We Hold "The Keys" to Unlock Limitless Potential

By Jennifer Warren | Aug. 20, 2018, 5:25 p.m. (ET)

I used to think those days were over. Competition? Pushing myself to the limit? Grit and pain? Those were concepts tied to a more youthful time, not ones someone on the brink of age 50. 

Ever since I can remember, running was my place to feel unconditional joy and freedom. At age 13, I started to relentlessly pursue its gifts — by high school, my competitive fires were
ablaze, awakening my essence, core and identity. As college surfaced, my talents flourished.

I had a purpose and was alive, authentically. However, all good things sometimes come to an unexpected, screeching halt.

Grueling training, mixed with a time consuming race schedule, resulted in early burnout and an unplanned departure from collegiate running, a refocus on academics and a pending career path.

Some intermittent road racing in my early 20s provided a slightly rekindled competitive outlet, but never anything that pushed me to break through barriers and settle unfinished potential business. Why bother?

That phase had died off about 30 years ago ... or so I thought.

Just as good things sometimes end, a wonderful series of events can magically transpire.

In my late 40s, a harsh, romantic breakup led to healing via a triathlon group. An initial reluctance to actually complete even a short sprint triathlon (a 10-year old knee surgery secured those doubts) resulted in doing a longer Olympic length one, and feeling good, hooked even.

That fire was sparked.

Harder training ensued, and a lofty goal of a Half-Ironman-distance triathlon — 70.3 total miles — started to take shape. However, "something" was still missing — the catalyst to achieve this goal before my 50th birthday, and to do so not only with passion but talent and solid preparation.

The missing link came to me at the very moment when I was ready to embrace it. A good friend had for the third time prompted me to connect with an accomplished triathlete/coach high school friend of hers. On this night, I made the decision to do so.

From the moment I did, the magic was born. We forged a bond, and that elusive, new level was defined and expertly laid out before me, mine for the taking. I plunged forward, never once looking back to that life of doubt.

With laser focus, I dedicated myself to a full summer of intense, gratifying training, witnessing a new borne confidence blossoming from alarmingly euphoric splits on my Garmin watch I had not seen in years, along with a stronger, leaner body, evaporated knee pain, and a mentor who believed in my abilities and journey.

September 10, 2017 was here. Race day — my Half-Ironman quest of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run was looking me smack in the face, and I could not have been more ready! I attacked each stroke, pedal, step with fervor and gratitude.

As the race progressed, I soon realized it was no longer a question of would I finish, but how strong and fast I would do so.

Three weeks later, sitting on my living room couch, glancing at my bicycle setup on my trainer, I'm overcome with images of some of those countless hours of demanding training, testing my body, mind, and spirit, elevating them to new heights. I reflect further, as I glance at the 70.3 pumpkin-shaped (it was the Pumpkinman Triathlon) medal, on the culmination of that dedication, crossing the finish line a new, better version of the person I once was.

I'm incisively awakened to how that journey was not so much about sport as it was about life and the figurative cages we sometimes place ourselves in, duped into believing we can't change, grow and achieve what our heart desires.

Rather, we do indeed hold the "keys" to unlock limitless potential, simply by committing ourselves to a goal larger than those stifling parameters, one bigger than our doubts, one that can transform us and never be taken away once achieved. 

Jennifer Warren My Story