Fitness and being active have always been a part of our family life-style and story-telling. My dad ran sub 3-hour marathons and even a 100K event. Even before that, he was known by his fellow fighter pilots for running on the flight line in Vietnam. He brought home is big, heavy 45# bike from Vietnam in 1968. He was running circles around me when he was in his 70s, which I told him was not right! But was secretly proud of him for doing.
His great grandfather was mentioned in the Tacoma newspapers in the early 1900s for his cycling adventures. One included a ride on his 45# bike from Tacoma to Portland between two sunrises. The paper quotes him as saying, “The roads were good except for the potholes in the wooded sections.” And that was without any support crew!
My grandfather and his twin sister were both active. I bushwhacked up a steep mountain with my grandfather when he was well into his 80s. That was when I was fit and I still struggled to breathe and keep up with him! I swam across Lake Washington with him when he was 87 years old. On his twin sister’s 90th birthday, when I was 45 years old, I jogged with this woman! It was a slow jog, but these amazing people in my life completely challenged me to remain fit into my later years.
With the challenges of childbearing and full-time work, when I was 32 years old, I found myself overweight and out of shape. My children were starting to have more energy and speed than I. That would not do! So, I focused on what I could do to get back into shape. When the kids were tiny, I would carry one on a front pack and the other on a backpack for fast walks with the eldest on his bike. Even so, I could not run any distance. Valley Medical Center opened a Fitness Center with free use of equipment for employees. This was my initiation to a treadmill. I started with saying, “I can do anything for 10 minutes” and finally, after quite some time, of slow jog/walk, I was finally able to run a mile! I cannot tell you how excited I was! Using a treadmill made each small improvement visible for me and I was finally able to ramp up the distance, elevation and speed from there. Eventually, I worked up to 35-50 miles a week! I didn’t have any knowledge about training properly to keep from injury or overtraining. Too bad, because there was some of that.
I learned to swim when I was 13 years old, but didn’t learn confidence in the water until I joined the high school swim team my junior year. I was always in the slow lane, and unfortunately, despite sleeping next to a very fast swimmer J I haven’t really gotten much faster over the years. Patty and Chris just keep telling me that means I need to swim more. I believe them, but the thoughts of chorine hair and dry skin keep me out of the pool more than once a week in the winter.
Finally, in my mid-40s, some friends from church tried to convince me to cycle. I thought they were crazy. Cycling in the NW! Cold and wet! Just didn’t appeal to me! But one of those friends was fighting early onset Parkinson’s disease. She was a very determined and driven person who inspired me both physically and spiritually. She signed up for Team in Training’s Kings Trail Olympic Triathlon in Maui. Her journey for that race was a very physically challenging and a spiritual journey that is too complex to tell here, but which made me what to help and to encourage her. I finally agreed to try some cycling and to ride with her. She lent me a bike and WOW, I discovered I liked it!
And I really did! So much so that I signed up for the Team in Training “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” around Lake Tahoe. I even raised about $6000 for that effort. The support from Team in Training was incredible. I learned emergency stops, safe riding, how to fix minor repairs and flats. I also learned drafting and all sorts of beautiful places to cycle in our area. A whole new world opened up for me and suddenly I was cycling 1000-2000 miles a year. I couldn’t get enough of it! I rode across Washington twice, STP twice, across Idaho and half way across Montana! I was in heaven! I love all that I can see while cycling and the wind in my face. Don’t even mind the cold and wet nearly as much as I thought I would.
So, now this story was about triathlon, right? Well, that is the long story to the way that I got into RTB. My friend and co-worker, Cindy McGonigal started using her mountain bike. We went on a bike ride together and I convinced her to try out my road bike, which by then was a very nice one. That was all she needed to convince her to go out and buy a better bike. Soon she was signing up for a triathlon. I told her she was nuts. But she started inviting me to the RTB Swim workouts. There were some VERY nice people there!
Next, Cindy talked me into going to listen to Sally Edwards who was giving a talk about the Danskin Women’s Triathlon. This was in 2007. I said, “Sure that would be interesting, but no triathlon for me!” Ha!Ha! -Came out of the place with an entry into that darned race! Cindy teases me about that to this day.
Really, the rest is history. RTB is full of some of the most inspiring and nice people that I have ever met. And as I have learned over the years, there are all sorts of swim workouts, bike rides, track workouts, hikes, mountain bike rides, and hiking opportunities with those very nice people. As my husband, Chris Hall, who is the very nicest person that I met through RTB (he was my swim coach and yet I STILL can’t move up to the fast lane!) says, “They are our tribe”. We love this tribe and the knowledge, experience, encouragement and kindness of the community. -The camaraderie for all levels of the sport-those who are at the slower speeds and abilities and those whose speed, skill and ability dumbfound those of us mortals.
Racing always challenges me. I hate the start and the adrenaline of a race. I love the training and the celebration after an event. I am surprised to find myself doing well because I am not really that fast-I guess I am starting to outlive the competition, which helps. And as you can tell from the opening to this piece, outliving the competition is part of my goal. I want to be like my Dad, grandfather and great-aunt: swimming, cycling, running (and gardening) into my 80s and 90s. And maybe a bit like Sister Madonna Buder, who I had the great fortune to meet when I did my one Half Ironman, though unlike her I have no plans to do any full Ironman Tris. My goal is to just keep moving as I age, and hopefully with that cardiovascular movement and fun injected into my life, to protect some brain cells along the way.
Thank you all for being part of my tribe! You inspire and encourage me, and knowing so many of you enriches my life.
Raise the Bar
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