Growing up you would have never picked me as the sporty type. I actually spent the first two decades of my life being referred to as a non-athletic person. Between being continually picked last for sports and my love for singing, I released the idea of being an athlete and dove head first into the identity of musical theatre nerd, an identity I let define me for much of my life.
At 21, upon returning from a year abroad in Italy, I was putting on weight at an alarming rate. I saw the path I was headed down and knew it was time to make a change. And so, I taught myself to run. It began with a ¼ mile at a time – and through a slow, steady, and at times a quite painful and discouraging process a year later I had signed up for my first half marathon. Learning to run became my gateway into the mindset that we can take on any challenge we set our minds to if we are willing to do the work. Little did I know where that mindset would take me.
However, it wasn’t until 2015 that I would really begin to see the inner athlete I had buried deep inside all those years ago. Without having ever done a triathlon, I let a friend convince me to sign up for an Ironman through a fundraising group we were a part of. Yes, you read that right. I signed up for an Ironman with ZERO triathlon experience. I could barely swim across a pool and had never been on a road bike, but I figured why not cross Ironman off the bucket list. “One and done,” I said. I should have known then that “crazy” would become the new normal for me.
I fell in love with the sport. I fell in love with endurance. I fell in love with triathlon. I started weight lifting and fell in love with that too. But mostly, I fell in love with myself. Who I was being, how I was showing up in the world. For me, endurance sport became far more of a personal growth and spiritual journey than it ever was a physical one. I found the majority of the obstacles I faced had nothing to do with what I was physically capable of but the mental limitations (limiting beliefs is what I call them) that I had imposed on myself for years and years.
Each new challenge, every new event, every obstacle has become an adventure of testing and breaking down those limiting beliefs I’ve burdened myself with for far too long. It’s about living in a world of infinite possibility. In ten years I went from not being able to run ¼ mile to completing a 290-mile triathlon. Never have I been more certain that it is only our beliefs that prevent us from achieving what we set out to do.
We like to think our identities are fixed. Our identities are only fixed if we allow them to be. Who you want to be is your choice. It is never too late to change. So ask yourself, how do you want to show up in the world?