November 15, 2016 - A decade ago, I found myself sprawled across a dining room table in a small neighborhood on the west side of Cleveland. The remnants of an all-night gathering had already started to give way to the early signs of dawn. As I winced in pain, a girl with no experience, and a homemade gun, tattooed the words “Sacrifice” and “Persevere” on my calves. Surely, this was an adolescent mistake, but those words would become the cornerstone of my mentality.
Those words inscribed on my body are values that I hold deep in my heart. They are the reasons that I get up every day. Those words perpetually rest in the back of my mind; simple in nature, but incredibly motivating. They represent promises that I made to myself when I first began to run. Promises that were conjured up many years ago while running single track on one of those endless summer days. Promises that were made when running was new, back when my mind was forthcoming. Naïve, but far from delusional, my outlook on progression and sport was uncomplicated and straightforward. I thought about the Greats and the Champions of our sport. Comparing myself to them, the only difference I accepted was experience. Denying any other difference enabled my progression. It allowed the conception of those promises…
To continually work towards the dream.
To never accept anything but the best.
To find my limits and move past them.
To create my own destiny.
To take advice from others, but always disregard the naysayers.
To give my life in pursuit of that great accomplishment.
To patiently wait for that moment and then never forget it.
To live my life like I have nothing to lose.
To pick myself up off the ground, no matter how many times I fall.
Those two simple words, “Sacrifice” and “Persevere” recapitulate those promises. A life worth living isn’t always about instant gratification. In Triathlon, that type of gratification doesn’t exist. There won’t be any half court shots at the buzzer or walk off homeruns. When someone wins an Ironman, it isn’t just about the eight or nine hour struggle. It’s a lifetime of work culminating in that one day. In this sport, if someone wants it badly enough, if it burns deep in their soul, they can have it and no one else can ever take it from them.