I’ve met people through this sport from different backgrounds and ages and I often wonder if I would have come to this sport earlier… how long would I have lasted? It is not a secret that this sport is very demanding, yet most of us manage to find time for training in the midst of our busy lives. If you would have told me 10 years ago that I would be back at training on my 40s I would have told you you were crazy.
Growing up as a competitive athlete I learned so many things about life at an early age; among others, hard work and dedication pays off, your body and mind are not always in synch and most importantly if you don’t enjoy doing what you are doing, you wont be able to do it for long.
I am one of those people who can’t do things half way, I either do it and put everything into it or I don’t. After a long hiatus from swim meets, long training hours and active life in general I lost myself. I started swimming at a very young age and everything about my life included or was around a swimming pool. I went to a school just for swimmers and was lucky enough to be part of the best swim team in Spain at the time.
Yes that meant a very unusual childhood; no TV after school, not much play time after swim practice and busy weekends going from pool to pool missing out on bday parties and get togethers, in general I would qualify my childhood as a ‘rare social life’. No, I am not saying I didn’t do any of that but I did it less often than most of my non swimmer friends, actually I didn’t have many of those, other than neighbors and family members. And yet I LOVED every minute of it.
I felt accomplished when most people my age didn’t even know what that meant, I was lucky enough to have found my ‘call’. God knows if instead of swimming my parents would have registered me for basketball my childhood would have been a completely different thing.
I owe so much to my past and those that helped defining me as a person. For some strange reason I have been thinking a lot about my swim coach lately. His name is Paulus Wildeboer and is originally from Holland, if you saw Paulus on deck you understood why he was so intimidating. Among other reasons the guy is probably 7 feet tall or at least that is how tall he looked to a group of middle schoolers. Not to mentioned the fact that yelling was his normal tone of voice, I would go crazy if I ever tried to count how many times I got yelled at in any given practice. To this day Paulus holds a very special place in my heart, he was a role model to us, we spend more time with him than our own family, he was definitely a second father figure. As a matter of a fact I would argue he had more to say about how I was running my life at the time than my own parents.
So my swimming days came and went and I was lost for many years, I did not know what to do with my life, I felt as if outside of the pool I had no identity. I found my way through life and ended up in the USA, got married and started a new life.
Fast forward to 2009 when I did my first triathlon. All of the sudden I am an adult, with an adult life; had a job, a husband and most importantly children, as a mother you are never the same person once you have kids. Your children is what define your live and the word ‘me’ no longer exists, you always do things for everybody else other than you.
And then I started racing… I discovered that while I am out there racing or training is ‘me time’, the more that I push and the more I succeed the happier I am. Out of respect to my fellow competitors, the sport and my family I owe to give it my best everytime I am out there. Why would I spend 10-15hours away from my family and my kids who are the most important thing in my life if I am not going to make the best out of it??
So, that is what drives me. The hunger to fill my competitive edge, the will to teach my children that if you put your mind to it all goals are achievable and that the harder you work the more successful you are. And some people will ask, what about having fun? Well that is how I have fun, I cannot imagine anything better to do with my time than to ‘better myself’.
I am not saying everybody should do the same, I am saying that is what drives me. Everybody has that one thing that drives them and once you find it the sky is the limit…. Or isn’t that what they say? ;)