With what emotions do you finish and close the last chapter of your favorite book? Is it sadness, for having to bid goodbye? Is it joy, for having had a wonderful ride? Or is it fear, for having to lay the story on the side? The most artful story elicits all the emotions you have, and this scope of experience has certainly been the journey of our President, Anna.
Being a president has allowed Anna to scrutinize beyond her own development and at the subtle progression of the team. When asked about her time and most precious moment with the BUTT, Anna wistfully recollects:
"I still can't believe that I only joined the team back in 2015. It feels like it's been ages since I joined. I guess that's the college life: so much happens in 4 years and the person that comes out at the end is never who expected you'd become. In the 3 years I've been on the team, there are so many memories and moments to look back on. Like any collection of memories, they're a mix of emotions.
There are so many moments that I'm proud of from the time I've been on the team. If I had to choose just one...I would choose seeing the team's growth and development. When I started training, there weren't that many of us and every year it seemed like more and more people were graduating. This past year, we had a surge of interest in multi-sport. It's certainly not easy to be an athlete in this sport. It requires training, dedication and a plethora of patience."
Any event we partake in has its purpose. For triathlon, its significance depends on what expectation(s) one beholds for themselves, and the journey towards accomplishing those dream(s) gives this sport a purpose---to avidly strive for a better self. Anna recalls from her initial goal that:
"When I joined the team, I didn't expect much. In high school, I always wanted to try out triathlons, since I swam and ran (never thought the bike would be too difficult). Because of my hip surgeries, I never set a high bar for myself as an athlete because I didn't expect to be a competitive athlete again. My first year was mostly training based, with a few races like the Bentley Swim meet, Race Mania and two cycling races. Cranberry was my first official triathlon (I don't really count race mania haha). I felt awful hot, and dead tired during the run, but I finished and had an awesome first race.
When I came back from studying abroad in France, I was convinced to join the Nationals team for that year. It was my first Olympic distance race, and I was not ready, physically or mentally. My lower back and hips began to flare up with pain, dragging me back to the times before I had surgeries when I was in immense pain. I was defeated before the race started.
I made it my goal to take the time to rehab and heal over the summer, as well as giving myself time to focus on my mental health. Coming into this past fall season, I felt stronger and more prepared. At Lake George, I felt less pain and more confident about my conditions and myself. It wasn't until Montauk, when I was struggling with shin splints, that the first switch turned on. The morning of the race, I was warming up on on my bike. In the quiet and in the dark, I broke down crying. All of the doubts, all of the struggles, just delivered a huge blow then. And I needed it. I was able to gather myself and my courage to keep going. Whatever happened happened, and I've accepted it. That day, I raced one of my best races in my life."
A wonderfully touching story takes the readers on a ride through empathy, despair, anger, and eventually joy, just as triathlon pushes its devoted followers through a process of self-pity and doubt, and only the few and the strongest will rejuvenate and finally find love for this sport. Anna certainly belongs to the group of the lesser.
Looking back, Anna has come to a realization that:
"As cliché as it sounds, triathlon did change my life. I have felt defeated, and I felt sorry for myself for many years after my career as a cross country runner ended before it could even get off the ground. The sport of triathlon has taught me how to use my experiences, my passion and the tiny speck of willpower to become a stronger and resilient person. I've learned many lessons during my time being on the team, so it's hard to choose just one. But I believe the most important lesson I've learned was focus on yourself and on the present. It is important to look ahead and set goals, but those plans and goals are meaningless if you don't concentrate on what's happening to you, in you, or around you right now."
Here is the end of her story, as a brand new chapter in her life is about to begin. We are grateful for all the improvements she has made upon the team this year, and with a heavy heart do we say goodbye to Anna, but it is with greater love and joy that we wish you the best of fortune in pursing all your aspirations in the future. Live up to be the athlete you have always wanted to be, thrive to achieve the career you have decided to pursue, and most importantly, find the love that can match up to ours, if even any.