My Story

story

 

Growing up I played softball, soccer, and lacrosse; however, my love for running and riding my bike began as a young child when I would routinely “test” myself by seeing how many times I could run or ride up and down the hill on the suburban street I called home. In my junior year of high school, I made the switch from team sports to year round running, and as a senior was chosen to lead the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams as the team captain. Graduating in 1996 as valedictorian, I found myself one month later dressed in an oversized, white sailor suit standing in the courtyard of the U.S. Naval Academy on the infamous plebe “Induction Day” saying goodbye to my mother as she held back tears. Having no idea what was in store for me in the moments after I left my mother standing there, reality began to set in as I walked closer to the dorm and could hear the yelling and chaos coming from the windows. I took a deep breath, said a quick “God help me” prayer, and as a terrified and naïve 17 year old walked in to some of the best, and worst, and definitely most life-changing years of my life. I ran varsity cross country, indoor and outdoor track at the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 2000 with an engineering degree in Naval Architecture and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. I married a Naval Academy classmate, and fellow Marine Corps officer, less than one year later.  I served actively from 2000 – 2005, spending the majority of that time overseas in Japan, Korea, and Thailand, and was awarded both the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Navy Commendation Medal for service. I left active duty in 2005 and resigned from the Marine Corp reserve in 2008. The Marine Corps holds a special place in my heart, as does the Naval Academy and all of our military forces, and I have the utmost respect and gratitude for the continued sacrifices made by America’s servicemen and their families.

 

Upon leaving active duty in 2005, I was one semester shy of completing my Master’s Degree. I had always dreamed of racing Ironman triathlon, so my husband and I determined that I should try some triathlons while completing my degree and forego entering the civilian workforce for the immediate future.  I was always a middle distance runner, specializing in the 800 meters – the 800 meter race only takes a little over 2 minutes to complete; that’s a bit different than racing for several hours.  To my pleasant surprise, I was much better at this triathlon thing than I expected to be at first.  I earned my professional license by the middle of 2006 and turned pro, racing my first pro race at Ironman Wisconsin in 2006 – I got 8th place and hypothermia, but I loved it! I raced the 2007 season as a professional and was able to achieve an Ironman PR of 9:34 at Ironman Florida to cap off the season.

 

I was excited about my racing future for 2008 and beyond.  My training was better than ever going into my 2008 season; however, I ended up getting pretty sick with what I now believe was salmonella poisoning about a week before my first race. I had to DNF that race on the run, and ended up having elevated cardiac enzymes in my blood that indicated there could be something more serious. I wasn’t allowed to do anything for weeks, not even walk my dog, until I underwent numerous tests to make sure that my heart wasn’t damaged. Fortunately, I came out of the other side of this episode 100 percent healthy, just out of shape both physically and mentally. Unfortunately the 2008 season was halfway over by this time, and I wasn’t anywhere near being ready to race again. Thus far in my life, this was the lowest point for me, I struggled with whether I should continue in the sport or go to work; ultimately deciding to hang up my swim goggles and cycling shoes, and enter the workforce in Washington, DC. I was ready to sell everything triathlon related; but, my husband would not let me – maybe he knew something I didn’t back then.

 

From the end of 2008 through January 2011, I worked in Washington, DC as a consultant for the federal government in finance and accounting. I am a self-professed “nerd,” so I admit I did enjoy crunching all the numbers and figuring/fixing discrepancies; however, I was quickly becoming bored. In addition, although I didn’t want to admit it at the time, after about 6 months of working, I began feeling that old fire within me to race competitively again. I will admit now that I was a bit afraid to race again – I mean what if I actually enjoyed it.

 

By August 2010, I finally worked up the courage to sign up for another triathlon, the Austin 70.3 in October. I had not been on a bike or in a pool since the beginning of 2008 and was a bit worried about making the distance, but I went for it. I trained for 8 weeks, and felt “ok” about racing and then partially tore my right calf 10 days before the 70.3. I raced anyway, making it until the 5 mile mark on the run before I just could not run on my leg anymore; but, I was never more thankful or filled with joy to race a triathlon. Even though I couldn’t bike or run for 8 weeks afterward, the fire was back – and being a focused, all-or-nothing type of person, I earned my professional license back by mid-April 2011.

 

I am so thankful to be back doing the sport I love and realize now that I was a bit ungrateful for what I had during what I call my first rookie pro season. I had a renewed attitude toward sport and life for my “second rookie season” – 2011! I now know that it’s about the journey and process more than each individual result – I know where I want to be long term; however, I have also determined that I will find joy in each step of the process to get there. That said, I would not change a single thing about the path I have taken in sport, or life, as I believe these experiences have taught me to look at life’s ups and downs, challenges and triumphs, in a balanced and healthy way, keeping the bigger picture in perspective.