I have been thinking about this a lot lately. The reasons why I decided to quit my full-time job, which offered a stable source of income and a defined career path, to pursue the life of a professional triathlete. So here is what I have come up with:
1. I want to motivate others by example. I started out in the sport of triathlon no different than any one else. Yes, I guess I had a swim background and had done some running for fitness, but everything else about the sport was new to me, especially cycling. In my first triathlon, my time for a 55km cycle was 1hr slower than most of the professional females in the same race (that's over a 1 minute slower per km). I think it is accurate to say that I did not have a natural talent on the bike. However, through hard work, dedication, figuring out my weaknesses, focusing my training on my weaknesses and not my strengths (even though that's harder and not as fun), I have have been able to improve (almost) to the level of the other female pros. I want others to see that, to realize that natural talent is not necessary when you are starting out. You can still excel at whatever you have chosen to do. So, every time I improve my bike split in a race, I want it to serve as evidence of what you can achieve if you work hard and work smart at it.
2. I'm addicted. Yup, definitely not as good a reason as above, but just as true. I am the type of person that finds something that they like and wants as much of it as she can. Ask anyone about my eating habits and you will know this is true. This also happened to be the case with swimming, biking and running. There is something about swimming... something about putting your face down into the water and swimming back and forth in a pool, 100s and 100s of times. For that time, you have escaped the world, you are weightless, deaf to whatever is going on around you, and experiencing the rush of endorphins that you get when you exercise. Cycling was the hardest for me to enjoy. But since finding WattsUp that has changed. Pete and Adam gave me confidence on the bike, which meant I could find the fun in it. Now...I hate going a day without getting in the saddle. Every ride is a new adventure, whether it's up a mountain in California or on the trainer. Running is probably my biggest addiction. No matter what the run, an easy recovery run or a hard intense interval run, the high I get afterwards is unmatched by any other feeling I've ever had (almost). So not a day goes by (even when I'm tired) that I don't want to swim, bike or run...I actually have to discipline myself to NOT exercise.
3. Travel. Like most professional sports, triathlon involves A LOT of traveling. Even when I was just competing in Ontario, I went to places I had never seen or even heard of before. In the past few years I have gotten to see: Australia, Vancouver, New Orleans, Arizona, California, New Hampshire, Miami, North Carolina, Las Vegas, Clearwater just because of triathlon. I have unforgettable memories from each of these places and I never would have had them if I didn't do a triathlon or training camp there.
4. Because I want to spend my life involved with the triathlon community. I think of my status as professional triathlete almost like I think of being a student in a triathlon school. I am learning so much at this stage, as an athlete. When I am finished competing I will have acquired so much knowledge about training, equipment, nutrition, etc. Which all complements my background in biological sciences. So, when I am done competing I hope to have laid a solid foundation for myself so that I can continue in the sport as a coach, race director, training facility owner, sport scientist ... who knows!
5. Because others believe in me. There is no question that if my friends, family and sponsors did not support me, I would not have been able to choose this path. My parents are my biggest fans and do whatever they can to help me on my journey. My husband put his own dreams on hold, and does everything he can to help me achieve mine. My family and friends understand when I have to go to bed at 8pm (or 6:30!) and miss important events (that I really want to be at, but can't). My coach spends endless hours perfecting my training plan, he leaves me notes of motivation when he can't attend a hard training session, ... (and that's just the start). My fellow cyclists at WattsUp show interest in my races or camps and offer their best wishes. My team of health care practitioners go out of their way to fit me in for last-minute appointments. My sponsors: Turner-Tomenson Wealth Management, Raymond James, WattsUp, Urban Athlete, Eload, Cervelo, and Enduro Sport, want to see me as an ambassador for their brand.
6. I wouldn't be happier doing anything else. No explanation needed.