I am an Athlete
by Nicole C.
I am many things. A loyal friend. A devoted wife. A tired mom of two littles. A focused leader at work. But until recently, I would never have called myself an athlete.
I am a goal-driven person. That’s probably why I signed up for the Experience Triathlon Naperville Sprint Triathlon-Aquabike race, even though I didn’t feel qualified. My only previous athletic experience was a recent infatuation with my Peloton and swim team as a kid. But something about the goal of completing this race intrigued me. It also frightened me a little.
I am a bit of a worrier. I was concerned about getting hurt, about fitting the training into an already full schedule, about training the wrong way and not completing the race. After Google failed to provide the reassurance I needed, I turned to an expert, Coach Joe from Experience Triathlon Coaching Services. He reassured me that they had helped many other people with similar concerns attain their goals. For me, working with a coach made sense. Enter Coach Christa!
I am a planner. Christa was open and kind and not judgmental about where I was starting in my journey. We talked a long time and she listened to my goals and concerns. We agreed that in order for me to make this work, I would need to do most of my training on my own at my own gym, at home on my Peloton, and on a new bike that she and Joe would help me find. In order to fit workouts in, it would have to be in the early morning hours before mom life and work life kicked in. Christa would direct my workouts through a training app and we would text back and forth to keep in close contact on how I was doing so we could adjust if needed.
I am a learner, and having a coach helped. We started very slow. Slow still kicked my butt. The swims were the hardest, but with every workout the swims got a little bit easier and longer. I got up earlier and earlier to make them happen. I learned how to glide through the pool and conserve energy with my strokes. Christa and I would meet up and she would watch me swim. She gave me pointers for little things I could do to improve and practice on my own. My bike rides went from the Peloton to my new bike outdoors. I learned how to ride outside. I even learned how to change my bike tire. Every day it felt like I learned something new and it was invigorating.
I am someone who likes routine. I went from working out 3 times a week to 6 days on/1 day off. There were days I didn’t want to do it. But I did it anyway. And I always felt better the rest of the day. Having someone hold me accountable was just what I needed to pull me out of bed on the tough days and allowed me to slowly establish a routine.
I am not very good at self-care. But training gave me more alone time than I’d had since before I got married. So much time to think and breathe. It was a gift. I also recruited any friends and family who would join me to swim and bike so I could mix it up with workouts that were fun and social.
I am an athlete! All of this work paid off on my race day. I had heard if you trained hard, race day would feel like a celebration. I embraced this. What felt impossible when I started my journey was 100% doable on race day. It was still a scary challenge, but it was also such an incredible feeling to be among the group of triathletes. I swam and biked faster than ever before. The foundation and muscles were there. The adrenaline took care of the rest. I also loved seeing the faces of my friends and family cheering me on. I had dreamed of this moment with every stroke and every mile I had trained but it was even better than I had imagined. My son and daughter’s eyes got huge when we spotted each other in the crowd. The excitement in my husband’s voice as he cheered for me was absolutely unforgettable.
I share all of this because I believe that each of us has the power to redefine ourselves. I never thought I was capable of not only competing, but absolutely rocking, a race like this. I honestly believe that if I can do it, anyone can. You, too, are many things. With hard work, the right support, and dedication to your goals, you can add “I am an athlete” to the list.