I remember the feeling when I got accepted to Team Marathon Bars a little over two years ago. I was elated. Over the moon. Bouncing on air. It finally came to me that the reason I was so excited was that after years of just running someone had finally pointed to me and said “yes, this person is an athlete”. I felt like a runner at times while I was running. Until I got that email I never considered myself an athlete.
My time on Team Marathon Bars was amazing. That first year I completed 30 races. I met amazing people from all over the country and got to share an amazing product that I enjoyed with my friends and extended network. Perhaps the most amazing thing that happened was that because of that sponsorship, I met my amazing future husband in a city I probably wouldn’t have been racing in, had it not been for Marathon Bars. The second year with them was a whirlwind of more travel races than I had ever have before. I got to experience Providence, Cincinnati, Savannah, New Orleans, Philadelphia again, and Las Vegas. Places I hope to travel to someday, but had never thought to go so soon.
Back in November, myself and my 150 teammates got the email from TMB. We would no longer be a team. They were ending the team because of the end of partnership with Competitor’s Rock and Roll series. We all were upset. We had become so close. We all resolved to remain teammates in spirit. Within a month most of us had received an invitation to join Team Power Bar. I elected to not sign up for the team since I did not particularly care for all of the Power Bar items I had tried for the past. Couldn’t represent something I didn’t enjoy (and I now have PB friends trying to change my mind). Some of my other friends were picked up by SunRipe and other sponsors. I floated without finding something I really wanted to commit to.
I got an invitation to apply for Team Aquaphor. I had heard of the product and knew many of my triathlon friends who had used it or been sponsored in the past. They seemed like a close group and had a good product so I applied. At the same time I reached out to all the products I used most frequently: Nuun, Honey Stinger, and PowerCrunch seeing if they do sponsorship and how I would go about applying for the team.
I got an email from Aquaphor saying that I was not an initial pick but was on the wait-list if one of the initial picks decided to pass on their spot. Eventually they got back to me and offered me a spot. I was amazed! Since my 50-mile ultra back in January I had been struggling to recover from a terrible injury. In a training run preparing for the Shamrock Marathon I managed to rip my IT Band and damage my LCL all in one day. I had been experiencing a two month dead zone where not much was happening. But now, once again, this lame “athlete” had to get her butt in gear and back to representing with pride.
My newest surprise arrived yesterday. After not hearing back from any of the companies I had emailed I figured they were offering sponsorships at this time. Imagine my surprise to get an email from Honey Stinger welcoming me to “The Hive”, their sponsorship program. I am now blessed with two amazing sponsors to get me through my training this year.
I find it amazing that any company believes enough in me to take me on. It is a strange feeling when you go from runner to athlete. It is a line not enough people cross. If you are athletic you are an athlete. If you give it your all, you are an athlete It doesn’t matter what size, ability, how fast or slow you are. Everyone is an athlete if they dedicate themselves to a sport.
When do you feel like an athlete?