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Britt

Life Stuff with Mariel David

By | Coaching, Fitness, Life Stuff, Triathlon | No Comments

I dig real stories of real people doing real things (hard things). Thanks to my friend Mariel for sharing one of those stories– her “life stuff”– with us. I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Mariel since 2013 when she took on Ironman at Arizona (and gave all of her everything, and crossed that finish line!). I could go on, but she tells her story better than I could…

“The Imperfect Athlete” by Mariel David

If you asked me 10 years ago if I would ever find myself being endurance athlete, I would say that you (1) are joking, (2) are crazy, or (3) have lost your marbles. I was a single mom of three – two of which had medical challenges (one being a leukemia patient and another being a special needs child), a working professional putting at least 50 hours per week in the office and traveling around the globe up to 60% of the time, and a student trying to finish her master’s degree. When I received a postcard in the mail advertising a fundraising event for leukemia research, I had no idea how much this event would change my life–it sparked my journey as an endurance athlete.

For years, I found myself busy, slow, emotionally drained, and not looking like the typical triathlete. It’s difficult but it is also through this sport that I found the ‘true’ me – an athlete who will perform with her heart no matter what. I held on to this identity as my children became my inspiration and sources of strength through the years. During a particularly memorable triathlon season, I incorporated one of my daughters – “Rochelle”- my special child who had been terminally ill with multiple needs. It’s amazing what you can do when you run with your heart; I found myself realizing this as we crossed our first finish line together at Rock n Roll Marathon LA in 2014. It was my vision that one day we would be the next “Hoyts”. Unfortunately, that dream will never be realized as she passed in March 2017.

Rochelle’s memory will continue as I race in her memory and in honor of my children. As imperfect as my training schedule is, I will always find my strength through the heart that connects me to them. This is “my why”. I hope inspires those who think that they are too busy, too slow, too fat/skinny, etc. that your someday can be today.

Life Stuff with Laura Callen

By | Life Stuff, Triathlon | No Comments

If you are fortunate enough to know Laura Lynn Callen, then you understand how deeply her smile penetrates your heart. Laura lives joyfully and selflessly. Ventura locals may recognize her as one of the energizing red carpet emcees at Mission Church’s annual “Night to Remember” prom for special needs guests. She also sings like a sparrow and composes ad lib melodies which she calls “Laura Lynn Callen Originals”.

In addition to her musical talents, Laura is an accomplished endurance athlete. When I first met Laura, she mentioned to me that (at the time) she had finished “one triathlon”. I pried a bit and found that this “one triathlon”, Laura’s first triathlon, had been at Ironman Louisville in 2013. Having competed in triathlon for over 10 years myself, and never having finished a race longer than 70.3 miles, I was astonished that a “beginner” would sign up for–and complete–140.6 miles in one go. Just last year, in October 2017, Laura finished her second ever triathlon–yes, it was another Ironman event. Laura recently took the time to share with me what endurance sport means to her: a therapeutic outlet when “life stuff” happens.

“When I was at the University of Kentucky, I worked with a man who became my good friend. He supported me as I moved from Kentucky to Ventura (to work for Mission Church) and our friendship continued to grow. After the move, I felt even more connected as friends. But then I learned that he had some unhealthy behaviors and was making unwise choices. It hurt me that he was making these choices, and I realized that if I kept being his friend it would impact me and I would end up being hurt even more. So I had to make one of the hardest decisions in my life: I had to cut him out. One night I Facetimed him and told him that although I cared so much for him but had to step away. He completely understood, which made it even more difficult for me to let go. So I ended that friendship and I was so, so sad. My heart was hurting. 

The next day, I was feeling very out of sorts– emotionally drained. I didn’t know what to do. I thought ‘you know what? I am gonna go on a long bike ride.’ I had no plans on where to go. I didn’t even bring food. I had a water bottle and my phone.

On the bike, I was pedaling and processing and talking to God and crying. I ended up biking for over 60 miles. I wasn’t even training before that. It was just a spontaneous ride. I let out all the burdens, all the hurt, and all the frustration. I felt like I was just pedaling it all out. At the end of the ride I felt so relieved. I felt lighter. I was a little tired, but I was so grateful to be able to process and release stress by moving my body. I was thankful that I had a bike, a place to ride, and a body with the ability to do so.

Training has been a huge outlet for me. Whenever I’m working out –running, swimming, biking–I find this is a space where I get to really unpack anything that I have pushed down deep and thought ‘I’ll get to that later’. The things I’ve been holding in, I can let them out. I feel like when I workout I am overall becoming more complete as a human–spiritually, physically, emotionally.”

Life Stuff with Chris Frias

By | Life Stuff, Meet the Athlete | No Comments

Well folks, it’s time for the second round of “Life Stuff”. If you haven’t read Donna’s story, it’s not too late! Prepare to smile 🙂 Today’s post features elite runner, Chris Frias. A 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials competitor and 2013 Big West cross country champion at Cal Poly, Chris can be found training, coaching, or selling shoes at Mile 26 Sports in Ventura, CA. Chris oozes deep humility, strength, and passion, as evidenced in his words below. Thanks for sharing this chapter of your story with us, Chris.

Life Stuff 2nd ed.

Chris Frias

 

The most difficult thing I’ve gone through (and still struggle to get through) just happened last year.  My mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. It was a 17 month battle which caused a rollercoaster of emotions.  Initially she responded really well to her chemo and her tumor marker number dropped significantly. However, the treatment started to take a toll on her health and she had to back off it for a bit.  Meanwhile her tumor marker number shot right back up. She eventually got back on chemo but it started to become less and less effective until the point where she had to stop it completely and go on hospice.  

Since her passing (Jan 2017) I’ve had very few good races, and it’s especially been evident during my current track season in which the times I’m running now I was running as a 2nd year in college. Training and competing have both been a struggle recently, but one of the many things I learned from my mom is to never give up.  She never gave up hope, remained faithful to God throughout, and kept fighting until the day she died. Her courageous battle with cancer made me realize that no matter how much pain I may feel in a race, it is nothing compared to the amount of pain and suffering she went through during those 17 months. She is my inspiration to run everyday and my motivation to get through races when things get tough.

Life Stuff with Donna Waltmann

By | Life Stuff, Meet the Athlete, Swimming | 3 Comments

Lately, I have been wanting to write/post about people in a different way than my usual Q&A “Meet the Athlete” format. I’ve been stirred by the stories of others, some of whom are very close to me personally, and others who have absolutely no idea who I am. I want to share some of their stories with you in hopes that you will take some encouragement or lessons from them. I believe that regardless of what our own “life stuff” is, we can grow in empathy by getting a sneak peek into others’ lives, and perhaps learn something valuable for ourselves in the process. I am so proud to share the story of a woman I met at the Ventura Aquatic Center nearly four years ago. I have the pleasure of seeing her everyday when I walk onto the pool deck at 5:50 a.m. (she is in the water at 5:30!). She has an aura of joy that those around her can’t help but notice. Thanks for sharing your story with us, Donna!

 

Life Stuff 1st ed.

Donna Waltmann

    

    Someone once gave me some very wise advice.  She said, “You didn’t gain weight overnight so you won’t lose it overnight either”.  My name is Donna and I have been overweight most of my adult life. I have tried almost every quick fix diet on the market.  I have tried “no fat”, “no carb”, and protein shakes. I even allowed myself to be hypnotized once!

    Nothing worked in the long run.  I would lose weight only to gain it back plus some extra.  In my research for the “magic cure” I soon realized there isn’t one.  Weight loss requires hard work and discipline if you want long term results.  

   I knew that exercise, along with dietary changes, were going to be what was necessary to achieve long term results.  In September 2014 I found BuenaVentura Swim Club and Ventura County Masters. I had been swimming by myself at a gym for a few months, but I was bored and not as consistent as I wanted to be.  A coworker was talking to me about how she was on a soccer team and I thought, “I want to be on a team!”.

   Swimming with people that are so accomplished in the sport has been very motivating.  To have someone that has achieved so much take an interest in my progress means so much.   I have also greatly benefited from coaches who have helped me set goals for myself in regards to swimming times.  I never played sports as a child and did not come to swimming with that mindset. Having people help me set goals turned swimming into a fun activity and not just an exercise program that can begin to feel like a chore.  It also doesn’t hurt that if I skip practice people notice and ask where I was.

   In the past 3 ½ years I have lost 126 pounds.  When people ask me how I did it I tell them swimming 6 mornings a week, but there is more to it than that.  Surrounding myself with people who are motivated to be healthy and active has translated into a desire for me to be healthy and active.  When my coaches and teammates started believing I could get faster in the pool I started believing it too. This translated into a belief that I could lose weight and become healthier.

   I have a ways to go to reach my goal weight, but I am confident that I will.  That person who ate whatever they wanted and never exercised isn’t me anymore.  With God’s help and my swim team I know I can achieve my goal.