This is my creative application, which was submitted today (at noon -- get it -- PDT).
A Portrait of an Athlete as a Young Woman
A coming of age story of a young swimmer afraid to race more than 200 yards to a fearless, marathon-running, working mom of two, ready to race Hood to Coast.
Chapter 1: The Value of a Team
|Yes, that is me in black. 37 weeks pregnant||.|
Once upon a time and a very good time it was I was a competitive swimmer. I'm talking practicing six to ten times a week; going days without dry hair; constantly smelling like chlorine; and eating, breathing, and thinking swimming all.the.time.
I loved every minute of it.
In September of 2011, I was inducted into my high school's Athletic Hall of Fame. Truth be told, I was a good swimmer - All-state, All-American. Even Academic All-American.
I was and still am a nerd and a jock.
I began my acceptance speech at my hall of fame induction ceremony by reflecting on the fact that being a member of my high school swim team made me not only a better swimmer, but also a better person.
Through swimming I found that I loved the team environment; loved focusing on a goal with a group of like-minded people; loved encouraging my teammates; and loved excelling together.
After high school, I went on to be a member of my college swim team. And there, I also excelled as both a student and an athlete. I credit all of my success to my teammates who loved me, pushed me, encouraged me, challenged me, and accepted me when I was at my very best and during the times I was far from it.
Being a member of a team and serving in the role of a teammate is part of who I am. It has defined me since I was a young teenager. I bring a love for teamwork and being on a team to the Nuun Hood to Coast Relay Team. I have years and years of wonderful experiences encouraging teammates, commiserating with teammates, competing with teammates, and becoming lifelong friends with teammates.
I can share all of this with my Nuun teammates!
Chapter 2: The Best Thing Ever: Relays
As a swimmer, I was a sprinter. I loved to race - mostly butterfly and freestyle - hard and fast. I loved the nervous thrill of stepping onto the starting blocks before a race began. I loved coming from behind and winning a race. And I loved winning medals and setting records. But most of all, I loved relays. Nothing can match the thrill of stepping on the starting blocks with three teammates behind you. Nothing can match the thrill of inching up swimmer-by-swimmer on a team everyone thought was unbeatable. And nothing can beat standing on an awards podium with three of your best friends!
My high school coach instilled in me the importance and value of teamwork as well as the desire to be a successful relay team member.
My love for relays stayed with me in college. I loved relays so much that I forfeited one of my individual events at conference and national championships so I could participate on all FIVE of our team's relays.
I believe my dedication and success as a relay swimmer will serve me well on a Hood to Coast relay team. I know how to race well while others are depending on me and at the same time, how to encourage my teammates to be the best that they can be. I am also an expert in relay exchanges (with years and years of experience). I'm willing to coach my teammates through exchange drills and practice exercises to give us the best exchanges of any team at Hood to Coast.
I also love wearing matching outfits with my teammates and hope to contribute some matching style to the Nuun Hood to Coast relay teams.
Chapter 3: You Must Work Hard
My career as a competitive swimmer came to an unexpected end in mid-February 2000. Three weeks before I planned to close out a stellar 13 year swimming career at the NCAA Championships, I found out I did not swim fast enough to even qualify for the meet.
This was a meet I had qualified for - in multiple events - for three straight years.
I was heartbroken, disappointed, humiliated, humbled, and so stinking mad at myself.
On the surface, my heartache and anger were the result of not qualifying for my final national championships. Deep down, in my gut, I knew I had no one to blame but myself. I knew I could have trained harder. I knew I should have pushed myself harder. I knew I should have been swimming faster; lifting more weights; and not cutting a single corner.
But I did.
And it cost me my final trip to the NCAA swimming championships.
It never occurred to me that I wouldn't qualify for nationals a fourth time. And so I trained as if qualifying would magically happen. I definitely didn't train like someone who wanted to earn a spot at the national championships.
And, I didn't qualify.
The afternoon I found out my swimming career was over (cut disappointingly short), I vowed to never cut corners again; to never assume I could get what I wanted without hard work and dedication.
I promised myself that I would work hard - in every aspect of my life - from that moment forward. I promised myself that I would be dedicated and fully committed to living my life. No short cuts; no resting on my laurels; no pretending to work hard.
So work hard I did.
Chapter 4: Transitioning from Sprinter to Endurance Athlete
Post-college, I did some running and swimming to stay in shape and maintain my weight. In 2003, a friend asked me to join his team for the Columbus Day 10K in Washington DC. Craving to be part of a team again, I immediately said yes. I remember crossing the finish line of that race - with teammates cheering me on - and I knew I had fallen in love with racing again.
The following spring, I joined Team in Training and completed my first triathlon.
There was no doubt that I had officially caught the endurance race bug.
In March 2005, my then-boyfriend, D, suggested that we train for the Marine Corps Marathon together. We trained long and hard together. We even got engaged during one of our long training runs in September!
As we toed the starting line of my first marathon, I found myself full of nervous energy. Here I was: a former swimmer, who never raced more than 200 yards at a time, ready to take on the marathon. I was well trained, focused, determined, and so stinking proud of myself.
D and I finished the race TOGETHER in a little under five hours. It wasn't pretty. In addition to all the normal aches and pains associated with running a marathon, I had fallen near mile 21. I was cut and bruised and an absolute mess.
And I could not wait to do it again...
Chapter 5: Finding Balance
Since completing my first marathon, my life has changed dramatically. Five months after the Marine Corps Marathon, I got married. A year and a half later, I began a PhD program. I had my first baby a year after that. I completed my PhD in September 2011. Seventeen days after my defense, I gave birth to my son. I also started a job as a full-time professor in the fall of 2011. (Do you see why I didn't apply for the 2011 Nuun HTC relay?!?)
In the midst of all of that, I have completed three more marathons, several half marathons, and a handful of races of different lengths.
I do nothing half-way. I set goals and then accomplish them.
I strive to be the best wife, mom, professor, researcher, friend, and athlete that I can be.
I do this by setting goals, establishing priorities, making time for the important things in life (e.g., bike rides with my daughter, spinning classes, long weekend runs, time with my husband, cuddling with my new baby), and staying well fueled and hydrated (with Nuun, of course - I have my water bottle with me at ALL TIMES).
I have found that I am performing at my best when I am training for a big event, have scheduled activities for me and the kids, and am actively encouraging others to be the best that they can be. As you can see, I am actively encouraging my daughter to lead a healthy, active lifestyle - through activities and by setting an example.
I am a focused and fearless working mom of two.
I want to share my love of teamwork, relays, hard work, determination, and running with other women at the Hood to Coast Relay. I am also a PhD epidemiologist, who would love to conduct scientific studies (pro bono, mind you) to demonstrate the value of staying well hydrated with Nuun while running Hood to Coast (my research plan is currently in draft form). I believe combining work (research) and pleasure (running) helps me to maintain balance and consistency in my life.
I hope my epic tale will include running Hood to Coast with Nuun in August 2012.
This application for the Hood to Coast Relay Team as well as Nuun (both the drink and the water bottles) have been approved by me and my family!