Monday, September 1, 2008

Memories

In the last week, since finishing my first ironman, I've reflected a little on the last 4 years since I started racing triathlons. It's strange to think about who I was just 4 short years ago. I'm pretty sure that most of my current friends and colleagues wouldn't recognize me so I thought I would share a little bit how triathlon has changed my life.

up until early 2004 I was on a bad track. I had dropped out of college in my last semester at Boston College and had been in a downward spiral ever since. I was a bit of a ... party person/bar person. Not only was I a problem drinker and occasional drug user, I was also a smoker. So gross and so weird to think about. I had also gone from about 135 lbs to closer to 185 in just 2 short years.

I found these pictures of myself on my friend matt's flickr page. It's weird for me to be sharing this but I thought posting these could be a somewhat cathartic exercise.





In the first picture, my right eye is almost shut, an indication of exactly how drunk I was.

In early 2004 my parents, for chanukah, bought me a membership to a gym where I had the good fortune to meet the lovely Teresa Nelson who got me to join a beginner's triathlon training group. I had never run before but had a background in swimming and cycling.

In June, 2004, one month after quitting smoking, I did my first triathlon. The Vancouver Women's Triathlon in Vancouver, WA.







By this first triathlon, I had dropped nearly 30 lbs and somehow managed to win my age group. I was totally hooked.

It may sound silly, but after realizing that I could finish a triathlon with some modicum of skill, I felt like I could do anything. I managed to finally finish my BA and got myself into law school. I extricated myself from the destructive social circles that I was running with and either made new friends or reconciled healthy old friendships.

I think the reason that this sport means so much to me is that it changed my life. Triathlon has played a huge role in making me who I am today. I don't think I would be in law school right now let alone have even graduated college had I not become a triathlete. I would have never quit smoking and I wouldn't have gotten my drinking under control.

I love winning and placing in races, but even more I love every minute of every race I do. Even the ones that are the most physically and mentally challenging.

From year to year and race to race, whether I win or lose, knowing that I can finish these races with a smile on my face is why I will stay in this sport for as long as I am able.

10 comments:

RawTriGirl said...

Thanks for sharing your story Jess! It's so inspiring to see how much triathlon can change our lives for the better. I love to get my friends hooked too!

Jon said...

Thanks for sharing that. I always admire those that have done a 180 like that. Makes me think of others that have gone through the same changes (e.g. Charlie Engle - http://www.charlieengle.com and Catra Corbett - http://trailgirl.blogspot.com), trading in their former destructive lives for newer ones filled with the high of adrenaline and endorphins from doing extreme endurance sports.

Jessi said...

This is my favorite post you've written. As you know, I can relate. Loved it.

Maggs said...

What a great story! You've got so much to be proud of! Keep up the hard work and you'll be even more amazing!

Teresa said...

Hi Jess! I bet you didn't even know I follow your blog! I am so proud of you and often think back on the day we met and how far you have come! Little did we know then how much triathlon would change your life and that someday you would be an ironman! You have really moved forward in your life and continue to strive further. I admire you and am in awe of how you do it all. You are an inspiration:)

endurancegirl said...

wow,...a great story! Little did you know that there was a talented athlete inside dying to come out! It must feel so great to be leading a much healthier lifestyle...

So cool!

CharPopp said...

Jess, you rock. I am always inspired by you and I had no idea of your background. I'm honored to say you're my friend. Nice work.

BreeWee said...

oooooh I like this post! We have really similar stories, I went a tiny Christian college though and it corrected a bit of my "naughty" ways... then a few months before you I found triathlon too and dropped my "let's PARTY" weight! Thanks for sharing this... I am so in the mood to read these posts that remind why I love sport...

greyhound said...

You were obviously encouraged, but you also had the courage to change yourself from the inside out. Wow.

And you you will love CdA next year. You're going to be so fast.

frenchelon said...

I remember those days in Boston. So happy for you, Jess. -Brian