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Triathlete: I allowed myself to change my life
Nancy Klinger, far right, goes for a run with Dr. Sanjay Gupta and other Fit Nation Tri Challenge participants in Atlanta.
March 20th, 2012
11:11 AM ET

Triathlete: I allowed myself to change my life

Editor's note: Nancy Klinger is one of seven CNN viewers chosen to be a part of the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. Nancy applied for the Challenge after separating from her husband of 26 years.

On November 17, 2011, I sent in a video submission to CNN hoping to be selected as a participant in the CNN Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge.  I shared my fears and showed my emotion.

I shared that I was afraid about being able to make it on my own through the upcoming Minnesota winter.  I shared things that no one knew I was going through, not even my closest friends.  I allowed my vulnerability to show, which is something that I just don’t do - something that I have always been really good at not doing.

Something that drove husband crazy for many years.  I have always been the strong one, the helper, the caregiver, the protector, the giver.

I became this person at an early age out of necessity and since that time I just don’t let my guard down.

This time I allowed myself to be vulnerable because in my mind I was just talking to a computer screen.  It was cathartic. I did not think for an instant that someone would actually hear me, and never in my wildest imagination did I even consider that I would be selected as one of the Lucky Seven.

Now that I am a few months into this incredible journey, I want to share some thoughts - some things that I have learned that I wish I would have realized much earlier in my life.

Right now I feel a little like Tom Cruise in the movie "Jerry Maguire" when he is writing his Mission Statement. There are some things I want to say and I need to say them now, so please let me.

First, I want to say to my six teammates and the CNN folks that you are all incredible, special people and I thank my lucky stars for the opportunity to meet you and take this journey along with you.  This is something that I mean wholeheartedly.  I consider you all to be my lifelong friends; you’re stuck with me.  My hope is that you feel the same about me.

You have brought so much joy into my life and I will be indebted to you forever.  You changed my life, or maybe allowed me to change my life.

I know in my heart that I am a different person.  Each day I so look forward to hearing about what is going on with you.  You make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me feel.  Most importantly, you have reminded me of the importance of friendship.  Not only being a friend, but allowing others to be a friend for you.

Although they are simple words, all that I can say is: Thank you.

Now that my secret is out and my long-time friends, co-workers, and family know that I have been going through some personal struggles, I have come to realize that I have had incredible friends right in front of me all along.  You all know who you are, but just in case you don’t, you’ll be hearing from me.  I just haven’t allowed you into my life.  I haven’t allowed you to help me. I haven’t shown my vulnerability to you. I haven’t shared my fears or let my guard down.

I was stubborn. I guess that I didn’t want you to feel sorry for me.  What I know now, is that allowing yourself to be vulnerable and asking for help is not a weakness, but a strength.  It is something that we as human beings all need to do on occasion.  No one can make it on their own.

It is something that I want my children to know – don’t ever hesitate to ask for help.  Allow your friends to be friends.

I think back again to my initial video submission and my fear of making it through the long Minnesota winter and I realize that I made it.  Thanks to all of my friends, old and new, I am happy, I am strong, I am on an incredible journey, and guess what?  It’s spring!

So as I sign off for the time being, all of the wonderful quotes and musical lyrics about friends are swirling through my mind.  I will leave you with some lyrics taken from a wonderful John Lennon/ Paul McCartney song: "I get by with a little help from my friends, I am going to try (tri) with a little help from my friends."


soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Denise Castelli

    Nanc, I'm sitting here at my desk crying like a baby! I'm so glad you allowed yourself to be vulnerable! You're an amazing woman and I'm so honored to call YOU my friend. We'll be racing together for many years to come.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. TriHardAdrienne

    I'm so lucky to be able to call you a friend! Can't wait to see you in 51 days!

    March 20, 2012 at 11:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eduardo

      I hope so. Please add me if occasion ever aerivrs. I go days or even weeks without seeing or speaking to other people. And as time goes by and conditions get worse your site could be blocked or no internet access at all. Right now you are all I have. I haven't posted before because as I read through your writings, I find other people asking the same questions that I have. For some reason, starting a couple of weeks or so ago (this may sound crazy) but I've had a terrible urge to be on your site. Even to neglecting other things. I was even afraid to shut down my laptop at nite. When I turn it on in the morning there is your page to continue where I left off. I open a new tab to check email or whatever so I don't lose your page. Don't know what this is all about. Anyway thank you for being there. This may not be something you would want to post so it is ok to keep private. Mary Ann

      November 14, 2012 at 22:07 | Report abuse |
    • Kyomi

      Hi Timothy After listening to your brsadcaot last night and hearing the disappointment in your voice I decided to offer a suggestion, I am still prepared to go wherever you could arrange something and I know most places need guarantees so my suggestion would go along these lines' I have flown into the Ontario california airport many times it is close to L A and yet far enough away to avoid congestion, it should be fairly close to you so you could possibly set up a rental of a hall or meeting place where we could meet daily and then stay seperately in a place of our choise that way no major guarantees and we could make our living arrangements to suit, the Ontario area has 3 auto auctions so the airport has good connections. once again just a suggestion but something along those lines might be suitable for more people as ever Robert

      November 16, 2012 at 00:36 | Report abuse |
  3. Glenn

    Nancy thank you for sharing you. I think you are so incredible and it is a pleasre being you friend

    March 20, 2012 at 13:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Debra Gangi

    Nancy it is great to see you smile. You are an incredible person and boss. I am blessed to know you.

    March 20, 2012 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Sally

    Very inspiring insight, Nancy! It is so exciting to see you on this positive journey. You are wonderful and I am so happy we are friends.

    March 20, 2012 at 15:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Emma

    I completely connect with what you are saying! When you finally let down your walls and share it with others it not only makes you feel better, it inspires everyone in your path (including me). I too tend to keep emotions and issues to myself and have only recently began opening up to friends. It's amazing how much positive support you can receive when you put yourself out there. Keep up the good work!

    March 20, 2012 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Maamkhuu

      / My biggest prlebom is focus. I have the time and the commitment, and I'm continually taking action. But I split up my time between 1001 tasks, many of which are probably unnecessary, and most of which don't really get me any closer to my goals. I need to learn how to concentrate on ONE project until it's finished, without being distracted by all the other things vying for my attention.

      November 14, 2012 at 03:06 | Report abuse |
  7. Dan

    I'm happy that you're happy. You may also want to thank Sven (local weather guy) or even God (they are not the same) for giving you a shorter winter to endure.

    March 20, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eliana

      "Be sure your sins will find you out". Common sense should tell you that if you make eungoh noise, you will draw attention to yourself.

      November 14, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse |
  8. William Wilkins

    Cheers Nancy!! You made it through the winter blues; now a fresh new Spring to enjoy!! Keep the chin up!!

    March 20, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Stéphane

    Hello Madame!
    Just realized today that you consider me a friend: teasing you again and again! Nancy, just continue to be you because you're a wonderful person.
    PS Don't know the other participants but you'll need to be in shape to win against " Madame " !

    March 20, 2012 at 16:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. @TriHardCarlos

    Nancy, I like you even more now that I know you are a Lennon/ McCartney fan!! seriously though, I really appreciated all the kind words you had for me when we were in Atlanta. you're right when you say that being vulnerable is a strength. I myself had to learn that and I'm glad I did. I am so proud to be called your teammate and I am glad that we will be friends forever!!

    March 20, 2012 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. rick morris

    Nancy, thank you for being my friend. I'm certainly honored to know you. I thought I had reached a point when life stops giving, and starts taking. But you and my other six new friends, and the motivating CNN team have helped me realize that life gives to those who ask for it, and truly wants to do something positive with it. Regardless of where we are, where we have been, and what we have or have not done thus far, we can write our future or let someone write it for us. I prefer the former. And you Nancy, are leading by example.

    March 20, 2012 at 22:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Julia

    I am so proud of you and admire your courage..............I'm cheering you on as I follow your journey! I can hardly wait until September, back in Malibu!

    March 20, 2012 at 23:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dave

    She "allowed" herself to change her life? Only a woman would say something so stupid.

    March 21, 2012 at 07:22 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Toby

      Dave, sometimes you should just click to another story and keep your comments to yourself. Enjoy your day you bitter P.O.S.

      March 21, 2012 at 08:59 | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      @ Toby I'm not bitter, but you are gayer than a picnic basket obviously.

      March 21, 2012 at 12:51 | Report abuse |
    • Anna

      Hey Troll, why don't you go find another bring to hang out under?

      March 21, 2012 at 19:59 | Report abuse |

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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.