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Payin’ it Forward

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Uvas tri 2009 006

On Sunday I
experienced one of the best imaginable moments in my athletic experience –
seeing a friend whom I’ve helped mentor race to the finish of her very first
triathlon. Brooke was always a road cyclist, racing throughout college. She
only took up running in the past year, and while she’s not one to shy away from
a challenge (in fact, she’s training for the 2009 TransRockies Run), she still
lacks a certain confidence in her running. She also began swimming a mere month
ago, with the single goal of getting through one sprint triathlon and the
ensuing plan to ditch her cap and goggles for good following the race.

 It’s been
fun over the past few months to help and advise Brooke in all things
multi-sport. We’ve gone swimming together on lunch breaks, working to enhance
her stroke and her comfort level in the water. To her own surprise, her fear of
swimming has transformed into enjoyment. I’ve fielded numerous questions from
Brooke: How am I supposed to breathe in this wetsuit, it’s so tight? How much
should I eat before the race? Will I look like a complete dork if I wear a
time-trial helmet on the bike? I’ve seen people finishing triathlons, looking
like they’ve lost all control of their bodies – will that happen to me? What if
I actually like this triathlon thing?

Brooke
raced the Morgan Hill Sprint Triathlon and, contrary to her fears, she didn’t
drown in the swim, didn’t crash on the bike and didn’t fall apart on the run.
As a matter of fact, she had an amazing day, swimming smoothly, cycling strong
and running fast to the finish. Soon after the race, glowing from her
experience, I asked Brooke if she’d do it again; she answered, “Yes!” with a
huge smile and zero hesitation.

Being able
to share my triathlon passion, and seeing that passion manifest in a friend as
she broke through her self-doubt and imagined limitations, was more rewarding
than crossing the finish line myself. If you know a woman who you think might
enjoy running, but who may lack the confidence to take that first step, invite
her along on your next workout, or encourage her to tackle a 5k or 10k or even
a half marathon. Share what you love about the sport – your positive
experiences, the challenges you’ve encountered and the inevitable funny or
embarrassing moments along the learning curve. You’ll see what I mean when she returns
from her workout or race, glistening with sweat and grinning from ear to ear.

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