Achieving Personal Best: Corrie Kristick
"I have failed many times in life inside and outside of sports. It has made me realize that whatever the outcome, success or failure, it’s ok. Essentially, we must not be defined by our sport or our shortcomings, for we are so much more than that. And yes, everything, even failure, happens for a purpose.”
Even though Corrie Kristick swam Division 1 at Rice University and is a nationally ranked age group swimmer, she doesn’t consider swimming to be her sport. Maybe it’s because she’s a 2:56 marathoner, having run that time 2 months after running a 3:02 marathon. But she doesn’t consider herself a runner either. Nationally ranked duathlete? Wrong again. Her storybook ascendance as a triathlete is where Corrie says her talents lie.
Having started the sport only 2 years ago, Corrie won her first two triathlons, and competed in the Olympic distance at Triathlon Nationals in Vermont this year. In that being only her third triathlon ever, she placed 4th overall and 2nd in her age group in a very speedy time of 2:10:00. She’s the type of athlete whose trajectory can make you pack your bag and go home because you picked the wrong parents for your genes—that is, until you learn that it’s not just her genetic make-up, but her outlook that makes her so strong.
Corrie tells how she began her athletic career where she did not have an auspicious start. We later learn that there was a little, seemingly inconsequential prize (much like the red shirt that Meb Keflezighi mentioned in our interview) that spurred her on. “When I first started swimming at age 8, I wasn’t great. In fact, I was the slowest kid in summer club swimming. I had to beg my coach to put me in a race at the championship meet. He put me in the 100 IM. I did not win the race, but by some miracle, I won my individual heat! When you won your heat, you got to ring this huge golden bell! It was the happiest moment of my life thus far, and that is when I was hooked on swimming and racing. After that, the hard work began, and of course I would win some and lose some along the way. But I just keep reaching for my goals.” The image of her ringing the golden bell would resonate through her body, telling her conscious and subconscious self that she was an athlete.
Corrie is one of the most positive people I have ever met. She is grateful for all that is good in her life, and accepting of the things that have been struggles. For her, racing is an extension of how she lives life and of her unwavering faith in God. “Internally, there is a spiritual element to my racing. I feel at peace and at my most natural state of who I am while racing. To be completely honest, I feel closest to God when I compete or train. It is like a sanctuary, and I thank God for allowing me the ability and body to do what I ask it to do. It is an amazing blessing and I am so thankful for it. Being in the middle of a race is just pure excitement and bliss for me, there is no better feeling.”
Corrie has shared some of her brutal workouts with me, and it’s staggering to consider hitting the splits she hits on a consistent and repeated basis. But she embraces hard work and finds fun and joy in everything she does. In addition to the fun, she lets go. Again, she speaks about how her faith pulls her through: “I believe in myself because I believe in God. I put all my trust and faith in Him. He takes care of everything else. I just show up to the start line. No worries. No drama. It’s a beautiful thing. I began thinking this way a few years ago, and that is when my racing changed. Essentially, my outlook on life changed. That was my breakthrough moment. I know that I try to lead a good life, and do good in my community and at work, where I am a kindergarten teacher. Honestly, I see myself as just a normal person working to live my life to the fullest and be the best person I can be.
"I have failed many times in life inside and outside of sports. It has made me realize that whatever the outcome, success or failure, it’s ok. Essentially, we must not be defined by our sport or our shortcomings, for we are so much more than that. And yes, everything, even failure, happens for a purpose.” Corrie cherishes the challenges, failures and disappointments, because they have been instrumental and important in shaping who she is as an athlete and more importantly as a person.
Her advice to achieving personal best: “Take your time. Give yourself time to look into many different forms of sport. Go with a friend to different workout sessions or meet up groups in order to find the sport that is right for you. Just enjoy the ride. Take the pressure of attaining the best time off your shoulders, and just race! Worry and pressure take up too much of our energy, and the only time you should be nervous is right before the start. Just train, and enjoy!”