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What Dreaming Season Means to Me

By Nick Hehemann, USA Triathlon | Jan. 26, 2021, 3:53 p.m. (ET)

 

What does Dreaming Season mean to you?

 

For some of us, we’re dreaming of the chance to race in person again. To cheer on our friends. To experience the joy of crossing the finish line. To get that finisher’s medal: a symbol of all the hard work we put in to get to this moment.

 

For many of us, we’re dreaming for a better tomorrow. One where a global pandemic is no longer dramatically impacting our lives. One where the loss and difficulty of this past year can become a tale of what we’ve overcome and not a struggle that we endure in the present moment.

 

#DreamingSeason is an annual social media campaign USA Triathlon celebrates at the beginning of each calendar year. The purpose is to encourage athletes to consider their multisport dreams, set goals and plan a course of action to accomplish these milestones.

 

But what does it actually mean to dream?

 

This is what it means to me. It’s a lesson I’ve learned from all of you.

 

Dreams are the possibilities in our mind that seem like fantasy but can actually become reality if we decide to put in the time and work to achieve them.

 

I know the phrase “accomplish your dreams” can feel cliché.

 

But my idea of what’s possible has shifted dramatically since I started working for USA Triathlon nearly three years ago. Because every day I get to see ordinary people accomplish extraordinary things.

 

Just a few months ago, I watched IRONMAN’s Facebook Live broadcast and shared photos from race day as Chris Nikic became the first person with Down syndrome to complete an IRONMAN triathlon.

 

 

I’ve told stories on elderly athletes like Sister Madonna Buder, Wayne Fong, Molly Hayes and countless others racing well into their 80s and 90s and beyond.

 

I’ve got to meet inspirational people like Marcus Cook and Sue Reynolds who have turned to our sport to help with their weight-loss journey, completely transforming their lives in the process.

 

Right here in Colorado Springs is the home of the Toyota U.S. Paratriathlon Resident Team. Each one of these athletes with dreams of medaling at the Tokyo Paralympic Games this summer is a living embodiment of what it means to overcome adversity. In this group are cancer survivors, war heroes and limit-defying athletes who show us that you don’t need to see or be “able bodied” to still do incredible things with your body.

 

 

From my perspective, the word “impossible” shouldn’t appear anywhere in the triathlon dictionary.

 

A couple years ago, I was doing a story on a local USA Paratriathlon Camp when I got to interview Mark Turner, a USA Triathlon Certified Coach with Team Multisport Performance Institute. He had just finished up leading a group of age group amputee athletes on a challenging bike ride through Colorado Springs when he shared some words that have stuck with me to this day.

 

“I think that people limit themselves. Whether they’re able-bodied or a challenged athlete, the limitations start between their ears, not with the limitations they might have physically. There are people that have weight challenges that have to overcome that barrier of, ‘I can’t do it because you need to look like someone who’s racing in the Olympics to come out and do a triathlon.’

 

“What I always encourage those people to do is to actually go out to a triathlon. Look at the different types of people who are engaged in our sport that are actively involved and race week to week and enjoy this sport. One of the great things about triathlon is that the community of triathlon is one of the most supportive sports communities I’ve ever been a part of.

 

And when you see people master something they are absolutely convinced that they will never be able to do, and you work with them to break down that barrier and you see the look on their face and their sense of accomplishment when they start to get it, it’s amazing.”  

 

A few weeks ago, we asked our audience on social media to tell us about their multisport dreams for 2021. We shared some of our favorite responses, and you can find them here in our Dreaming Season Story Highlight on our USA Triathlon Instagram page.

 

As we all begin to work toward our dreams, let’s remember Turner’s words. Is there something triathlon-related that you want to accomplish, but it seems “impossible”?

 

Take a minute to consider that the limits you’re creating for yourself really just are barriers in between the ears. And if you unlock those barriers, you just might achieve some incredible things in this new year.

 

Maybe even something you never thought possible.

Nick Hehemann, USA Triathlon

Nick is the Social Media and Video Content Senior Coordinator at USA Triathlon and has been with the organization for close to three years. He completed his first Sprint-distance triathlon in 2019 and is currently training for an Olympic-distance race later this fall. You can reach him by email at nick.hehemann@usatriathlon.org.