You can do anything you set your mind to. This site is dedicated to the band nerds, the walkers, the admirers, the wishers and the dreamers. Free To Be Athlete is about being able to accomplish anything you set your mind to.
My name is Dominique. In 2005, I graduated college overweight, unhealthy, and unhappy. I was never an athlete in school; I played the lightest instrument in the marching band (but I was proud to be a band nerd). My brother was the athlete in the family; I accepted that being athletic just wasn’t my niche.
My sister started doing triathlons, and I was in awe. Soon after, my brother got into the sport, and I traveled all over the state watching his natural prowess push him to excel. I was envious. One day, I called a friend who was a runner and asked if he would go for a run with me; he agreed, and we started running twice a week. I couldn’t run the whole time, but I was devoted.
I joined Weight Watchers and the local YMCA’s triathlon group at the same time. My life revolved around my diet and exercise. I stuck to both like glue, working out 6 days a week and following my diet very strictly. I lost over 35 pounds. I loved every moment of it.
I completed my first triathlon, the Tri The Rock Sprint in May, 2006. It was empowering. I felt athletic and healthy, like I could take on the world. I felt like I had reached the top.
I stopped being strict about my diet; I stopped working out. I stopped feeling like I was floating on a cloud. When I remembered feeling in control, feeling happy, I remembered triathlons, so I joined a new YMCA triathlon group in 2009. The people I met in that group I still swim, bike, and run with every week. It was in that group that I earned the nickname “The Dominator.” I was unstoppable. I was certainly not the fastest person in the group and I couldn’t go the farthest, but I never gave up. I watched my running times go from close to 11:00 miles to just under 10:00. I started regularly biking 20-30 miles at a time and running 3-4 miles.
Exercise became joy; crossing new challenges off my list became my purpose. I still fiercely admired anyone who could run more than 6 miles. Century bike rides were awe-inspiring. An Ironman? Impossible, but wouldn’t it feel great to be one?
In the fall of 2010, I checked a real goal off of my list: Complete an Olympic Distance triathlon (1500m swim, 40k bike, 10k run). I had always wanted to do it, but it was intimidating. After that race, a friend and I haphazardly decided to run a marathon. I had never even run a half-marathon, and I was scared to death. Our training was a bit scattered, but in January, 2011, we completed the inaugural Charleston Marathon in just under 5 hours and 30 minutes. It hurt. I cried. But I ran across that finish line a completely new person.
In late summer, 2011, I joined the Omega Sports marathon training group. With their help, I ran the Savannah Marathon in 4:28:52. In the 2011-2012 marathon season, I ran 2 marathons and 4 half marathons, in addition to completing another Olympic triathlon. I was completely hooked on this sport and this way of life.
I discovered yoga that same winter. Initially, I thought that doing yoga would make me a better runner, but yoga has given me so much more. I instantly fell in love with it, and as my race season winds down, it’s on the top of my list to give much more attention to.
May, 2012 was my first Half Iron Triathlon. Ironman had been floating in my head for a long time, but it always seemed so unattainable. I knew that a Half would be not only a wise progression, but a good indicator of my dedication and ability. Having completed the Half, a full Ironman is inevitable, though still frightening.
From my humble beginnings I know that anything is possible; more often than not, your own preconceptions and fears are the only things holding you back. I’m not fast; you don’t have to be either. Sometimes, just showing up at the starting line is the greatest accomplishment. Crossing the finish line is a well-earned bonus.