What’s Your Why?
This is a really tough question to answer. My triathlon WHY and my coaching WHY and my life’s WHY are so intertwined they are basically the same. We are who we are, wherever we are. It has taken more than a decade to figure this out. I mean really, to tell the whole story would require chapters on childhood, family, mental health, trauma and triumph. But, all of these tangents connect to bring me to today.
My adventure in triathlon started ten years ago when my friend Sherri McMillan asked me to take over a triathlon training program she had been running for years. She knew I could swim and owned a bike and that I’d figure the rest out. I coached sixteen people from start to finish line of their first triathlon. I trained and raced alongside them and had more fun than I could have imagined. I also ended up with a medal, and I was hooked.
If you had asked me WHY ten years ago, I’m not sure I would have been able to tell you. In that process of training and racing, though, I found a part of me that had been buried. A competitive, fierce side… and I liked it. With that newly kindled inner and outer strength, I was excited and motivated.
I begin training hard and putting racing as a top priority in my life. I nurtured a very important part of myself. Part of myself that needed to grow, a part that was stuck down from childhood: the perpetual runner-up throughout my adolescence. I was finally winning. Of course I wasn’t the best in the world, but I was stepping up on podiums and it felt good. My overall confidence grew and I discovered that when I gave it my all, even if I was runner-up (like I was for so many years!) I was still on cloud nine. And I realized that I could have this experience every day. Everyday I could win or I could learn. Training gave me the opportunity to challenge myself and to be a little better everyday. Whether that meant crushing a workout or taking some rest…I knew if I had given the day my best, that was a win, and if I hadn’t then I could figure out why. I was learning how to really live, how to get out of my own way, how to embrace failure and success. I toughened up… and I softened up on myself too.
My biggest challenge happened two years ago, I was traveling in Cabo, Mexico with my best friend for her first half Ironman race. I was there for sunshine and support. Not five hours after we’d landed and settled into our AirBnb, I was struck with the “worst headache of my life” and collapsed on the side of the street. Turns out that it was a brain hemorrhage. I was incredibly lucky to be taken quickly to the local clinic where I spent 72 hours before being transported to St. Vincent’s Hospital where I spent another two weeks in the Neuro ICU.
My training and racing goals were totally derailed. I felt like I was starting over. But, I really wasn’t. We never are. Slowly, I started getting my strength back. I did a little something every day that I could. I started with lifting weights. Then, I got out for some easy jogs. Then I got back on the bike. It took a few months, but, low and behold, I came out stronger (mentally and physically) than ever before.
We all suffer from setbacks such as injuries, personal issues, and consider what we’re all going through right now with COVID-19 and cancelled races. The key is don’t let your setbacks set you back. Stay strong and dig yourself out!
Finding my WHY for racing, training and coaching – it gives me a sense of purpose and therefore a sense of peace I have never had before. I love being a trainer and I find so much joy helping the people I work with find their inner and outer strength and watching them do things they only secretly believed they could do. But, I became the triathlon pusher because I want to share this ‘Magic of Triathlon’. Like in any activity you dedicate yourself to, I’ve learned a lot: time management, commitment, dedication… but the things that were the hardest for me to learn – compassion, resilience, self-love- these are things I want to teach others and WHY I keep showing up to toe the line.
Remy’s Racing Highlights:
- Winning PDX Sprint Triathlon in 2016 after three years trying
- Racing Triathlon World Championship in Cozumel
- Winning Portland XTERRA at Hagg Lake with a broken hand
- Winning WHY Racing Athlete of the year
- Qualifying for XTERRA World Championships
- Favorite Race: XTERRA Nationals Course in Ogden, Utah and The PDX Triathlon Course at Blue Lake – it’s iconic! All my beginner training groups start here now!