Fast forward a year to last July. As we were driving back from IMLP, I got an email from Hailey which prompted me to pick up the phone and call my friend Kebby. You see, a sneak peek of a new company had been leaked into social media, and it had Keb's fingerprints all over it. We chatted as I sat in the passenger seat, damaged feet resting on the dashboard, non-functioning kidneys and raging sinus infection and slightly bruised spirit ahoy, and after telling me all of the amazing things that she had planned, I leapt at the opportunity to join her. Kebby, you see, is one of those people that is going to change the world, quite possibly by accident and maybe her earrings don't match, but change the hell out of it indeed. She could have picked any vehicle to do so, but she chose women in triathlon because she believes so strongly, I've heard her say it dozens of times, a rising tide lifts all boats. Women are storming the triathlon castle, and it is certain that the world around them isn't growing fast enough. Enter CoeurSports.
Starting a new business from scratch is never going to be an easy task. And what rises to the top in that first year is the things that matter. I've never met anyone that cares more fiercely, that is more protective of her athletes, than Kebby. She sent me a demo kit a couple of weeks before IM Cozumel, and some things were amazing (CHAMOIS) and some things were slightly off (in an email: did you realize you sent MY ass an extra small pair of shorts?) but I was thrilled to enter the water wearing it that morning, and even more proud to cross the finish line in it so many hours later, battered as I was. It's probably long overdue to say so, but it must be obvious that I am pleased to spend 2014 - and hopefully many more years after that - representing this brand. And while I'm slightly intimidated by the company that I'm keeping as a member of the elite racing team, it's possible that I can
The second piece of my village came about through CoeurSports. After some issues at IMLP, Sonja helped me completely revamp my training and racing nutrition to include OSMO Nutrition. She had been using it all year to great success, and after a week or two with it in my bottles and my belly, I could see why. Late last fall, OSMO released women's-specific products, and after about six months of regular use of all three (preload, active, and recovery), I can't imagine ever using anything else. No low spots on the bike in IMC (other than getting creamed by an idiot with zero handling skills), no emergency porta potty stops, less ups and downs on the bike, and better recovery between sessions. What we know about training nutrition for athletes is a constantly-changing knowledge base, but Stacy Sims is very definitely leading the pack on this, especially for women, and I feel lucky to be a part of the OSMO family this year.
Without Charlie Merrill at Merrill Performance, it's likely that the poet would have filed for divorce and shipped me off to the funny farm by now; I definitely would not be able to stand on any sort of line. Despite the fact that I am certain he wants to pack me, my bike, my seventeen pairs of shoes, my knife emojis, my tweets, my tiny pants, and my emails that I am sure got less and less witty as the weeks passed, all into his truck and back the lot of us off the nearest sharp turn in a canyon, he remained patient as he untangled a puzzle that I was convinced no one would be able to crack. He gets credit for quite literally dealing with the worst parts of who I am, the panicky babbling stressed-out overly-extroverted pain in the ass triathlete straight-up terrified of a future that might not involve the joy found on two wheels. Over three months he completely disassembled both my body AND my bike and, with great care, put it all back together into a machine (a beautiful machine) that I can't wait to test out this weekend. He also gets a special place in my snarky little black heart for encouraging my obsession with throwing around heavy things and conquering circus tricks.
Then there are my coaches. Jonathan Modine is singularly responsible for the fact that my swim even vaguely resembles anything normal. He is one of the best swim coaches I have ever worked with, both as a swimmer and alongside as a coach, and not once have I spent time in the water under him and not learned something about the body, the swim, the balance of a workout, the stroke. His time and effort to take my stroke apart (lots of disassembling of the body in Boulder) last summer has not only changed me into a swimmer that I never thought I would be, but also made me realize how much growth in the water is still to come.
And Sonja. There are not even close to enough words in the language to describe how Sonja has changed me, over the past two years but even more so over the past four months. What Sonja wants more than anything on this earth is to leave people better than she found them, and with modesty, I hope that I am one of the better examples of this accomplishment (please don't leave me anytime soon though). Her grace, her brilliance, her firm hand on the navigation of my journey in sport and the peace that she brings into my life is not something that I could really describe or ever put a price on, but I know enough to say that I would be lost without her, and I am grateful on a daily basis for whatever force of the universe decided that our paths should cross.
This weekend I will line up to race the first triathlon of the year, so I thought it appropriate to pause and recognize the people and companies that will stand with me when I do. This is only the first, shaking off the cobwebs, testing out the body, and I have no idea what's going to happen, what the clock will say, when the pain will start, how my day will unfold, how much heart I will have, if it's enough. But I do know that there is nothing in the world that I love more than an opportunity to walk directly into the fire, and I would be remiss if I didn't take the time to share all of the people - my people - that have made it easier to do the things I love the most, that have lightened my own load with their hands and shoulders and love, that have helped me grow, that have taken away my pain. All of them will be with me as I cover the miles, and I am grateful to each that I have the privilege to go out and ask the questions of myself, to chase, to leap, to burn.