickly became family. My life as a professional triathlete was possible because I shared my passion, my dreams with others. It was not only my journey but the journey of all those whose paths I crossed and who supported me.
So I am in transition. I don't know whether I will do another triathlon at this point. What I know is that I am having those lazy Saturday mornings where I can wake up and think, what will I do today? I also know that swimming, biking and running is like breathing to me – an absolute necessary part of life.
Without the following people and sponsors, the past three years would have not been possible:
Sponsors: Specialized, Scody, Nineteen, GU, Computrainer, Compressport, Garmin, Rudy Project, Oak Bay Bicycles, Phil Stoneman, Rogue Running, Bicycle Sport Shop (Austin), The Cyclery (Ottawa), Peak Centre Coaches: Ken Brunet, Peak Centre for Human Performance (2007-2010), Zane Castro (2010-2012), Chuckie V. (2012 – June/July), Jared Hauschildt (2013 January-June), Clint Lien (2013 August/September) Medical/Massage: Dr. Taryn Taylor, Dr. AJ Zelinski, Rebecca Glennie, Ingrid Watermann, Kevin Trybalski, Allan, Kiplimo, Lysanne Lavigne Family and Friends: My mom and dad, Danielle and Cameron, my Homestays across Canada and the world, Farouk, Rob O, Stefani, Rebecca Mckee, Mark, Vicki, Noreen, Allison, Rebekah D, Jeff, Carolyn, Tony, Yona, Melissa and Jared, Anita and, Dan.