Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Moving on

Sacrifice. What is the meaning of this word? To me, it means giving up something for something else. Giving up something you really want for something you want more.
For years, triathlon did not feel like a sacrifice. I gave things up in order to commit to triathlon, but in my mind, I didn’t really want those other things. Staying inside all day, having lots of spare time, or getting a summer job were not things I was really interested in.  I was happy without them.  I much preferred having a busy schedule of training out in the fresh air with my friends, travel ling around to new places, and competing all summer. At that time, triathlon was everything I wanted, and my successes positively reinforced this lifestyle. I dreamed of making the Olympics and becoming a world champion. I believed that I would get there when I “grew up”…. 2012 and 2016 seemed far into the future and totally plausible to me.
Slowly triathlon became more serious, and as I got older, getter faster got increasingly more difficult.  I pushed myself to train harder and longer.  I didn’t ever goof off during workout, and  was always focused, intense, and committed to my goals. Triathlon wasn’t something I did just for fun anymore. Achieving my goals made it fun, and achieving my goals required a great deal of dedication. Triathlon was my life, and it defined who I was and what I chose to do or not do. If something could negatively affect my training or competition, then I would not do it. I became trapped in this small world that revolved around training, competition, and qualifying criteria. Not much else mattered to me. I started sacrificing things in the true sense that I define the word. I sacrificed sleep, food, social time, school, and fun….and my happiness hinged on my success.
In these past two years, after the move up to U23 and Olympic distance races, I have not seen the results that I became accustomed to seeing…. the results that I expect from myself.  I told myself to not be a sore loser, to be patient, that it will come in time, to not be so hard on myself. But without the success, triathlon was no longer a source of happiness to me. I got tired of being exhausted all the time, of having less time to do school work, of feeling guilty for eating dessert, and of not really having friends outside of sports. These other things became more and more appealing to me as triathlon was no longer able to provide happiness and satisfaction in my life. The daily grind itself was not fun, it was the end result that was fun, and if that end result never came around, then none of it was fun.
So, in light of all this, I have decided to retire from competitive triathlon. I no longer want to sacrifice other things in my life.  I want to finish my undergraduate degree in the next year and pursue a master’s degree;  I want to get work experience and explore future careers;  I want to have friends outside of sport;  I want to exercise when I want to and not when I don’t;  I want to stay up late watching a movie without stressing about lost sleep. It’s these things that I have deprived myself of while being committed to triathlon that I now want to do.
While this may seem like a depressing blog post, I also appreciate all the great experiences triathlon has given me. Some of my personal highlights are winning US Youth Elite Nationals twice, winning 3 golds at BC Summer Games, placing 3rd at nationals in my first year of junior elite and winning the junior series, winning gold in the team relay at Canada Summer Games, competing at Junior Elite Worlds twice, and at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore. I have learned a lot about myself over these years, met great people, and have had great support from coaches, sponsors, family, friends, and team mates. I would like to thank my many coaches over the years: Leanne Wilkinson, Kelly Guest, Sheila Galloway, Neil Harvey, Patrick Kelly, Carolyn Murray, and Craig Taylor. I would like to thank all my team mates: Duncan Stingrays Swim Team, Kelly’s Kids Triathlon Team, NTC Victoria, and RTC Guelph. I would also like to thank all my previous sponsors: Berg Bikes, Frontrunners Victoria, Asics, Oak Bay Bikes, Nineteen Wetsuits, Specialized, Vega, Running Works/New Balance. And finally, I would like to thank my parents, sisters, and grandparents for putting up with me, and funding my training and competition.

Finally, all the best to my triathlon friends and team mates. While I am moving on to the next stage in my life, I won’t forget all the great experiences I had.

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