July 13, 2012

by: Guest Contributor

Triathlon for Turbulent Times

Cleveland native Kelly McNally Koney is a multi-sport enthusiast who is committed to helping others meet their goals through triathlon coaching and support.  She is connected to Team UCP as a member of Team Myles and offers a unique perspective on the Cleveland Triathlon as a community member and triathlete.

In 2011 I raced the Cleveland Triathlon (sprint distance) as part of Team Myles. This was not my first tri. I’ve participated in enough to be comfortable being seen wearing spandex and to have a wetsuit with me just in case the race day water temperature is below 78 degrees.

This was the first in which I crossed the finish line committed to coming back the next year…and the next.

The day was incredible. Being part of Team Myles/Team UCP was inspirational; the spirit of compassion and community so generously shared across ages and abilities was compelling! I came away from the race with a profound sense of peace having experienced sport and life in beautiful balance.

My recovery was short. The next week I was back in transition, without benefit of practice or proper set-up. My mother was facing an aggressive recurrence of cancer and was exploring her options; I would be there to offer support.

Between appointments, I did what triathletes do: I trained. I looked forward to late season races and took some measure of satisfaction in putting checkmarks next to completed workouts. Away from home and work, I tried to preserve as much routine as possible, secretly hoping that each swim, bike and run would help me maintain equilibrium as life began spiraling out of control.

After my visit evolved into an indefinite residency featuring medical treatments, pain management and end-of-life planning, I did what loved ones do: I devoted more energy to being present with my mother and helping her live well. Planned race dates passed almost unnoticed, and training slowly slid down my priority list.

In life as in triathlon, we do our best to be our best in the face of whatever arises. The water is turbulent sometimes, and it can take all we have to stay on course. We slow down to catch our breath. We add rest days where we can. If we are lucky, we find a rhythm. When we dig deep, we often discover the little bit extra that allows us to change perspective, actions, and responses. It’s then we know we will get to the finish, one mile marker at a time.

Over the last year, I have often reflected back to Cleveland with deepening appreciation – for the opportunity to race in my home town after years away; for a well executed training plan that got me to the start injury-free and for my capacity to participate fully, finishing strong and with a smile. And my gratitude grew – for my mother’s enthusiastic backing of her daughter, the adult-onset endurance athlete; for my husband’s gracious support of his long-distance wife; for my introduction to Team Myles and developing relationship with UCP and for each and every one of you who “inspired me to tri” even harder every day.

While my priorities have shifted, when I need that little bit extra, I still imagine myself finishing the Olympic at the 2012 Cleveland Triathlon. With less than a month until race day, I have more x’s than checkmarks on my training schedule. It’s OK. I won’t be setting any records, but with my mother’s encouragement, I will be with you on the starting line again this year. I’m not sure what distance I’ll race, but I am sure I will spend plenty of time in transition. I’ll meet you there!

Kelly McNally Koney
Team Myles/Team UCP

If you would like to support Kelly’s efforts at the Cleveland Triathlon, a contribution to UCP of Greater Cleveland can be made on Team Myles’ Cleveland Triathlon fundraising page in Kelly’s honor at:  http://www.active.com/donate/teamucp2012/TeamMyles.

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