Having whittled my possession down to what could fit in a car, including two cats, I set off for what would be a three day tour of the southern route across the States. It felt good to finally be on the road. I had spend months keeping this decision a secret and then most of March packing up and saying goodbye to all the great friends I made during my three years in Hanover New Hampshire. Now I was finally beginning a new phase in my life. Having spent years wishing to find a way to train full time it was finally a reality.
After months if not years of being in limbo it was finally time to make the cross country drive to my new home in southern California. For what had felt like quite a long time I have struggled with the balance between work, life and my desire to train and push myself to new athletic levels. I knew that I was bumping up against my ceiling to improve in any one area which eventually led to frustration across the board. It felt as if I would build momentum in one area and start to see some real growth and potential, only to realize I had left behind other important aspect of my life. This internal debate between my professional, social and racing life has been a front and center part of my routine for most of the past three years. In my opinion I had three choices; keep the status quo, put racing on the back burner and consider it a hobby and a way to stay fit, or take a break from my career as a swim coach and devote myself fully to racing and training to really find out what I am capable of.
Ultimately the decision to take a break from college coaching was not an easy one. College swimming has more or less dictated my life for the last ten years and as with any change, taking the leap is hard even if you know the results will be worth it. Having seen glimpses of what a few weeks or the occasional month of ideal training led to I knew this was a risk I wanted to take. Despite having received nothing but support from the local community and loved ones it still felt difficult to explain to others that I was leaving a full time career and putting my pursuit of being a head coach on hold to race triathlons. An important realization was that I do not need to complete all of my life goals by the time I am 30. Seems obvious but I am not sure I grasped this until recently. With all that in mind the decision was made to step away from college coaching and focus on my personal racing career full time with a goal to make the leap to professional racing. Having felt that the rest of life was interfering with my various athletic pursuits for more or less all of life I was finally in a position to focus on myself and see what a full time commitment would lead to.
As with most things in life during my early 20’s I was fairly convinced I could do everything solo with no help from the outside world. I think I almost felt that was the only correct way to achieve things or keep others sheltered from risks associated with selfish pursuits. Fortunately, I have matured and realized that the support of others not only makes things like pursuing a dream of being a professional athlete a reality but it makes them more enjoyable. This shift in thinking was not easy but I am sure that I would have never taken such a leap of faith on my own. I owe a lot to everyone who has molded me over the years and in particular those who have helped me make this dream a reality. As it turns out a lot more things are possible when you let others’ into your life and let people support you. Seems straightforward but when you spend all of your professional hours making others athletic experiences as ideal as possible it can be a hard switch to flip and let others help you.
I enjoy having long term goals, I think they bring focus and urgency to one's daily existence. For the past six years those goals have almost always had to do with triathlons. Despite spending most of my waking hours as a swim coach my daily, weekly or several month goals always revolved around training for a race. What excites me most about this new phase of my life is that for the first time in a long time my goals and what I spend all day doing will be aligned. I am fairly certain that I will return to coaching at some point but in the meantime I am looking forward to a new adventure.
After a relaxing pitstop with my girlfriend’s parents in Austin, Texas it was time to get back on the road. I think we all, but mainly the cats enjoyed the break from the car and would have gladly stayed in Austin much longer but we were equally as anxious to arrive in our new home in Southern California. So off we went only to arrive in Claremont California about 16 hour later and in the middle of the night but greeted by Nyssa and Ophelia (her cat) nonetheless. My dream was finally reality, or at least the start of it. Getting out here and taking a risk on something new was the biggest hurdle, I am confident in my abilities and I know I will do the work given the right opportunities. Above all I am just thankful for all the help and support and excited to see what I am capable of. Time to train.