Why I Tri? by Lisa Blauvelt
Why do I Tri? Because I can. I want to be a good role model for my daughter. The challenges inspire me to be my best. The people I have met doing triathlon inspire me every day, touch my heart and also happen to be some of the best people I have ever known. Because of RTB. I could end here, but I am guessing when Kathy asked me to do it she was expecting more of a story. So here it goes…
It’s funny, over the course of the last several years I have asked myself Why I Tri and I keep adding reasons. As mom of a 2 year old at the age of 39, I did my first sprint at the Subaru all women’s triathlon at Steele Lake in 2006. I had no idea what I was doing! The first friend I met when I moved to WA in 1997 from a local running group had started doing triathlons and she talked me into giving it a go. Why not? I had a 2 year old now and I probably needed to try something new. “Training" consisted of her having me set up a transition area with all the borrowed items in my driveway and pretending to transition! I was very weary of all the steps to triathlon (versus a marathon and just running)… and sometimes that is true still to this day! A day after I finished, another good running friend reminded me that she had convinced me to sign up to do the Black Diamond sprint - I thought I must have been crazy because two in two weeks when I didn't know what I was doing was just too much! Then and to this day, friends are the secret sauce that make it happen. I did have my helmet on backwards for that Black Diamond bike leg, and oh my it took a long time to live that down! In 2006 my husband also did his first triathlon, except he chose to do Ironman CDA - and after training with 4 OWS, he was swimming, and completed it in 11:01, narrowly missing a Kona spot. Totally different approaches to trying a triathlon!
So that’s how it began. My friend believed I could. And to be honest, that is how I continue to set and reach new goals all the time - thanks to the awesome friends I’ve made on the RTB team.
Soon after those first triathlons things changed. In 2007, my long time running goal of going to Boston was a reality. After years of trying to qualify and be that runner - which I started at the age of 29 in 1996 - I finally made it. My husband ran it with me, as he had promised for years he would when I qualified. For him, every marathon was a BQ. For me, it was a long journey. To be sure, running it with me was an easy training run for him!
And then it happened. A week or so after we got back from Boston, while he was helping a contractor take down a tree in our yard, in a freak second he crushed his ankle beyond repair. Just like that, it was the end of his marathon and ultra-running days. He didn’t walk for several months and after a few surgeries over two years and a lot of pain he got back to cycling - his first love - but running was not an option. Everything changed for him and me as well. A new lens to look through. What next?
At that point, our running group we met with several times a week began falling apart too - age, injuries, family stuff - you name it. So, I decided to do that Tri thing again. I heard of the Lake Meridian triathlon from a very close friend I knew from running. She was a marathon maniac and always in top shape. She did the Lake Meridian Tri and told me the Olympic distance wasn’t that bad. So off I went - and on the way heard there was this team that put it together...
Just like that, RTB became the reason I did triathlons. They were the best group of people and I fell in love! I did another Olympic or two and trained with the team. They showed me the ropes, didn't laugh at my blunders and were the family of friends that I'd lost in my running group and I'd been missing. Tom and Diana Hull got me out training and kept me smiling. So many bike rides with those two and it was a blast. Vince and his family quickly became some of my favorite people showing us the ropes in Chelan. He gave me countless transition tips - as he is a transition ninja - and let's just say I'm still working on those! Ericka kept me laughing and training, she made it super fun. It wasn't long before someone convinced me to try doing a half iron. I thought hmm, I better get a coach for that. Kathy stepped in, propped me up and got me acquainted with HR monitors and a real training plan. Best of all, lucky me I met my beloved birthday twin Jenn McCormick! She was also training for her first half with Kathy. Countless hours on the road and trails and in the water and it was the best time I'd ever had training. Getting to know such an awesome person who happens to be my birthday twin felt like destiny, divine intervention you name it - something fantastic! We were alike in so many ways and lucky for me she was different too….she became the map master for our rides, the calm voice when the tire went flat and the McGyver who could fix anything in seconds flat!
Over the years I got to know Dagmar, Wendy, Tammy, Debbie, Joy, Kelly, Cindy, Denise, Tess, Deborah, Lisa, Jenn Schroeder and so many more awesome people. Soon I was doing another half iron, training with amazing Alissa. She worked me hard, saw me through ups and downs of all kinds and believed in me no matter what. I met miss Katie Thompson who was so fun to work out with, and so inspiring. She was training herself for her first iron man and the desire to go to Kona put a sparkle in her eye. I am old enough to be her mother, and I grew to love her like she was my own. With RTB, the support and fun was endless. The circle kept growing... friends, the secret sauce! Who would've thought I'd be spending my weekend winter mornings in a pool and then with the garage gang riding on trainers for hours? Ray & Ryan letting us converge on their garages, Denny feeding us donuts and brightening up the dark winter days while Debbie, Kelly and I chatted and sweat, getting it done. Wendy deciding to go for Boston and train with me away from her beloved mountains with me because at 50 I wanted to BQ again. Convincing me after 8 years of NOT running marathons I could do marathons again and qualify. Katie deciding to run with me to pace me at attempt #2, what become my second BQ, even though her foot hurt from doing her second Ironman just weeks before. Tess, after my bike crash at mile 31 in CDA telling me in transition when I stood there confused, you can do it, just put the bike up it's ok. Val, picking me up 2 miles from the finish at CDA 70.3, and deciding she was going to walk with me and sacrifice her own race because as she said "I don't have anywhere to be and you've got a race to finish". Michelle taking care of me and making sure I am taking care of myself which isn’t always the top of my list. Quality humans, all of the them. The friendships I have made and the support from the team has kept me going, kept me in the sport and believing I can do whatever it is I'm trying to do - triathlon, running, anything in life.
One of the greatest things about doing triathlons has been having my daughter see me do them, the successes (and the failures) and all the while her being my biggest cheerleader no matter what. When she crossed the Lake Meridian triathlon with me for that first Olympic race, it was the best moment of the whole race. She ran with me to the finish in her Ugg boots holding my hand and I felt like I had won the race! I've seen so many on the team be the best role models for their children and I strive to do the same. It's priceless when she says I'm so proud of you mom on the good days and the bad.
What has been most challenging? The dark moments when you doubt, when you've had a bike crash in your A race, some crazy health thing bringing you to a stand still when you are trying to BQ again at 50, battling with the race nutrition gods and trying to come out on top...missing a race goal and then barely being able to finish at all - tough stuff. Everyone has a story, the good, the bad and everything in between.
What do I tell myself or do to keep on going in those dark moments? I'm so blessed, I love this. The secret to enduring is enjoying, crack a smile. Everyone in this race is trying to get from point A to point B on their own journey. I am stronger than I know. And in purple sharpie on my hand where I can always see it during a race - FUN!
There have been ups and downs of course as with everything. Injuries here and there that kept me from running or swimming, health issues I didn't know I had, races that didn’t go well at all, races I had to dig deep to not quit, work & family schedules that made training tough. I need to Tri to prove to myself I can do it when I think I can't. I could sit around and eat peanut butter straight from the jar and cry when I can't seem to get it together (and sometimes I do) but in spite of it all, the training, team and triathlon goals have been the glue that has kept me together on more than one occasion. I get so much from it and hopefully give back as much as I receive.
Why do I Tri? Because of the people and RTB. BETTER TOGETHER.
9/6/2017 12:19:00 pm
Thank you for sharing your story! You are such an inspiration to many and especially your children. So happy you found all your special peeps and connections. It sure makes it even that more fun!!!
9/6/2017 05:55:00 pm
Lisa reading your story as well as many others brought happy tears to my eyes ! I am glad I know you and can call you a friend and a teammate!
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