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Playing with the pros

The superstars of triathlon were in New Hampshire last weekend for the Timberman 70.3 triathlon. Chrissie Wellington, the two-time Kona World Ironman Champion, defended her title at this event as did Andy Potts, himself a world champion at the 70.3 distance.

Also in the field was Eddy.

Eddy, a 51-year old former smoker, was competing in his first Half Ironman race.

And he had an amazing day.

"I had my bike racked across from Chrissie Wellington and Andy Potts," Eddy wrote in his race report. "Pretty cool. In what other sport do you get to suit up with super stars?"

"How fortunate I am to be able to do this," he continued. "Whatever the day may bring, so be it."

Eddy completed his first 70.3 race, was pleased with the day and ready to try to improve for a next time.

In a few sentences, Eddy captured what can make triathlon so special and enjoyable.

First is the opportunity to play on the same field as elite athletes. The elites go off in the first wave, both in tri and major city marathons, but you're on the same course and, for the most part, suffering the same pain. The specific outcome may be different but significant parts of the journey are still the same. We all battle fears and doubts. We all struggle with pacing. We all have issues getting our nutrition and hydration just right. And we all learn a little bit more about ourselves with each effort.

But while the play with the pros factor has elements of coolness, perhaps the greater offering is the opportunity for continued growth.

There are few athletic arenas for adults to explore, but if we embrace life-long learning, we embrace the notion that sport can not only enrich your life and your health but open doors and windows of opportunity not otherwise available.

Those who take up running or swimming or triathlon or tennis are allowing themselves to be put on a path of discovery. It's an environment in which you can stretch your imagination, stretch your goals and get out of your comfort zone while still fully supported.

For some, the journey is a one-time thing. They compete in a triathlon or run a half marathon and decide that they've extracted from the experience what they needed to. Or, perhaps, that particular journey just didn't fit them.

For others, the journey continues.

And this sparks questions. Haven't you had enough? When does your special quest end?

These aren't really questions. They're judgments. We ask them of each other. We ask them of ourselves.

Often, we feel the necessity to justify our passions. There must be some specific outcome that we are striving for. There must be some measurement. There must be some way to quantify success, to note the end of the journey.

Oh, there are times when it's so easy to get caught up in the numbers. We want to hit certain paces or have certain finish times or place in the top 10.

So often we want those things because it helps us justify why we're doing something.

There are many different paths to joy and self discovery. For me, and many like me, I find endless amounts of joy and discovery through my adult athletic journey. It is about becoming not just the best athlete I'm capable of (regardless of where that "ranks" among others) but about becoming my best self. It's about stepping into who I am.

Being a triathlete doesn't define who I am.

Instead, triathlon is a means for me to discover definitions, try on new ones, discard old ones.

There are just a few weeks left until Muskoka 70.3. And while my training plan is currently in a high-intensity mode, the build for this race has been months in the making.

Whatever the day may bring, so be it.

Because each day we have the opportunity to explore and create and define for ourselves what we want and who we want to be.

It is through triathlon that I've fully realized I have that choice.

And in my personal journey, I'm acquiring the strength to step into those choices and be the person I want to be -- without apology.

--- Amy Moritz
Follow Journey to the Finish Line on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amymoritz

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