Happy 40th Birthday Karel!

It was an interesting summer in 2006 as I was very much into my routine of working and training and I didn't want anything to get into my way of training for my first Ironman. I was living with my parents but I was only there to sleep as my life revolved around training, working and training.
I resisted the invitation to meet a "talented cyclist, from Europe with a sexy accent" as a training partner of mine described, as she wanted to set me up with a nice single guy. A few weeks went by and I finally accepted the opportunity to meet him. 

It was 10.5 years ago when Karel and I were set-up on a blind date on a group ride.
We met on my birthday, May 31st, 2006.

The next few months were rocky because as I mentioned, all of my energy went into training. The thought of balancing a boyfriend while training for a 140.6 mile event was overwhelming so I entertained the idea of getting to know Karel as a training partner and possibly we would become good friends.

At the age of 24, it was very hard for me to see my relationship "future" as my life revolved around triathlon. I was afraid to let Karel get to know the real me and more than anything, I didn't want to change how I was living my life.

I continued to get to know Karel throughout the summer, through email, AOL messenger, the occasional date (when I choose to make the time) and by training together.
I would go to his cycling races but only if I could train before hand and he came to my triathlon races, when he didn't have a cycling race.
We were two young athletes who were sport focused but I knew I wasn't giving as much to Karel in our "relationship" as he was giving to me.

Over the next few months, I found myself slowly falling for Karel but a relationship still scared me. In all honesty, I could feel that Karel was the right one for me to spend my life with as he had every quality I wanted in a husband (despite never getting that far in a relationship before to even think about those deep questions) but I didn't want to give up my routine just to be with him.

I was only a matter of time when I came to terms with my silly thoughts and that a relationship doesn't have to change you for the worst but it can actually make you a better person.

Here we are, 10 years later and I'm a better person because of Karel. I've changed a lot in 10 years, not because Karel told me to, but every relationship has give and take.

Our situation is unique because we now (as of 2014) live together, train together, work together, travel together and well, spend about every hour of every day together, almost 365 days per year.

You'd think that I would save this post for our anniversary as it is more about our relationship together, than his birthday, but I'm extremely lucky that Karel was brought into this world and I imagine that anyone who knows Karel, feels the same way.
He is an incredible human being.

Just a few months after meeting, I wanted to do something special for Karel's birthday. His 30th birthday was approaching on September 22nd and I came up with the idea to give him a surprise birthday party with his close cycling friends (of which, a few were our match makers).

I coordinated the meal (pasta party - I think the State Championships were that weekend), the guest list and the secret plan to surprise him.

All went as planned and after the SURPRISE, Karel was shocked.
He had never been to or had a surprise birthday before and he was speechless.

It was a special way to celebrate his 30th birthday so I figured, why not repeat that surprise again, 10 years later.

A lot has changed with us in 10 years but all for the better.
I'm glad I gave up my stubborn mindset of how I wanted to live my life to make sure my life included Karel.
Although we are both competitive athletes, much of our life happiness s made from experiences. Although sports (triathlon) make for great memories, it's more about doing things we both love, together, as our life is triathlon....and so much more.

Lucky for us, we live in a place that has a great triathlon community and we feel connected to so many kind, funny, nice and giving athletes. Although we don't have a designated triathlon racing or club team here in Greenville, I'd say that every Greenville triathlete feels welcomed, accepted and supported.
Well that is until a thread on the Greenville Area Triathlon Training Facebook page gets hijacked by....well, I won't name names :)

We have formed close friendships with several triathletes and I knew Karel's birthday celebration wouldn't be complete without these important people in our lives. 
(Including my mom, grandpa - who is in town and Karel's very close long-time friend from Jacksonville, James Sweeney). 

It's hard to believe at one time in my life, I was worried about letting Karel into my life.
Now, I couldn't imagine my life without him.

Happy Birthday Karel!

Cheers to getting one year older, moving into a new triathlon age group, getting faster and being fitter than ever before.
And continue your healthy diet of IPA beer, croissants, frozen recovery bars, coffee and chocolate.
It's working for you!