It’s kind of baffling to me that I ever got into triathlon or endurance sports at all.
As a child, I was obsessed with ponies.
I absolutely HATED swimming lessons (my mother still has the scars to prove it) and I distinctly remember swimming so crookedly in one lake meet that I hit the dock we were meant to be swimming parallel to head-on.
Cycling was something I did to get to my summer job and subsequently something I took up when I sold my first love, an Arabian pony named Macgyver.
I had a boyfriend who was passionate about biking so I think I took it up just to be cool. I sucked, but I was stubborn and did it anyway. Although I thought nothing of piloting a 1000-pound, fairly disobedient animal over immovable obstacles (but let’s face it, I was 17. I didn’t think much about anything), riding down a mountain side (or up one, for that matter) usually had me in tears of frustration and/or fear. The second time I took my road bike for a spin, my front wheel came off while riding over some train tracks and my face absorbed the impact. Beauty.
Running was just as foreign to me. The first time I went for a run was in university and it lasted 5 minutes. I think I was too haunted by those Canada Fitness Awards ParticipACTION badges we had to strive for in elementary school. I never did get the gold one, dammit.
Today, it would be hard to imagine life without the release of endurance sports (although I still harbour a fantasy that one day I’ll win the lottery, buy a million dollar steed and represent my country as an Olympic equestrian, by I digress). Despite this, in no way, shape or form do I consider myself an elite athlete. In fact, I struggle with the term “athlete” in general. What makes you an athlete? Are you an athlete because you do a sport every day? Are you an athlete because it’s your career? What if you are just doing something for fun? What does that make you? I used to consider myself a “recreational triathlete” – but I haven’t been on my tri bike in an embarrassing number of months and the last time I was in a pool I was in a hotel in a bikini and I think I’d just had a beer. Does that make me a retired triathlete?
I love reading how triathletes and other elite athletes got their start in their sport of choice. So many of them were high school track stars, NCAA All-Americans, Olympic hopefuls, etc. It’s always so interesting to follow their trajectory to where they are now. So how about you? How’d you get your start? What do you consider yourself? Pro? Weekend Warrior? Gamer? All of the above?
1 thought on “What makes you an Athlete?”
YOU made me do this stuff. I was a sailor, skier, downhill mtn biker and YOU said “hey, you should do a half marathon”, “oh, how bout a half ironman…” You created this monster. Oh and then my mom did Ironman and it was on…