Try-Athlete.

I’ve never considered myself an athlete. I’m more of a try-athlete.

15 years ago, my superhuman, mega-athlete friend, Loran, wanted me to rally with her in the Valley Girl Triathlon in Medical Lake, Washington. I’d never really swam in a lake. Aside from the doggy paddle. I’d never really cycled. Heck, I didn’t even have a bike. I’d never really been a runner. Unless if it involved running towards strawberries and whipped cream on angel food cake. So I said sure, count me in. Say what? Yep, I was about to become a try-athlete. Or a tri-athlete if I’d actually known what I was doing.

The thing I love about Loran is her huge, and I mean huge, joy for life. I’ve never ever met someone so engaging and happy and genuinely kind. Her smile literally lights up the room. So if there was one person I could learn from, it was her.

She took me under her wing and taught me how to swim. We rocked our swim caps, goggles and Speedo’s at the crack of dawn each morning. Loran’s swan-like gracefulness and speed was inspiring. She didn’t even bat an eye when I struggled to stay in my lane and time my breaths without sputtering water out my nose. Instead, Loran brought flippers and hand paddles to teach me how to swim straight and time my strokes. She broke out the stop watch on my laps and told me I could beat my time on the next one. And you know what? I did.

Have you ever tried putting slicks on a mountain bike? Well, I did. I wanted a bike that could handle dirt trails and that I could use for this try-athlon. So I replaced the grippy tires for slicks. Maybe not the greatest idea for my first try-athlon, but hey, at least I had a bike. Loran and I rode everywhere that summer. Literally. The Hiawatha Trail was my favorite, but Centennial Trail and Mt. Spokane were equally gorgeous. Loran rode those trails with her head down in the wind. I rode with my face to the sun.

When Loran ran, she ran like a gazelle. Her fluid stride came naturally and man, she was quick! When I ran, it looked like I was (1) ready to join a stampede, (2) that I had lead in my feet, and (3) that my tall, gangly legs and go-go-gadget arms had communication issues. Again, Loran stuck right by my side. She saw that I was over-pronating my feet, so she took me to a running store. The salesperson did an electronic analysis of my foot and got me to buy the most expensive shoes I’d ever laid eyes on. And heck, if I was going to spend $109 for these fancy purple running shoes that promised I could run, I was going to use them. So I ran. Like Forest Gump. I ran at the gym, I ran around the neighborhood, I ran on Centennial Trail along the river. And guess what? Loran was right there by my side. She made a running schedule so each run would get progressively longer. She talked my ear off and carried one way conversations on our runs because, well, I was lucky just to run. Infact, she pretended that my haggered breathing didn’t exist. After a while of this, when I ran I didn’t sound like I was gasping for air and my feet ran in a straight line. I could run for miles. Never in my life had I done that.

On the day of the big race, Loran’s energy pumped me up! My nerves went through the roof though when I saw all of these other strong women geared up and ready to race. They looked like professionals. And here I was trying to look like a professional. Loran reminded me that I’d worked my butt off to train for it and that it was just for fun. I could do fun, so I put on my game face, secured my race bib and when the shotgun fired, I had SO. MUCH. FUN. Loran finished 2nd for her age class, 5th overall. I finished 299th overall. I couldn’t have cared less how I looked out there that day. All I knew was that I was now officially a try-athlete and I loved it. I felt empowered, like I could do anything.

So here’s the thing. YOU CAN BE A TRY-ATHLETE too. Anyone can. It’s the absolute truth. You don’t have to be the star of the show, heck you can come in dead last and it won’t matter. Because you tried. And trying builds strength, it builds character and it builds mental power.

What is it that you’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t? Come on. Dig deep. Be real. We all have hopes and dreams. Some are more lofty than others, but no matter if the dream is big or small, ALL DREAMS ARE WORTH CHASING.

Now jot that dream down. A sticky note will work just fine. Or a journal or a note on your phone. Heck, leave it in the comments here. Whatever works for you works for me.

You are about to become a try-athlete or try-insert whatever the heck your dream is. And you’re about to feel invincible. Step outside with me and I’ll walk with you every step of the way. Because that’s what friends are for.

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