Over the past year, I have spent a good deal of time getting to know the local runners and triathletes in Annapolis.
I have watched Annapolis Striders members cross the line of their first 5K, 10K and even marathon. I have watched as Annapolis Trail Runners trained for their first ultra marathon.
And I have watched dozens of Annapolis Triathlon Club members cross the finish line at Ironman races across the country. I am grateful to have been a witness to these life changing events in so many people’s lives.
Fitness does change people’s lives. Crossing the finish line for the first time is not just a momentary glory. It is something that sticks with us forever. More than that, the training that goes into these events leaves all of us with a new sense of gratitude.
For Thanksgiving, I asked some local athletes to share with Patch readers why they are thankful for the gifts that come with leading a fit life:
- Doug Ellmore, the triathlete who had a heart attack last year and came back this year to complete triathlons said: “I am thankful for the training that saved my life, building corollary blood vessels that helped my heart during a heart attack.”
- Suzanne Strong: “I’m thankful running has helped me to manage my diabetes and lower my insulin needs. I’m also incredibly grateful for my husband, father and friends who watch my two kids at insanely early hours so I can get in the longer runs and races.”
- Brian Lewis, a triathlete who is refusing to let his battle with cancer slow him down: “I am thankful that over the past year I had the support and help of the Annapolis Triathlon Club and many others to get me in top physical shape. When the doctors told me I had colon cancer, they pointed out that my conditioning will help me survive the treatments. I am also thankful for a supportive family who are putting up with me during these treatments. I am thankful for my Team in Training teammates that helped me to complete the Seagull Century Ride just three days after my fourth chemo treatment. I look forward to one day completing my first full Ironman when I have kicked this cancer's butt.”
- Karey Harris, a cyclist who spent a lot of time this year injured, said she is grateful for her injuries. “Injuries have taught me to be thankful to have working limbs, heart and lungs. I’m thankful that I’m able-bodied enough to go on rides like the Ride2Recovery ride I did in September, to meet inspirational people and help to inspire people.”
One of things I heard time and again from local athletes was how much the support of others meant to them in their training.
- Tricia Lascola, a local runner: “I was just telling Joe, my husband, how grateful I am for his support and my running friends, Kati and Jen. I don't think I could do all of the training on my own, but because I can count on one of them to always meet me for a run, long or short, I am able to do all of the training and complete these events. It's so much easier, and more fun, to work out with a buddy.”
This sentiment was echoed by members of the Annapolis Striders and especially the Annapolis Triathlon club, whose members have shown up at races across the country en masse this year.
- Kristin Seibert, who completed her first Ironman this year with Erin Ferner: “I am thankful for the friends I have made through the sport. It seems I can’t go anywhere in Annapolis without seeing a fellow triathlete.”
One of my favorite answers came from Sandy Grosvenor, who just competed at Ironman Arizona this past weekend: “I am thankful for having a mid life crisis that causes the resting heart rate to drop and doesn't cause infidelity, divorce or alimony. Unless showering with the bike to clean it in cold weather counts as infidelity.”
Across the board, the athletes I have spoken with this year believe they lead not just healthier lives because they have chosen to run, bike or swim, but happier lives, as well.
This year, as a group we are all thankful to live in a community that is filled with runners, cyclists and swimmers who are willing to reach out to each other in support of this lifestyle we have all embraced.