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Paying it Forward: Gotta Want It!!

For the first-ever triathlon I did (an Olympic-distance in 2011), I happened to volunteer to be a home-stay for the DC Triathlon Club. He was a first-year pro from Australia, just a few months younger than me, who goes by the name of "Foxy"—I still follow him on Facebook and Twitter and he just so happens to be killing it in the Olympic and Half distances. I offered him a free place to crash while coming to race in the United States at minimal expense/hassle to me. Little did I know that just a few short years later I would be in the same shoes, looking for people willing to take in some up-and-coming cash-strapped newbie pros looking to save some dough. From there, I was hooked. I learned that serving as a homestay is a great excuse to meet interesting people, learn more about the sport of triathlon and "give back" in a way that actually is pretty self-serving as long as you like meeting new and interesting people ;)

Then in 2013, I hosted Diane Berberian, a paratriathlete racing in the visually impaired category. We were both doing CapTexTri and she was introduced through a friend of a friend of a Rev3 triathlon teammate so I got to welcome her in with open arms despite knowing exactly what "visually impaired" meant.

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Shortly after she arrived, we walked down South Congress in Austin and got burgers and chatted about Kona (she helped inspire my goal to make it to Hawaii), about triathlon and about her new experiences as a visually-impaired triathlete and the discrimination she and fellow competitors face as a result.

She has macular degeneration, which means she has slowly lost her field of vision, including the ability recognize faces and safely train and race alone as a result. Part of that loss includes a harrowing Kona story where she gradually lost her vision out on the Queen K across the course of race day while still trying to be her competitive self. Today, she leads the charge among the visually impaired to give herself and others the chance to challenge themselves and compete despite what others might see as "limitations".

Today, she is trying to qualify for RIO 2016!!! I love following her updates and would love nothing more than to see her chase her dreams!! You can learn more about her and hopefully be as inspired by her as I am here: www.dianeberberian.org.

Diane was one of the best homestay athletes I have ever hosted and is part of the reason I am so supportive of the homestay experience: for starters, it's a great way to learn more about someone else's experience, whether they are a professional triathlete (you can learn training tips from them!) or someone like Dianne who opened my eyes to the paratriathlon world and some of the discrimination that even happens within their ranks (i.e. forcing "visually impaired" athletes to wear black-out glasses to "level" the playing field with full-blind athletes who have been so their entire lives, instead of creating a new category). In addition, despite offering her my bed, she insisted on sleeping on the blow-up mattress so it was almost like no one was even there ;) .

She ended up doing amazing and I had a blast cheering her on the home town course as she crushed it along the streets of Austin to podium in her category!! Even now it is amazing to watch her "make training happen" (her motto is "Gotta Want It!") and overcome her limitations on a daily basis. I consider Dianne one of my closest triathlon friends, an inspiration and someone who initially helped plant the Kona bug that has me inspired to now try to return to the big island as a professional triathlete. I also would love to be a guide for her or another visually impaired triathlete if the opportunity ever came up—the way she described the teamwork and trust involved was phenomenal and yet another way to give back to the tri community.

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If you haven't considered acting as a homestay for a hometown race, think about it: there's little to no down-side for you. Honestly, most triathletes seeking out a homestay are *incredibly* boring and are just there to sleep, eat and race. However, the benefit you provide by offering a bed to crash in is astronomical for so many of our up and coming pros who are pinching pennies or juggling multiple jobs in order to try to make their dreams happen.

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In Good Company, With First Bourn

You've heard me talk about it before—and we're back! I'm so excited to be partnering with First Bourn, a company, group of people and soon-to-be world-class experience starting right here in my very backyard: Asheville! Of course, it doesn't stop there—there are talks of Boulder, Arizona, Australia... it's like they're targeting all of the cities and places that make my heart sing! And when they say "world class", they mean it. I'm so excited to be joining this amazing crew of athletes that I've either idolized or will have the very privilege of racing against next year as an elite (and I think a few more extremely exciting announcements still to come—stay tuned)! You can check out my profile here or click the image below to see the full list of athletes excited to see First Bourn grow!

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Some of you have been asking "what exactly is First Bourn?" since there has been so much chatter. Well, you can check out their website here, email or message me directly or here's a quick glance into First Bourn's vision and goals in creating this community of endurance athletes:

First Bourn aspires to become a widely recognized network of world-class training destinations for endurance athletes. With many supporting higher altitude training, we are focused on providing athletes the experience, accommodations and support needed to be successful in achieving a wide array of goals. First Bourn is fueling the multi-sport and endurance lifestyle and helping athletes improve and perfect individual performance – no matter what the level of fitness. Our focus on continuous improvement goes beyond just ourselves, but to each and every community we’ll inhabit. We will dedicate commitment, time and resources to those around us.

I'm serious when I say don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any questions at all—I love talking about this venture and what it will bring to the Asheville area and the triathlete community in general in the near future.  And, as always, you know I love chatting up my little AVL town!

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Here's a Toast to what was an EPIC 2014!

There is no way to describe 2014 other than “NON-STOP!” In all, 2014 involved...

  • moving to five different houses/apartments,
  • racing four Ironmans,
  • winning two overall Ironman amateur titles,
  • finishing second at the toughest triathlon in the world,
  • placing # sixteen in my very first professional race,
  • moving 1200 miles half-way across the country,
  • taking on three different jobs at my company and
  • adopting one precious and precocious black lab mix.

While it was still a whirlwind stop that took all of December (and finally staying in one place for more than 2 weeks at a time) to recover from, I can't say I regret a moment of it!

If you couldn’t tell, my blog has been quieter this past year than most and this entire post kind of captures why! 

January

Ran the 3M Marathon to set a new 13.1 PR in 1:31! And re-stocked all of my office supplies for the new year while at it. Everything else was enjoying my first full and only mild Austin winter (well, aside from that one time it baby-snowed).

January
January

February

Adopted my lovely Lucy on Valentine’s Day and couldn't stop raving about her for the next few months (oh, wait... I still am). Ran my 4th half-marathon with a slightly sub-par race at the Austin half-marathon but a good way to celebrate my one-year anniversary of getting hit by a car. Then closed out the rest of the month by driving clear across ALLLL of big ol' Texas with Dawn to join the rest of Team HPB at Smash Camp in Tucson, Arizona. From 110x100 yard swims (helloooo, lightning) to the most epic summit of Mt Lemmon ever (ft. snow at the top and getting stranded at the cookie cabin) to train runs through the desert and just awesome biking all around, it was the best of best #smashfests.

February
February

March

Just one week after returning back home from SmashFest, I entered a local Texas duathlon on two days notice and won overall female—the prize was a bag of walnuts! By the end of month it was already feeling like summer—with a Friday post-work ride finishing at Sonic for a little fruit slush ending! (one of the big things I miss about Austin—warmer weather!) Lucy and I became dog park regulars and she learned how to swim with the biggest of labs. And then it turned into gorgeous bluebonnet season, my rides featuring seas of blue.

March
March

April

April was good to me! Most of all—I was first overall amateur at New Orleans 70.3! The perks of a hometown race included pre-race bike rides with the #OCDSherpa and post-race beignets. But before that, I kicked off the half-ironman season early Tri Tyler Half Ironman, doing half-decent on one of the hardest courses I had done up to that point! (IMCDA and Norseman would soon change that, however). Oh yeah, despite a slow start, Lucy also graduated from Puppy School :)

April
April

May

Ended up spending most of my May shuttling between New Orleans, Asheville and Austin. Two weeks of Asheville hill training sandwiched the Rev3 Knoxville AG Championships where I ended up 3rd overall in their funky hybrid Olympic/Half distance, second to HPB teammate and fellow baby pro Leslie! There was also a pre-Knox moment of panic where I couldn't find my bib but got a little creative with things... Sadly there was never a race report about Knox since all of May was pretty hectic and depressing as it was spent saying goodbye to my grandmother. On the brighter side, both Lucy and I fell in love with Asheville and decided to make it our mission to move there as soon as possible. I rode every hill I could find, including a trip or two up Mt Mitchell and soaked up the Asheville love and wilderness until it was time to head back to beyond bearably-hot Austin.

May
May

June

June was ALL about Coeur d'Alene, where I won my FIRST AMATEUR IRONMAN TITLE! Of course, this also meant a podium with teammate Laura and sealed the deal for a return ticket to Kona World Championships! Of course, I was ecstatic! But I went into this skeptical after a few weeks of sub-par training. Lots of driving, lots of tortured training in the Austin heat (but, oh, the sunflowers!) and lots of distractions—including a new family member (welcome nephew Lex!) and a family reunion in New Orleans, that featured a trainer ride in a stuffy hotel room while all my cousins were out partying in the french quarter and a few 5am runs down (still-beer-drenched) Bourbon Street and along my favorite streetcar tracks.

June
June

July

Less than 20-hours after winning Ironman Coeur d'Alene I had to forget about that high since I was back in Austin and frantically packing and painting my apartment—my move to Asheville was OFFICIAL! Lucy and I drove a stuffed car 1200 to then settle into our temporary new home, a cabin in the woods with amazing views. I had less than 4 weeks to officially prep for Norseman and crammed accordingly. No lie, thistrainingwasbeyondtough. My new whip, a BLUE Triad (aka #bluecrusch) arrived and I got to set breaking her in. From there, it was off to Norway, the land of fjords, ferries, trolls, historic sea towns and churches and battle sites, beautiful views and overpriced, well, EVERYTHING! But I was here and my dream was coming true... it was time to conquer Norseman!

July
July

August

In the race and experience of a life-time, I finished second at Norseman. Beyond that, I slowly got back into training and life was nothing but puppies and gorgeous sunsets.

AUgust
AUgust

September

To be honest, all of September I was in a bit of a funk. Looking back, I barely remembering it because it was a mix of kind of quiet and kind of hectic and juggling work and training and some other oddities. I moved into a cute little house, then quickly  moved out for safety purposes/it was falling apart. Training was all about Kona: in prep I rode with friendsElizabeth and Jared and Corey and Meghan through some killer hills in South Carolina, climbed Mt Mitchell on numerous occasions (if you ever need a fun, long route - let me know!) and got in my solo Birthday swim one weekday morning before work (set if you're interested here).

September
September

October

All about the KONA Ironman World Championships! Leading up to it, I was on local television in a segment for being a "game changer", featured in a SELF Magazine post about the "Top Inspirational Women in the Ironman World Championships" and featured in the local newspaper with Elizabeth! In Kona, we swam the course with all of Team HPB, rode on the queen K and just in general questioned whether it would be feasible to move to Hawaii ;) Race day wasn't what I wanted but raced hard on a tough day and ended the run in an all-out duel with new friend Erin for a well-earned medal and lei—what would I have given to be able to bring the flowers back to the mainland to dry an frame somehow. To think, next time I race IM KONA, it will be in the pro race—just give me a few years, just you wait!! While the legs were still de-puffing post-race, I traveled straight from Kona to San Fran for Dreamforce, where I spoke at one of the sessions on platform adoption. While there, I also got in a few good trolley rides, got to see Bruno Mars in concert and snuck in a run in along one of my favorite routes in the world!

October
October

November

We woke up to nearly six inches of snow on November 1st! Lucy's first snow and a shock to me as well! Along with a few other athletes, we braved the snowy day taking place in a photo shoot with First Bourn, including some of the awesome people I got to meet and ride with a few weeks before when I was introduced to this awesome venture kicking off right here in Asheville! With a quick bounce back from Kona and onto Arizona, I raced my first professional race at Ironman Arizona!

Nov
Nov

December

Much like it was a struggle bouncing back after Norseman, I spent the next few weeks after IMAZ slowly easing into things. Lucy and I used the down-time to finally make our new home cozy, both inside and out. There was the epic proposal ride where I was the secret photog for Duran and Laura and some hilarious puppy sitting that followed. I started the project of trying to become a serioustrailrunneremphasis on "trying". :) And to cap off all of amazing 2015 in a poetically fitting way (with a full post to surely follow shortly), I headed down to Atlanta for New Year's Eve and swam FIFTEEN KILOMETERS with the Dynamo Masters Crew. Nothing short of epic.

Dec
Dec

What's Next?

Who knows, but I'm excited to create it! Oh, yeah, and I ended up featured in 220 Triathlon's yearly calendar insert for their magazine—check out August! :)

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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 6.37.43 PM

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#Lucygram

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#Lucygram

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In case you somehow missed it over on Twitter and Instagram, I have a new pal and training partner. 10014998_10201644909303924_1249740418_n

 

Meet Lucy, rescue pup and goofball

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We brought her home on Valentine's day, perfect since she's such a sweety.

 

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She tries to help me pack for workouts...

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But usually only ends up making a mess.

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She's an aspiring triathlete...

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If only she can get over her fear of the bike.

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Her #velcrodog personality certainly makes working from home a tiny bit tougher

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But at least she's good about fetching my recovery drinks...

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And keeping me company while foam-rolling or stuck in my Normatecs.

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I can't wait until she's old enough to join me on some of the runs—but in the meantime, we're happy just tearing up the dog park.

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Citius, Altius, Fortius

Who else is as inspired as I am each and every Olympics year? I've been sucked into the games entirely (embarrassed by the amount of couch time I've logged recently) and blame the commercials on the AMAZING training weekend I just had, not to mention the urge to book tickets right now  to Colorado to go hit the powder. Of course, the superb training hours were also helped by the 75-degrees and sunny weather here in Austin... gotta love Texas in February. If you're looking for some motivation to ramp up your early season training, no matter how irrelevant the sponsor is to the Olympics, some of my favorite commercials:

Missteps:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mpWOi34tD30]

It Adds Up:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsnFqE3LMAo]

Thank You, Mom

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57e4t-fhXDs]

Another P&G Winner

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyiLPj94BBQ]

Greatness (2012 Throwback)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=_hEzW1WRFTg]

And the WOOORST

because the fact that they are equating biting a gold medal with biting into a chicken nugget is ABSURD.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pABr4eA7wA]

I'll be updating as I come across more favorites :) ... or worst offenders. The Subway fritos ad comes to mind.

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