Tri Challenge/Nina: A thousand changes
Photo by Derek Bell, used with permission of V3 Magazine
August 5th, 2011
01:44 PM ET

Tri Challenge/Nina: A thousand changes

Since January, six iReporters have been training in the Fit Nation Triathlon Challenge. We’re following along as they prepare to compete alongside Dr. Sanjay Gupta in the August 7 Nautica NYC Triathlon.  During their last week before the race, we asked each of them the following questions: What's the biggest change you've seen in yourself since kick-off weekend? What are your personal goals for the Tri?"

This weekend, "Sanjay Gupta, M.D." will be live from New York at 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday and Sunday. Watch the culmination of our team's training

Well my bags are packed and in the car, ready for an early morning drive to the airport, where my next task will be to conquer NYC! I have saved writing this until the last minute in order to savor the memories the last six months of my life for as long as possible. I have made thousands of precious memories that I will relish till the day I die. Some of the memories are foggy, perhaps because I was slightly hypoxic when they were made. But many are what I call “glass dome moments” – those happy, glowing moments in your life that are so pleasant that you want to cover them with a glass dome to preserve them forever. There was that very first call from CNN, and then the one that came on Christmas Eve, telling me I had been selected for the six-pack. I still get breathless recalling that moment. Then there was that first kickoff night in Atlanta where we all met one another for the first time. And then, Hawaii.

In so many ways, I am not the same person who made the baby-boomer-themed contest video. I could name a thousand changes that would include the most obvious physical ones: weight loss of 25 pounds, increased muscle mass and stamina, a new bounce in my step, longer eyelashes (hey, I asked my friends what they had noticed and that was one of the answers; go figure…)

Mentally, I have acquired perseverance and a sense of determination and awe at what I have been able to accomplish, along with a new respect for all individuals who set athletic goals and achieve them. I believe that my greatest change, however, has been emotional. As my friends and now my entire hometown have followed my journey, the most frequent comments I have heard are, “I admire you,” and “You inspire me.” I have always replied with gracious thanks, of course, happy because my reason for wanting to do the Tri was to show others that anyone can get fit, at any age.

At the same time, I have felt a deep sense of responsibility to make and keep myself worthy of these powerful comments. This journey has humbled me greatly.

I also have a newfound compassion for those who for whatever reasons cannot or will not ever change their life for the better. This is interesting because one might think that would engender a feeling of disdain, but it does not. I just wish that everyone could feel as great as I now do.

I look healthier. I look younger. I feel better and have improved my health. I have remembered how to flirt. I have smiled and laughed my way through these six months, even when exhausted, because I have made so many new friends and learned so much.

To me, the workouts were just great excuses to go play outside, so I did. My goals for Sunday morning are simple: to perform to the very best of my ability, to smile as much as possible, and to create one new 32-mile-long glass dome moment.

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soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Bernard

    I look healthier. I look younger. I feel better and have improved my health. I have remembered how to flirt. I have smiled and laughed my way through these six months, even when exhausted, because I have made so many new friends and learned so much. – RESPONSE: Boy, this is self-congratulatory. Many people don't have the time to "remake" themselves or have really busy lives. Other people are physically ill and don't have the strength to do so. Rather than being "in awe" of herself, she ought to be grateful. As for remembering "how to flirt," what would her husband think or that? Grow up!

    August 5, 2011 at 14:54 | Report abuse | Reply
    • MRaff

      Wow, way to be a Debbie Downer, Bernard. I find her comments to be very empowering and wish more people had such a good sense of self. And how do you know she isn't using her new found flirting skills on her husband? Just because she is married does not mean she cannot flirt with him. If you have followed the six pack you would know these are average people with real lives who have had to find the balance between work, family and TRAINING. No one is too busy to remake themselves – they choose not to spend their time to do so. You don't participate in a triathalon on a whim – you make the commitment months in advance and train for it. That is what Nina has done and all of the six packers have done. They are proof the average person can do it – you just have to have the desire to quit making excuses and start. Even the sick and weak can start small to work towards the bigger goal if they want put their minds to it. We don't all have to participate in a triathalon to prove we can be healthy, but we should all work towards being healthier for our own benefit. Way to go six pack! And way to go Nina for shouting out your strengths!

      August 5, 2011 at 17:07 | Report abuse |
    • Liliangrae

      She is being grateful! Grateful that SHE had the determination, energy and strength to meet HER goals and change HER life. May if you spent more time making changes in YOUR life you wouldn't feel threatened by someone enjoying THEIR life.

      August 5, 2011 at 21:11 | Report abuse |
    • Nina Fan

      Why can you not just be proud for her and keep your discouraging comments to yourself?
      I am SO freaking proud of you Nina!!!! You are awesome!! Flirt with anyone you want to. I don't think your EX-husband will mind. 🙂

      August 9, 2011 at 11:38 | Report abuse |
  2. and another thing...

    Best of luck Nina! You can do it girl!

    August 5, 2011 at 20:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Liliangrae

    Congratulations, Nina! Great job.

    August 5, 2011 at 21:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Christie

    Bernard, you obviosly don't know Nina! I do. She is a great person. She is determined and I know she is going to rock the triathlon today! Go Nina Go!

    August 7, 2011 at 08:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Christie

    Congratulations, Nina! We are so proud of you and your finish of the race!

    August 7, 2011 at 14:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Juan En Den

    Bernard assumes Nina is married. Stick with what you know, B. Flirt with me anytime, Nina; my wife joins me in congrats to you, Nina, on completing the Tri ! You have our permission to stand with us in awe of your development over the past months.

    August 7, 2011 at 20:33 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nina Herself

      Den- THANK YOU and precious Anne for your encouragement and positive comments! See you soon at some state park somewhere!!! 🙂

      August 9, 2011 at 19:16 | Report abuse |
  7. Gail

    Nina!!! We are so proud of you back here in Rome and I love that you are embracing the change that these past 6 months have brought!! As for Bernard...well, I know you are ignoring his negativity...so that's all I have to say about that! The new you is beautiful, confident and determined!!! I am proud to call you friend!

    August 7, 2011 at 21:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Joe

    I am very proud of Nina! She has simply taken her body to a place that her mind has always resided. I've known her for 14 years and my first impression was that she was a teacher /encourager. People don't change-they just get better! Thanks for sharing your Journey.

    August 7, 2011 at 23:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Donna

    Hi Nina, what a powerful example and encouragement to those of us who are in that "new 40's" group. My daughter also did the NYC tri as a coach. I am really inspired by you and I would love to know how you acheived your goals.
    Great job and good luck in your future endeavors and races.

    August 12, 2011 at 10:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Nina Herself

      Thanks Donna! I am so glad to have given you even a little inspiration and would love to meet you one day! You will enjoy getting up and moving around more; it just makes you feel better all over. How did I achieve my goals? Verrrrry slow but steady and progressive training. Don't get in a hurry, don't do too much at once or you will either get injured and/or burned out. At the same time, DON'T slow down or quit, either! I think of it like braces on your teeth: constant, consistent training, with occasional "kicking up a notch", followed by more constant consistent training. Dawn can show you how!

      August 12, 2011 at 21:19 | Report abuse |
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