This is a blog for the strong, the determined, the wild. In the past ten years more than 100 have joined the triBE on a journey to BE strong, to BE fierce, to BE triathletes. We are dedicated to the belief that anyone can BE a triathlete and support each other in every endeavor. Our team members are all sizes, speeds, and ages. This is our story.

"When anyone tells me I can't do anything, I'm just not listening any more." ~Florence Griffith Joyner

If this isn't enough you can read more from me here:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Reflections:Michelle Hartog

Michelle near the finish! 
Battling the Beast

I was pretty sure my short triathlon career was over.  After completing 4 sprints I really did not think I would participate in another, after all I am not much of a runner, my swim was not great, but I was a decent cyclist and at 52 years old it does not get easier.  After a hysterectomy sidelined me from the 2010 Danskin after several months of training, I did think about 2011, but I was not optimistic.  However the year was not over.  I recovered quickly from the hysterectomy only to find out I had breast cancer in September 2010.  WTF? I had no risk factors, not a smoker, no family history, exercised daily, have not eaten red meat in over 35 years, and here I was after a routine mammogram (they do save lives!) discovered an abnormality which we later discovered was a malignant tumor.  It was small and early so the prognosis was good, but it still involved bilateral mastectomies, chemotherapy, and reconstruction.

After my last reconstructive procedure in September 2011, a year to the day from my diagnosis, I began to do what I could to get stronger: pilates, barre class, yoga, weight training, spin class, I became a bit stronger but it was slow, my endurance was non existent, and the anti-hormonal meds I was taking made my joints and muscles very sore and caused incredible fatigue, not exactly what one needs to complete a triathlon.

I ran into Deb at TPS and she asked if I want to join her group, and in a momentary lapse of reason, I said yes.  I was in, plus I got to swim in the Trinity pool. The training was great, no pressure, just encouragement.  I began swimming, 3-4 days per week, and I gradually increased my distance.  Maybe I could do it!

I did not register until a month before the race, and it was then that I noticed there was another option, a super sprint! Shorter run, Yayyy!. 

I did the race with my best swim time ever.  I was honored to be surrounded by all of the amazing tribe women in all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities.  I feel stronger and feel like I have finally conquered the beast.  It is a daily challenge, but I feel like the worst is over and behind me.  I am so glad I said  “yes” to Deb that day and had the privilege to meet and train with all of you!
“More powerful than the will to win is the courage to begin.” ~Unknown

Friday, May 25, 2012

Reflections: Nicole Ledbetter

Nicole on the bike in her first triathlon
Nicole Ledbetter
All I wanted was to "borrow" the pool for the 4 months. Deb opened it last year and I missed swimming. Yes, swimming is my favorite part. No, I don't use my legs, just my arms. People tell me that's a great strategy because it saves your legs for the bike and the run. Fantastic cover! The truth is I am just not coordinated enough. I often completely forget to kick. 
In 'borrowing' the pool, I found myself on a team. Angela needed a swimmer. I like swimming. It made sense to me. I was perfectly content with just being a swimmer until the energy of race day took hold of me.  My exact words to Deb were, "Forget Lupus, I'm doing the whole thing next year!" Never mind the fact that I could barely walk because my lupus decided to flare on race day.
Yes, I have lupus ... and heart disease ... and hypertension ... and blood clotting disorders ... and I've had open heart surgery twice ... oh, and I'm a stroke survivor (all at the ripe old age of 30). I have even looked into ways to tell if someone is having a stroke so the people I associate and train with don't panic and put me in a padded room. But my thought process in being sucked into the triBE was simple: I hate medication, exercise decreases the need for certain medications, the triBE gives me a encouragement to stay focused on my exercise, so I'll do a tri. Um, sure?
I don't live a sedentary lifestyle by any means, but I hate to run. Hate. To. Run. I blame all the aforementioned disorders for my hatred of running - lupus makes the joints and connective tissue in your body inflamed and heart disease has resulted in a less efficient lung-heart collaboration (translation: I lose my breath and get tired more quickly). But I bought a bicycle, I joined a gym with a pool, and I started teaching myself how to run.
And the funny part is that it got easier. When I look back at it, I think all along I wanted to be a part of the triBE despite the fact that I tell people Deb strong-armed me. In the last few years, I've finally taught myself to say "no" to people's requests of me. It was hard, and I felt like was letting people down. But I was killing myself. As it turns out, I didn't say "yes" to the triBE; I found a group of extraordinary women who encourage me to say "yes" to me. We just happen to have a name and we happen to do triathlons together.
Training is the only thing I do exclusively for myself; and I am a better person because of it and because of my triBE that supports me. I still wouldn't classify myself as a runner, but I hate it less; and though my time for the run this year was absolute crap, I finished knowing that next year it will be better.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reflections: Anne Marie Stricklin

Anne Marie Stricklin
As 2012 began, I had set out with a few goals in mind for the upcoming triathlon season.  I was excited to participate in Danskin (even though they moved the venue to Clermont), improving on my finish from last year's race and wanted to return to race again in Vermont at Sprint Nationals.  I slowly began training at the beginning of the year to start getting back into shape.  My fall is super busy and I can never seem to find enough time to fit in workouts. 
Everything changed for me on Tuesday, January 17th.  The day started out just like every other day, getting the kids ready for school, heading off to the bus.  My daughter got on the bus and then I drove my son, Andrew, who was 4 years old at the time, to Star Child Academy in Oviedo where he attends K4.  I dropped him at his class and on my way out, the owners of the school asked to speak with me. It felt like I was being called into the principal's office, figuring Andrew was in trouble for something.  He is a boy and at times doesn't want to listen or follow directions. I figured that is what it had to be. Boy was I wrong!  The owners (whose children I taught to swim) sat me down and told me that one of Andrew's classmates was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor and her chance of survival was 0%.  I was stunned, shocked, upset, you name it, those emotions came out.  How could this be?  Andrew and Caitlin have been in the same class for the past 3 years.  She was only 4 years old.  This isn't fair! 
As the days passed after learning about Caitlin's diagnosis, it became a roller coaster of emotions for us.  We would have good days and sad days. The community turned out for a wonderful show of support for Caitlin on February 11th in a Brain Tumor Awareness 5K.  It was extremely special for us as it was also Andrew's 5th birthday.  There were celebrations when Caitlin finished radiation and then lots of tears and uncertainty as she became the first human to have experimental surgery on May 1st in NYC.  This past Saturday, we attended her 5 year old birthday bash (and I'm not lying it was the most amazing party we have ever been too) celebrating a brave little girl that has made each of us stop, dance, and enjoy the time we have with each other.
So you ask, what does this have to do with the triathlon itself.  For me, the experience we have had since January is to live each day as best as we can and prioritize what is really important in life.  If I missed a workout, I'm not upset with myself, its alright.  If my race doesn't go as I planned, there will be others.  I dedicated my race to Caitlin and thought about her the entire race.  I wear a "Cheering for Caitlin" wristband everyday (I never take it off) and I promised Caitlin back in January that I wouldn't take it off until the "bump went away." 
Race morning came and the Orlando Sentinel ran a beautiful article on Caitlin and her family.  I knew ahead of time there would be an article but didn't realize it would be on the front page. I did read the story before I left the house.  Right before I got ready to race, my mom mentioned to me, you can do this, for Caitlin.  I began to choke up as I realized that she is always in my thoughts, and it's hard for me to go a day without thinking about her and the rest of the family.
My race was alright until I got to the run.  I had this horrible side stitch that wouldn't let up.  I had it the whole run and definitely made me slower than I hoped for.  In the end, I finished the race disappointed in my performance. Then I remembered that pain that I felt during the run wasn't anything in comparison to the pain that Caitlin and her family deal with on a daily basis.  Reflecting back on these past 5 months, I have to say that my race was a success.  I was joined by many women of all ages and abilities that accomplished something that they never thought they could.  That is what Danskin is all about! Live each day with no regrets and don't fret the small stuff.

You can find out more about Caitlin here and a watch a video of Caitlin here

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Reflections: Marie Leticee

Marie Leticee at the finish

Anybody there?
Last year's Danskin tri was my first full triathlon. While I was scared to death to attempt the 800 M swim, I was encouraged by what I had witnessed at Danskin 2010, my first experience with this sport. The event was taking place at Disney and my responsibility was the running leg. Actually, it was more of a walking leg since the day before, I had hurt my lower back. Thoughts of giving up clouded my mind, and I was feeling terrible. I shared my concerns with Deb. (I got no sympathy (of course, there’s no nonsense with the Debmeister!!!)  no sweet talk… just “You better do this woman… can’t give up now… you can walk, can’t you?” I swallowed my pain and showed up the next day.
I’m so glad I didn’t give up!!!! I saw all kinds of women participating in that triathlon: one legged, no arm, small, big, very biiiig, young, old, very old, and very very old. I heard someone say, talking about a 77 year old woman: “she had to learn how to swim to do that.” With these words, my fate was sealed!!!!
Soon, I was taking swimming lessons at UCF, at the Y and anywhere I could. I completed my first triathlon swimming the breaststroke last year for Danskin 2011. When I got tired half way through the course, a swim angel hired by Deb on the spot (Even if she never showed it to me, Deb was really afraid I would drown. LOL.  She’d seen me in the lake. She knew my limits. She knew I couldn’t even float on my back!!!) appeared out of nowhere and asked me if I needed help. She offered her noodle, I grabbed it and she pulled me for a few strokes so I could catch my breath. She was so strong, I couldn’t even keep up with her so I let go and completed the swim on my own. I was on a cloud!!! I was amazed at what I had just done.
However, while I was happy with this accomplishment, I decided I had to learn the freestyle stroke for the next Danskin triathlon. It was a struggle for me. In fact, it took me almost the whole year to achieve this goal, and I have to say that I’m not quite there yet.
Tackling this second triathlon was a roller coaster. And here, I’m only really talking about the swimming portion of the tri because… that IS the triathlon for me. Being able to get my body from point A to point B in any mass of water is quite an ordeal. When I’d think “I got this,” then the next lake crossing would be a failure which would shake my confidence to the core and make me ask for the dreaded and embarrassing noodle!!!!
The last lake crossing with the Tribe was in beautiful Lake Sybellia. It was on a beautiful afternoon. The water was so clear you could see the bottom of the lake for quite a while. The lake was inviting and the water felt good. Despite all that, my body decided to fail me on that day. I was unable to complete the swim, had a small moment of panic and asked for a noodle. I was determined not to let that swim be the last one before the tri so I went with my YMCA teammates to Lucky’s Lake the Saturday before Danskin. A teammate swam next to me and helped me stay on track. It was a great swim. I was happy and I said to myself, “you got this, girl!”
Sunday morning, my stomach was churning. I was nervous but I had to show a good face for my Tribe family. Sarah and Deb had shared a little mandatory lake ritual with me so on that day, I obliged. Before my wave started, I walked into the lake and did as advised ;-). You’d need to ask Deb or Sarah to pass on that ritual to you!
When it was time for my wave, as I was walking with all these beautiful ladies, I spotted a “black” swim angel!!! I did a double take because they are very rare… almost non-existent!!!! LOL So, I approached her and asked her if she would be willing to swim next to me to guide me since I breathe on my right and… the buoys are on the left. She said “oh, sure I can do that”. I thanked her and started swimming. After a few strokes, she had disappeared!!!! No black angel to be seen!!! That did not feel good. I lost a little bit of my confidence and tried to find my way back on track.
Soon after that, I felt like I was swimming in a thick cloud. I couldn’t see in front of me, I couldn’t see anybody!!! I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I started swimming breaststroke. The cloud got thicker and thicker. The water turned a grayish color. I felt trapped. I got on my back to clean my goggles. I had practiced getting on my back in the pool for that very reason. I had seen Deb do it in the ocean (really, if Jesus could walk on water, Deb can sit on water. I had seen it with my own eyes). Well, that didn’t last long. I started sinking and drinking water.  Soon, I was kicking people left and right. I guess I was in the right track after all…
I have to say that I really panicked at that moment. There I was, in the middle of the course, unable to see in front of me, not knowing what was left or right. I couldn’t even see the freaking buoy!!! And yes, that swim angel was still nowhere to be found!!!! I yelled: Anybody there? As soon as I said that, a male voice responded right away, in a suave and sexy voice. (Any man’s voice at that time would be suave and sexy to me in the midst of all that floating estrogen and progesterone.) "Do you need help? he said.
A boat appeared out of nowhere in the cloud. I hung onto it with one arm and yanked my goggles with my free hand so I could spit in them to clear them out. I never spit in front of people and I do not like to see people spit in front of me. But I didn’t care at that point. No need to be sexy or proper here. BTW … Still no black swim angel!
I kept going in my own crooked way and finished the swim in a better time than last year. I was happy. Swim Angel or no swim angel, I had completed my second Danskin triathlon (third full sprint triathlon), swimming freestyle, crooked, but still freestyle. That was my goal.  That was what I had set out to do. And I had done it! I was ready to conquer my next challenge on that day, the hill on Jalarmy!
Swim angel or not!!! Next year, I’m butterflying the whole d@#$ thing!!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Reflections: Christine Haskins

Christine Haskins
For my reflection, I want to focus on--the TriBE.  The truth is that everyone knew at least one other person starting out, but no one knew everyone except for Deb (because she made it a point to do so).  But we became a TEAM.  I realized the power of a name and a logo in how it creates a sense of belonging that carries on much further than the t-shirt.
I trained pitifully little--I'm not going to sugar coat that.  This is my 7th triathlon and my life has been pretty messy.  So there were a lot of you I hadn't met through the training process.  But, despite that, I was still part of the TriBE.  So when we all showed up on Saturday to check in with our shirts, there was an immediate sense of belonging, excitement, encouragement and acceptance.  I was pulling for you all in the strongest way and I knew you were pulling for me.  There was a sense of non-judgment, kinship and familiarity that you sometimes don't get with friends you've known for decades--and I couldn't even remember some of your names.
This race was very different from when it was at Disney.  Some of the "magic" was gone from the unique venue for me.  But, despite that--or maybe because of it--I found more magic and support from each other.  Definitely when we saw anyone from the TriBE on the course, I felt so much love, encouragement, and PRIDE for you all that I could bust.  And I could truly feel that love coming back at me too.  The hugs and congratulations at the end of the course were genuine and warm.  And I got comments from the friends and family of the group how much they could feel that too--they were so excited for every single one of us.
So then it didn't surprise me all that much that so many of you came to the celebration Happy Hour the next day.  Many of you didn't know me--but we all wanted to celebrate our race together--to recount our stories and to lift each other up.  But there were also introductions--now that we've shared this big journey together, who are you?  how do you fit in here?  you have how many kids?  It was a glorious night of relative strangers being close friends.
The race--it was okay.
  • The swim was 4 minutes shorter than I thought it would be and the water felt silky and delicious.
  • The bike was easier than what I had imagined based on all the horror stories I'd heard.  Oh, the power of high expectations and amazing gear changing.  My time was slow and I was passed versus being the one to pass by a factor of 10:1, but I didn't care.
  • The run was craptastic.  That's where the lack of training showed up--my body just didn't have it in me--but I still was faster than my 5K pace from 2 years ago.
  • The highlight came when I came in from the bike ride and heard my four church friends (who I had gotten into this) at the finish line over the loud speaker.  Two crossed the finish line and the other two were speaking to the MC about it--I just left transition, ran over, gave hugs and ran back.  It was the best use of a couple extra minutes in transition ever!

Thank you all for being part of this amazing TriBE!
You can read the complete text of this reflection at Christine’s blog, Project Christine 2.0 where she writes about triathlons, kids, and the rest of her life, already in progress.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Reflections: Janine Papin and Sara Dowdy

Janine Papin sporting her first Tri medal!
Janine Papin
My first Triathlon

I have to list a few disclaimers to start with.  I am not a swimmer.  I do propel myself through the water in ways that are intended more for relaxation than covering distance.  I am a very busy person.  I did not train like I should have.  But with encouragement from Deb, even though I knew I was not prepared, I wanted to take a stab at this Triathlon business. With the little training I did do, I was told that certain people were “in it to win it” and I was certainly not among them.  I was planning on making it through and that was about it.
The day of the triathlon, down at the beach, I started observing people and time started slowing down.  I was around some of the other “tribe” members when Sara was talking about how people better not be in her way.  The only comment I made out loud was that I was so glad that I was nowhere near her as I was with some of the “older athletes”. 
As I entered the water and started swimming, I immediately started getting very tired. It was at that point that I realized that the only way I was to make it the half mile was if I just took it slow and relaxed.  Whenever I started feeling worn out, I turned on my back, looked at the sky and pushed enough against the water that I was still somewhat going in the right direction.  The swim for me was endless as people passed me by, but I just stayed as calm as I could, breathing and relaxing, as I tried desperately to complete the course.  At some point in time I was attempting to swim real strokes when someone kicked me hard in the head and, in addition to it hurting, it definitely scared the crap out of me. As I reacted, and choked on water a bit, I picked up my head to see who it was who had plowed into me and low and behold, it was Sara Dowdy.  
I totally claim responsibility because if I had not said that I was glad Sara would not be around me, it would not have happened.  Speaking those words was an invitation for her to not only be near me but to plow me down.   I was beat when I finally made it out of the water, in fact, I did not feel the need to do anything but walk to transition where I took way too much time cleaning my feet and putting on my sneakers. 
The things that I took from that day are quite rewarding.  I have so much on my plate on a daily basis; I can hardly focus on one thing because of the constant onslaught of things being thrown at me.  During the entire time doing the triathlon, I was never so present in the moment as I was throughout.  I appreciated the world around me, the nature that surrounded me, the sky, the water, the sand, the trees, my breath, and my body.  All stress and anxiety left me and I was at total peace.   
It was amazing and I will definitely push myself to do this again and do it better.  Afterwards I went out to eat with two of my four grown kids and they were both so proud of me and I was proud of myself.  And Christina, one of my daughters wants to do it with me next year. That will be a treat to share.  

Sara and her mom with Sally Edwards at the finish

Sara Dowdy
The Trinity family lost a teacher, a coach, and a friend to breast cancer in the spring of 2002.  Deb asked me if I wanted to do the Danskin triathlon in her memory 2 years later.  Sure, why not.  I’m always up to a challenge.  I always wanted to try a triathlon anyway.  So, I started doing Danskin in 2004 for Karyn, and I still do the Danskin triathlon every year for Karyn.  She is the reason I started doing them, and I will continue to race Danskin for as long as I can in her memory.  At the start of every race, I think of her, and every year when I cross the finish line, I remember what a wonderful and inspirational woman she was. 
I did my first Danskin triathlon with a wonderful group of women from Trinity in 2005 when I was pregnant with my son, and I haven’t missed a year since.  Our group has grown since then, and I have met so many beautiful, strong, inspiring women along the way.  I’ve watched women learn to swim so that they can do the race.  I’ve witnessed women challenge themselves to swim, bike, and run farther than they ever thought they could.    My sister started doing Danskin with me a few years ago, and then my mom signed up for her first Danskin triathlon last year.  The race has become a family tradition.  A wonderful family tradition that I hope continues until my daughter and nieces can do the race with us. 
I love Danskin.  I love that it brings women together to do something they might not do otherwise.  I love that it’s on Mother’s Day – a day to celebrate women.  I love that I get to spend my Mother’s day with so many amazing women, so many wonderful friends.  I love that I get to do a race on Mother’s day with my mom and sister.  And I love that my family has been at the finish line cheering all of us in every year. 
The race this year was a bit more challenging than past races because of that dreaded Jalarmy, but it was still a race I will look back on fondly.  I loved seeing so many members of the Tribe throughout the bike and run courses supporting each other.  First I saw Kendall flying out the swim.  YOU GO GIRL!  I’m so happy that I was able to see my mom, Michelle, Marlene, Georgia, and Rita finish their swims.  I had so many cheerleaders (YOU) throughout the bike and run that it encouraged me to keep pushing myself to go faster.  First I saw Deb and Anne Marie on the bike, then on the run I saw Anne Marie again, then Dawn, Deb, Donna, Mariann, and Trish. 
I don’t know what happened, but I felt like I was running on air and I can only conclude that it was from all of the encouragement I was getting from the other women in the race.  I loved hearing Marlene, Georgia, Rita, my mom, and everyone else in all of our families cheering for me as I finished the run.  I think Marlene was definitely the loudest.  Then as I made the final turn into the finish chute I saw Nikki and Rachel and couldn’t resist a high five.  Once I finished, I told my children that we needed to go be cheerleaders.  My children had so much fun cheering you to the finish.  They made it a competition to see how many high five’s they could get.  I think Mason won in the end. 
I was on cloud nine for the rest of the day.  What a wonderful experience!  So this year’s race has come to a close, but I am already looking forward to next year.  I will be there again, on the starting line, grateful that I am able to do the race, thinking of Karyn, and I will cross the finish line remembering her and all of the other amazing and inspiring women I have met along the way. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Reflections: Angela Thomas and Sandy Cawthern

Angela and Megan
Angela Thomas
Pull Me Please
So here I was about to dive into my first full tri.  Funny even though I had nightmares about this very moment, I was feeling rather calm.  After all I have been swimming the half mile distance in the pool for several weeks.

Shortly before the swim started I was told about my swim angel, Megan, and I sought her out among the many ladies wearing yellow cap and carrying noodles.  I found her, introduced myself, and made clear the three things I needed from her:

1.  Keep all swimmers away from me.
2.  Do not let me swim any further than I had to.
3.  Keep all swimmers away from me.

Of course, being an angel, she promised me all the above.  

I was, surprisingly, still calm as I waded into the water at the back of my wave of swimmers and I still had every intention of doing the breaststroke.  But as I saw the dozens of hands and feet flailing and thrashing about, I suddenly felt more comfortable starting out on my back.  I was planning to switch back to the breaststroke when I got some more space further out but when my angel said “You move pretty fast on your back” I said to myself “What the heck, I will just do the entire swim on my back.”

As I was settling into a nice rhythm on my back, I felt an arm hit me in the chest, then a foot hitting my arm.  At this point I freaked out and called out to Megan who appeared out of nowhere.  I asked her to pull me using the noodle and she told me she didn’t think she is strong enough, so I'm thinking, sh*t, I got the weak angel.  Now I have to swim the whole damn thing.  But I did it and spent an entire nine minutes in transition – reflecting on what I had just accomplished.

Sandy Cawthern
100 words o'triBE

January:      Listening. Envisioning. Maybe not. I'll think about it. Yes. Not the bike, tho.

February:    I just did 50 meters x 8.  It'll have to be on my back.  Let's bike. Yikes! I'm freaked! Out of control. Try again.

March:         It's 2.6 miles to Peg & Cyndie G's. Got the run, really, walk down. Yes to the bike. No to the bike.

April:           How long is a quarter mile in this pool.  Open water? Whoa! Way longer and the water is livelier than the pool. And boy what team spirit. I love this! Maybe I can learn to ride the bike.

May:            There's going to be thousands?? No bike until next year.  It's only my head that can screw me up now.  I know I've got the distance and endurance. I'm in love, filled with gratitude to all.

Mother's Day: Grounded. Eager. Assured. And, what are the rules, the norms? Many, many helpful women carry me along to the STARTING LlINE! This course is really short. Nothing to it. Into the water....wading, wading, gotta lay down and go! Sweet water, zen sky, breathing, aware, a few bumps and waves, awesome.  Elated and embarrassed by the attention. This sand is really hard to walk in!  Transition: changing clothes under a caftan is truly stupid but since I'm not biking it's not costing me time.  Passed the time waiting for Joanie to return from Bike by cheering at the transition fence and LOL reclining!  Then, we two triBElets Runwalk our easy 2 miles to be met by raucously sincerely supporting crowds. What a way to begin my new adventure: triathlons!

Women are the bomb.  The first face I saw at the end was Jean Siegfried. I cried.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Reflections: Marlene and Kendall Gasner

Marlene and Kendall Gasner

A new chapter begins…
In Fall 2011, I asked my daughter, Kendall, if she had ever considered doing Danskin.  Kendall looked at me with a blank stare and said “I hadn’t really thought about it!” I responded, “no worries, think about it….sign ups are not for a while and let’s see how things go.”  Sign-ups came for Danskin and we realized that it was not at Ft. Wildnerness, but rather in Clermont. I hesitated, personally, just because of the hills, and it was not quite what I had envisioned.  I had done the last 3 Danskins at Ft. Wilderness and had enjoyed staying in the cabins with my family for the weekend of Mother’s Day, in the past.  None the less, when Kendall said “sure, sign me up”, I thought “here we go….I’ve actually got a training partner!”
Kendall found it difficult to train for anything much other than the swimming component.  Schoolwork, swim practice and swim meets pretty much consume her world.  She and I were able to go on a handful of rides together to practice riding on her new bike, shifting gears and getting used to passing people on the trail.  We laughed, told stories, and bonded as we geared up for the race on Mother’s Day.  I taught Kendall how to set up her transition towel the night before the race, and she said to me “I’m excited about tomorrow, but if anyone tries to hold on to me in the water during the swim, I’m going to kick and punch them off!”  My advice to her was go out in front, sprint the first bit, get away from the pack and keep going….
On race morning, I watched as my daughter stood in front of the pack smiling and not showing any signs of fear.  Inside, I was a mess….I was praying that God would put a bubble of safety around her as she went on this Tri journey alone, without me…. I had cut the umbilical cord and my little girl was about ready to race women of all ages in an environment she had not been in before---again, without me.  I was in the very next wave and needed to now gather myself for my own race…it was my turn… Kendall had started her journey and now I took a deep breath and said to myself, ”she is strong, she is smart, and she will be good to go….time for me to get my own TRI ON!!!!”
I battled my way through the swim, and as I came out, I could hear people telling me, "Kendall was first out of the water…she is crushing it…”   I was relieved and found myself praying again for her on the bike journey…. I rode as fast as I could in hopes to see if I could catch a glimpse of my girl…..Kendall had told me the day before, “I hope you don’t catch up to me during the race because it will make me feel weak.” I laughed and said….”then race as if I’m right behind you!!” I never caught up to Kendall but as I was nearing the end of my bike route, I could see the running trail down below….and there I saw her…my daughter, my girl, my strong warrior all alone on her run…… I screamed, “GO KENDALL!!!! You’ve got this!”  Kendall gave me a fist pump and a smile…that motivated me to cycle even faster and I found myself telling the cyclist in front of me….”That’s my daughter!!! This is such a blessing to be doing this event with my daughter!!!!! This is a great day and the best Mother’s day gift, ever!!!!”
Later, on the run, I was able to high-5 Kendall as she was running her way back to the finish, and I was still making my way out.  We exchanged huge smiles, and I screamed at the top of my lungs, “I am so proud of you!!!!”
I had no idea how well Kendall had done until the end of my race, and even so, it wasn’t what was important… What mattered was that Kendall had such feelings of accomplishment, strength, pride and happiness.  What mattered was that my daughter chose to spend her morning with me, on Mother’s Day doing what I love to do…What mattered is that Kendall now knows she has no limitations…what mattered is that Kendall believes in herself….what mattered is that I had the best Mother’s Day gift ever, and what mattered is that we had started a new chapter….a new tradition.  I pray that I have the health and strength to continue doing this until all of my girls are old enough to do it with me too….Kaitlin and Mackenzie will be the next chapters…… 
I do this race every year in memory of my Mom who died from breast cancer.  My mom did not know how to swim or ride a bike. I doubt my Mom ever went for a run. I do this for the women who will never be able to do this themselves due to their own physical limitations.  Every year I encourage at least one new person to do it.  We are amazing beings, and what better way to celebrate life than to just TRI !!

**Deb's comment:  Kendall, just 14, won the 19 and under division of the Super Sprint!  Congratulations to Kendall and Marlene on a spectacular day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Reflections: Mariann Torres and Lori Hoover

Mariann at last year's race... 

Mariann Torres
So when I first signed up for the race my main goal was to beat last year's time of 2:11:08 because I did awful on the bike. In January I was in a car accident which left me with some herniated discs in my lower back and lots of pain when I did anything.  Given this turn of events, my goal shifted to just making it through the race. With the help of my chiropractor I was able to manage the pain and train slowly. After driving the course on Saturday I told myself that I did not want to have to dismount to get up the hills and that was the goal I was going to focus on during the race.
Well race day has come and gone and I am happy to say that all 3 goals were achieved!  I made it over the hills without dismounting, I fought through the back pain, never stopping, and made it to the end, and I managed to improve my time by 24 minutes, finishing in 1:47:43!
Lori in blue with Cindy Dickinson and a friend...
Lori  Hoover
First, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank Dawn Young for giving me the opportunity to get to know the trIBE.  She, after all, is the person last year that pushed me to fulfill a dream I've had for 20 years, to train and complete a triathlon.  If it wasn't for her, I would probably still be saying twenty years from now, "I wish I had.”  I also hope to get to know all the members of the triBE better and spend much more time with this group of amazing women.
Secondly, I knew this was not going to be a better race for me than my previous race, even though I secretly was wishing it would be.  I had not trained as much as I should, and I knew the hills would make me slower.  But I went into it with three goals. 
1.  To not panic when I first entered the water and swim my freestyle strokes the way I know I can.
2.  To not get off my bike. 
3.  To somehow enjoy the run.

 I met all three of those goals.  I actually was smiling inside through most of the race.  For that morning all the stress I've been feeling for the last two years left my body.  I was happy and not thinking about life's challenges.

Lastly, when I got my total time, yes I was disappointed.  It was 10 minutes slower than my previous race and my running, even though never good, was worse than any 3 miles I've run in the last year.  But after thinking about that for a minute or two, here were my thoughts.  I wouldn't change a thing because that day brought me much happiness.  BUT next year, I'm going to train hard and push myself to be the best I can be!
Go triBE!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sweat, Tears, and Magic

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears, or the sea.  ~Isak Dinesen

They say that good stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end.  I am not sure where to begin the story of our triathlon journey, but I can start at the beginning of the weekend.  The picture here is about half the triBE, those that made the morning course review.  We listened to a description of the race, oriented ourselves in the venue, picked up our timing chips, numbers, and caps, and determined our waves and start times.  And then we hugged and laughed with abandon.  It was a good morning and the excitement was palpable.  Sally Edwards took everyone through a race day schedule and then some of the triBE went out and tested the waters…  turns out they were pretty shallow and not nearly as scary as you might think. 
Later that day Nicki Drumb sent us a meditation, an inspiration to focus our thoughts, to quiet our racing hearts, if only for a moment.  I share it here with the sure knowledge that it is beautiful and powerful.   And there is more, so much more to tell you.  I’ll try to share your stories each day for a while, to tell you of each other and our triBE’s journey.  As you read these I hope you will be inspired to tell your story too. If you write it yourself, I will happily post it.  If you tell it to me, I will joyfully share it.   
These moments of wonder and beauty in our lives, they slide through our fingers like water and are gone.  I’d like to savor this one a while longer.

If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water. ~Loran Eisley

my sunday morning meditation:

i refuse not to tri

feel that water?
that life-giving liquid
you were born into

it means:
you are closer to the finish line
than you have ever been

feel it on your feet
this water is actually a rock
you are walking on

the rock of strength
that swims through your veins
that told you that a future version
of your self will BE a triathlete
tri BE

feel the cleansing water
lap your ankles and legs
as it moves to make way
for your perfect body

your perfect body that:
sleeps and dreams
carries children and groceries
holds on
digests food & drink
moves blood
builds muscle
commands might

i am grateful for this body

it is my soul sanctuary

it houses my heart
my thoughts
my loves
my life

i am grateful for this body

i was born from water

i am a powerful woman

so i am a powerful swimmer

i signed up for this shit

i refuse to fail

let the water
wash away
all the fear
and hush
all the noise
all the crap
all the small
all the "i should've"
all the "i can't"

i am enough

i refuse not to tri

i got here

i am closer to the finish line
than i have ever been

Monday, May 14, 2012

Of Silver Linings and Such

He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.  ~Epictetus

So sometimes things don’t turn out the way you had hoped.  When I got to the half way point of the race yesterday, it was clear that this was not going to be a made for TV movie where I overcame tremendous odds and somehow defeated my demons and had my fastest race ever.  In fact, yesterday was truly my worst race in terms of time, and in the world of pain I found myself, I was grateful that I had enough strength to gather myself and run the last 100 yards to the finish as I would have wanted to run the entire race. 
But despite my lack of timed success, I wanted you to know that this day was not all a loss for me.  I had a decent swim in heavy traffic.  My transitions were smooth, fast, and uneventful.  My bike odometer cheerfully reported a lifetime best top speed of 31.5 mph on those wicked, knee-crippling hills
And there was all of you.
I cannot thank you enough for all you did for me in those final miles.  I heard every one of you call to me on the bike course.  I felt every word of encouragement on those final few miles on the run course.  You did everything right in a time when I didn’t think anything could be more wrong.  Every high five from your children and rousing cheer from your families left me awed and humbled.  You held my hand and lifted my heart and my feet to the finish.  And I cannot even begin to express my gratitude to the group of you that came back onto the course to bring me home.  Your presence helped me gather my pride and my courage so that together we could run those final steps.    
There were dozens of triBE stories yesterday and this is but one.  You are remarkable women and in the coming days I will treasure sharing your stories and the pictures that chronicle our journey.  I am hoping you will write your own story or at least tell it to me so that I can post it here.   Please stay tuned and read the tales of your sisters, your team mates.   I know you will feel inspired as I was yesterday and truly experience the power and strength of our triBE. 
I could not sleep without thanking all of you publicly for making this day and this race one I will ever remember.  It was nothing of what I expected and more than I ever dreamed. This triBE is an amazing gift that has come to me out of the ether, a gift in my life like no other.  I am not the same woman that started this race.  I am transformed yet again into something new, something stronger.  I am truly blessed.  Thank you. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Safe Journey. Wind at Your Back.

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” ~Orson Welles

I started this tri season with a single statement, “This is going to be my last triathlon.”  I had good reasons for this.  It is time consuming.  I am not very good at racing “for fun.”  I tend to get obsessive and want to do it as well as I possibly can.  The time I need to train takes a toll on my family as well.  And it’s expensive.  Lots of people heard me say that I was quitting, and Wednesday night, on my last ride, I was thinking about this.
It all started with the realization that Sunday will be my last run for a while, maybe for a long while if I need surgery.  And if I’m not doing any more triathlons, maybe I never have to run again.  That gave me pause.  It’s good that it was an easy ride and there was no traffic because I started to cry.
If you know me AT ALL, you know I have a “Love-Hate” relationship with running.  Man, when it is good, it’s the best thing ever.  No other training gives me the endorphin rush and the feeling of accomplishment that running does.  But when it’s bad, it is just awful, and the good times are not all that common.  This season has been just about all bad. 
So I’m crying and riding, and to be fair, most people have never seen me cry, so this is like some kind of crazy, and I’m thinking what the heck is wrong with me?  It is in this moment that I am facing some unpleasant truths.  I have not been able to train the way I wanted to.  I could not run enough, and I know I am not as fit as I have been in other years.  I was not able to do the preparations I know I should do.  And my knee is not right.  I am racing, but I know it’s not right.  By my standards, my personal criteria, I am not 100%. I’m not ready. 
This is upsetting, but in a moment I realize why I’m really upset…  I know I’m not ready, but I never feel ready.  I’m upset because this is not how I want it to end.  I don’t want to finish my triathlon career limping and walking.  I don’t want this race to be my last memory. 
Practically blinded, I realize I better pull myself together and get off the pity train before I crash.  And practical, problem-solving Deb steps up to the plate as asks, “Whatcha gonna do about it, girl?”

 So what can I do about it?  Oh, wait, I have options! 
·    I can choose not to race.  I’ll let last year’s race be my final race.  It was good.  I had fun.  But wait… I want to race. I really, really want to race Sunday.
·    I can accept that this race may be terrible, but that’s how my career will end.  I can do the best that I can on Sunday and no matter what happens, be done, because that was the plan all along, and I’m sticking to it. 
Hmm… I find that deeply disheartening. 
·    Or I can simply choose not to quit.  What if this isn’t my last race?  What if this is just a bump in a road that somehow keeps going.  What if I rehab my leg and fight my way back to running and come back and do this again?  Because I can.  Because I want to.  Because I don’t want to quit. 
And that’s when I stopped crying.

So you’re thinking, what a ridiculous story.  How can this be what Deb wants to tell us only a few days before the race?  But you see, it is exactly what I want to tell you.  Because whether this is your first race or your 10th, you have concerns.  There are things you wish you would have done differently.  We all have “should have” moments.  I should have run further, eaten better, trained harder, slept more.  My personal “should have?”  I should have rehabbed my damn hamstring in January.  But I didn’t, and that decision caused a whole bunch of things to happen that makes me feel “not ready.”
Here’s an essential truth:  “You’re never completely ready.  It just becomes your turn.” 
It’s your turn.  It’s your turn to fulfill your dreams.  It’s your turn to forget the past.  It’s your turn to be in this incredible moment.  As Christine says over and over, it’s your turn to “enjoy the journey.”
You cannot change the past, not even a little. I’m asking you to stop looking there, to lift your head from what you did and think about what you will do.  You will race on Sunday.  You will finish.  And when you do, you will not be the same woman that started the race.  You will know things about yourself, things that will make you proud.  You will stand taller, feel stronger, and be more self-aware of your own courage and abilities than you have been in a very long time.  You will see yourself and each other as I do.  I do not see all of your fear and insecurity, your too much and not enough.  When I look into your eyes, I see nothing but courage and strength, this incredibly beautiful moment when you realize how amazing you are. 
I wish you a wonderful day.  May you find strength in your family and friends who cheer you to the finish, power in the triBE of women, friends and strangers, united in common purpose, and courage in the lion heart you carry inside you. 
Safe journey my friends, Sunday and always.  Wind at your back.