This year was going to be my year. Receiving my doctorate, passing my boards, starting the road to my dream job, racing and competing through the season after finally being able to return to running after a long stretch of injuries.
I have no reason to complain, I know that. The coronavirus pandemic has affected others far more greatly than me. I am thankful for the position I am in, the roof over my head, the food on my plate, my healthy body and mind, and my pair running shoes and my trusty road bike that help get me out the door to do what I love.
To all the triathletes alike, I feel you, I understand you. Our A, B ... all the way to Z and beyond races have been canceled. You cannot control it no matter how badly you wish to do so. What you can control is how you react to the chaos that surrounds us. Maybe you’ve found a new hobby, or a new joy you never knew you would find without this extra time COVID has given you.
For me, COVID brought a whirlwind of emotions centered around fear, hope, anger, joy, and frustration that ultimately led to finding a love I did not think was feasible.
We met on social media ... eew. But hey, it happens these days I guess — especially when screen times are soaring through the roof right now. Long story short, I said no to a first date only to regret it a few days later and there I was wanting to meet up with mystery man. Just days after a global pandemic was declared I decided I really want to meet this man ... who does that? Apparently two triathletes who have nothing but more time on their hands to train!
So what do we do the first time we meet? We socially distance run of course. Lame. What really makes the story “cool” is trying to attempt to build anything besides a training relationship in the middle of COVID.
Things are surprisingly easy. We run, we ride, we laugh, we enjoy the moments we can spend together given the times. Our two kind hearts can be found running together down the path of best intentions as we build our relationship into what we both know is meant to be among all the signs. All of the signs pointing out that we were meant to cross paths one day, to make an impact in each other’s lives, to double each other’s triumphs and half one another’s burdens, and to navigate our fears and closet skeletons together.
I went through some strange triathlete style phases of grief when our race season passed away. I am sure every endurance race junkie had their own little unique way of coping when they lost their race season. But I have something special — I have a special someone who pushes me to be the best endurance athlete I can be and has motivated me to continue to work toward my goals. He has helped me remember that my love for triathlons has roots much deeper than I ever portray.
I was a mess at times and my new love interest kept me grounded. He unknowingly was making me fall in love with endurance sports all over again after I had been downtrodden by years of health complications and injuries; all while concurrently making me fall in love with everything about him. We logged the miles together and somehow started to build ourselves into something more. We hit the ground running together and we are both better for it – we each have our unique strengths, assets, personalities that complement one other better than you can imagine.
Our race season was not going to become subjected to COVID. We pace each other for random time trials, we celebrate the hard workouts, we “kudos” even the smallest of accomplishments. We had plans of an IRONMAN, a marathon ... and we are still going for it. Who needs the entry fees, giant crowds, swag bags, and post race snacks (that are uncomfortably warm half the time anyways) to get out there when you have the drive like we do?
What’s your light among the darkness?
The endless miles beneath our feet can lead to so much more than fast times and PRs – the confidence gained after completing a grueling session; the injuries overcome that cause your perseverance and resilience to shine through; those feel good vibes that accompany the buzz of the Garmin signaling yet another completed mile; the days your motivation are at a low and you’re forced to remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place; and the people you seem to stumble upon through this crazy journey that you pray will never run the other way.
I would have never met the man that made me fall in love faster than I ever thought possible, who drove me crazy in both the worst and best ways possible, and who might now just frighteningly have the ability to shatter my heart faster than COVID shattered our race season.
I fear that our time will run out; only the miles ahead withhold what will come next ...