Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Road to Nationals

Over the course of the last many months, you've read my Race Recap posts, sharing my experiences competing as a gluten-free endurance athlete with Celiac Disease in the Xterra off-road triathlon series. It has been a long road, one punctuated by disappointing lows and wonderful highs, and one marked by setbacks and challenges as well as tiny personal victories and greater successes. Now, there's one final chapter to be written in the continuing saga of this season of racing, one final Race Recap to be shared...

Yesterday I received word that I have a spot in the 2009 Xterra U.S. National Championships. At the end of this month, I'm headed to Ogden, Utah to compete against the best off-road triathletes in the country. To say that I'm elated to have achieved a long-awaited and hard-fought goal would be a gross understatement.

Reaching this joyous and profoundly satisfying milestone has been the culmination of many contributing factors: the unfailing support of family and friends (most of all, Kelli); the countless hours (and days and weeks and months) spent training; the accumulated wisdom that comes from the experience of spending a full season racing; the motivation and the perseverance to rebound from disappointing finishes, temporary setbacks, and a handful of significant obstacles; and forging ahead in spite of what seemed like at times insurmountable odds against reaching this day.

But it also necessarily includes a day more than 2.5 years ago, when a doctor looked me in the eye and told me that gluten was making me sick. It's scarcely imaginable that I could be where I am today, headed to compete in a national championship, without my diagnosis. The rapidly worsening symptoms I experienced pre-diagnosis (most of all, a catastrophic gluten-induced diarrhea that often left me malnourished, dehydrated, and fatigued) would have prevented this day from ever coming. Instead, the switch to a gluten-free diet changed my health, and the trajectory of my life, in significant and positive ways - some anticipated, others not.

And so here I am, less than three weeks away from the biggest race of my life. And in a roundabout and somewhat ironic way, I partly have gluten to thank for it. Stay tuned...hopefully you're as curious as I am to see how this story will end...

- Pete

5 comments:

Roslyn said...

Congratulations, Pete! I know this is a major milestone, especially considering where you were not long ago. I'll be rooting for you in the race, but no matter how it turns out, you've already won.

jgribble said...

Hooray! Congrats on making it into the championships. We'll be rooting for you too.

gfe--gluten free easily said...

Wow, that's wonderful, Pete! It is really amazing at what we can do after heaing from going gluten free. You are a testament to that and an inspiration to many! :-) Please keep us posted as usual.

Shirley

glutenfreeforgood said...

Yeah, yeah, yeah!! That is SO awesome and I'm sending warm thoughts and good vibes your way. Congratulations. BIG congratulations. So impressive, Pete! Way to go.

Yes, keep us posted.

peterbronski said...

Thanks everyone for the congrats! The well wishes are much appreciated (and much needed if I'm going to hold me own against the competition...). I'll be sure to post a race update after the big event. We leave for Utah one week from today, and the race is a week from tomorrow. The clock is ticking...

Cheers, Pete