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Passion is Not Cancelled

Toro Performance athletes reflect on what 2020’s training hours meant to them.

Alisia, Respiratory Therapist, Phoenix, AZ

What if this year wasn’t a setback or a disappointment? What if this year was a wake-up call and a firm slap in the face. A cliche and grandiose life lesson that nothing in life is guaranteed - including time - the most valuable thing we have.

I lost my father this year to the very reason we all had to put some part of our lives on hold. Thousands of people lost family members. Thousands of people lost their jobs. Thousands of people lost valuable time. The scale of things lost this year is exhausting but here’s the thing - not one thing on this list is or ever was guaranteed. For me, this is the rigid beauty in all of this. A solid reminder that we have a brand new twenty-four hours in a day - a clean slate to do with what we wish.

I understand no two days are the same. Some are good and some are bad. Every day is full of new circumstances and while I cannot control these, I can definitely choose my perspective. I can choose my reaction. I have that sweet freedom.

This year has forced me to sit with my feelings. Time didn’t stop to let me heal or take a break from life. Because even though our time isn’t guaranteed - what is guaranteed is that it will move forward with or without you. I chose to move with it. I chose consistency. I chose to sit with those feelings every time I put my running shoes on. I chose to leave the anger in an interval. I chose to leave the sadness on the road as I went by it. I chose to talk to my Dad when a training session was getting rough. I chose progression.

I continued to make an investment in myself day after day and I’m extremely proud of that. Canceled races do not define me. My daily attitude defines me. My daily grind defines me. As this year comes to an end, I’m grateful for every single day I had the freedom to choose how to spend each twenty-four hours. What if we all reframed our perspective and asked ourselves what we are most proud of this year?

Katie, Vice President & Executive Director - Cary, North Carolina

Ironically, the loss of most of the 2020 race season worked in my personal favor. I was t-boned by a truck on the blue ridge parkway on October 12, 2019. I was training for my two goal races of the year. Jason had me at the top of the field in my training. While the goals in sight may have been crushed to the pavement right along with me. I was grateful to be alive. I could have easily been a fatality that day.

I was confined to a hospital bed in traction and had surgeons tell me what my limitations were. I thought, “I’m different. No one tells me I will never race again.” That became my new goal-defying the odds. My mantra was “keep fucking going”. I didn’t look back at the athlete that I was-I’ll always carry that with me. I worked as the human that was saved. I gained patience and grace and lived in the moment, because that’s all I had. One more hug with my kids. One more leg lift. One more day in the wheelchair. I learned to swim, bike, walk, and run all within this covid year with the same grit and determination as I would take on an Ironman course. I was never the best athlete, just one who wouldn’t quit. I put that same work ethic into my recovery. I celebrated every milestone like it was an Ironman finish line. Throwing in the towel was never a mindset I would go to.

When I look back at the girl that was hit by that pick-up truck, it’s honestly really hard to imagine that it’s me. But that chick went through the process like a champion. While we often measure our success with podium finishes and where we place as triathletes. I’ve learned to trust the process in every way. To trust the recovery process. It builds a strong base. To trust the build process, it creates a faster athlete. This entire process helps your mentality, as sticking with a plan with no finish line or people to cheer for you seems like a waste of effort.

I can tell you, no matter where we place in 2021, we have all learned patience and grace. We have all learned that the thing we miss most about racing is the people we meet along the way to inspire us to be better athletes, better people. And we get to inspire others too.

Keep training. One day the hard work is going to save your life.

On a milestone note. I competed in my first ever “aqua bike” at Challenge Daytona to ring in my 42nd birthday. While my run has not yet come back to where it once was, I have built my stamina back up to withstand 7 mile runs and I know I will be ready to smash my next 70.3 run. So, don’t tell me I’ll never run again…don’t throw the towel in until you have exhausted every effort.

Bridget, Attorney - Berkeley, California

I am a 53-year-old attorney living in Berkeley, California. I've been married for 25 years to my life and law partner, who is often also my training partner. Our two young-adult daughters are back at home with us

during the pandemic, putting on hold our time as empty nesters. This has been both wonderful and stressful.

I am an average athlete with no genetic gifts, but I have a lot of experience: 17 years as a triathlete; four Ironman finishes. Training is part of my daily routine. Simply put, training makes me feel happy (or at least happier). Continuing to get in my daily workout has allowed me to feel joy during dark times. And it has helped me to feel normal during these abnormal times.

Training helps me regulate my emotions. I am an anxious person. A lot that has happened during 2020 has increased my anxiety levels. When I consistently train, I feel less anxious. I have a sense of greater control. I can feel mastery over this one part of my day even though I can't control all that is going on in the world. And that sense of self-mastery carries over to the rest of my day. I am a more disciplined person overall when I am able to be consistent in my training.

Training helps me to "get over myself." I am empowered to transcend my immediate feelings (e.g., "I don't feel like doing [fill in the blank]"). Training often helps me to see a bigger picture, to feel inspired and to appreciate what my body can do. It reminds me to feel grateful for the many things I am fortunate to have, including good health (especially important right now).

I love training with my husband and with friends. It's a special way to be with someone and creates a unique bond. I haven't been as social an athlete as I was pre-pandemic, but I have still enjoyed the masked and socially-distanced training that I've done with the people I love. In some ways, the pandemic has only enhanced this experience.

My body feels good when I train. Part of that comes from getting outside. People are encouraged to stay at home these days, but I simply don't feel well if I spend the entire day indoors. Getting outside to swim, bike or run is good for my soul.

Lauren, Logistics & Shipping Specialist - Surprise, Arizona

I jumped into Ironman training 2 years after I swore off full Ironmans. I was so excited to get to work. Every treadmill run was a chance to get faster, every peloton class was building a stronger base and our new pool gave me the chance to really be the best swimmer I can be. On top of that, I had an in-home triathlon coach and physical therapist. Then COVID hit, I watched race after race get canceled. I watched my company and the airline industry take a hard nose dive. On top of training, I was constantly wondering if I was going to be able to continue working in a job I love and for a company I consider family.

One thing I had in my control was my training, nobody could take away my early morning runs or Saturday socially distanced rides with friends. The truth is that it was not grit or determination that pulled me out of bed on a Saturday at 3am, it was pure stubbornness. My “why” changes on an almost daily basis. I have big "why’s" that keep me going and striving to be better every day. Things like my husband, my health, and my family. But I also have smaller whys like a faster 5k or Barros pizza after a long ride out at dove valley.

Ultimately what got me through training in COVID was my stubbornness, I don’t have it in me to quit. I don’t know how to throw in a towel and I think that is part of being a triathlete. We know how to find a little extra energy to push past the pain, we know how to race in the hurt locker, and we tend to be type A humans with control issues. So what do we do when the control is taken away from us? We double down. If I can’t race this year then I will train harder, smarter, and longer to come back and put a beatdown on the St. George course in 2022. Now there is a good chance that St. George will not so politely put me in my place and knock me down a few pegs but the race itself is such a small aspect of what it means to do an Ironman. You can’t get to the finish line without months of training. Training is where the magic happens.

Dave, Director of HVAC - Trophy Club, TX

I am still searching, hoping, believing, and training for 11 hrs of Ironman nirvana (one day that race will come together for me) I'm not training to rip anyone's legs off but my own. At this point in life, I train because I enjoy the process of staying in shape. I also love the adventures that are provided when having some fun while accomplishing hard things. The pandemic has forced a few behavior changes, but it really hasn't taken my drive or enjoyment, nor have I been derailed from my daily training regimen. Yes, like everyone else, my plans have been altered as racing has been canceled, sometimes even the week of, but it's been easy for me to re-direct my efforts to the next one. My hopes are not wrapped up in a specific race or time. Races are on my calendar to focus my training and to provide goals and adventures. I do feel horribly for the athletes on every level who have lost the once in a lifetime opportunities the pandemic has robbed them of. Like high school soccer teams getting state championships canceled to Olympic athletes having their small window closed by cancellations and everyone in-between.

2020 and the pandemic have definitely made me more thankful and aware of many things regarding health and fitness I would otherwise have taken for granted. To name a few: good health, staying healthy, supportive family, Toro workouts, Training Peaks, home gym, Strava, Youtube, Zwift, virtual training partners, Texas outdoor life, and road trips.


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