My Dearest Daughter,
In the few short weeks that you've been in this world you have created more love than I could have ever thought possible. I never realized how something so little could fill such a big place in my heart. My greatest joy is knowing that I am your father.
Of course, with fatherhood comes responsibility. Yes, I recognize that I may not have been the most responsible person throughout my life. Perhaps I did a couple of runs in Zone 3 when they were supposed to be Zone 1 recovery days. And sure, I agree, I probably shouldn't have tried that flying mount without proper instruction.
But despite all that, my sweet innocent child, I know it is my responsibility to help you grow into a wonderful woman. With that jn mind, there are many important things I've learned that I want to impart on you. Now you may think I am weird - in fact it's almost guaranteed that at some point, probably around your teen years, you'll think me weird - but you will eventually come to realize that there are a lot of life lessons you can learn from triathlon. That is why, from your first day in our hands, I started training your legs for cycling and running. It is why I already bought you your first swimsuit. These activities, like teaching you life's lessons, are part of my responsibility as a father. So listen closely, my loving child, maybe try to stop flailing your arms and legs for a couple of seconds, and perhaps you can refrain from soiling your diaper for a minute or two. Trust me, these are important things to remember.
First, don't ever compare your insides with somebody's outsides. Just because somebody else may have more expensive equipment, it doesn't mean they are faster, better or happier than you. Be proud of who you are and what you do. Your self-worth is not contingent on the perception of others.
Secondly, always feel your feet on the floor - or on the pedals, or in the water. My point being, be here now. Life isn't a race that is happening somewhere else. Life, like triathlon, is a journey. It's not about the people in front of you or behind. It's not about what you could've or should've done to be faster or stronger. Life is about being in the moment and enjoying the journey - right here, right now.
Thirdly, don't be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. When it hurts, embrace the pain and know that you will be able to learn from that pain. I know you're not going to believe me right away, but trust me that the pain will make you stronger. The pain will fade away but your pride and strength will carry you a lifetime.
Fourthly, remember that there is no finish line. You may think there is because you see a banner and a big time clock and people are telling you to stop running, but in the grander picture, there isn't. Just keep moving forward. Keep working to be better at what you do and improving who you are and no digital clock will ever define you.
Fifth, always remember that you can do it, whatever "it" may be. I believe in you as much as I hope you believe in yourself. Never underestimate the power of your body and your mind. Go longer, faster, harder. Be the best person you can be.
Sixth, remember that we are fortunate to participate - in this sport and in this life. It is a gift - and one that can be taken from us at any moment. Respect and honor that gift by respecting and honoring yourself and other people.
Finally, my dear, it will all get a lot easier when you realize it's not supposed to be easy. Without surviving through the tough times, without a little blood, sweat and tears, you wouldn't have as much appreciation for the rest of the experience.
And speaking of tough times, it seems you're screaming bloody murder again for reasons that are unbeknownst to me. So with that in mind, those are all the lessons I want to tell you today, my little munchkin. Oh wait, I see your eyes are now suddenly closed as if you have narcolepsy. You are a tough one to keep track of, my wee bitty petunia. I'm not quite sure if you're mulling these thoughts over or if I put you to sleep. But no worries, darling, I will remind you of these life lessons as you get older, even if I have to exemplify them myself. That is how much I love you. To the moon and back.
Reprinted with permission from USA Triathlon Magazine.