Early on, I did not appreciate the lifestyle of our sport. I saw it as SPORT as opposed to LIFESTYLE. It was after I won my first Ironman that I looked inside and found the happiness I feel now as an athlete.
Ironically, it was not the win in NZ that brought me joy – it was the emptiness I felt after that win. As much as I had wanted to win an Ironman, I needed more than to win. I looked inside to find the “spirit in my sport”. For me, the real joy in triathlon comes from touching peoples’ lives and from sharing sport with other people. Sport had taught me to love myself. It had developed my self esteem and my confidence. It had brought me both joy and sadness but made me alive. When I did triathlon, I felt loved, not by a person but by an environment. My mission in sport became sharing that sport with as many people as possible so that they could have that same growth and feel that same sense of fulfillment and happiness. Moreover, I wanted to communicate hope for people with Cystic Fibrosis. I am one of the lucky healthy CF patients and while others with CF may not be able to do triathlon, they can be active and sport can be their savior. Sport will keep their lungs healthy, enhance their self worth and make them feel alive and vibrant. Too many families with CF see CF as a death sentence.
This keeps me in triathlon. My performances give me a medium to get others to embrace sport and find new life and inspire them to re-create themselves.
Of course, competitively, I want to be the best that I can be. That is what gets me out of bed at 4:45 a.m. to swim with the team. That is what gets me to cycle up a hill for the tenth hill interval. That is what gets me out the door to run in the winter. I want to win races – I would love to win Hawaii. But I feel completely satisfied with my career performances. There is no race that I could have done better than I did at the moment that I was executing that event. I have no regrets.
My immediate goal is to race at my best at the Hawaii Ironman 2007. I have never had that magical day there where I have raced from A to B. There has always been a struggle even in 2006 when I finished 3rd. Dave said that I looked like Terry Fox when I exited the Energy Lab – my injuries had emerged when my body was at its weakest. I don’t remember mile 20-23 at all. But I do remember Dave telling me to think about his mother who had battled cancer courageously and I tried to imitate her courage. This year, I will use that courage again with a healthy body and spirit; I know that I will have my best Hawaii. But at the end of the day, my biggest goal is sharing my passion so that new people will start running, that children will keep playing and that we all can feel the joy of the finish line.
Huge thanks to my husband, David Cracknell, who encourages me to smell the roses everyday, to my coach, Lance Watson, who has helped develop my spirit, to my parents who taught me to finish what I start, to my sister who is proof that sport brings new life, to my dedicated sponsors who are part of my family and to all of the athletes I meet – you keep me loving what I do!