About two months ago, I was laying in bed reflecting on the past year and a single word came to mind, “commit.” In this moment, I felt the weight of this word deep in my spirit. Little did I know “commit” would become my anthem for 2019.
This realization that it was time to go “all-in” on pursuing my dreams and goals, came just days before my grandfather, the patriarch and foundation of our family, passed away. “Commit.” It came days before I told work it was time for me to leave. “Commit.” It came days before people closest to me began questioning my decision to leave a stable job in government to ‘pursue a hobby’. “Commit.”
This word was seared in my soul right before the world offered every reason to back out and say, “right now is not the right time.”
Truth is that the time is never right enough to pursue a dream. There will always be countless reasons to stay comfortable, many of which come back to family obligations, time commitment, finances, and the inherent risk of uncertainty. However, sacrificing a dream for comfort leaves the heart yearning and craving for what it was designed to do. It creates discord in the spirit, leaving the soul in a sort of purgatory, or stuck between a vision of what could be and a reality of living less than which it was created.
For me, since I was a child, I’ve dreamed of being a professional athlete and using this as a platform to build others up and help them become alive in living their life’s calling. Triathlon has given me this opportunity, as well as the countless people that have supported and believed in my over the past couple years.
The past two years have been a wild journey of setting big goals and working hard to achieve them. In 2017, my first year racing triathlons, I set out to earn my pro license. In 2018, my first year competing as a pro, I set out to qualify for and complete in the IM70.3 World Championships. During both of these years, I worked full-time for a local public health department, which required 8 to 10 hours a week of commuting from Branson (home) to Springfield. This left an average of 15 hours a week for training and little to no time for recovery (naps in the back of the Subaru and on the concrete floor of my office count very little towards recovery!).
I have more to give to the sport and I’m committed to being the best I can be. This means increasing training, improving recovery, and seeking opportunities to give back to the triathlon community and share knowledge from the experience. The feelings are mixed, from sheer terror to unbridled excitement. I don’t have all the answers on what it will look like. Yet, I do know that I’ll be eating lots of rice and beans while figuring out how to make ends meet! But if rice and beans is what it takes to fully embrace my calling, sign me up!
Galatians 6:9 “Let us not lose heart in doing what is good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.”
“What would you like to order?” the Vietnamese waitress asked me.
“Wonton soup, please.” A nutrient-dense meal that reminded me of the Pho soup I ate for dinner the night before Ironman 70.3 Texas.
It is Monday night, the day after my second pro triathlon. I just completed the 10.5 hour drive home from Houston and met my husband, Grayson, for dinner at one of our favorite Branson restaurants, Thai Thai.
It is common for us to go out to eat after I return from a race to catch up about our time apart. We talk about everything from work, to how George the Dog is doing, to family happenings, to all the details about the race experience. During our conversation, Grayson asked me, “what did you learn?”
Great question. I hadn’t thought about that.
Let’s rewind time to find out.
• • • • •
It’s Wednesday before the race. My vehicle is packed, bike firmly secured on my kuat rack and I’m ready to start the trek to Texas after work. Since Grayson could not make the trip, I ventured alone and split the drive up, staying with good friends in Dallas and Houston on the way down. It was so special to reconnect with friends I haven’t seen in years. Even more special that both sets of friends attended the race on Sunday!
Friday morning, I picked my mom up from the Houston Hobby Airport and we made our way down to Galveston. When we arrived, I rode the bike course to get acquainted with the infamous Galveston winds, picked up my race packet, and then got checked in to our AirBnB at Casetta Di Pace e Felicita where we met the incredibly hospitable Melodi and the famous Black Dog. Melodi recommended dinner at Trattoria la Vigna and oh..my...goodness. Amazing. Their traditional Italian pasta is freshly made and prepared by a joy-filled little Italian lady whose years in the kitchen is marked by the lines in her hands and face. The food is full of love and perfect for pre-race fuel.
Saturday morning, after a shakeout run, I met a group of teammates at Stewart Beach for a choppy, adrenaline pumping swim. At this point, I was ready for pancakes from Miller’s Seawall Grill, rest and hydration for the big day.
Sunday morning, race day. The temps dropped to low 50s/high 40s and wind shifted direction from the day before which meant a tail wind on the way out on the bike, and headwind on the return. The weather was perfect for me since it mirrors the conditions in which I have been training in Southern Missouri. The question of the morning was, “will the swim be wetsuit legal?” The answer? Yes. Water temp dropped about 5 degrees overnight to 68 degrees F (cutoff for pro athletes is 71.5 degrees F and is 76.1 degrees F for age group athletes).
After bathing in Vaseline and sliding into my wetsuit, I make it down to the start line where we have a deep water start. The water feels good and I’m ready to fight it out for as long as possible. I relax my body, gently sculling the water as I allow my feet to float to the surface behind me and wait for the start. 3...2....1. GO.
The swim is fast and furious. I hang on to the group for as long as possible but gradually disconnect finding myself swimming alone...again. The last 100m of the swim I start feeling a bit discouraged and mildly defeated. After I get out of the water, I see one of the four age-groupers that passed me in the water running up the ramp ahead of me. As he peels away his wetsuit, I see a flash of red and an SBC logo! It’s my teammate Trevor Croley! I sprint toward him, we give each other a big high-five and I sprint towards my transition area with renewed energy, focus, and strength.
I quickly slide my wetsuit off and make a fast transition to the bike. It’s time to go to work. The majority of the bike course was a long straight stretch. Because I started the bike about 3 minutes behind the next closest competitor, I could not see anyone out in front of me. I just had faith that if I kept my speed up, I would eventually catch someone.
After what seemed like forever, I see a speck on the horizon and I realize that speck is my first target. A few more minutes pass and I catch her. “One.” That moment gave me confidence to go catch the next person. “Two.” I keep my head down while scanning the horizon for the next speck. “Three.” The wind is at my back, cadence high, and speed dialed in. “Four.” I remind myself to eat and drink. Because the temps are cool, it’s easy to neglect nutrition, but that’s not a risk I want to take knowing I still have hours of racing ahead. “Five”. Headwind now, but confidence is growing. “Six.” Keep pushing. Everyone is facing the same challenging wind. “Seven.” I start doing mental math. “Based on my current bike speed and if I run low 1:20s on the run, I will end up with a finish time in the low 4:20s. That’s a solid time! I’m in this! There’s number eight. Go get her!” “Eight.” I keep repeating the mantra, “I’m in this.” “Nine”. A few more miles to the second transition and I can see one more girl ahead of me. “Ten.”
I dismount the bike, disregarding my frozen feet, and make another fast transition.
“You are 13th!” My mom tells me. I keep my run speed up eventually catching 12th....then 11th. It occurs to me, “I could place in the top 10.” As I round a corner, my good friends from Houston with whom I stayed a couple nights before were just arriving at the race course. With impeccable timing, our paths cross, we exchange a big “Hello!”, a wild wave of the hand and I continue my charge with another sense of renewed energy.
The run course is three loops with several turns and blind corners. I use these turns to evaluate where the next closest person is in front of me. I’m impressed with how strong these women are and how fast they are running. It’s not like I’m chasing down people that are running a minute per mile slower. They are running just seconds per mile slower which makes catching people more difficult. I constantly search deep within to find some extra gears. As I round another corner I see a young boy that looked just like my coach’s son holding a sign that read, “you were born for this.” This unlocked another door of motivation that pushed me into the top 10.
The final moment of inspiration was found running down the homestretch. As I approached the finish line, I thought, “I want to give someone a high five!” Then I see a big band sticking out from the crowd, I run towards it and then realize it was Casey! One of my Houston friends! I leap towards him with joy and we exchange the best high five ever that leaves both hands stinging and I finish the race in 8th place with a time of 4:23.57.
Monday night at Thai Thai:
Back to the original question, “What did you learn?”
“I learned not to let one wave of self-doubt, fatigue, or worry define the race. Rather, if I keep my eyes open, I will find moments of inspiration that keep me connected to my joy reminding me of my “why”. This unlocks those deep reserves of motivation allowing me to push beyond my limits.”
• • • • •
Big thank you to all the friends and family who came to cheer in Texas! Dianne Bradley. Casey, Kathryn, Caitlyn, and Cameron McPherson. Kenneth and Lucy Hintzen. Alexa Royston.
Thank you to all my supporters who continue to make it happen:
Active Life Chiropractic
Law Offices of Doug Fredrick, LLC
Eric and Melissa Belk
And many more.
Onward and Upward!
Left to right: Kathryn, me, Alexa - all former Baylor cross country and track and field athletes. Sic ‘em bears!
“Mommy, what’s my talent?” This is the question I asked my mom when I was about 5 years old. Over the next 24 years, as I’ve adventured into endurance sports, I’ve experienced the answer to this question with my mom by side.
Ironman 70.3 Campeche was no different. Mom was there cheering, giving me time gaps, taking pictures and managing social media during my 10th triathlon, 2nd Ironman 70.3, and first professional race.
What an experience! Campeche, Mexico was a beautiful location to celebrate the gift of sport, all the hard work it took to get there, and the many people who made it possible.
We arrived in Campeche Thursday night and checked into an Airbnb, Historical Yellow House. (Triathlon Taren stayed here also! He has much better footage of the house than I do HERE). The home is nestled in the Barrio de San Francisco and equipped with everything we needed, including a full kitchen, washer and dryer, and a comfortable and air conditioned bedroom. It is also super close to a Walmart and the race venue. Finally, the host, Guadalupe and her mom, were extremely flexible when we arrived late due to travel delays. Guadalupe’s mom waited two extra hours at the house to check us in. Her kindness and sweet spirit shocked me! Yet, in the following days, I learned that this kind spirit permeates the city. The people of Campeche are overwhelmingly kind and generous.
Friday and Saturday were full of pre-race happenings, including: pre-riding the course, sleeping, eating, packet pick-up, athlete meeting, swimming, running, checking the bike in, dropping off red-bag (bag that waits for you in the second transition area that holds all your run stuff), and more sleeping and eating…..oh..AND HYDRATING! Lots of hydrating.
Going into this race, I knew it would be hot and humid so I used a product called ReImmune to pump my system full of electrolytes. This product is not specifically marketed to athletes, but it has become my go-to source for hydration during hard training blocks, pre- and post-race, and to help my body recover from sickness.
This active hydration, plus some sauna training I did in the couple months leading up to the race, helped prepare me for the heat. A couple times a week I sat in the sauna at The CoxHealth Meyer Center for 3x10 minute segments with cold water breaks between segments. This helped prepare my Missouri winter-laden body for the Campeche heat!
Sunday morning, 3:45 AM CST, I am already awake anticipating the 4:00 AM alarm. While sleeping the night before the race is important, pre-race jitters flowing through the body often prevent a deep slumber. These pre-race jitters also make it hard to eat the peanut butter filled oatmeal that usually tastes great, but today tastes like some sort of nursing home mush that you wouldn’t actually feed your grandmother. Regardless, I wash it down with delicious Mexican coffee and get to work preparing for the race.
The race started at the Campeche Country Club, a pristine location to lay out by the pool overlooking the ocean and share some drinks with friends. But not today! The only drinks I would share with friends would be mouthfuls of saltwater!
7:00 AM – After a light jog and pre-race swim, I’m standing on the starting line with several Herculean women watching the pro men swim away. This is a moment I have visualized. It is in this moment that I know I have done everything I can possibly do to be as ready as I possibly can to give everything I have. It is this confidence that keeps me calm.
7:05 AM – After several announcements are made in Spanish and many rapid ramblings, the airhorn is sounded! In a flurry, all the amazon women run to the water and I find myself in a frenzy of strong arms and legs. I feel the energy of the group and feel that I am being pulled along in the water with the draft. But soon, the feet begin to disappear, the bubbles get smaller, and I find myself alone. All alone. Well….there is nothing I can do, but just keep swimming!
Swimming is a discipline I started eight months ago. It has taken time for this land-animal to adapt to the nuances of thriving in a weightless environment. It will take more time, but I will keep pressing on, learning, growing, and not let this challenge overcome me. Sooner or later, I won’t be shot out the back door of a race in the first five minutes!
After coming out of the water, I quickly strip off my swimskin, easily identify my lone bike, and make a quick transition to the bike course.
The course is technical, hilly, and windy. Coming out of transition, there is a steep hill, followed by a winding decent with some cobblestones and a roundabout. Once making in through this technical section, the course is fairly straight forward with two out and backs on a hilly and windy highway. It takes me about half the bike to get comfortable in aero position in the wind. Because of the Missouri winter and short daylight hours, I did not get much riding time outside prior to this race. Yet, halfway through the bike, all the cobwebs are blown away, I get dialed in on the bike, and make up significant ground.
Entering the second transition, I pass one more competitor and ventured out on the run in seventh. My mom strategically placed herself near the start of the run to tell me, “Six girls in front! Six minutes!” Meaning six minutes to the next girl in front of me. The run is challenging due to the heat, but a beautiful course next to the water. The entire time on the run, I hear spectators yelling, “Sí, se puede!” (Yes, you can!), as well as the sound of a 50-person marching band beating their drums at a beat synonymous with my run cadence. I keep the run steady and manage to retain my seventh position to the finish line.
Approaching the finish line, I feel one thing, HAPPY. There is nothing I would change about this moment. I am exactly where I am meant to be.
This race also left me HUNGRY (of course, physically…duh…and more on that later when I tell you about where you MUST go for the best chocolate ever). It left me hungry to continue improving the little things, work on the big things (SWIMMING) and race hard at the upcoming races. Ironman 70.3 races are amazing tests of mental stamina, flexibility, and will. I am excited to continue pushing my personal boundaries and find my limits in the sport.
Campeche is not a super touristy town like Cozumel or Cancun. It is quaint, unique, and full of love. The people are eager to help and slow to ask for tips. For example, when we tipped a local fisherman who cleaned a couple fish for us, he was shocked and thankful.
The beauty of the people is reflected in the beauty of the city. The city center is walled which points back to its rich history involving Spaniards and pirates. Within the walled city, the buildings are painted in vibrant colors and are filled with delicious eateries and unique shops (pictures below).
Also, the food is inexpensive. After the race, my mom and I visited Marganzo for lunch and had a big lunch with a few drinks and only paid $17 with tip! We also visited a chocolate store called Chocol Ha which blew me away with a smooth, rich, velvety chocolate and cayenne spiced drink. The best part about visiting Chocol Ha was meeting the owner who told me this,
“The best way to stay close to God, is to stay close to the one who brought you to the earth…your mom.”
Massive thank you to everyone who sent positive vibes, love and support for this race. All of your well-wishes and go get-ems kept me encouraged and motivated. Thank you to my coaches Scotti and Ernie with Leborne Coaching and Thomas Baumann with Drury Swimming for believing in and pushing me. Thank you to all my sponsors, SBC Athletics, A&B Cycle, Active Life Chiropractic, Atom Composites, Kuat Racks, Eric and Melissa Belk, the Law Office of Doug Fredrick, LLC, and many more supporters. Finally, I could not do this without my husband, Grayson, who endures an often tired and hangry wife. And of course, Mom. Thank you for being by my side as we experience the realization of this talent.
Together, onward and upward!
Content. Confident. Calm. Three words that sum up my emotions in starting the 2018 race season.
Content. The past few months have included a fairly regimented routine that balanced work, training, commuting, and family time. Being disciplined in executing this routine gives me contentment knowing that I’ve done everything possible to be as ready as possible.
A normal work day looked like this:
4:00 AM - Wake Up
4:30 - drive to Springfield
5:30 - Master’s Swim at Drury University
7:30 - Work at Springfield-Greene County Health Department
11:30 - Run or strength workout
1:00 - back to work
4:30 - drive home to Branson
5:30 - Bike workout on trainer or strength/stretching
7:00 - dinner at home with the hubs and pack bags for the next day
8:00 PM - bed
All this would not be possible without the support of the hubs, Grayson, and bosses and peers at work!
Confident. Despite the limited training hours, my coaches at Leborne Coaching have done a phenomenal job focusing our training on quality work versus quantity. Physically and mentally, I’m feeling stronger than ever. Knowing swimming is my limiter, I’ve worked closely with world-class coaches at Drury University to learn how to swim, refine technique and get stronger. I have only been “really swimming” for 8.5 months and have seen great growth. The real test will be when the gun goes off! My grandmother (JamJam) recently gave me great advice. She said, “Just keep swimming, honey. You never know. Someone else may get caught up in a buoy line.” LOL. Thanks JamJam.
I’m also confident because of the confidence my community has in me! My team SBC Athletics, support crew at A&B Cycle, buddies at Kuat Racks, strength trainer at the Meyer Fitness Center, chiropractor at Active Life Chiropractic, and many more friends are in my corner cheering and constantly sending positive vibes. This confidence is energizing!
Calm. This confidence also keeps me calm. When I reflect on the journey I’ve had to get here, I see how the highs and lows have paved this cobblestone path to realizing my dream of being a “pro athlete.”
Just the other day, my friend’s 10 year old daughter, Emma, put things in perspective. We were talking about her upcoming float trip on the Buffalo River. I told her I did a lot of hiking around the Buffalo in 2016. Emma said, “You’ve done everything! When did you have time to do that?”
Me: “ I wasn’t training or racing in 2016, so I did a lot of hiking, floating and camping with Grayson.”
Emma: “Why didn’t you train or race?”
Me: “I thought I was done with sport.”
Emma starts laughing hysterically!
Me: “Why are you laughing?”
Emma: “Because you won the Ironman* last year! You only trained for a few months and then won!”
*referring to my placing at IM70.3 Cozumel as first overall AG female, 6th overall female.
Gotta love the insight of a 10 year-old!
This perspective fills me with gratitude for the people who have spoken truth into my life and picked me up out of doubt and fear. One of my greatest champions has been my church community at Bloom Church. When I gave up on my dreams, the Church was there holding a torch to reignite my fire and purpose. Because the Church has been this solid foundation, I’m partnering with Bloom for the 2018 season to give a portion of my winnings to the remodel of their new home which will increase their capacity to continuing lighting the community on fire for Christ!
The 2018 race season is here! I’m ready and excited to continue watching this cobblestone path be paved as I step forward in confidence.
Unexpected. Humbling. Motivating. These three words succinctly describe the past 29 days that my GoFundMe campaign has been active.
Unexpected. As I have already said, the campaign was started in response to family and friends who requested a way to help launch my entrance into the pro triathlon world. They have seen the sacrifice and dedication my husband and I have had the past year to make it this far and knew it would take additional support to go to the next level.
Never would I have expected the response I received from the Triathlon community, at-large! Social media exploded with criticism from a wide range of people who didn’t agree with my approach to fundraising. Yet, this criticism generated unexpected publicity. I’m thankful to Triathlete Magazine and Triathlon Taren for providing a platform to respond and provide my perspective.
Humbling. If I knew I would receive this type of criticism, I doubt I would have started the GoFundMe in the first place. However, after making it through the hottest part of the fire, I wouldn’t have changed anything about how I approached fundraising. The experience has connected me to incredible people who have offered support and advice, including tips on budgeting as a pro. Check out Brad Williams’ blogs on budgeting as a pro triathlete HERE (2015) and HERE (2016). Yes, I’m studying these closely!
Motivating. All of the negativity has given me incredible motivation to perform well next year. It has already inspired me in the dark places of challenging workouts that many of us know too well. That moment when you are tempted to throw in the towel and wonder WHY you do this to yourself? My why is stronger than ever.
Additionally, I have a great sense of responsibility to those who are making this journey possible. Not only to those who have given tangible gifts, but to those supporters who are sending strong positive vibes. All of you provide strength in the daily grind.
Thank you. To everyone who has provided and offered support. To everyone who has sent positive words of encouragement. To my coaches who keep me focused. To my current sponsors.
We are getting ready to embark on a journey that will have highs, lows, and a mix of everything in-between. I commit myself to being a good steward of your love and support and represent this spectacular community with poise, confidence, and strength. Thank you!
1 Corinthians 15:58 (MSG/NIV) – Stand your ground. Don’t hold back. Commit yourself to the work of the Lord, knowing that what you do is not in vain.
I got my bike in March 2017 and hadn’t identified a name for it, until now!
An anonymous donor, who has blown my mind with their generosity, gave $1000 to give the bike a name with great meaning and will, undoubtedly, provide great motivation for 2018. The donor requested the bike be named Tetelestai.
But what does this mean? Tetelestai is a Greek word which translates to “paid in full” or “it is finished.” It is derived from telos (an achieved goal, a consummation, an attained result) and means to bring something to its destined goal. These three words in English, one word in Greek, were Christ’s last words on the cross. It was this moment that his life’s purpose of sacrificing himself for our sins was complete and our debt was paid in full, both now and forever. It was a powerful choice of words considering the meaning and historical use of Tetelestai. More on this can be found in this article in the American Journal of Academic Research.
What does this mean to me? To whom much is given, much is required. Going into 2018, I have a great sense of responsibility to be a good steward of all that has been given me. I’ve been granted strength to overcome challenges that threatened my dreams, family and friends who believe in the vision, and an abundance of supporters who are making the dream a reality. With this in mind, I will ride Telelesti with a fierce resolve to overcome anything that attempts to steal the joy and peace to be found in giving life to the dream. I have confidence in who I am and whose I am because the victory we have in Christ.
THIS IS MY YEAR...the insider scoop on Leborne Coaching's newly crowned Pro Triathlete, Danielle Dingman.
“This is my year"...the mantra that motivated 4 AM wake up calls, sleeping on a friend’s couch 3-4 times a week, and a racing schedule that including everything but the kitchen sink.
But what does that phrase really mean?
From a young age, Danielle always wanted to be a professional athlete. She played multiple sports in high school, ultimately finding success in running, and earned a full scholarship to run for Baylor University. After a successful collegiate running career, these hopes seemed possible until a sickness sidelined Danielle for a year. She used cycling to get back into shape and within three years found herself racing on the national racing scene. Once again, her dreams of professional racing were taking shape. In the fall of 2014, however, Danielle had a bike accident that resulted in a fractured back and fractured psyche. She began questioning if going after lifelong dreams was worth the time away from family, the expense, and the threat to her health. She decided those dreams had brought her to this point, given her good life experiences, and that it was time to move on.
Deep inside though, Danielle knew she had more to give and receive from sport. Although the dream still existed, she ignored it. As she describes, "This dissonance in my spirit led to a depression that separated me from friends and family. 'This is my year' means that 2017 is my year to take back what depression stole from me. It is my year to kick open the door to becoming a professional athlete, which is exactly what I did with the help of Leborne Coaching."
"In March of this year, I started working with Scotti and Ernie to focus on triathlon. They understand the mind can make or break an athlete. My mind broke me last year. But that brokenness sparked a motivation that led me to balance a full training load with a full-time work schedule and a weekly 8-10 hour commute, which I cut down by sleeping on my training partner’s couch a few nights a week."
This balancing act led to winning three national titles in Long Course, Standard, and Short Course Duathlon, a third place finish at USAT Age-Group Triathlon Nationals in the Olympic Distance, fifth in the Sprint Distance, and first place female in the amateur division (6th overall female) in Danielle's first Ironman 70.3 in Cozumel, all within 10 months of training.
In 2018, Danielle will step onto the professional triathlon stage focused on Ironman 70.3 races. She says, "I have never been more excited or happy! Allowing these dreams to come alive has given me peace and confidence in the journey; peace of mind knowing that I am following my heart and confidence knowing I have a team of people that make this possible. The love and support of my family, friends, teammates, sponsors, and coaches is at the core of this journey. Because of this, I am convinced 2018 will be a great year!"
Check out the original post on Leborne Coaching's Facebook page and follow @LeborneCoaching!
This past year has been an exciting journey full of new challenges, great determination, and much reward. It could not be possible with the support I've received from my friends, family, and dedicated sponsors. I'm thrilled to be able to share the journey on this new site and am hopeful my journey will inspire others.
Thank you for reading and be on the lookout for a full season report in the coming weeks.
For now, I'm focusing on my first half ironman, Cozumel 70.3 in two weeks, followed by celebratory mojitos.
Talk to you soon!
My college running career at Baylor University was marked with several accolades, from All-Conference, All-Region, and All-American titles to school records to qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the 3000m Steeplechase in 2008. Naturally, I aspired to take my career to the next level as a professional runner. However, my college running career ended somewhat terribly. The last race of my college career (although I didn't know it was my last race at the time) was an indoor mile at the Tyson Invitational in February 2010. Although my body felt like it was running at a world record pace, I clocked a 5:14 mile, which was slower than my high school times and 30 seconds slower than what I was capable of running. My coach thought I was a mental case. However, I knew there had to be something physically wrong with me. A week later I was diagnosed with mononucleosis and a vitamin D deficiency. Considering the time and rest needed to recover from this and that this was my senior year and red-shirting wasn't really an option (another story for another day), my collegiate running was over.
Within the next year, I went from a lean 133 pounds at 5'9.5" to 185 pounds. (My husband jokes that he has never even weighed this much! Thank you, Grayson.) I was done. I went through this period of grief as if someone close to me died. Really, a part of me did die. I was angry, sad, and depressed. I avoided the people and places associated with what used to be a highly rewarding part of my life.
Until...a day when I decided to face this pain and drove to the track complex which I avoided for a year. It was spring 2011, when I found myself sitting in my car on a rainy day in the parking lot of the Baylor track. For the first time I vocalized my anger, frustration and pain at the disappointing end to my running career which seemed to hold great promise. This simple action led to what is now known as SheBe.
About a month later, a lightbulb went off. I realized I can do whatever I want to do if I just set my mind to do it. I set my mind to lose the weight I gained and get in shape. I made myself a workout and nutrition plan and got to work. One afternoon, when I was out on a run on a hot summer day in Cameron Park in Waco, Texas, I prayed, "God, please take my dreams (of being a professional athlete) away if they are not meant to happen." I kept running, and these words went through my head:
"She Be: She be what she needs to be when she needs to be it."
SheBe is a mindset. Simply, put in place whatever mindset needed to accomplish any goal. If I need to be strong, don't succumb to fear. If I need to be confident, believe I can. If I want to be true to myself, do those things that align with my goals, dreams, and desires.
SheBe Strong. SheBe Confident. SheBe Real.
SheBe has carried me the past few years. It has reminded me that dreams and goals do not end in the mere face of adversity. Overcoming that adversity is about positioning the mind to stay true to vision you have been given knowing that the calling is much greater than any heartbreak, pain, or difficulty.
Below are a few thoughts I journaled on July 17 of this year which define STRONG, CONFIDENT and REAL.
REAL = Authentic
Who you are is who are created to be. You were given dreams and ideas about yourself of who you should be. Those dreams are your gift. They are not a burden to plague you for what you are not. Rather, those dreams are meant to provide a roadmap for your future. Pursuing your dreams is your authenticity.
CONFIDENT = Self assurance
You are not ashamed of who are. You believe in yourself. You were not given your dreams by mistake. Therefore, you have it in you to make them a reality. You just have to believe in yourself to get it done. If you cannot, surround yourself with people who do. There will come a time when you say with your soul, "I can."
STRONG = Ability to withstand great pressure
Strength is not measured by physical ability. It is not denying yourself emotion. Strength is recognizing the journey is not straight forward. It will be marked by pain, challenges, and heartbreak. Strength is making a conscious decision to not let these challenges stop you. Strength is saying no to the lies, fears, and doubt that attempt to steal your dreams. Strength is protecting everything you are called to and chasing it with an unrelenting passion because in the depths of your soul you believe in your dreams. You believe in yourself. You believe in your God. You are made for greatness. Go get it.