As I am preparing to help Bobbi with her New Years Resolution, I am forced to examine my life. Bobbi used to be a client of mine. We started working out together in October of 2008, through our training session we became friends. Bobbi's New Year's Resolution was to photograph people who are influential in her life. Bobbi is a photograph and had gotten to a point in her career where photography wasn't fun any more. She challenged herself to change that in 2010. Photograph what she loves.
Her first victim was Annie, a doctor who has a blog herself. If you love food, you will love thisblog. Annie is a hard worker and I honestly feel like I know her from her blog and Bobbi's blogabout Annie. If you don't love Annie after this, then you don't know good photography.
Back to an examination of my life. Bobbi challenged me to think of what defines me. Instantly I said exercise, running, swimming, and biking. My next thought was, I am not pretty when I get done exercising. I am a hot mess.
I know sexy right...
Over the past two years, I have grown into the person I am today. Over the past two years, I have learned to be independent, stand up for myself, push myself beyond where I thought possible (I mean read any previous post). I wish I could better communicate how much I have grown.
While at Hanover, I made amazing friends. These friends have been there through thick and thin, and I don't know what I would do without them in my life. I turn to them when I am happy, sad, anxious, excited. They have helped shape the person I am today. They helped to give me confidence to be myself, and not to worry about those who don't like what they see.
After graduation, I broke up with my boyfriend of 4 years. At the time, I felt like my world was ending, but I had to do it. I had to stand on my own two feet. I had to learn who I was without him. It was the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I stood on the edge of a cliff, looking down waiting to jump. I jumped, and it felt good.
I forced myself outside of my comfort zone again, and again. Pushing further and further to see what I liked, what I desired. It was scary, but amazing. I decided to sign up for my first 5K, October 2008. I had healed myself through running. I would run to get away from the emotions and thoughts building up in my head. I could process things just by running. After the adrenaline rush of the start gun, I was hooked. I then ran a 5K with my dad. I felt stronger than I had in a long time, both mentally and emotionally. After that 5K, I was ready to sign up for a half marathon. May 2009, I ran the Indianapolis Mini Marathon. I worked my way through a 14 week training program, running 3-4 days/week. I crossed that finish line, and had no one to thank but myself.
I couldn't believe that this girl, has come so far. I couldn't have gotten to this place without the support of my friends, family, and coworkers.
After the Mini Marathon, my coworkers talked me into training for the Go Girl Triathlon. I thought, I used to swim when I was younger, I just ran a half marathon, I like biking. Sure, I can do this. The training was grueling, but I was up for the challenge. The day of the race comes, and I am psyched. My dad was there helping me get my transition area set up, walking through the course, and being supportive. I swam the 500 meters almost completely doing breast stroke, powered through the bike and the run, only to cross the finish line in tears. I pushed myself further and harder than I ever thought possible. I had put myself up to the challenge and succeeded. I later found out I finished third in my age group. Shocking! The girl that didn't make the 7th grade volleyball team, and got cut from varsity volleyball in high school. I had proven something to all those that doubted me.
I went on to compete (not complete) in the Fisher FAST Triathlon, to finish first in my age group. I came home that morning and told Jason, he needed to build a trophy cabinet. After the Fisher's Tri, I was hooked. Sarah asked me if I wanted to do a Half Ironman, and I agreed. I had nothing to lose. I saw how far I could push myself, and knew I had enough support and strength to go even further.
I completed the White Lake Half Ironman in seven hours and 20 minutes. It was the hottest, and most humid day I had raced in, and felt the side effects for days after. I was mentally and physically prepared to take on the White Lake Half. I came out of the water with an ear to ear smile on my face, struggled through the bike. My saving grace was Barnes and John finding me on the bike course. They were able to drive next to me for a few miles. I entered the run, ready to turn back as soon as I hit the first mile. I stood at the first mile aid station for what seemed like 5 minutes collecting myself, and giving myself a pep talk. I can do this, I came this far not to quit. I moved on to mile two, three, four, and finally found my legs. I was moving now. I get almost to the half way point and see a sign. On a bright pink neon sign, I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. I got an instant knot in my throat. I am strong enough, and I have God at my back. Helping me along. I hit the turn around point, and completely forgot about this woman's sign until I saw it again. I saw it at the right moment when I wanted to stop for the millionth time. I can do this, I have strength. I started praying the rosary in my head. Again instant knot in my throat. I am running past the camp ground, and I can hear the announcer calling out people's names as I near the finish line. I turned into the camp ground and start to feel the tears welling up in my eyes. I am on the last tenth of a mile on my way to completing the biggest task I have set in front of me to date. I hear my Gramma to the left of me, and hear my mom to the right. I continue to run past the finish line and into my dad's arms. I start crying, I feel my dad put my medal around my neck and start to cry himself. I just completed the biggest challenge yet. I can do anything I put my mind to. There is no telling where I will stop.
As I look back on who I am as a 24 year old, I am overjoyed. I have accomplished so much more than I ever thought possible. I have an enormous amount of love in my life. I am so blessed to have an amazing and supportive family. Wonderful and deep friendships, and supportive coworkers. As I embark on the next phase of my journey, I know I can do anything I put my mind to. I will always have love in my life, and always have support. As a 24 year old, I am damn proud of who I have become. I couldn't have become this person with out my family, and friends. So when I am 50 and looking back at Bobbi's project, I want to remember, how fearless the 24 year old Kristen was, and how determined she was.
Dear 50 year old Kristen,
Never lose sight of your dreams, and always know the love you have.
24 year old Kristen