My name is Stephen Houghton and this season I have been given the fantastic honour of being the Sovereign Tri Series Community Ambassador.
Over the next few months I will be sharing with you my journey about losing weight and discovering this magic sport of triathlons. The choices and challenges I have had to overcome over the past few years have all been with the hope that my story might encourage or inspire others to have the courage and confidence to make the health changes they need for not just them but their family too.
Mexico here we come! Over the next few days around 100 NZ age groupers will head to the beautiful island of Cozumel for the ITU 2016 Triathlon World Champs. I will be competing in both the sprint and standard distance races. For me and my wife Carla this is a great time and opportunity to experience a part of the world we probably would never have travelled to as a holiday destination.
We are looking forward to an awesome race week experience with the NZ Team and our Tri community friends from around the world. This is one of the many great and incredible experiences of this sport, you get to meet everyday people like us and the world's best triathletes from all over the globe in one place.
I get asked a lot - what my goals are when I attend these type of events and my answer is... "it would be fantastic to make the top 50 of my age group and enjoy the honour of representing our country with pride."
To achieve these goals, it's simple, focus on what I have control of, believe in the training you did and focus on doing the process well in each event. The true prize for me is not a gold medal, it is the sense of pride when you hit that blue carpet and I hear my name at the finish line.
When I'm on the blue carpet there are a million things going through my mind, I think of my family, friends and my coaches and the people my story has touched and I say to myself - "This is for you guys!" Then the stupid smile - "I can't believe I'm here doing this" hits.
When I look back 4 years and think about what it was like jumping into a pool and learning to swim again after 20 odd years. I swam 25 metres, stopped to catch my breath then back to complete 50 metres. I will never forget what I said to myself (the polite version is), "What the hell am I doing here? I can't swim 60 lengths - I must be mad." So, I'm sure that in 15 days' time when I'm standing in the swim wave group surrounded by mean athletic looking machines I will be saying the same thing... How the hell did I guy like me get here? But this time I will be thinking I got this!
My point is that when you pluck up the courage to hop in that pool, get on that bike or put on those shoes - just give it a go! You will surprise yourself and the feedback and encouragement you will get from those around you will drive your determination to keep going and I can guarantee that the Tri community in NZ out there are full of humble, accommodating and supportive people from the novice to the elite are all too willing to help.
And before you know it, you could be heading to an ITU world champs yourself!