It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted one of these, but today I want to share a story from my beautiful friend and fellow athlete Deirdre DeKock. Here she shares her story in her own words, about how triathlon has helped her face obstacles big and small.
When I started doing triathlons almost 8 years ago, I had been a mother for a few years and had just lost my father. I quickly hit a really low point and I felt I had no identity. I tried running and a few other things, but I wasn’t getting the fulfillment I needed until my now ex-husband introduced me to triathlons. Triathlons have challenged me and pushed me harder than anything else in my life. Not only did I have to dig deep physically, I had to mentally push myself not to give up, because I could find a 1,000 excuses not to get out of bed for that early morning swim, not to finish that last mile of a 10 mile run, and not to give everything I had on race day.
I really do have every excuse under the Sun to not fully commit myself to triathlon: young children at home, a husband who was traveling Monday through Friday, and all the bumps, bruises and broken bones that come with the sport of triathlon (falling off your bike is just a fantastic way to brake your arm). I really did have every excuse to quit and just take it easy, but I didn’t. Every obstacle I overcame brought me closer and closer to realizing that my place in triathlon was something I had control over. My results were mine and mine alone. Whatever I put into the sport was exactly what I got out of it. In time, I also became conscious of the fact that whatever I put into all aspects of my life was exactly what I was able to get out of it.
Just as I was learning this lesson, I entered one of the most difficult times of my life. Our family moved to another city, and I had to face the fact that my marriage of 17 years was coming to an end. I didn’t have my old triathlon or my non-triathlon support group around me anymore. Although they were supporting me in spirit, they were not there to encourage me and hold me accountable on those really hard mornings when I’d rather just crawl up in bed and cry and give up (and yes those days did and do still happen), but again I had the choice to make excuses or to the lessons I had learned over the previous few years.
I am much STRONGER than I think I am, and I can face this new challenge in my life. My training was a time to clear my head — a time to process what was going on in my life. It was around this time that I discovered the amazing triathlon support group I have in my new town, but still in the back of head, I was planning my exit from triathlons, because life was just too hard at that time.
It was at this time that my coach and my best friend convinced me to do a last minute IM 70.3, just to get away from everything. I reasoned that this would be a perfect ending and exit from triathlons. I went into the race with no expectations other than that it would be another “therapy session” and that I would enjoy every moment of it with my friends.
As I was starting the run portion of the race, I was running with this guy Sergio Y. He had played cat and mouse with me almost the whole time we were on the bike course, and after a couple miles on the run, I told him we had to dig deep and finish this race together. When he said he was in too much pain and that he was not sure he could do it, I told him to take it “mile by mile” and not to look at the 13 miles ahead.
I realized at that point that while we all need goals in our life, the only way we will ever reach those goals is to take it day by day. I had taken it day by day in my triathlon training and with that training, I qualified for 70.3 World Championships. Apparently, God wasn’t ready for me to give up triathlon or myself. He knew I needed something to focus on (and something to teach me those important lessons) as I started the hardest race of my life. Now, my training is a place where I can focus on me and the kids and realize that I am capable of doing things that I would have never thought possible before.
Triathlon has taught me so much about myself, and it helps me find myself every time I feel lost. God has shown me through this sport just how STRONG I am, and He has taught me that the only way I will ever get where I want to go is one mile at time. God has a wonderful plan for me, and if I can help one person find something they love through my journey, I know I will glorify Him.