More Than Sport

In my last post, I talked about sacrifices and selfishness.  I reflected on the sacrifices I’ve had to make in order to achieve my own dreams and make them a reality – time, family, friends, work, school, social events.  When I first set out on my Ironman journey two years ago, a simple sprint triathlon in North East, it was about fun.  I enjoyed swimming, biking, and running.  I loved the training and the social aspect that comes with the sport.  Overtime, however, I lost that sense of “fun”.  I became more competitive.  I wanted to win and podium at every race, and if I didn’t, the race wasn’t “fun”.  I would analyze every race, track every workout, bail out on friends and family to train.  I would rationalize this by telling myself I was getting stronger and getting one step closer to achieving my goal.  With this, I quickly achieved success.  I’ve made the podium in 7 out of 8 races I’ve entered this year, and won my age group in 5 of those.  Yes, winning is fun.  The immediate feeling is great and no one can take away the hard work and effort that I put in to achieve these goals.  But the feeling is just that – immediate.  It wears off quickly and then you’re left wanting something more.  Another win.  It’s like a drug.  It’s a vicious cycle.

After just two years, I lost the “fun” of racing, which is why I began this sport in the first place.  Since Quassy, I’ve been re-evaluating my training and the reason I race.  I want to get back to that feeling where I was doing it to not win, but to have fun and stay in shape.  I wanted to go back to the time where it was more than just a sport.  With a month to reflect and digest the first half of the race season, and with some inspiration from some amazing people I’ve met through the sport, I decided that it’s time to give back.

***

I wake up every morning, roll out of bed, and moan about my 5AM shift.  I do my daily morning routine, walk out the door, and drive to work.  After work, I get in a quick swim or bike, go home, take a nap, and get some work around the house done.  I go outside and run around with my dogs, then make some lunch.  My family comes home around dinner time, where we talk and decompress from the “stresses” of the day.  I then get in my evening workout, shower, and head to bed.  All of these things I took for granted and rarely gave a second thought.  My mindset quickly shifted once I began working in the health care field.  I learned that life can be taken from you in the blink of an eye and that life is short, fragile, and precious.  I am so lucky and fortunate to be healthy, to be free, to have a job, and to be able to compete in a sport I love.  In fact, I’m better off than 99% of the world.  With this, I realized how minimal my sacrifices were.  I realized there are so many people that would give everything to have what I have.  I realized it was time for me to give back to the community that gave me the opportunity to do everything I love to do.

***

With my new outlook on training, and life in general, I quickly began looking for an organization to work with.  I thought about “sacrifice” and “selflessness”.  I thought about the people I encountered racing and reflected on one young man I met at Eagleman last year.  He was wearing a prosthetic and running with an American flag.  I asked him what he was racing for and he said he was racing for his countrymen over seas.  Finally, I knew what I wanted to race for.  I wanted to race for those who sacrifice everything.  Not just the little things like time, social events, friends and family, but the ultimate sacrifice – life.  It’s the men and women that serve our country that truly understand the meaning of sacrifice and selflessness.  With that, I have decided to dedicate my 2014 racing season to raise money and awareness for the Wounded Warrior Project.  This organization, which strives “To Honor and Empower Wounded Warriors”, raises awareness and provides unique services and programs for wounded warriors.  This new journey is still in its early stages and I will provide updates later about fundraising, but I am extremely excited to be working with WWP for the next year.  Triathlon gave me so much, and I’m excited to use triathlon to give back.

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