Taking the Leap…

Since St. George, time has brought major changes my way. The primary is that I have decided to take a big leap: leaving my job at the paper. This decision was an extremely difficult one for me, and ultimately one I have been working toward making for some time now. I have struggled with the debate of whether to continue investing so much of myself in journalism, or delve deeper into the world of competitive athletics, for some time now. Really, it’s always been in the back of my mind, and to some extent, still is.

I am passionate about journalism, and I have big dreams for myself in the industry. When I am not writing, reporting and telling and learning stories, I miss it. But, ultimately, it will always be there, and it is something I can do — to some extent — no matter what else is going on in my life, and even if I don’t technically have a full-time employer. Athletics, however, may not always be there. I know my body won’t always be able to perform at the same level, and has certainly not yet reached its peak, but needs some time, training and dedication to get there. And I can finally say now that I am ready to take that leap, and put in that effort.

Ultimately, numerous factors were involved in my decision to leave the paper — more than just athletics — and, in the end, I came to the conclusion that it was time to move on. My experience there was unforgettable and invaluable, and I am amazed at how far I’ve come and how much I’ve learned in my 15 months working as a reporter there. I am truly grateful for the opportunity. But it’s just not the ideal situation for me at this point in my life. I am ready to seek out other journalism opportunities, and I have been eager to be able to dedicate myself more fully to my training and racing, and really just to myself.

So, here I am. I turned in my last story near the beginning of June, and headed off on a much-needed vacation down under, to check out the beautiful sights of Australia, and just enjoy a little relaxation and lack of obligations for the first time in a LONG while. It was incredible. Of course, I got in plenty of running throughout the two weeks I was there, including some hard intervals in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens and some amazing long runs by the sea. To say the views were epic is a gross understatement. Now that I am back, the busy schedule has commenced yet again, but it is much different than before. Instead of driving down to Reno and back each day and spending eight hours at a desk, I am out three to four times every day training and/or coaching, and doing what I can to recover in between. It has been somewhat exhausting, but an absolute blast.

My job for the foreseeable future is coaching for the Auburn Ski Club junior ski teams, which includes a variety of dryland training and conditioning. The kids are awesome, and it’s been a ton of fun so far. While I coached a bit with these skiers last summer, I was juggling that along with my work at the paper, so things were a lot more hectic, and I really wasn’t able to dedicate myself as much to being the best coach I can be. Now, I am fully invested in that. And because the schedule is much more flexible, and the hours are fewer, I am able to train unlike ever before. Last week I put in a solid 25 hours in addition to my coaching duties, which also provide some additional hours, although less intense. It has been really refreshing to actually have the time to get out and put in some long hours and really hard work. It feels great! And, it’s already paying off! This past weekend, I did a “training” race at Rancho San Rafael Park near Sacramento, and I turned in a big PR in the Olympic distance, with a 2:21:50. I can’t explain how happy I was to have such a strong performance. It was really vindicating for me with the major changes I have made in the last few months.

While it’s nice to be able to get out for a morning run and not have to rush back to shower and get ready for a day at the office, it is also strange not to be doing it. In many ways, I do miss it. Initially, I think I was most concerned about losing the piece of my identity that I am a reporter. But I realize now that that has not gone away. I can still write, and I will. I will seek out other projects, and do more writing on topics of my own choice. I will always be a journalist, whether practicing “full-time” or not — and I know I have plenty of time to accomplish my dreams in the industry. And, without a doubt, I will always be an athlete. In so many ways, it is the essence of who I am, and has shaped the way I approach other areas of my life. And I am confident and grateful in my decision to celebrate and improve this part of my identity.

So for now I will continue training hard, taking care of my body and treating myself like the elite athlete I aspire to be, in addition to my coaching duties, as long as I am enjoying it and feel I have a destiny as an athlete that is yet to be fulfilled. The big goal on my radar right now is breaking 11:30 at Vineman on July 30 — where I set my sights once I realized I would not be racing at Kona this year. But Kona 2012 is the “big picture,” and I’m already working toward attaining that dream. Since I first started triathlon two years ago, I have spent much of my time wondering, “How good could I really be if only I had the time to dedicate myself?” The hope is now that I’ll no longer have to wonder…

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