To persevere, Webster’s defines this as: “to continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.”

As endurance athletes we hear these words often, “persevere”, “go the extra mile,” and “keep your eye on the prize.” They are the words and phrases that help drive us; they motivate us to take the next stroke or step. But watching someone truly persevere can be inspiring and motivating to even the most seasoned endurance athlete.

A few weeks ago, I was privileged and honored to see someone set a goal, train for the goal, look difficulty in the eye, and then persevere. It was both humbling and encouraging to witness this event.

Carol decided back in March she wanted to complete a triathlon. She was not an endurance athlete, she was not really an athlete at all. She had run some and walked some, she owned a basic hybrid bicycle, (perhaps most concerning) and she did not know how to swim. She chose the Hammerhead Sprint at Camp Blanding as her very first triathlon. She knew this would be a tough race because it is a longer swim for a sprint triathlon and there were some good hills on the bike course. But with 5 months to train, she knew it was possible. Oh by the way, did I mention Carol is 64 years old?

Carol is a very diligent athlete, logging every mile and completing every workout planned for her. With our plan she became more fit by the day. As the race day approached I knew she had the fitness level to complete her triathlon, but her mental toughness had yet to be tested.

On race morning she was very nervous, I knew she had the determination to finish the race. The gun went off and she entered the water like a pro. However, within 100 yards she needed a break and held on to a paddle boarder. I stood on the bank of the lake not sure what she would do, this would be the mental test, would she quit or would she persevere. I heard the paddle boarder say “You have a long way to go, it is a lot closer to just go back to the shore”. I could not hear what she said but what I saw made me smile. She kept swimming! She finished the swim with a smile on her face and ready to take on the bike course.

Carol’s times for the swim and the bike may not have been the fastest that day, but she persevered. As we completed the 3.1 mile run together, I listened to her set goals for the next six months. Her mental test behind her, unlimited accomplishments in front of her and a huge smile plastered on her face. I have never been so proud to cheer for someone as they crossed a finish line as I was Carol. She took on the challenge, she faced her obstacles, and she persevered!

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