Friday, September 9, 2011

Identity Crisis

I was presented with a moment today which made me realize I am suffering from an identity crisis. Stay with me I promise this is not about the adolescence to adulthood crisis we all were faced with. 

I was at the local YMCA talking myself through my second swim for the week. Anyway, I had been there a while with the pool almost to myself which was rather nice for once. I noticed about halfway through my swim that a guy had started his laps in the lane next to mine. He got done with his laps a few moments before I was done with mine. I finished up my swim for the day and exited the pool. I saw the guy had sat down in the chair next to the one which contained all my stuff. As I am walking up he stands and says “excuse me, I hope you don’t mind me asking but are you a triathlete?” You know how time seems to slow down to a crawl and what really is 1-3 seconds seems like hours. Okay got the feeling? well that is what happened to me. I began to stutter – just an FYI I don’t normally stutter. So anyway here I am being faced with a simple non threatening question and I can’t seem to formulate an answer. 

That is when I realized I am in the middle of an identity crisis. The line between a runner transforming into a triathlete. At what point is it okay to consider yourself as a runner, swimmer, cyclist, triathlete? Is it a personal realization, do you need to successfully finish an event for the sport of choice, do you have to win an event, or do you simply have to just train in that sport or sports? When do you know? 

For me I did not have to win anything to know and define myself as a runner. Running is just part of me. I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s that simple. I run because I love to run. Now that I have discovered triathlons I have fallen in love with the mental and physical demands the sport requires. I love everything this journey has taught me along the way not only about the sport but also about myself. Honestly, I can’t ever see myself going back to “just” running.  

Yet there I was unable to say Yes to a simple question. For some reason I felt like I would be lying had I said yes. So my answer to him after what seemed like an eternity was “I’m trying to be, I have done one and am training for another which is this month.” I could see his eyes light up when he said “that is really cool, I have just started to train for my first sprint distance which I hope to do next season.” We carried on a short conversation about how he finds running the hardest part and I the swimming (which by the way he told me I looked super strong in the water –Yes this made my day!) about what type of bikes we had, and if I was part of a local tri group or self coached. His name is Jason and he wants to start swimming with me on Friday afternoons even though I kept telling him swimming was not my strong suit. I am thankful I met Jason and hopefully I will see him around again so I can watch him fall in love with the sport I have fallen in love with.  

As for considering or defining myself as a triathlete maybe my opinion will change after I cross the finish line on September 25, 2011.  

When did you know?  


  1. YOU are a triathlete! completed one and are 15 days from a 1/2 IM?...that's amazing woman. I wish you the best of luck on that day. but seriously, there should be no doubt in your mind on whether you are or not a triathlete. Keep up your great training.

  2. Once you do one triathlon that would make you an amateur triathlete. I knew I was a triathlete when I finished my first tri. You will always have your roots as a runner. I place emphasis on the run and do exclusive running events. I don't do or plan to do exclusively swim or bike races so I am neither a competitive cyclist or swimmer but there is certainly overlap. Best of luck getting your swim together, I learned using Total Immersion DVDs and swear by them.

  3. I was always told when starting my journey this year that when you finished your first race you were considered a triathlete. I did not come from the running side, or the swimming side, or the biking side. When I started this all three were new to me (not done it since high school football). I still have a hard time when someone asks me that question ... even though I have done 5 .... the question stumps me also.

  4. i've had this debate with myself before too. cause even if you run one marathon does that make you a marathoner? it's a tough call. i think it's safe to say that after a 70.3 YOU ARE A TRIATHLETE!