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Forward: I asked Jen from Miles, Muscles, & Mommyhood to write a guest post for me. And this is what she sent me. Not gonna lie, I shed a few tears. OK a lot of tears. I’m truly honored and humbled. Jen has not only had the most AMAZING transformation from overweight to an incredible athlete, but has inspired me along the way. I dream of being half the athlete she is! Rock on with your bad self Jen, I’m so proud of you and amazed at your determination! Can’t wait to see you cross that 140.6 finish line!
It has long been a belief of mine that everything happens for a reason. Good or bad, it is hard to understand the why’s and how’s but given enough time, somehow those reasons are revealed.
About 3 years ago I had no idea how a simple word would transform my life and my future.
So let’s back up to the Fall of 2008- I had just given birth to my daughter Lola and I had stumbled across an ad for a site called Cafe Mom. I was a new Mommy and had lots of questions about all of it, so I thought that this would be a good site for me to explore. I had just left my job to stay home, I had no “day time” circle of friends and I was trying to figure out this thing called “Mommyhood” and trying to get myself healthy at the same time. I was overweight (about 250+lbs) and had made a commitment to myself to get healthy and fit for my daughter. All I wanted was to be a positive role model for her. I was literally starting my journey with baby steps. I was learning about nutrition, general exercise and I had a goal to be a runner- A “real” runner (whatever that means).
Through the forums on Cafe Mom I discovered a couple groups focused on healthy living and running-one of those groups was Running Mom’s (which Heather owned). The image of the Mommy pushing the little tot in the jogging stroller resonated with me so I applied and joined the group. There were so many women from all over the country, everyone at various fitness levels and doing all kinds of different things! From local 5k’s to Ultramarathons…but we all shared one common bond-A love of running (or in my case, learning to love running).
As the months passed, I got to know these ladies virtually. They were motivating and always there with positive words of encouragement or advice. I learned so much and they got to witness my physical transformation from overweight to a healthy weight. I started entering races and got to share my joy with these other Mom’s who “got it”. 14 months after I started, I had lost 100lbs and running became my passion. I surrounded myself with positive people and found comfort in my little group of online friends at Cafe Mom.
As the months passed, I got more and more into running and weight training. We would coordinate fun little challenges online and I was learning to push myself harder and harder.
My goal of becoming a runner was a reality, I had changed my body, my mind and my self-esteem. Who would have thought a simple group of other Mom’s could have helped me to achieve all of my goals?? As far as I knew, the sky was the limit and I could not wait to see what was next on my running adventures!
Then one day, Heather posted a topic that would forever change the direction of my life and my fitness-
I had recently learned about this crazy sport of triathlon (swimming then biking then running) and had secretly thought someday but Heather’s enthusiasm about the sport prompted ME to forget about SOMEDAY and make it TODAY.
I knew of a local “all women’s” triathlon and decided that would be a great way to start! I did not know that this race sells out in less than 10 minutes and I would not be able to race it that year. I put my dream of a triathlon on hold but decided that I would volunteer at the race and plan to make the following year “my race”.
But that little word triathlon kept finding a way into my mind-it was like this force I could not escape! I started reading about the sport and absorbing everything I could about triathlon.
I only had a mountain bike, not one of those fancy race bikes and I had a surfing wetsuit from my years of surfing (clueless that there was a difference-there is!) so why not start training now?
I did not say anything to my friends or family quite yet-I felt like I needed to keep this sacred and safe for the time being. I quietly started riding my mountain bike and checked to see if my old wetsuit would fit. I volunteered at that Tri for a Cure race and I was overwhelmed at it all. So many fancy bikes, swimming – biking – running!! These ladies seemed so fast but it was SOO awesome and I could not wait until it was MY turn.
While at the gym one day, a friend mentioned that she signed up for a triathlon that would take place literally in my “backyard”. I knew this was it!! This was the race I meant to do!!
I immediately went home and registered for the race-The Mainiac Sprint Triathlon– ¼ mile ocean swim, a 14 mile bike ride all along the ocean’s edge and then a 3.1 mile run through the beautiful beachfront streets! Then I freaked out a little bit…
I knew nothing about transition, what to wear or how to strip off my wetsuit!! The weeks passed and I relied on the group of friends online who had actually done a triathlon for advice and encouragement. I still remember to this day how much transition scared me and the neat little picture that Heather posted for me so I could see how she set up her stuff.
The race was fantastic and much to my surprise, I placed second in my age group at my first race. More importantly though, I discovered something that touched me so deeply on an emotional level. I found myself that day-I found my “something” that I had been yearning for, that thing that challenged me on so many levels and left me feeling euphoric, proud and strong. No other finish line had ever made me feel quite like that…
I have since completed many triathlons from sprint distance to half ironman distance. This year I continue to chase my triathlon dreams as a member of the Rev 3 Team. 2013 will be the year of the BIG DANCE, meaning I will complete the 140.6 mile journey they refer to as Ironman.
And it all started with one person and one little word.
As you can see, one person can have a huge impact on another without even knowing it.
I have never had the chance to meet Heather face to face and shake her hand….Ahhh, no shaking hands, I’d hug her! She probably does not even know it but she has given one of the best gifts I have ever given-the gift of being able to find something I am passionate about, something that makes my soul sing and pushes me to limits that I continue to crash through on a daily basis.
Triathlon has taught me that I am stronger than I ever thought possible. It has brought amazing people into my life and it continues to give to me as much as I put into it.
And it all started with one simple word.
So, thank you Heather. Thank you for being a cheerleader, a friend, a run coach and the #1 inspiration behind helping me find my JOY.