I've started receiving the first emails about Team USA from USA Triathlon. I keep saying I'm going but I haven't yet pulled the proverbial trigger and committed in a tangible way (other than the initial $50 deposit). Today that changed. I took that giant first step off the cliff. I just booked the hotel room. Prepaid. I'll be sharing details of the Team USA journey here, but not in any sort of "hey, I'm all that" way. Just to be straight, I have no delusions of grandeur here. There are certainly faster, better, smarter athletes in my age group but the numbers worked in my favor at Nationals and I earned a spot. I want to share because I'm guessing there are other folks who might like to try this and like me are (1) cash strapped and (2) not at all a seasoned international traveler. I am figuring out how to finance it and how to travel half-way around the world with my bike. Fortunately, I have a great group of friends from Roanoke, the next town up, who have made a habit of competing at ITU Worlds. Mike Morris, one of the veterans, got the ball rolling by finding a nice early-booking deal at this Hilton on the water in Auckland. Team USA offers hotel packages too but for a variety of logistical and budget issues, this just worked better. My only real international travel thus far includes a few family trips to Costa Rica when my father-in-law lived there, Guadeloupe when I was a kid, St. Lucia for our honeymoon, and Vancouver. (OK, so maybe Canada isn't exactly international!) At least I won't have language issues in Auckland. The trip will cost about $5500. You might think with a PhD in engineering that I'm pulling in the big bucks. Nuh-uh. I work for a state university, in a non-tenure-track job, in a town where PhDs are a dime a dozen. This trip represents about 12.5% of my gross (not net) income. My plan is to try to find some local corporate sponsors to help underwrite the trip and I've put together a sponsor page to get started. (Endurance Films is certainly a core supporter, but it's like they have 11 kids and can't throw thousands and thousands my way without doing the same for the others!) So I will send out my letters of pleading after the first of the year. I have mixed feelings about this because I'm not a charity and I'm not representing a disease or condition. On the other hand, I AM representing the health, happiness, and wellness that comes from finding joy in a sport. My idea is to run, bike, and train in gear with the logos of the local sponsors and to give back to the companies by promoting sport among their employees. I can do so by meeting with groups or individuals, sharing my story, and working with others to take that first step, or set that goal, or dream! Advice welcome... but one way or another, I'm heading to New Zealand!!

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