Road to London, My Story – Don Ardell

Greetings from St. Petersburg, Florida. My wife Carol and I depart Monday for London. I’m doing all three events, nicely spread out – Wed, Fri and Sun.

Here’s a pic of us taken a few weeks ago in Milwaukee. I won the sprint national championship in my division (75-79).

USAT sent a post to all USA team members noting your interest in stories about unlikely comebacks, thoughts of someone special and the like. I looked at the wonderful stories on the web at RoadtoLondon. What a great feature.

This article (below) appeared in a Florida cycling magazine after the Budapest ITU world championship in 2011. I have missed the last two years due to knee operations (after the heart surgery episode). I won worlds a few times (Hobart Du in 94, Montreal in 99, Gold Coast in 2009 and Budapest in 2010)

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My work involves promoting REAL wellness. R-E-A-L represents what I consider the most important elements of a high quality of life philosophy and way of living, namely reason, exuberance, athleticism and liberty.

Anyway, if you want an original story, here are my thoughts on aging, which triathletes the world over tend to think about a lot. ¬†ūüôā

‚ÄúThe Aging But Fast Triathlete – How to Account for It‚ÄĚ

Donald B. Ardell

I have reached an advanced age. Like every triathlete on the planet, particularly those competing in London who have continued to compete over the years, the reality is we’re not nearly as fast as decades or even years ago. But, we all got to London to represent our countries and seek personal achievement because we are faster than our peers – and perhaps many triathletes in younger age groups. I can‚Äôt recall a race this year when several competitors of varied ages have not asked me this simple question: ‚ÄúTo what do you attribute your success? How can you go so fast at 75?”

I have not done double-blind, randomized studies on the matter but, after pondering the query for months, I’ve worked out an explanation.

Here’s how I explain it. Three major variables have turned in my favor that account for successes: 1) random good fortune; 2) unusually beneficial contingencies; and 3) positive natural selection.

Other factors include a sensible training regimen, a vegan diet, a loving and supportive wife, a favorable environment and a bit of discipline. Good equipment, especially a good bike, helps, too.

Good luck to everyone in London.

Road to London, My Story – David Lightbourne

I first travelled to London from New Zealand in 1997. I am still here after all that time. I am loving the connection that I am feeling with my country from this distance knowing I will represent them in London.

My road to London started properly after I realised that I was not fast enough or wealthy enough to make it to Auckland for the 2012 Worlds. Seeing the Olympic races and knowing the Worlds would be in London in 2013 was motivation enough to set about a plan to get a place at the Worlds.

After about three years of doing triathlon, I was making the good but modest improvements that are inevitable from being new to something. I decided that over the winter of 2012/13 I would put in some proper hours and effort, following a specific plan to increase my speed where it would count the most, the bike. The plan involved many hours of sweaty turbo trainer time over the winter, plenty of soaked towels, water bottles, big meals and a bit of pain now and then. The work I have done has changed the shape of my legs as well as the roller on the turbo trainer!

There were three motives for this focus on the cycling phase.

  • From a triathlon perspective, it is about half of the race so any gain there is going to be significant in the overall result
  • From a psychological perspective, I love cycling far more than running and it does not tend to cause so many injuries
  • From a personal perspective, I have a hand crafted bicycle that I ride in my races. This bicycle was designed and built by myself in 2011.

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I want my machine to do its best and I therefore wanted to put in the time to get myself into shape to power it. It is unusual in that it is made of wood. It came from an idea that I had a year or two earlier which would not go away. I was at the point where I had to either do it or ditch it as an idea. The execution was difficult and required my engineering, creative and practical skills to come together over the course of several months to produce the finished item.

The bike has been a thing of great joy to ride. I have gone from my first Olympic distance on it three days after it was finished, through to a good result at Windsor triathlon this year and some big improvements in my time trial results. I hope that I can do it justice in London.

The eternal question for me this Sunday is ‚ÄúHow much do I save in my legs for that run?‚ÄĚ

Road to London, My Story – Erin Lockwood

My name is Erin Lockwood, I am 26 years old and from Baltimore, MD. My journey into triathlons began in 2010 when I watched the Ironman world championships on television. It was the year Mirinda Carfrae won. She was short, blond and exactly like me, a runner. This gave me my push that I would begin my training in 2011 for triathlons.

In 2012 I signed up for my first, the Nautica South Beach Triathlon. It was the most amazing experience of my life and I immediately fell in love with the sport. It was not only incredible but the perfect sport for my personality. I competed in 5 more races that year and qualified for nationals on my second. At nationals I experienced competing amongst the best and hungriest triathletes. Yet somehow I was able to snag myself a slot on Team USA to compete in London.

Everything was going great for me that year. I qualified for nationals and worlds, got into graduate school and began an incredible relationship with my current boyfriend. I also invested in my first Tribike and was so excited to use it. However 3 weeks after my 26th birthday in 2013, my life changed forever. It was Friday, January 25th at 3:45 pm. My mother was away on vacation at the time and I was home by myself.

It was 19 degrees outside that day so I started a fire in the fireplace. I was busy going about doing my homework for school as I was making up assignments because I missed class due to the flu. At 3:40 I was messaging with my boyfriend when I heard the smoke detector upstairs go off. I went to check and that is when I saw the flames. The front of my house was on fire. Somehow the fireplace cracked and sent smoke and fire into the attic which sent the house into ablaze. I immediately grabbed my purse, laptop and coat and ran into the garage to get my car out. I was about to call the police when I realized my brand new bike was in the basement hooked up to the trainer. So I ran back inside to grab it and rolled it out the basement door.

I then called 911 and for the next 10 minutes I sat in the snow, in my slippers, sweatpants and coat waiting for them to arrive. But by that time it was too late. The house was on fire, and completely destroyed. We lost everything. I messaged my boyfriend what had happened at 4:15. it took 30 minutes for the house to burn to the ground.

We lost everything we had ever owned in 30 minutes. Antiques my family had acquired during the war, family pictures from the 1800s, pictures and videos from my childhood as well as all of my clothes and gear. It was the worst day of my life. I was in such a state of shock, yet in the next coming days, all I wanted to do was go for a run. But I couldn’t because I didn’t even have a pair of shoes.

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It makes you wonder how even the littlest things in life, like a pair of shoes, can be taken for granted. This year has been tough for me because I still haven’t replaced 3/4s of what I had. However thanks to my friends, sponsors and triathlon team, I was able to replace some of my gear. Training for triathlons has helped me get through the pain and fear. It has given me a sense of hope and something to look forward to during the worst of days. London has given me a sense of excitement and happiness. Something that has been very limited this year. Racing in London will not only be an incredible experience, being a part of team USA, but it will also be my way to end my year of racing on a high note, when it began on the lowest note possible.

Road to London, My Story – Laura and Analise Zaunbrecher

Identical twin sisters Laura and Analise Zaunbrecher were born in Carville, Louisiana, and as children moved with their family to Saranac Lake, New York. They started racing together in track and field for Saranac Lake High School, and 13 years later they still hold two school records apiece; Analise in the 1600m, Laura in the 800m, and together in the 4x800m relay.

The twins earned scholarships and continued racing together in college for the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Both graduated with honors and still hold the university’s Indoor Distance Medley record. They then moved to Atlanta to earn advanced degrees, and there they began triathlon, excelling from the beginning.

Since that time, three years ago Analise married and relocated to Boston to begin a postdoctoral research fellow in Microbiology at Harvard, and Laura finished her Geochemistry PhD and is now in Boulder. Though apart the girls continue to race! In fact, Laura just qualified for her 4th consecutive triathlon world championships, and Analise currently ranks 8th out of a field of over 1500 women in the Boston Distance Medley. But they miss training and competing together like they used to. The twins find it hard to find a partner as well matched as they are for one another that can push them like they could do for each other.

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The Burlington 2012 National Championships was the first time the women were able to race together since they lived in Atlanta, and there they qualified together for the Sprint distance at the London Grand Final. After over a year of racing separately they will get to line up together again, this time on the international stage!

Laura recently joked how ‚ÄúZaunbrecher‚ÄĚ is so long that her name is in all lower case on her uniform, but since Analise remarried her last name REEVES is in capitals! It‚Äôs going to be an exciting time for both of them, and an exciting race to watch!

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You can follow Laura’s blog on her pursuit of multisport excellence at http://laurazaunbrechertris.blogspot.com/

Road to London, My Story – Erica Bearss

On December 6th, 2012, I woke up in a hospital in Thailand, surrounded by doctors and nurses busy stitching up my head and speaking words I could not understand.  As it turns out,  on the way to the airport, the driver had fallen asleep at the wheel and drove into the concrete wall of a school.  The impact knocked me unconscious (for hours) and resulted in broken ribs, crushed thorax, badly lacerated face/head, nerve damage to my arms, and a severe cerebral contusion.

When the accident happened, I was on my way home to Vancouver, BC, ready to rest from completing the Laguna Ironman 70.3 on December 3rd 2012 and build my upcoming training regime for the London Age Group Sprint and full 2013 Ironman Canada.

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Rather than relaxing on the flight home to my family and birth of my first niece; I was facing a near-death experience. Luckily, ITU London, Triathlon Canada, the support of my family and coach, proved to be my anchor on the road to recovery.

The accident caused a severe concussion/brain injury, which resulted in daily headaches, memory loss, depression, fatigue, inability to focus, concentrate and/or endure any physical activity; all things completely opposite to my historical health/personality.

After working/training so hard for so many months/years, it was deflating to accept that the¬†Ironman Canada 2013¬†and possibly the¬†ITU Age Group Sprint¬†might be off the table.¬† As athletes and business professionals, we demand results and an opportunity to prove to ourselves that we ‚Äėcan‚Äô accomplish milestones; so removing these opportunities¬†was heart wrenching.

Months passed, and I needed something to renew my spirit.  The discovery of coach, Ken Hamilton to guide and train me within the doctor’s parameters proved to be the cure.  A gradual 10% increase in daily physical activity (only when symptom free). Resuming a training regime from a starting point of 10-20 minutes per day seemed so far from the 2-4 hours that I had become accustomed to.  Through this gradual re-training and the shoulder of a remarkable coach and mentor, we rebuilt the confidence and I learned the patience and consistency required to train for the London ITU Age Group Sprint.

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I know we all take joy from crossing the finish line at any triathlon event; but this upcoming race is more than a race to me; it is the one thing that has brought purpose and focus back into my life towards a positive goal. One of the most common side effects of a severe head trauma is depression and training for this race has been a much needed medicine.

All said, I am extremely proud to be competing with Team Canada and I will be thinking of the support I received from Service Canada, the Canadian health care system, the Canadian High Commission in Bangkok, My Family, Coach, Doctors, Nurses, Friends and Country to help me en route to the London ITU Age Group Sprint finish line!

Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. – Joshua J. Marine

Road to London, My Story – Louise Atkinson Clark

My name is Louise Atkinson Clark, I am a Canadian from the province of Quebec, leaving north of Montreal.

In 2010, I had the opportunity to go to Budapest for the world in my age category, 60-64 in the sprint. I did finish second! and third in  the aquathlon. I was amazed by the organization, my first experience and a very good one!

In 2011, I decide to go to the Canadian games instead of Bejing, and I won the Canadian title in the sprint.

I was ready for Auckland last October after my first half IM in Tremblant, Quebec. I had the plan to go and get that gold medal, but life decided another way.

On July 18, 2012, I was training on my bike and a car hit me by the back. The man was sleeping. I woke up three days later with 15 fractures, the back, the neck, ribs, nose, and collar bone and a pneumo thorax. I did stay three weeks in hospital before going home with a big corset holding my body and head. I kept it for 13 weeks.

In November, I started physiotherapy, ostéopathy, acupuncture, massage and chiropratic. It was a full time job I can assure you and my body also needed to sleep 12 hours a day.

In january, I started swimming and biking inside very smoothly. As I was not able to turn my neck, I was swimming with my tube. In february, I did start running again, very gently as I did have six fractures in my vertebrae. It took me 3 months to run 30 minutes without stopping, a real victory!

And very, very slowly I did come back , not in the shape I was last year but it is going very well. I am doing only sprint this year and I did the world duathlon in Ottawa and I did win!I am amazed, I did not think of winning anything this summer but life decided that I am not so bad.

So I will be on the start line in September in London for the sprint in 60-64 of age. I am very excited. Just doing it, I am very lucky to be in life. The doctors said that my good shape saved my life and saved me from a wheel chair.

So life is very good for me, everybody call me the ”miraculous girl” ¬†and I am smiling all the time when I run since my accident. Life is short so live it at 100% and be positive. I did had to be mentally strong since Day 1 of my accident and I do believe that this is why I am coming back as before. I am not in my top shape yet but I am working at it very strongly. Life is short so be happy.

It is going to be very exciting to be back in London, I did work there in 1972 as a young nurse….and I did not return since that time!
That is my story for London 2013!

Road to London, My Story – Jay Peluso

I’m excited to race in London in two weeks. Not sure if this is the kind of story you are looking for but thought I would share it.
I’m 42, so Male 40-44AG Sprint Athlete. Leading up to the United States qualification race last August I was having severe pain in my right hip that was radiating into my knee and keeping me up at night. The doctors told me they thought I had a torn labrum.
I decided to race through the pain in an effort to qualify for London. I was fortunate enough to qualify and then take a month off of training to see if my hip would get better. It did not. After trying many alternatives I finally underwent surgery on February 15, 2013.
The surgeon said that things were much worse than they thought. The labrum was “macerated” and had I been a few years older they would have just removed it and told me I could no longer run, ever.
Instead they anchored it back into place and shaved parts of the bone in my hip in order to alleviate an impingement that was also causing pain. In the process they had to also cut the psoas (hip flexor) muscle to open it up and keep it away from the hip. I was told I will need a hip replacement sooner rather than later. He advised that he was skeptical that I would be able to race in London although I “may” be able to “participate”.
I was not allowed to run in any capacity for three months following surgery. Biking and even swimming were also very limited. Through lots of painful rehab and support from my family and friends I have now raced two “tune-up” events placing 3d overall (out of 500) in the most recent event and am looking forward to towing the line with the best in the world on Sept. 13th.
To know that I was a few years-old away from never running again gives me a whole new perspective on my life as a triathlete and what it means to compete.

Jay Peluso