Nicki Anderson: Olympics inspires inner athlete
By Nicki Anderson email@example.com July 30, 2012 1:14PM
Nicki Anderson poses on her bicyle, which she says is “old” yet reliable. | Submitted
At A Glance
What: The Naperville Sprint Triathlon includes a 400-meter swim, 22-kilometer double loop bike course and 5-kilometer run course through downtown Naperville.
When: The race will kick off at 7 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 5, from Centennial Beach, 500 W. Jackson Ave.
Updated: September 2, 2012 6:08AM
There is a fever going around — fortunately it’s a good one.
Olympic fever has hit, and many people are down for the count, in front of their televisions and computers watching athletes in motion. I find myself glued to my favorite events wondering, “What kind of work must it take to get to that level?”
Though the idea of becoming an Olympian is long past its possibility for me, becoming an athlete is not. And with a surprising revelation last summer, I’ve come to respect the athlete I never thought I’d be.
Almost 35 years ago, I was quite comfortable sitting on a sofa, watching sitcoms while knocking off a bag of potato chips. When I finally worked up enough energy to get off the couch, I didn’t waste much time diving in to a freshly scooped bowl of ice cream. I was a slug.
Only once in my life was I even close to being an “athlete.” I was about 7 years old and swam on the Cress Creek swim team. Unfortunately, someone unknowingly dove in the water on top of me, I sunk like cement. From that day on, I swore I’d never get in the water again.
Fast forward to last year when my partners in crime, Cathy and Terri, kept insisting that I could get in the water again and swim — eventually becoming a triathlete. My words of fear and paranoia fell on deaf ears. Both reminded me that I was a good runner, and that biking and swimming would come easily if I’d just get in the water. Long story short, with persistent nudging, friends won out. With their patience and encouragement, last summer I jumped in the water and started swimming again. But the story doesn’t end there.
In the past, I had been the running leg of triathlons. Both friends told me that, without a doubt, I could easily complete a whole triathlon — alone. Hmmm. In my mind that was something real athletes did, not me, I’m just a runner. In retrospect, I realized I did the running part because it was safe, I didn’t have to push myself, and running came easy to me. The idea of adding in biking and swimming meant work, a lot of it, and well, I just wasn’t sure if I could do it.
This weekend, Aug. 5, I am competing in the Naperville Sprint Triathlon. I’m completing all three legs of the race alone, no buddy system, just me. My friend and invaluable tri-coach Terri has been a tremendous source of motivation. My friend Cathy continues to remind me that she was right and knew I could do it. I suppose that’s the grief I catch for questioning their support!
As I get further into the process, I find there is much to learn, including things like, transitioning, bike lingo, brick training, etiquette, among other tricks. But for me, it’s been incredibly rewarding because I have been able to finally move out of my comfort zone into a world that is very new and exciting.
I’ve come to believe that being an athlete knows no age, simply heart and ability. I’m grateful for the ability to participate, and my friends belief in me has been the heart of my effort. Unlike our Olympic athletes, I’m not competing for my country. I’m competing for someone who can be a much tougher critic: me. But I’m learning to ease up a bit and enjoy the process.
I had my last long bike ride this weekend and will get in some light training this week before the triathlon. I’m going to ride my old bike in the event, but promised myself that, once I cross the finish line, next summer I get a new bike! After all, athletes need solid equipment, right?
If you’ve ever thought about doing a triathlon, there’s no better time than now to start training for next spring. Naperville has two great triathlons, SheROX and Naperville Sprint. You’ll likely find plenty of people around who will support your efforts.
Let the Olympics inspire you to connect with your inner athlete and discover what you’re made of. You’ll likely be amazed and ultimately very proud. May this column be the gentle nudge you need to get started!
Do you have an inspiring story about your journey to fitness? Share it with columnist Nicki Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.