My Dearest Daughter,

As always - a big thanks to Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville for the photos

As always – a big thanks to Gregg Gelmis and We Run Huntsville for the photos

You competed in your FIRST EVER triathlon yesterday. It was a 1/2-mile run, a 1-mile bike, and a 25-meter swim. You had body markings and a transition area, everything like when your Daddy does his triathlons. You trained very hard for this race and you were very excited. You had a new bike, a new swimsuit, and new tennis shoes. You had been working on your swim for 2 months, but it was still your weakest event. Your bike and your run were cake. You’ve done 5Ks before, you weren’t even concerned with the run. You were ready to roll.

When you started that race yesterday? I cried. I know that seems silly to you, but I was just so proud of you for even doing it. Knowing you had this race this weekend was probably the main thing that helped me conquer my fears and do my first triathlon the weekend before. I couldn’t let you be a triathlete before me! Your bravery helped me in my race. It truly did. If you weren’t brave enough to sign up for your triathlon, I might not have ever done mine.

You ran that run and you biked that bike with a speed and intensity I’ve never seen before. You went into the transition areas like a pro. The only small problem you had was with your swim. You got a tiny bit overwhelmed and needed help crossing the pool.

And my sweet angel? I was still so very proud of you. But, I knew when I saw you needing help that you were not going to be proud of yourself. When I got to you after the swim, you were heartbroken. You just kept crying because you were so sad and so upset with yourself. And my precious darling – this broke my heart. You were so upset with your swim you were unable to see how amazing you did just being there yesterday. You were unable to see how proud your family was of you. Your big brother got out of bed at 7am to see you and he was proud because he’s 18 and has never done what you did! Your little brother was proud because he is still riding his bike with training wheels! Your grandparents and your aunt and uncle have never even done triathlons before either! They were so impressed! And your Daddy? I’ve never seen him so proud of you. Never. He looked at you and was just overcome with how awesome you were. He was smiling bigger than I’ve ever seen him smile. He was so very proud of you.

No one thought anything bad about your swim. No one. We all looked at you and saw this amazing girl do this amazing thing and our hearts were all bursting with pride.

I hope you will truly try to remember that. I know you want nothing more than another chance to do better. And that’s a great thing. That will make you a great triathlete in your life. But I hope you will always try to look past any of your struggles and learn to be proud of even getting out there and doing it. You may not win. Sometimes, you may not finish. But, if you were brave enough to start, you should always be proud of yourself. There will be people who are your age right now, they will live to be 100, and they will never feel brave enough to do a triathlon. Yet there you were, at 7-years old, doing one.

You are my inspiration. You are my hero. You make ME want to be better. Be stronger. Be faster. Please, always know that. And I will help you in whatever way I can to reach your goals, but I will also always be there to remind you how amazing you are, no matter how you do on race day.

Your PaPaw, my Daddy, had a favorite saying: “The journey is the reward.” I want you to try to remember that. The fact that you signed up, that you trained, that you participated…those are all parts of your reward. That was your journey. That finish-line was just the end of that one challenge, but the reward was all of the hard work you did getting to that finish line. Everyone in our family is so proud of you our hearts hurt. We don’t even care that you needed a little bit of help. You were braver at age 7 than we all are as adults. Please don’t ever forget that.

Your #1 Fan,