On May 6th, I reentered the world of being an athlete. Living and breathing life of sport into my veins once again. And BOY did it feel oh so good! After nursing a few broken bones over the past year, I hadn't been sure if this was a direction I wanted to take my life again. I had a huge year of soul searching. Being immobile really gave me the opportunity to work on things in my life that were not jiving and enhance those parts by trying new things, new behaviors. I have learned it is necessary to have balance in all aspects of my life, and in turn it has created a renewed, Erin. The new mantra for my life it this:
Take Risks, Stay Present, Have Faith....see where it all evolves.
A few weeks ago, I said to my husband that I was ready to take on training and racing again in its full capacity. I had this one heart string that was still hanging on. I wasn't ready to let go of triathlon. I knew the love of the sport was there inside me, however, I knew its presence in my life would be held in a completely different space than it was before. I have a new perspective on my own life and I would now be looking at triathlon with a new perspective. Rob was all on board with taking this leap of faith and seeing where things could go. And as if it couldn't have happened at a more perfect time, the opportunity to attend the Tri Cozumel camp fell into my lap, thanks to the coaching legend, Brett Sutton and his extremely hard working assistant coach, Robbie Haywood.
So on May 6th, I showed at the pool in the morning ready to go. Day 1 of a of week of intense training at camp, community philanthropy, and racing. I was all in! I dove in head first, literally just trying to keep up. I know I have a lot of ground to gain back, but I was giving it all I had, and staying present in every moment. Instantly the joy and passion I have for triathlon came rushing back. I felt full. I was a sponge for knowledge, and I was surrounded by a group that wanted me to be the best athlete I could be...individually. Brett's coaching style is about the person as an individual. Not one athlete has the same swim stroke, bike position, or run form. So many coaches take the same approach to every athlete, but often that back fires or hinders the athlete from excelling. We all are different and will evolve in our own ways. Sure the workouts may be similar, but the "Sutton Way" is tailored to each person and level they are at in each discipline. Brett really wants to help the sport of triathlon evolve into being all encompassing for anyone who has the desire or dream to compete.
Camp week was filled with challenging swims, double track workouts, and incredibly windy and fast bike rides around the island. And let's just add heat and humidity for me, as this Montana girl had not even been riding her bike outside this season due to the frigid temperatures. Luckily I love sweating and embraced the heat as a tough maker, not a disadvantage. Also I can not omit that I was surrounded by world class athletes, old friends and new friends, and thriving in the atmosphere of like minded, driven, and compassionate people. This had been exactly what I was looking for to fire up that spark in me. I am so grateful.
Daily during the week we would see about a hundred kids come to the track and sports facilities after school and practice with all volunteer coaches in their chosen athletic activity. It is free to all in the community and seems to grow by the day as the residents of Cozumel spread their desire to be healthy.
Another part of the week that really made the camp meaningful and complete was the weekend of DOVE community events on the island of Cozumel. The TriSutto team has begun putting together community events all around the world to fight DRUGS:OBESITY:VIOLENCE: through EDUCATION. And this is not just for the young kids, but adults and hopefully families together.
This week there were a few key events that DOVE put on in order to spread the health and wellness movement for all. On Friday, the lovely, athletically talented, and Spanish speaking pro triathlete, Brooke Brown, held a nutritional talk for over two hundred kids and their parents about the importance of whole foods eating and staying active. The support was tremendous with claps and cheers of encouragement and how the community wants to see the changes implemented.
On Saturday morning all of the Tri Cozumel team and campers joined at the track in the morning to hold a kids biathlon for anyone 18 and younger that wanted to participate. There were laps around the tracks, then directly laps into the pool, and then back on the track for laps to the finish line. There were no firsts or last, everyone got to cross that finish line tape and a medal as they accomplished something amazing. Each shared a common desire, to put their best out there and give it all they had. The final division of racers included a disabled category, which further shows this event was for ALL. Many of the kids were partnered and supported by the Tri Cozumel teammates. The very last finisher was a young kid confined to a wheelchair. Olympic gold medalist, Nicola Spirig, had pushed him around the track and then swam with him in the pool. As they approached the track for their final stretch, the young kid exclaimed that he wanted to walk. He wanted to prove that he was just a normal kid, with dreams and abilities. The entire crowd in the bandstand and on the track stood in amazement and cheered this young Mexican kid on to the finish line. There were so many tears of joy and inspiration in that moment.
For me, and for many of the professional athletes there, this event helps keep us grounded and awake. Daily we get wrapped up into our silly struggles of when to fit in workouts, or being too tired and stressed out. PEOPLE, we have a gift, and that is LIFE! I know there are times of difficulty when life is not balanced, dealing with injuries, or not enough time to do what we want. But deep down for me, the meaning of life is about living it to the fullest, giving and receiving love, and remembering to be grateful for each moment. Keeps your eyes open, there is purpose in each breath we take.
So finally, Sunday, the Taste of Cozumel sprint triathlon. I had not competed in a triathlon in almost 18 months. Although this race was more about community, charity, and camaraderie, I couldn't help but be excited to get at it again. After all that time away from racing I forgot what it felt to train hard, race hard, and what it was like crossing the finish line. Anyone reading this knows what I am talking about. Whether a good or bad race, the feeling of crossing the finish
line is sorta like bliss. YOU DID IT!!! Its a celebration of dedication and passion. So when this morning came I was just happy. Once again feeling full. I was surround by love and support. This community wanted to have the sport as part of their home. There were age groupers and pros racing together with heart. There was no timing or places, just a feeling that we could all together be a part of something that connects each of us, love for triathlon.
This week was so important to me on many levels. I wanted to reignite my drive and dedication to being a professional athlete. I can say that this was one complete week for that! I got to train under a legendary coach with a new perspective on training and racing that I completely believe and trust in. I had the opportunity to workout with some of the best athletes in the world, and got to be part of philanthropy, something bigger than myself, which happens to have impacted me the most in this journey of coming back into triathlon as a much different athlete.
The DOVE organization (go to trisutto.com) is expanding throughout the world and I encourage you to go the website and find out more on how you can join in on the ultimate training, camps, racing, and community involvement that I was so blessed to be a part of. Even in the United States we could help our communities fight against the DRUGS:OBESITY:VIOLENCE: through EDUCATION. We can all make an impact.
Thank you to Brett Sutton, Robbie Haywood, Susie Langley, Jorge Valdes, the island of Cozumel, and the rest my amazing friends and athletes. This week of immersion has changed me forever. I hope to return again. I am forever grateful.
One of the things I love to say is, " MORE TO BE REVEALED". I will stay present and let things unfold as they will. I look forward to writing more blogs about my renewed journey into training and racing.
Just a few more fun pics of the week:
Old friends and new friends
Brooke's birthday and relaxation time
Me and "the DOC"
Post race fiesta with my roomies
My cheering squad