I was born an athlete and I’ll die an athlete. The competitive spirit was instilled in me by my mother who is a runner and extremely driven person. As a young girl, I would accompany her on training runs, although at that time, picking flowers and looking for butterflies interested me more than splits and miles times. I didn’t realize it then, but those early jogging sessions would be the beginning of a journey that would not only take me to incredible places, but would also come to define me as a person.
In high school, I ran on the cross country and track teams. Even back then, I set my sights high, and qualifying for the state meet was my primary goal. Despite my hard work and determination, I never earned an opportunity to compete against the state’s top athletes. But what I gained during that time was a burning desire to become an accomplished runner and a life-long athlete.
My collegiate career began at the main campus of Penn State University. The atmosphere of a Division I school was a drastic change from my small, hometown community. The running teams were comprised of dominating women from around the country. That first year, I attended all of the home meets as a spectator and dreamed about what it would be like to earn a position on the team.
I spent the next summer training like I never had before. It was grueling, but my ability improved dramatically, and the following fall, I secured one of the few walk-on spots on the cross country team. Like a gift from God, my experiences built my character and changed my life forever. Although it seemed impossible when I arrived on campus, four years later I graduated from Penn State as a team captain on both the cross country and track teams.
A Triathlete is Born
The competitive drive that blessed me in so many ways throughout my life prompted me to pursue a new challenge, the intense and punishing sport of triathlon. A local YMCA race in 2005 initially sparked my interest. During that race, I felt like quitting during the swim, as I watched all of my competitors run out of the water minutes ahead of me, while I breast-stroked the entire 400 meters. After I finished the swim, I managed to catch the entire field before the finish line, and secured my first victory. I was pleased with the result, but I also knew I was capable of much more.
In 2007, I trained harder and learned more about the sport than I ever could have imagined. I was like a sponge, soaking up every last drop of information that was available. I soon realized I needed more guidance, and contacted the folks at the Mark Allen Online training program in the spring of 2008. With the help of their great coaching, I won my age group at the St. Croix 70.3 Ironman and earned a spot at the Ford Ironman World Championships in Hawaii later that fall. And with support from my family and friends and many blessings by God, I crossed the finish line after 140.6 grueling miles in Kona.
I am now a proud member of the professional triathlon ranks. After winning two amateur female Ironman triathlon titles (Ironman Cozumel 2010 and Ironman Lake Placid 2011), in 2012 I will join the start line along-side some of the best professional triathletes in the world. My journey has taken me all over the world and I’ve been fortunate to meet and train with incredible people, some of which are now my closest friends. People that dream big and strive for things that most think are out of their reach. Their drive and determination is contagious, and just like them, I’m striving to use my talents to the fullest!
In July of 2011, I was asked to work with a 16 year old young man from Pittsburgh named Branden. Branden had been chosen by the producers of “MTV MADE” because of his goal to do the Pittsburgh Triathlon on July 31st. When I met Branden he had very little experience in the world of athletics and certainly had never done any swimming, biking or running. We had three and a half weeks when we started till the time of the race, and together Branden and I overcame many hurtles to allow him to place 2nd in his age-group at the Pittsburgh Adventure Triathlon. This victory gave him new confidence and a whole new world of athletics and sport to explore in the future. It was a humbling experience that changed my life and showed me my passion and love for coaching to help others achieve their dreams. The full episode can be viewed HERE.
So what’s next? I’m almost afraid to say, but I’ll admit that I have dreams of returning to the Big Island as a professional at the Ironman World Championships and making a name for myself on the professional scene. I also often visualize Fuel Your Passion Endurance Coaching and Nutrition Counseling growing and becoming a nationally recognized triathlon business. I know there are many others out there who share my goals. Some of us will achieve them, others will not. That’s just reality.
But, I can tell you firsthand that dreams are very powerful. They may not define me, but they’re a constant driving force behind the scenes, pushing me to excel at whatever I do. I’ll set goals, I’ll reach them, and I’ll be sure to enjoy the journey along the way. Because I’m an athlete, and that’s what we do.
Good luck to all of you in your athletic endeavors. I wish you all the best in achieving your goals and making your dreams a reality!