USAT Elite Triathlete
As a Triathlete with Celiac disease, I have had to overcome some interesting moments and obstacles on my road to becoming a Pro. Four years ago, I could not have run a mile! I will share my entire story with you below but want to start out by saying that my number one goal is to be a role model for my children and, if I had my say, anyone who is struggling with meeting their own goals in life.
I started running in the 5th grade with my first race being a 5k on the beach in Florida. Like any kid I tried other sports, basketball, biking, etc. but always came back to running. I loved it because I was completely in control of my own performances, but still had the team aspect of the track. You could work really hard and achieve a lot, but also try to bring your friends and teammates along. I loved the peace and quiet of a run on a long deserted country road on a cold Michigan winter morning. Growing up in Michigan, during middle and high school, I also played basketball until my junior year. I lived out in the country, about 4 miles from our small town high school. I would run to practice in the morning before school in my snowshoes, then do basketball practice, then run home from school to get my mileage in during basketball season.
I would consider myself a late bloomer. I was good in High School, but never a state champion or even top three. I was 7th my senior year in the two mile at the Michigan State champs. All six of the guys that beat me would get full ride track scholarships. I walked on to Eastern Michigan University where I was a “Red Shirt” freshman. I competed for EMU for two years before transferring to Grand Valley State. I went from being a 9:26 two miler to running 14:30 for the 5k indoors. Between my freshman and sophomore years, as a way to help pay for my college, I joined the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve. Then 9/11 happened.
Before the outdoor season of my junior year, I was called to active duty but then was deactivated after 6 months and attempted to go back to school and started another semester, only to be recalled to active duty again. This time I stayed on active duty for the rest of my six year Enlistment. I just didn’t want to keep trying to go back and forth. During this time, because I could not compete, I stopped training. It didn’t take long to gain about 50 lbs. After the Coast Guard I went into business for myself, and continued living an extremely unhealthy, work-a-holic, junk food soda, alcohol and coffee filled lifestyle. Before I knew it was was 280 lbs and couldn’t have run down the street.
After my first child was born, I realized I needed to change my lifestyle. I started working out again with an old college teammate (Tom Clifford founder of Without Limits). He gave me the encouragement I needed to keep going and that is how I fell accidentally into triathlon’s. I was too heavy and out of shape to run every day, so, I started swimming and biking to cross train. After a year or two, my body was getting into good shape but something still felt “not right”. My energy was low, I was feeling foggy, getting rashes, recovery was very slow and other symptoms I won’t detail here. After several doctors visits, I was diagnosed with Celiac disease. I immediately went to a gluten free diet, which was a big learning curve, but my health, recovery, and performances improved in no time at all. Being able to start back into endurance sports later in life, a little older, a little wiser, and knowing more about nutrition and recovery, were a Blessing. You take for granted, when you are younger, everything that could make you better at the goals you want to achieve. Twenty-eight years after my very first race, here I am with my Pro Card. Proof that if you work hard enough you can achieve anything you put your mind to! We are all Without Limits!.