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Triathlete Blog

MSM September 2016 Featured Athlete

By September 14, 2016No Comments

Multisport Mastery is pleased to announced the September 2016 Featured Athlete:

Anna M. from Deerfield, Illinois

Anna is your typical hard-working, high aspiring triathlete.  Like many of you, as a mother (of 5 children!), a wife, a full-time worker, she juggles multiple roles and responsibilities which can be a challenge when chasing big athletic goals!  This past season, Anna had a big breakthrough despite dealing with one of the biggest challenges she’s ever faced.  I’ll turn it over to Anna now to tell the story in her own words:

As I’m staring down at the black line in front of me, I’m thinking about a question my coach, Liz Waterstraat, wrote to me many months ago……

“Anna, how badly do you want it?”

“Are you willing to do what it takes to be better?”

These are the questions Liz asked of me when I emailed her saying I wanted more this year. I wanted better racing times. I wanted to get on the podium more.

I wanted more of myself as a triathlete.

This was my third season with Liz. And I had already seen major improvements in my training and racing.

So in January of this year, I was telling her that I wanted to see even more improved outcomes.

My goals had changed. I thought, “I’m not getting any younger.”  And at this point in my life, I wanted to push myself to see what I could do. How far I could go.

Fast forward four months to May of this year.

My husband, Tim, is diagnosed with Lymphoma. An athlete practically his whole life and a triathlete since the 80’s, endurance training is a lifestyle.  How could this happen?  We eat well.  We exercise.  We drink moderately and we watch our sugar intake.  This can’t be real.

I will never forget that day. We got the call as we were walking into our bank. We were sitting in the parking lot when Dr. Leonetti called. I knew it wasn’t good news when my husband said, “Can I put you on speaker? I need my wife to hear this…..”

From that moment, and very quickly, my priorities chaim.

We were in complete shock.  He had a tumor removed from his parotid gland, that “90% chance it’s a benign parotid tumor,” said the Head and Neck surgeon at Loyola. Instead we found out it is Lymphoma.

We spent days crying, worrying. Tim couldn’t speak, he couldn’t make the phone calls.  So I called our parents, told our kids, and called countless extended family and friends. Phone calls you never want to make.

I sprung into “move quickly” mode in looking for the best Lymphoma doc. We set up consultations and started with scans and bloodwork appointments.

In the blink of an eye, all my thoughts about and concerns about performing better as a triathlete, went out the window.

Now I was only concerned about how soon I could get my husband in to see the doctor.

It took everything in me to run intervals or to perform the FTP trainer rides. I just didn’t have the heart. I lost my mojo.

I remember saying to Tim during this tumultuous time, “I think I’m going to drop out of triathlons this year.  I just don’t feel like it. I need to let Liz know….”

To which my husband said, “What? What are you talking about? You have to race. You’re the only one who can. You have to do it for me.”

And so, once again, very quickly, my priorities changed. Again. So I shifted my mental gears.  And all of a sudden it was no longer about the podium. It wasn’t about personal best’s. It wasn’t about ME anymore.  But about working hard and nailing my workouts because my husband could not.  Now, instead of the two of us together riding our trainers on a long ride, it was me on the trainer, and Tim lying on the couch.

So I continued on with training.

Tim came with me to all my races this summer. And instead of racing he became the photographer. I think having something else to do on race day helped him with his anxiety about not racing.  (Photography is his second love. He got so into it that he started taking pictures of not just me but other triathletes and sending them great shots of them in the race. The athletes loved it!)

And my mental attitude with racing shifted big time. I had always felt like the athlete that would never attain that “elite” status. I would obsess and get upset about it.  I knew I didn’t have talent, and, although I work very hard, the numbers just wouldn’t show up on race day.

But through this family health crisis, I finally stopped comparing myself to others and started enjoying the moment and the triathlon atmosphere in a new way. Rather than thinking “Oh, that will never be me….” I started thinking, “Why not? Why can’t it be me?” I started to be kinder to myself in my thinking and really, really started to be grateful for the opportunity to be in this great sport, around these amazing athletes. I just started to take it all in.

And you know what happened? I raced well. Very well. For me, at least.

I did achieve a personal best at the 70.3 distance.  At Ohio 70.3, I placed 3rd in my age group and qualified for the 2017 70.3 World Championship.

It was as if I needed to find annamy priorities; my perspective.

I’m happy to be going to World’s next September. It may never happen again. So I will take it all in and appreciate the opportunity to be amongst some great athletes.

So, back to coach Liz’s question to me last January, “how bad do I want it?”

I want it. I want it very much.

But I need everything else to be in place in my life. I need to be – no, I must be surrounded by health and loving family and friends. To be able to laugh and be silly and have authentic happiness. To be content.

Then, when all of that is in place, doing well in the sport that I love so much is just the icing on the cake. And do I love icing!

So here’s to many icing’s on cakes. And to many more years in the sport I love.