Shae Ford '11, February 10th, 2010
The sun blazes down and the searing sand burns her feet as Alexandra Weber ’12 stares at the pounding waves. She hears only the wild thudding of her heart. As the expectant silence intensifies, she waits breathlessly.
The beach explodes as a hundred bodies launch forward into the turbulent ocean. Flailing arms and legs strike out, driving Weber deeper and deeper until her feet touch the ocean floor. She forces her way to the surface, fighting through the melee to gasp for air before she can begin cutting through the waves.
Now she is out of the water, legs pumping fast, straining against the gears of a bicycle. Around her, people are wrecking and riding on with bruised elbows and bloodied knees.
Bike gone, her feet pound a rapid rhythm on the pavement. Exhausted to the point of collapse, a burst of cheers and applause greets her as she crosses the finish line.
This may sound like a nightmare to the average person, but this experience is one that every triathlete dreams about.
Weber, a sophomore at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, says that competing in the Triathlon World Championships in September 2009 has taught her the value of self-discipline and motivation, in athletics and in the business world.
When other A&M students were attending their first classes of the semester, Weber traveled to the Gold Coast (Eastern Australia) to compete in the Triathlon World Championships, September 9-13. Weber finished 6th out of 36 competitors with a time of 01:09:18. She competed in the sprint distance, which includes a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride, and 5-kilometer run.
The Australian experience is one Weber says she will always remember. Swimming is the only leg of the race where pushing, pulling, and punching can easily be disguised as overly enthusiastic strokes, and Weber says her opponents took full advantage of this fact. Though she has faced many competitors over the course of her young career, she was taken aback by the ferocity of the Australians and New Zealanders in the swimming component. “They were brutal in the water. I have never seen swimming like that before. They were intense. I got pushed down to the bottom three times.”
Having to fight through an ocean of people unabashedly looking out for number one has taught Weber that she cannot let the actions of others discourage. Each time she was pushed to the ocean floor, Weber fought her way to the surface. It’s the same concept of resilience she’ll apply as she enters the corporate world; she will not let what is going on around her affect the quality of her work.
When asked how she manages to stay focused on the finish line, Weber reveals that it is not the last leg of the race that holds her attention. “I have to think in the present. When I’m swimming, I think about the swim. I don’t think about the bike or the run.”
For her, winning a race has everything to do with intense focus on the present, and chasing the person directly in front of you. Weber says she knows how to take one step at a time and that method, in the grand scheme of things, will allow her to achieve her big goals.
“My goal was to finish in the top ten, and I definitely achieved that goal,” said Weber smiling.
Weber has been competing in athletics since she was eight years old. When it was time to apply for college she was certain that she wanted to be a swimmer. “I was really committed to Columbia [University] and swimming, but in November of my senior year I decided it wasn’t the right fit. Then I got into Business Honors here at Mays and I decided to focus exclusively on the triathlon,” she says.
Her life at Texas A&M is balancing a rigorous school schedule and strenuous workouts. “My triathlon coach is in San Antonio, so I have to motivate myself without someone standing over me. If I didn’t do the workouts, she wouldn’t know. It would show up on race day, though.”
She’ll use this self-motivation in her career. “If I don’t do my job, no one may know initially. But when the financial reports aren’t done right, then it will be obvious,” she says.
The Gold Coast race was not only about the competition. “Getting to walk with all of these people in our country’s uniform was special,” Weber said as she described the emotional opening ceremonies.
When asked if she could see herself becoming an Olympian, Weber was enthusiastic.
“Well, I definitely want to get my master’s first, and then I was thinking about law school at Columbia. The 2016 games would be the first Olympics I’m eligible for, and I’d love to be there.”
Weber is a sophomore Business Honors and finance major at Mays, a participant in the Texas A&M club triathlon team, and a member of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. After school and athletic competitions, she has plans to become an entrepreneur.