For anyone who’s ever swam with, been coached by, or watched Billy Watkins compete, you know he has talent.
(Billy at his first half Ironman in 2011)
Billy and I swam together when we were kids on our local summer swim team. He was a few years older than me, but everyone knew Billy was an all star. In fact, he still holds most of the boys’ records at the pool:
After high school, Billy went on to swim for La Salle University in Philly. Post college, he then became a coach for my old swim club.
We reconnected in 2009 at a swim meet when I was coaching our old summer team and he stopped by to recruit for the swim club. After the meet, we started talking and sat there for hours discussing our dreams, athletic goals, and everything else in between. Billy hadn’t competed since college, but had hopes of doing triathlons in the future. We made an agreement to start training together and that night kicked off both our triathlon careers.
If you've ever seen me wear this necklace, inside it says, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” My aunt gave this to me in high school and I wear it every single day. Billy and I talked about this quote that night and he swears that it's the reason he’s at where he is today.
(This quote was also the motivation for me to start working on my business - piece by piece.)
That summer we swam, biked and ran together. Billy had the swimming and biking down, but had never been a fan of running. I remember him being super nervous about our first run together, but he knew he had to take the first step. He'd do the same four mile "Blockbuster loop" (remember Blockbusters?!) over and over again until he got faster and could run up all the hills without stopping, then he increased his distance...
In 2010, Billy ran his first marathon. In 2011, he convinced me to swim 4.4 miles across the Chesapeake Bay, and he did his first half Ironman. In 2012, he did his first full Ironman (2.4 miles swimming - 112 miles biking - 26.2 miles - or a full marathon - running) at Lake Placid. And next year, he’ll be doing his second full Ironman in hopes that he’ll qualify for the World Championships in Kona.
(Billy & I before the Chesapeake Bay swim - he ended up placing in his age group.)
(After finishing the Pocono Ironman 70.3 in 2011)
(At Ironman Lake Placid in 2012 - I went to watch and he was one of the top people out of the water on the swim.)
In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Billy changed career paths two years ago and within the last few weeks, passed his boards and became a registered dietician. Billy probably would’ve ended up on a similar path, but we both agree that it can be traced back to his decision to start doing triathlons, and again, taking that first step.
I’m sharing his story, because Billy’s decision to start training literally changed his life. He met a whole new network of friends and completely changed his lifestyle, from the way he ate to the way he spent his free time. He was always an athlete, but he wasn’t always a triathlete who places in every race he does. He worked hard to get there. His journey started six years ago and he still works hard to accomplish his goals, but it pays off every time. Now he motivates me to keep pushing myself - both with athletics and with my business!
(He did the Steelman triathlon last weekend and placed second in his age group.)
Even if you’re not a swimmer, biker, or runner, it only takes one step to become one, and in turn, to change your life! So get out there and take the first step!! :)