The 2011 Collegiate triathlon national championships is in nine days. I will be heading down to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the same place I raced the Age Group National Championships just six months ago.
My training is tapering. My body is resting and waiting. My mind is focused on the goal that rests ahead, a long road ahead, a massive distance of pain and suffering and challenges ahead. And my heart is inspired, fueled, and charged. Let me toe the starting line. Let me stand shoulder to shoulder with the hundreds of other guys who have been preparing for this just as long as me.
Let me stand on that line and look from left to right, looking them in the eyes, seeing the hardened bags of thousands and thousands of hours of hard training under their eyes. Let me see inside them and question where they’ll be in thirty miles, what they’ll be made of when I run up on their heels.
If you had told me when I was a kid that in a decade I would be standing on the starting line of my fifth national championships, fighting against the best in the nation I would have called you crazy. I would have told you, “Impossible.”
But if half a dozen years ago I told you that I would be standing with the fastest triathletes in the nation, ready to battle each and every one of them till we cross that finish line, you would have told me, “Impossible.” If I had told you I wanted a national title, to be the best, you would have laughed. And that is what I did. I decided that I want to be a national champion. I did not just want to complete the triathlon. I wanted to compete, I wanted to win. People saw the look in my eyes, the confidence, the desire, the fuel. Some of you had faith. Some of you thought it was crazy misguided faith. But that look in my eyes was no bluff. I’m here to tell you that I was serious about what I said.
I am 20 years old now and I am racing for my professional license. And soon, whether it be in nine days or even another 365 after that, I will be a professional triathlete, I will be a national champion.
“Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” -Muhammad Ali