USA Triathlon News Blogs My Story What it means to be ...

What it means to be a triathlete

By Rhiannon Berry | March 23, 2020, 5:30 p.m. (ET)

This blog written by triathlete Rhiannon Berry originated as a post she wrote on the popular Facebook group, Pathetic Triathletes Group, as a response to the ever-difficult and changing COVID-19 pandemic that has altered life as we know it and completely changed the sports landscape.

My beloved Pathetics — 

I've seen so many of you lamenting races that have been canceled (understandably so), so many of you losing motivation because the odds of approaching races are so bleak with no concept of where things go from here. Many have struggled with whether it is worth it to train with race schedules at the mercy of the unknown.

In addition to being a proudly Pathetic triathlete, I am a teacher at a large, impoverished district, a daughter with two older parents with pre-existing health concerns, a sister to one sibling who works in a hospital serving heavily populated areas and another sibling whose engineering company has multiple international partners, and a woman with a significantly compromised immune system with regard to pneumatic viruses. Like all of you, my mind has been swirling with stress these past weeks, these last few days especially taking their toll as we wait for what comes next.

Last weekend, I escaped the trainer and tried fat-biking for the first time just to get outside. I rode for a few hours with a dear friend (with proper distancing between us). For those few hours, we shouted conversations back and forth, some filled with concerns of the week but many not. We rode in silence, we rode in laughter, we rode in friendship. For those three hours, I felt normal. My mind was at ease. The trees seemed to separate us from the concerns that awaited our return.

We don't do this sport because of the races. No one got into triathlon just because the idea of a race was involved. You can race at anything. We chose this sport. We chose the endless laps in the pool and fighting the choppiness in the water.  We chose the miles of riding into a headwind--always a headwind--and the endless hours on the trainer.  We chose an eternity of feeling every stride on the pavement through our bones, every tripped step on roots popping out of trails threatening to take us down.  We chose to sacrifice time we could spend going out or sleeping in to push through another workout because our sport demands more of us.  Our sport demands we believe in something beyond ourselves. 

But more than anything, we train because movement is in our DNA — not because we happen to race. It is who we are. Whether through the water, the roads, the trees, the mountains, the weight room, the trainer, the treadmills — this is what we do. And there are countless ways to keep doing what we do.

Keep going, my friends. The greatest human being I ever had the pleasure to know always said, "Let training be your sanctuary, not your stressor."

Keep those moments of sanctuary in your life. We need them now more than ever to simply feel the peace of moving forward.

Stay safe, and go be Pathetic.

Rhiannon Berry is a triathlete and teacher living in Liverpool, New York.