Monday, November 24, 2014

The Next Chapter: Meet Coach Kris

You don't have to have a coach to do an ironman, but it certainly makes it easier.

In 2010, when Shelly and I decided to attempt our first half ironman, we found a coach at a local shop. Of course it was Dawn Elder, and she remembers us walking in with our notepads, eyes wide, ready to write down everything she said. After a successful first 70.3, we were both hooked, and we turned to Dawn to help us through the next big goal (a faster marathon!), and the next one (a faster 70.3!), and the next one (Ironman!!!).

I've put all my trust into my coach over the past 4 years, and in turn she's helped me to reach goals and believe that I can chase bigger ones. Before this turns into a Love Letter to My Coachie, I'll just say that as we've traveled this road together, I've learned about Dawn's mission and motivation. I fully agree with her philosophy that it's not about the finish line, but the journey. Her greatest pride is in helping others to find their strength (not just physical, but mental, and emotional) through the journey of Ironman. This philosophy speaks to me; it inspires me.
Those are happy, grateful tears after reaching a huge goal this summer at Buffalo Springs!
You've heard me talk about Coachie (Dawn) and Grand Coachie (Hillary Biscay). Even Great-Grand Coachie (Siri Lindley - Hillary's coach) has made an appearance in some of Dawn's Facebook posts. I've always thought that it's so cool that each coach gives their knowledge to their athletes, and that this knowledge keeps getting passed down through "generations" until we all benefit.

So, I'm really proud and excited to tell you that I'm joining Dawn as a Tri-Belief associate coach. Coaching is something I've been interested in for years, and I feel honored that my coach and mentor thinks it's something I'll be good at. It feels like a really good fit - my friends have been jokingly calling me Coachie Junior for a while (although that may just be their way of telling me I'm being a bossy know-it-all). Coach Kris!

As I work toward certifications, I'll be coaching under Dawn, learning from her, drawing from my own experience, and passing along the Tri-Belief philosophy while helping other athletes chase their dreams. And I can't wait!

In fact, I've been coaching two amazing women for a couple of months now, under Dawn's careful eye. And even though neither of these ladies has raced yet with me as their coach, I'm already so proud of them as I read their workout logs and watch their progress. It's an incredible feeling to be a part of someone else's success. I am so excited about this new chapter.

**If you're interested in working with me or Dawn, please don't hesitate to contact us through the Tri-Belief website.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

An Open Love Letter to My BFFs

I considered apologizing in advance for the unquestionably sentimental post that you're about to read...but then I changed my mind. I'm not sorry to send out some love and gratitude into the universe today after an amazing ride this morning with my incredible, strong, fun, fearless friends!

Aixa, me, Linda (birthday girl!), Shelly, Orissa
I remember 7 (!!) years ago talking with Shelly, my coworker-turned-training-partner-BFF, about how you know who your friends are. How do you determine if someone's your friend or just your coworker? Is it the amount of time you spend together outside of work? How do work-related Happy Hours fit into the equation? What if you start training together every day for marathons and triathlons, and with the 40-hour work weeks and 15-hour training weeks, ultimately spending more time together than with your families? Of course we were defining our own relationship, but through the years as we've met more people through this sport, we've continued to discuss the subject and ask the question - what defines a training buddy? When do training buddies become friends?

Well, all of a sudden, 2 became 5. How cool is that?!

We can credit our coach, Dawn Elder, for putting together the coolest group of girls that I know, simply because we happen to be triathletes who work with the same coach and train for the same events. When you put in hours, weeks, months, years together training for Ironman, you can't help but develop a unique relationship. To ride your bikes together and run together for hours at a time, you learn each others' strengths and weaknesses. You share hopes and fears as you work together pursuing the same dream. There's a trust and respect that comes with sharing these experiences. You learn how to build each other up and say the right things and ultimately become each others' biggest cheerleaders.

We can thank Dawn (far right) for introducing us. 
Not that it's all fun and games. At any given time, 3 of the 5 of us are in the same age group, competing for the same prize. That's not easy, especially if you're the one having the bad day.

Over the years, the 5 of us have been through a lot of stuff together beyond the races and epic training days. There's been the wonderful stuff - weddings and babies. And there's been the crappy stuff that nobody else needs to hear about.

Today, we went out and rode to Castroville for a donut to celebrate Linda's birthday, and it was the first time the 5 of us have ridden our bikes together in a really long time. It was amazing to all be together again doing the thing that started our friendships in the first place. The thing I feel really blessed about is that the friendship is real and strong and present regardless of triathlon. In sharing the important things in our lives together, in being there for each other in tough times as well as celebrations, our friendship clearly goes beyond the sport, and I'm so grateful.

I remember watching Sex and the City years ago and being jealous of the friendships that were highlighted so well on that show. I thought at the time that it would be impossible for real women to have relationships like that, because at the time, I simply didn't have them. But now, I feel so lucky to look at my amazing friends and know that I have that kind of loving family, support system, group of incredible friends.

Just another reason to be grateful to the sport of triathlon and how it's enriched my life. Happy birthday, Linda! And here's to many more years training, racing, and competing together. I love you girls.