By Cindy Park
I joined VQ in March 2017 for the purpose of getting coaching to race Steelhead 70.3 in August.
My journey to endurance sports began in 2012, about a year after I stopped a 22-year, pack-a-day smoking habit. My goal of running a marathon was my biggest motivation in quitting for good after several attempts. My first marathon was in Chicago in 2013, and I ran four more after that. This October I will be running my sixth marathon. I can tell you: quitting smoking was harder.
It’s an indescribable feeling, to put yourself through months and months of grueling training to ensure that you’ll make it to the finish line in one piece. It’s a huge mental journey as well as a physical one. During training for these races, people have told me with awe and bewilderment how crazy it was to run that much…so, triathlon seemed to be a natural transition for me (pun intended!) even though I hadn’t ridden a bike or swam in a pool since I was 12.
I self-trained that first year (2016) and participated in four sprint triathlons. I did decently considering everything I learned came from the Internet. I can’t say I was instantly hooked, but this was something I wanted to give a really good try before saying I was done. At the end of the season, I had made up my mind: half-Ironman in 2017.
The mere thought of it was so daunting, but I knew with the right training I could do it. That’s how I found VQ, through another Internet search of locations convenient to where I work in Deerfield.
Training with a coach and other athletes was a totally new concept for me. I had always trained alone, run races alone. I was anxious about how it would work and if I would even like it. I really was amazed at how welcoming, supportive and encouraging everyone was. There was a good combination of veterans and newbies like me, which made it all less intimidating. Without a doubt, I would never have excelled and learned as much as I did training by myself. Coach Janine with her guidance, expertise and motivation was pivotal in getting me to the Steelhead start and finish lines. Other VQ coaches and leaders (like Adam, Andy, John, Kate, Marcia) have been beyond helpful with feedback. I have learned so much from them, as well as fellow VQ athletes that have offered advice and support. And let’s not forget about Robbie and Dave--true leaders in and of themselves--their positive energy and enthusiasm are without bounds.
I can honestly say that summer is one I will never forget. Some blood, lots of sweat, a few tears and quite a bit of money was spent, but being able to finish strong at Steelhead was priceless!
Oh, and by the way, I can say it now: I’m hooked!