Goal-setting, whether athletic- or career-oriented, is like a ritual amongst the VQ community. I typically center my goals around coming out of my comfort zone. Coming out of my comfort zone is exactly what I did when I timidly entered in January 2012 for my first Taste of VQ class. My heart rate was probably in Z3 when I walked through the doors, rose to Z4 when I was asked to jump on the scale (post-holidays, of course!) and easily increased to Z5 during the infamous 20-minute threshold test. Ten months later, I officially joined. Through VQ I’ve had the opportunity to experiment with challenges ranging from a holiday season cleanse (those who know me realize what a nearly impossible feat it is for me to survive without coffee for 14 days!) to braving cold temperatures and sloppy terrain in a March race to perhaps the greatest out-of-comfort-zone challenge to date: attending the Arizona camp without knowing the majority of athletes participating. These have all been experiences that have changed me in some way.
I believe that by challenging ourselves and taking on new risks, we inevitably grow and achieve goals never thought possible. There’s an old Guatemalan proverb that says “everyone is the age of their heart”. VQers redefine age as a multidimensional concept. Age extends beyond a number to include passion, grit, perseverance, grit, tenacity, grit, commitment and more grit. Looking around VQ, we see athletes from across generations, all sharing the same common denominators, particularly determination and heart. One of the distinctive benefits of being a VQer is the opportunity to engage with athletes from all backgrounds.
Everyone has something special to contribute. This was evident at camp in Arizona. I was surrounded by a solid group of athletes who became my unofficial coaches. Camp left me with an incredible feeling of camaraderie I will never forget. Earlier I repeated the word grit because, to me, it is one of the most defining characteristics of a typical VQ athlete. It is also a word that is very important to me. Robbie spoke about grit during base camp and I’ve never forgotten his words. They’ve helped me survive a rough open water swim in a 70.3 race which many didn’t finish, gotten me to the finish line of an Ironman and helped me push through some tough training sessions I didn’t think I’d be able to finish.
This article would not be complete without mention of my coach, Carlos, who has helped me reach numbers I never thought possible. Carlos has helped me build the confidence I needed to cross over to what I affectionately refer to as the other side. He recently referred to me as a “cyclist athlete” instead of a triathlete. For someone who has made very slow progress on the bike until this year, this was a tremendous compliment. I realize how fortunate I am to have constant support and guidance from Carlos, professional expertise from Robbie, nutritional advice from Andrea, open water fearlessness from Marcia and exposure to relentless teasing that always makes me smile from the Director of Good News. Not to mention the solid friendships I have made--all bonded by a love for pushing ourselves to the extreme.
The blue and yellow colors I once found extremely intimidating, I now find comforting. Shortly after I joined, Dave sent an e-mail welcoming me to the family. At the time, I didn’t quite understand what he meant. I do now. I understand and I won’t ever take it for granted.