February 1st, 2010
11:38 AM ET

Seven words I never thought I’d say

By Caitlin Hagan
CNN Medical Associate Producer

I'm ashamed to admit that I laughed out loud when one of my co-workers encouraged me to race in the 2010 Nautica New York City Triathlon. Me? Swimming, biking, and running Olympic distances? Surely she was kidding.

But now I'm sharing seven words I never thought I would say: I am going to become a triathlete. Really!

It's been an inspiring journey from "no way" to "I can't wait to cross the finish line." If you're not already familiar with CNN's Fit Nation Challenge, here's the skinny: This summer, our Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is competing in his first-ever triathlon, and six motivated CNN viewers will be racing with him.

How did I change my mind? It started early in the process of planning this challenge, when our team met to decide how to select the people who would race with Sanjay. At some point, someone shared her personal experience with competing in triathlons and from there, the whole conversation shifted. Slowly, more and more people talked about races they had competed in (who knew so many of my co-workers were triathletes?) and by the end of the meeting, I was convinced I had been missing out on something special.

But like all serious endeavors, just because you want to accomplish something doesn't mean you will. You need physical and mental strength to race a “tri,” and those things take time and training. As much as I now wanted to do the race, would that motivation last for seven months? Could I make the time?

Talking with our challenge participants is what pushed me to register. These six men and women are some of the most inspiring individuals you could ever hope to meet. If they were willing to make fitness a priority and change their life for the better, all while overcoming their own obstacles, how could I not join them? I remembered my initial argument that I didn't think I could complete a triathlon. I felt so embarrassed that I hadn't believed in myself more.

Last week, I knew I made the right decision when I walked the course we'll be racing. A few years ago I lived in New York City for a summer during college. My apartment was on the Upper West Side and I fell in love with that neighborhood. So it was quite the serendipitous moment when I realized that is exactly where our triathlon is being held. I'll be running past some of my favorite spots in the city, places where I already have so many cherished memories. Suddenly it all became clear: I was meant to be in this. And now I can't wait to cross the finish line.

I'll see you there.

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About this blog

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.