August 2014 is one of those strange months that will live with me forever. It has one of my lifetime high moments and one of my lifetime low moments. I was flying high after a podium finish at our local quadrathlon race, the Beaton Classic, with my friend Rob on Sunday. This win was followed by working a 12 hour night shift. Monday morning at 8am, I was just tucking into my bed after being awake for over 24 hours. Just as my head hit the pillow my phone rang. It was my mother. She told me my dad had shot himself and been found dead. He had died by suicide. After a few panic phone calls to friends, they loaded me into the car for the 400km drive south. In the panic packing that happened all my training gear somehow made it into the car, my swim bag, road bike and running shoes. In the days that followed in the midst of the grieving, the need to get out to just swim or bike or run was strong. It was at those times that I would only think about the thing I knew how to do and do well. Just pull strong through the water, spin the legs, keep moving forward. It was about the wind in my face and the sun on my back. 
A short two weeks after that phone call I boarded a flight to Edmonton, Alberta to compete at the ITU World Sprint Triathlon Championship. It was a race I had spent two years training for. I had a decent race, not my best performance, but I am proud of what I could do with my father’s death not fully processed.
After returning home I lost my desire to train. I spent the winter cross country skiing, some swimming, a little running. Whatever motivation had been there was just gone. An opportunity came along to go to North Carolina to do some spring training. Again I packed up the car with all my gear, met up with my brother and headed south. It was exactly what I needed, to rediscover what I loved about my sport. I rode my bike and ran through a landscape I could have only imagined. I also realized what I love most is being outside, of training with friends, of the fellowship at the end of a long day of swimming, biking and running.
 My brother and I decided to take a few days for a sibling trip after training. We headed to the Outer Banks where he surfed and I walked beaches and rode my bike. We talked about dad over campfire meals and sunsets. He talked about a photo project in memory of dad. At that point it wasn’t quite Searching for Sero. When he later described #FoundSero to me, the moment I automatically went to was that ride on Ocracoke Island’s long flat road with the wind at my back, sun on my face and the ocean to my left. 
 Mother Nature had become my most consistent therapist, my confidant, my happy place. When I’m happy or sad or angry the first thing I do is lace up my boots and head for the bush behind my house for a hike either solo or with a friend.
I now no longer have the desire to race at the national or international level. I have since discovered trail riding and enjoy getting out with the group of women who ride, trail running with friends or long distance swimming in one of the many lakes in the area. I love seeing other find the moment when they finally make that great descent, conquer that tough hill at pace and swim across an entire lake. When others also discover that they have #FoundSero. 
It’s hard to say how things would have turned out if that phone call had never happened. Maybe I would still be a member of Triathlon Canada’s National Age Group Team training and racing full time. Maybe I wouldn’t. All I know is life is what it is. Life is bigger now that I have fun cross country skiing, running, biking and swimming, enjoying the outdoors and having fun with friends.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Go top