As an industrial psychologist, I'm a big believer in mentoring, but it's something I believed in for purely emotional and personal reasons way before I saw any professional or scientific research on the subject.
When I was younger, my mentors were mostly men. I don't think I have a single male mentor now, and MAJ as an adult can't even imagine what I'd get from a male mentor. (Not saying it couldn't happen or be beneficial in the future; just saying I don't have a need for it at this moment.)
In the sport of triathlon, I have had a few mentors over the years, and most have come and gone. They all served their purpose and provided me with keen insights and valuable knowledge. I am, however, very lucky to say that one of them, who has been in my life for the past 5 years, is not only a triathlon mentor but also a mentor in other parts of my life. She is the kind of person who never once treats me as if she is better than me because she has been racing longer; nor does she ever belittle my life experience because she's been living longer. She's one of the only people who can ask me very direct, sometimes difficult questions without ever really making me feel like she has anything but my best interests in mind.
Today, during a routine conversation (household projects, weekend, training plans for after the marathon), I mentioned that I was considering re-evaluating my plans for a summer 70.3 (I have lots of reasons, which I will reveal when I make my decision).
And then something happened that tends to happen when I am talking with her - she asked me a question that really threw me for a loop.
Do you see yourself as a triathlete or a runner?
Well . . . . .
It sounds like I hesitated, but I didn't. I responded so fast I was afraid her head spun.
I see myself as a Renaissance woman. I am dead serious, don't laugh. (OK, well you can laugh a little.)
The truth is, while I am dying to do more cycling (it is definitely my strength), I don't see myself as a triathlete OR a runner. I'm not sure what this means, I just know I can't define myself that simply. I still want to do a marathon in every state. I don't know if I ever want to do an Ironman, but I'm not saying I don't. I still want to serve in a coaching or mentoring capacity for multisport or running or both. I am working towards my PhD program and can't wait to officially be a doctoral student.
I just want to have a balance of healthy, challenging workouts on my horizon, learn a LOT, and accomplish meaningful things while I travel around the country. These are all things I want, and my life is exactly where I want it to be right now.
So, while I'm recovering from a year of stellar PRs and an amazing race that was my fundraising and advocacy debut, I will be considering the answer to this question. I'm sure you'll be the first people to know . . . right after the person who first asked. :-)