I have been called a lot of things in my life…some good and some not so good. I wrote at the very beginning of this new blog endeavor of mine that I was trying to reclaim the athlete I once was. But, even as I tried to reclaim that title for myself, I have never fully believed it. Instead of hearing “athlete” when people say that word in relation to me, I hear “that fat girl runs, swims and rides a bike.” No matter how much weight I have lost. No matter how many half Ironmans, marathons or whatever I have completed, I have realized that I STILL struggle to accept that I AM an athlete.
Part of that inability is that I am not skinny. I am not what I perceive an athlete to look like. But, what I have been realizing more and more is that what determines an athlete isn’t what you look like, it is what you do. It is the heart and dedication that you put into whatever it is you are doing. I correct my athletes who don’t want to take on the moniker of “athlete” and tell them that what they are doing, whether they are out there crossing the finish line first or last, they are athletes. Once again, I have realized that I haven’t been practicing what I preach. I know this about myself, but it really came to the fore of my mind this morning when I was getting out of the pool.
As I finished my laps, looked at my watch, pleased with the time I saw, I heard a woman say, “You’re a distance swimmer, aren’t you?” I looked around, because there was NO WAY she could have been talking to me. I am not a distance swimmer – I only swim because I do triathlons (completely dismissing in my head the fact that I swim a mile!). But, she was looking at me. I said, “Well, I swim, I guess.” Her reply, “The way you were swimming I could tell you were a distance swimmer. You can just tell.”
By the end of our conversation, I realized that yes, I am a distance swimmer. Yes. I am an athlete. It is who I have become. It is who I am. It is what I have reclaimed.
So, you can call me a friend. You can call me coach. You can even call me a bitch, but just remember that when you do, I am a distance swimming, marathon running, triathlon competing, athletic bitch.