In just a few weeks I will head back to my hometown of Benld, Illinois to take part in several events in the surrounding towns. I have wanted to do this for some time, partly as an excuse to visit friends and family and partly as a way to give back to my community, but mostly to thank everyone who has supported and believed in me from the very beginning of my athletic career.
First, I will speak to several hundred students at Litchfield High School's SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) event, then I will get to talk to Gillespie High School's track & field team. I'll get to watch one of their track meets, organize a social gathering/run and finally cap the week with a Q&A at the Litchfield Spring Duathlon.
Maybe it's only a small town thing, but growing up I had numerous teachers, coaches, neighbors, friends and family that didn't bat an eyelash to drive me around the region to cross country and track meets (before I had my license), open up the weight room on the weekends, put in a good word for me when it mattered most and in general play host to a silly, crazy, young girl's belief and passion for running and endurance sport.
When I started in athletics, I didn't have a plan (or a clue). I did it because I loved it, I liked the way I felt when I did it and I enjoyed the fact that it took me to new places where I could meet new people. I haven't changed much since then, except now I have a plan, the places I go are farther than I imagined and the people I've met are more special that I could've hoped for. And while plans, goals and direction may change, one thing remains the same - where you started. We didn't have the best facilities or the newest gear or top-notch nutrition to help us. All we had was a love for what we were doing.
Another Tucson-themed "homecoming" to announce is my renewed partnership with TriSports.com for 2016. They, much like my friends/family in Illinois, supported and believed in me as I first got started in triathlon almost 15 years ago. They are a knowledgeable group that can help gear you up in any multisport or endurance adventure, much like they did for me many years ago.
I will be sure to have many stories to share of my trip back home in a few weeks, and in the meantime read my interview in this Sunday's edition of Springfield, Illinois' State Journal Register or read about the Duathlon in The Journal-News.