Most people "couch surf", but I've taken to "apartment surfing" lately. I have no use for couches as I brought my aero bed (on loan from my family in California) with me. I figured this way I'd always have something familiar to sleep on regardless of the actual physical address at which I resided. It is these small comforts that make me feel like I'm home everywhere and anywhere.
I am, right now, at address #2 in my Colorado adventures. I stayed with my training partner, Mary Beth, for 9 days upon arrival to Colorado. Now, after reaching out to my sponsors and everyone I could think of, I have landed in the apartment of a fellow Ivy League swimmer! A Yalie... I've forgiven her :)... and a totally amazing person. She so generously offered to take me in until I can make my way to my final condo destination. So, yesterday, I packed everything up and headed to Boulder. I walked into her apartment, met her boyfriend, unpacked my aero bed into her spare bedroom, blew it up, lined up my running shoes by my door, unzipped the suitcases (no use in actually unpacking them) and settled into home #2. Already, they have made me feel so welcome.
It's an interesting thing, floating in and out of homes and in and out of peoples lives. You quickly realize that the journey is about so much more than just the swimming, biking and running and is so much bigger than just you. Each step of the way people, many of whom you hardly know, extend out help while asking for nothing in return. They are essentially offering up a form of encouragement and support which I'm finding is enough to get through the tough days and disappointments. Each place I stop along the way adds something to the process and is a humbling reminder of how difficult all of this would be if I were really alone.
My sponsors this year have gone above and beyond. Phenomenal, really. I could not ask any more from them. What they provide me with goes way beyond the financial and material support. There are times when I'm afraid to ask for help, for instance with my recent housing crisis, but I am quick to realize that this journey involves them as well and that they want to help. They have willingly chosen to get behind me and my dreams, so if I am in need and I don't reach out then I am doing them an injustice. I really cannot thank each and every one of them for their individual contributions. I think it helps, having the support, because when workouts are tough or I'm feeling alone I can remember that I have a whole network of people rooting for me to succeed.
Then, of course, there is the matter of my incredible family. For a while I thought that I needed to travel this course alone. That I needed to figure out how to do this whole triathlon thing by myself. I didn't want to be a burden on them because they have already given me so much. But, I now know that I can't make this journey without them. I also now realize that I have more than one family, in fact, I have three.
I have my real family. The ones who have seen the best and worst of me long before I even entered the crazy triathlon world. My mother, who is firmly planted behind me and has sacrificed more than anyone could ever ask of someone to make sure that I can keep forging forward in this sport. My brothers and sister who are my rocks, each in their own way. On good days I can call to excitedly share my training sessions and on bad days they are the ones who pick me up and remind me that they love me no matter what.
Second, I have my family in California which although very much centered around my homestay family, the Givens (a very appropriate last name), there is a network of people who I got to know this winter that constantly keep me excited about each adventure I embark on. They are up, like my real mom, at all hours of the night watching a crappy Tri-Cast with no sound on a TV screen together, cheering at the top of their lungs. No matter how far away I am, I can feel that. I know they are up and I know they are cheering.
Finally, I have my training group. They really have become my third family. Finding Siri and putting my career in her hands has been the best decision I have ever made... well maybe aside from deciding to buy a bike and give triathlon a whirl. I also have a group of incredible "sisters" which is something I have never had before. I always used to train alone, but now, I'm not sure how I did that for so long. It is because of them, each one in a different way, that I have grown and progressed as quickly as I have this winter.
And, with that, this post was not meant to become sentimental or emotional at all, but I guess as my training continues to exceed my expectations I am reflecting a bit on the changes that I have made over the last 8 months and how it has brought me to where I am right now. It is not without all of those people I mentioned, and many others, that I am here and it is only with them and other people like them that I will finally be able to reach the goals I have set forth for myself.