Archive for the ‘Member of the Month’ Category

Michael Corona

Tuesday, December 6th, 2016
Michael Corona

Tell us about yourself. I have an awesome family, my wife Jennifer is also involved with the sport; we have three great kids, Ashton (13), Carson (11) and Cameron (9). They keep us extremely busy, but it is a lot of fun! When not swimming, biking and running, I am a vice president and certified financial planner at Morgan Stanley in Syracuse. In addition, I have been coaching triathletes for five years and just started a new company with longtime friend and athlete Eric Hinman called The Endurance Squad.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? I got involved in 2009, so seven years. I got involved to find fitness and lose weight. I came into the game at 260 pounds and raced IMLP in 2010 at 175.

Who is your hero? I would have to say my wife Jen. She supports me 100% and is there for me through it all. What makes her so great is her instinctive ability to be such an excellent mother. It just clicked for her and our kids are in such good care as a result of her ability as a parent. It was as if she got a Ph.D. in motherhood overnight after our first son was born.

What is your athletic background? Not much from the endurance side of things. I played football in high school on the offensive and defensive line: center and nose guard. Once done with football after my senior year in 1994, I was not active at all through 2008, when I took up running. Like a lot of others, I got involved to lose weight and did my first marathon in New York City in September that year. I was hooked with the idea of competing again and got involved in triathlon the next year.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I am fairly well-rounded, likely because I started with no background and always took a balanced approach. If I had to pick, the bike is the strongest as it is quickly trained, and the run is my weakness, as it takes the longest to train. Oddly, I find people who are great runners have simply been doing it for a long time. The bike is often many athlete’s strongest leg as you can progress the quickest in the saddle.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? The Keuka Lake Sprint! I remember winning my age group and being shocked and excited. My wife, however, was excited but not surprised….she said I worked my butt off and she knew I was going to do well.

What is your favorite race and why? The American Triple T in Ohio because it defines what is so great about the sport. For me, the sport is about the people and stories accumulated over the years. At Triple T, you do four races over three days, so you get to know all the people and build lasting relationships. Also, the same people come back year after year. It is like overnight camping when you were a kid.

What was your worst race and why? Ironman Louisville 2012. I always use this race as an example with my athletes–never look at last year’s results to benchmark yourself!! I came in thinking I had to run a certain pace to meet my goal. Well, I was way off. I came off the bike in sixth place and had I just run on feel I would have been fine. Instead I completely blew up at mile 8 and by mile 12 was walking it in. It was a great lesson and one I continue to share. Always race your own race and let the results just happen. Never race the ghosts of past results, even your own.

What races are on your race calendar for 2017? So far The American Triple T and IMLP. This will be my first Ironman since Louisville 2012.

What are your goals for the next year? Just find my fitness again; I haven’t been the same athlete since 2012, so I just want to be fit as defined within the general population, not the field within an Ironman. I think a lot of times we get wrapped up in finishing within the top X% of the race, and need to realize just finishing an Ironman will put us in the top 5% of the world. That is pretty good!

In five years you hope to … : Be able to ride my bike 50 miles and feel fresh the next day. Pick up heavy things and not feel a strain in my back. Do household chores without being sore, play a game of one-on-one basketball with my kids and put up a good fight. Be fit!
Something most people don’t know about you. Many in the tri world think I am some fast guy, which is far from the truth. If I am not consistently training for 2-3 years, I am basically middle of the pack. It took me 4 years of consistent training to accomplish the things I did, and I still wasn’t close to Kona, which was my goal. In that time, I put myself next to some of the best coaches out there to learn as much as I could, read as much as I could get my hands on to give myself an edge. Now, I love sharing with others what I learned over that period of time. I think that is what makes a good coach: not someone who was always fast….I had to work for every single inch and dive into the knowledge side of it in order to succeed, then one has to have a desire to pass that knowledge on.
What triathlon has taught you. NEVER take for granted your fitness and where you are at. Some race will be your last race and we will never know when or where that will be. My fitness was flying high and I was likely 1-2 years away from that golden Kona ticket, and BOOM, life hit me and I had to step away. Stay in the game for the love of it and, if you do not love it, find a new passion that keeps you waking up and going through the process.  When you find yourself grinding out the day to day so you can race, it’s time to find something else. Anything else! Triathlon is not going anywhere.

Heather Nelson

Monday, September 12th, 2016
Heather Nelson
Tell us about yourself.

Heading to T1 at Iron Girl.

I was born in California and lived there for 10 years. After that, I moved to Northville, N.Y. and lived th  ere until going to Elmira for my undergraduate education. I graduated with my Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and biology from Elmira College in June 2012. Currently, I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Cell and Developmental Biology department at Upstate Medical University. I started in the Biomedical Sciences program in August 2012. I work in a lab researching calcium signal transduction in cells and how it may regulate insulin secretion.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up?I have been involved in triathlon for two years. The Upstate Women’s Health Network was looking to sponsor individuals employed by Upstate to compete in the event. On a whim, I decided to try a triathlon, so I signed up and realized I’d better learn how to swim quick! Even before seeing the advertisement I had heard a little about triathlons and already had a piqued interest. Getting my first bike in the spring of that year also helped. I was biking quite often with my boss, an avid endurance cyclist, so I felt comfortable with two of the three sports. All it took was the little nudge via sponsored opportunity and I was hooked!

Who is your hero? My parents. Without them I would not be where I am or the person I am or today. They have instilled values in me that help drive my triathlon success: hard work and determination.

What is your athletic background? I started playing soccer and basketball on a local recreational leagues when I was 11. In junior high and high school I played soccer, basketball and ran track (1500m, 3000m, steeplechase, pole vault). At Elmira College, I played soccer and basketball on the junior

On the bike at the Cazenovia Olympic tri

varsity team. I still play soccer on a couple indoor recreational leagues in Syracuse. I have always loved running, but did not start running in road races after high school until I moved to Syracuse for my graduate education.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? My strength is definitely the run. It is the leg I enjoy most, feel comfortable with, and catch the most people on. It makes up for my slow start in the swim, which is my greatest weakness! I did not learn freestyle swimming until I taught myself (enough to move forward ) about a month before my first triathlon. Since then I have taken a few swim classes and worked more consistently on the swim, so it is getting better slowly but surely!

Iron Girl winner
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? My first triathlon was Iron Girl 2014. What I remember most was being hooked on the sport immediately. I crossed the finish line and felt so happy. The support and environment during the whole race were very positive; definitely a good race for anyone considering their first tri.

What is your favorite race and why? Green Lakes sprint triathlon is my favorite because I just love the location. For starters, it is close to home, so travel time is nil. It is my favorite local place to open water swim as the water is typically calm and seems to have the least weed and algae issues. I also love the climb back into the park on the bike course. Going up hills is my strength on the bike, so that challenging climb gives me the chance to catch some people. And finally, running on the trails around the lakes is beautiful and shaded.

What was your worst race and why? This year’s Cazenovia Olympic tri was my worst by far. I guess I was just having an off day and did not hydrate/fuel properly because I barely made it across the finish line before collapsing due to dehydration. It was a long-lasting and awful feeling I have never even come close to experiencing before and I hope to never experience again. Lesson learned: recovery is important. I had a very busy race month in August with an event every weekend. Couple that with the unusually hot weather we have had and I think I had run myself down before the tri even started.

What races are on your race calendar for 2017? I am in a difficult situation this year in considering races for next summer. I am working on trying to wrap up my thesis research. If I finish in May, I will be moving to wherever I can secure a post-doctoral position, so I am not signing up for any races until I know where I will be living. If I am still in Syracuse, I would like to try my first half, so I would probably sign up for the Syracuse 70.3. I may also do Du the Lakes Duathlon, Green Lakes sprint tri, Gillie Girl sprint and Cazenovia intermediate. I am also considering going to Nationals for either sprint or Olympic tri, as I have heard many positive experiences from it. Since I love running, I will likely also do several running races of varying distances, including the Boston Marathon in April.
What are your goals for the next year? I anticipate next year to be very busy. My biggest goal is to successfully defend my thesis and earn my Ph.D. I also hope to continue training hard and seeing improvements in my swim, bike and run.

In five years you hope to … : Have a job in pharmaceutical research where I can work on a project to advance medicine for the betterment of human health. I also hope to continue to participate in triathlons and find a tri club wherever I move. One of the saddest things about leaving Syracuse will be leaving behind this awesome tri club and all the friends I have made.

Something most people don’t know about you: I am a vegetarian.

What triathlon has taught you: There is a great community of triathletes who are there for each other when needed. There is always someone to cheer you on, get you out the door to a workout, push you harder, offer tips, congratulate you on a job well done, and in general help you out in any way needed. Before joining the Central New York  triathlon community, I did not know many people in Syracuse (since I moved here by myself for school). Now I feel at home. I have met so many people and made many new friends through triathlon.

 Editor’s note: Heather Nelson won this year’s Iron Girl Syracuse competitive division.

Chary Griffin

Thursday, June 30th, 2016

Athlete Profile

Chary Griffin

2016 Nationals, Milwaukee
Tell us about yourself. I grew up on the east end of Long Island, near the ocean in the late ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, back when you rode your bike everywhere, played in the woods, swam in the ocean. But there were no “sports” for girls at my school other than cheerleading and modern dancing. I have been married to my husband, Jim, for 45 years and have two grown sons and a beautiful granddaughter. I sell real estate for Berkshire Hathaway and can show you the best trails!
How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up?
I am lots older than triathlon – I took it up about 27 years ago when there were only 3-4 women in the entire field in most races. I was looking for a way to train for marathons that involved aerobic activity for a long duration without constant pavement pounding.
Who is your hero? Kathrine Switzer.
What is your athletic background? There was little to none in terms of formal athletics as a young girl. However, I rode horses, sailed, swam, rode my bike and surfed as a kid. I didn’t do anything athletic as an adult until my kids were involved in sports in the 1980s – I took up running and did local 5ks and 10ks. Then I aimed at marathons in the 1990s. I’ve completed 10 marathons and became a fan of triathlon.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? Swimming is most natural, and running. I used my youngest son’s bike in my early triathlons.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? One of the earliest ones I remember in the late 1980s was Empire Games Tri at Green Lakes: Seniors started last and, by the 10k run, the race had run out of water.
What is your favorite race and why? Cazenovia is my favorite — I live and train on the course and I still find it challenging. The hills are the best fitness builders.
What was your worst race and why? Two come to mind – Lake Placid used to be a 10k sponsored by Casio. It was so cold and icy rainy that I couldn’t unbuckle my helmet after the ride and had to do the run with it still on until my fingers unfroze enough to take it off. The other worst race – ITU World Championship in Australia. I broke my wrist in the practice ride the day before the event. I had a long painful trip home in a cast with surgery awaiting.

What races are on your race calendar for 2016? Du The Lakes Duathlon, Delta Lake, Olympic Distance National Championship in Omaha, Neb. — going by train with the bike — Cazenovia, of course and ITU World Championships in Cozumel, Mexico.

2016 Nationals, Milwaukee
What are this year’s goals? Top 10 finish at ITU Worlds in Age Group – this is my last year in 65-69 AG — and to qualify for next year’s race in Holland.

In five years you hope to: Surf with my granddaughter in Hawaii (pictured below), and keep on doing triathlons.

Something most people don’t know about you. In addition to surfing, I love snowshoe racing.
What triathlon has taught you: Be proud of your accomplishments even if your tri suit doesn’t fit like it used to. An appreciation of nature. Don’t be afraid to try something new — we were all newbies once. Work on your weakest skill set….don’t avoid it. Smoothness and efficiency in all three disciplines lead to a strong finish. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Keep it simple, relax and enjoy the day, and smile for the photos. Train with a coach or a training group — it helps you avoid mistakes.

Michael Barbato

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Tell us about yourself: I’m 33 years old and the proud father of an awesome little man, Anthony Lincoln, who just had his 2nd birthday at the end of March. I live on Syracuse’s North Side with my wife-to-be Theresa. I’ve managed a restaurant for the last 3+ years in the heart of North Syracuse, Utica Pizza Company.
How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? My triathlon involvement/ participation began the first weekend of August 2012. Over a bet with my younger brother.
Who is your hero? I’m not sure I really have a  hero. There are many athletes I’ve followed throughout the years. If we’re speaking generally, Donnie Baseball/Don Mattingly immediately comes to mind. New York Yankees at heart. I am a huge open wheel follower and fan. Juan Montoya keeps me glued to the sport. I’ve followed him since 1999 through the European Formula One series, to NASCAR, and now to his home, where he belongs, Indy car. If we’re narrowing it down to athletes I admire in the sport of swimming, biking, running or triathlon, I can’t help to give honorable mention to Gwen Jorgensen. What she has accomplished in 2015 for the U.S. team’s prominence in the sport is compared to none. I find I spend most of my early mornings (late nights if recorded) watching any pro cycling events around the world. I have taken mystance with Peter Sagan. He isn’t a pure sprinter, not a man of the mountains, but an overall well-rounded gritty rider and if I could emulate my style after his, well, that’d be OK by me.
What is your athletic background? In junior high I joined the indoor track team after rummaging through some old black and white photos of my father running track at Manley Field House for Bishop Grimes. I saw them and said, “I want to do the same.” Throughout junior high and high school I was running cross country, and both indoor and outdoor track. I gravitated toward the distance events in track, albeit those being the 1 mile or 1500, if we are calling those distance events. Then I took a hiatus to pursue the typical early 20s, late night college debauchery that everyone probably regrets doing, but that offer some of the best stories. However, here I am, back at it.
What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? Weakness #1 will always be the swim. I feel I put myself at an automatic disadvantage finishing in the bottom one-third; that isn’t for the lack of trying. In my first triathlon I didn’t make it to the first buoy without flopping over on my back or going with the side stroke. I’ve since gotten better in the swim, with the help of a preseason triathlon swimming course offered at the YMCA. It all comes down to technique, which they’ve taught me, and taught me well. I can now get through the entire swim at a reasonable front crawl. But it is still a far cry from where I’d be happy. The only answer to that is more time in the water; which I am currently trying to improve. I feel the bike leg is just that: the bike. I can take it or leave it. I train the least on the bike. I’m not on the best equipment, also not the worst–a late model Trek Madone; it gets the job done. If I can hit cruise control at 19-20+ mph then I am satisfied. I would be a lot more satisfied if I was in the position to upgrade to a tri-specific bike, and had the time to put a good bit of miles of training in, and get my avg around 22-23, but such is life. My strength is, and always will be, the run. I can crank out sub-7 minute miles for as long as I need to. As with the bike, I feel I don’t train to the extent I should with running; it’s the only discipline that comes natural to me.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember the most? August 2012, the Lyme Sprint Triathlon in Chaumont. As far as what I remember most I would easily say the beginning of the swim. I wasn’t halfway to my first buoy, looked over at my brother, and said, “I’m gonna sink to the bottom of this river any second!” I was genuinely scared. I feel like I should elaborate more: The first week of August 2012 my cousin was getting married at my camp/summer home on Chaumont Bay. Three days before the wedding, my younger brother Mark told me he signed up for a triathlon the morning after the wedding and said, “I bet you can’t beat me.” Up until that point I had no idea what a triathlon was. I will forever hate him and thank him for that challenge. Needless to say, race morning I was not, shall we say, “at my best.” I had no goggles. I brought and rode a Schwinn hybrid bike I bought at Target for $180. My brother, who has extensive swimming experience, beat me by only 12 minutes overall. It was a loss and a win at the same time. He got me but I finished. And I was hooked. He gave me a hug at the finish line, surprised I was still alive and finished the event, and I told him, “You’ll never beat me in one of these ever again.” (And he hasn’t!)
What is your favorite race and why? Sodus Point Triathlon. The swim is off the sandy beach adjacent to the lighthouse pier. The bike has a few rollers, just enough to make it a challenge but not too overbearing that I feel drained by crazy climbs. The run makes two loops through the beachfront neighborhood with plenty of spectators and fan fare cheering you along. I usually take a weeks vacation in Sodus, renting a beachfront house, the week prior or after the race. The town is just a fun place to be, with waterfront restaurants and live music on the weekends.
What was your worst race and why? I’m not sure I’ve really had a “worst race.” There have been plenty of races I’ve been unprepared for. I think it’s more fun to go somewhere new and just wing it. Arguably, my worst race was my first one because I had three days to prepare for it, and never experienced all three disciplines in succession. That was an eye-opener. Other than that I’ve had a few races that had a windy day and the swim was quite choppy. I think the most unprepared I was for an event was the first year I did Green Lakes. Up until that point I was riding on relatively flat roads and I was not ready for the big climbs.
What races are on your calendar for 2016? I started the season with a couple half-marathons. Triathlon-wise, my first will be at the Rochester YMCA, an indoor tri, just to get back in the swing of things. Late May I’m doing an Olympic in Indianapolis the day before the Indy 500. Locally, my itinerary will start at Green Lakes. I am doing the Syracuse 70.3. I am also doing the tris in Sodus Point, Henderson Harbor, Chaumount (if not the same day as Sodus), the River Rat in Clayton. I’d like to try the Caz Hillbender and Oswego’s Tour de Loop. I want to try a few cycle-specific events if time permits. If I have a weekend off and there’s a 3.1 within 30 miles and I don’t have a big race planned, I’ll be doing a 5K somewhere.
What are your goals for this year? Surpassing my best times in all my repeat events is a go-to-goal. I’ve lowered my times in succession in each event entered since I’ve started triathlon. 2016 will be my first HIM at the Syracuse 70.3. I don’t expect an award-winning performance, but I do expect personal success.
In five years I hope to: Finish my fourth Ironman in Lake Placid and maybe, just maybe, do well enough to go play in Kona. But in reality I am not looking five years down the road at the moment. This year my “A” race is the Syracuse 70.3 with, I hope, a jump to the full at Lake Placid for 2017.
Something most people don’t know about me: Gahh. This is a hard one! I’m pretty transparent and say what’s on my mind. That doesn’t always pan out well in the end. But no one will ever get the sugar-coated version of me.
What triathlon has taught you: There’s no such thing as climbing to the top of the mountain. You can always improve. You can always get better. In most cases there will always be someone better than you. The goal in triathlon isn’t to beat that person. It’s to better yourself and push yourself past the boundaries that you think are in place, but aren’t.


Jade Mills

Monday, January 11th, 2016
Jade Mills   
Tell us about yourself. I’m 36, and I was born and raised in Central New York, and work as a personal trainer at Metro Fitness in downtown Syracuse. Other people say I’m the kind of person who is always looking for new adventures, whether it’s triathlon, ultramarathons or jumping out of planes. I suspect they think my life is more exciting than it really is. I have a great group of friends, and I love spending time with them, whether it’s hanging out while enjoying a glass of wine or getting together for a run, ride or swim. I love being in the woods, and doing things outdoors in general, like hiking and camping. I also enjoy reading and cooking; those are my noncompetitive hobbies.
How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up?  I’m going into my fourth year of direct involvement with the sport. It all started with coaching for the Fleet Feet Triathlon program. I was hooked pretty quickly, so after a season with that group I bought a bike and began training for my first triathlon.
Who is your hero? Quenton Cassidy, the main character of the novels Once a Runner, Again to Carthage, and Racing the Rain by John L. Parker Jr.
What is your athletic background? I began “play” running with a neighborhood friend when we were about 8 or 9 years old (we would stage pretend track meets in her back yard). Modified sports programs didn’t exist yet when I was in school, so I didn’t join a formal team of any sort until I was a freshman in high school. I played field hockey and ran indoor and outdoor track for Liverpool, and I continued with both track seasons when I went to college. After that, I was pretty much on my own working my way up through the distances.
What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I’ve been a runner most of my life, so I am very strong for that leg, and I also do pretty well with the swim. My weakest leg is the bike, largely in part because it’s where I am the least experienced.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? The intermediate distance at the Delta Lake Triathlon, and I remember being so glad to make it through the bike and into my running shoes. Having some of my closest friends at the finish line made the experience especially memorable.
What is your favorite race and why? It’s hard to come up with a favorite. I suppose Delta Lake Tri. It’s a well-executed race with a great atmosphere. The Cayuga Trails 50 is also at the top of my list. Love the challenge of all the crazy stair climbing on that course.
What was your worst race and why? 2006 New York City Marathon, because it was so frustratingly crowded. There was a bottleneck at every water stop that stopped me dead in my tracks.
What’s on your race calendar for 2016?The definites are on the Caumsett 50K and Cayuga Trails 50 Mile for some spring ultra marathons, and the Tupper Lake Tinman and the Delta Lake Double for tris. I will likely also do the Caz Tri intermediate race or another 70.3 race in late summer. Haven’t thought about the fall yet.
What are this year‘s goals? My spring ultras serve as the national championships for those distances, and I really want to improve from last year (seventh and sixth, respectively). Tinman Tupper Lake will be my first 70.3 and I want a really strong debut there. Also, to sign up for 2017 IMLP!
In five years you hope to… : Have my own log cabin in the woods, with a couple Ironman finishes under my belt and a national championship title in either the 50K or 50-mile distance.
Something most people don’t know about you. I’m actually a pretty shy person. I’ve learned to be outgoing because of my role as a trainer and coach, but it doesn’t come naturally.
 What triathlon has taught you. Chamois Butt’r is an amazing product. That, and it’s OK to be afraid of something (like flying down hills on a bike) but that fear will hold you back if you don’t keep working to get over it.

Meredith Andrews

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015
Meredith Andrews


Tell us about yourself. I am 49 years young. I teach Physical Education at Wellwood Middle School in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District. I am originally from Liverpool and now live in Cicero.


How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? I have been involved in the Iron Girl for five years and have also done the Gillie Girl. I had done a tri at SUNY Cortland (years ago) and it was something I always wanted to get back into. I was encouraged by Jill Poniros to try it and to join this great club.


Who is your hero? I don’t have one specific hero, but my husband and two sons are my heroes. They have always encouraged me to keep going for my goals and they are my biggest fans. They are at all of my races.


What is your athletic background? I have always been involved in organized sports since I was a little kid. Softball, track, soccer . . but most of all, the sport of rowing has been my lifelong passion. I rowed as a little kid with the Chargers Rowing Club and eventually grew up on the Liverpool High School Crew Team. I stopped growing in eighth grade, so my “rowing” was switched to being a coxswain for the team. To this day, I am involved with the Syracuse Chargers Rowing Club.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? Weakness is definitely the swim. I love the bike and run, love the freedom they give me.


What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? My first triathlon was at SUNY Cortland. I loved it because the swimming was done in the pool!! After about 25 years, I decided to “tri” the Iron Girl. I remember how I felt as I saw the finish line and thinking to myself how glad I was still able to move and do something so physically challenging. BIG smile at the finish line!


What is your favorite race and why? I love the Iron Girl and Gillie Girl–those are the only ones I have tried so far. I love the feeling of watching athletes of so many different levels of ability push their bodies and minds past what they think they can do.


What was your worst race and why? I don’t have a worst race.


What races are on your race calendar for 2015? This year is just Iron Girl.

What are this year’s goals? My goal this year is to strengthen my swim and possibly participate in the Cazenovia Triathlon next year.


In five years you hope to …  I hope to be still able to move like I do. I also hope to be motivating people to continue to use their bodies and minds to make the best of what each can do.


Something most people don’t know about you. I am a Mickey Mouse fanatic! Love the Mouse. I want to be him at Disney World just once.


What triathlon has taught you: I have learned that the challenge is SO worth it.

Jim Bright

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015
 Jim Bright

Jim Bright heads to T1 after the swim at Nationals in Milwaukee.


Tell us about yourself. I grew up in Syracuse, moved away for college, job, etc., worked in finance in New York City, married my college sweetheart (Cindy, a pediatrician), moved back here when we were about 30 and purchased the family business (Dunk & Bright Furniture Co.), which I still run. Raised four kids on Onondaga Hill, and moved to Skaneateles about five years ago.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and

Jim and Cindy Bright at the Delta Lake Triathlon.

why did you take it up? About 10 years ago I was swimming with a masters swim team, biking with friends and running with the Syracuse Track Club at Green Lakes. Somebody suggested triathlons.

Who is your hero? Definitely my kids right now. They are each on the cusp of their career paths, and their work ethic, focus and persistence are inspiring.

What is your athletic background?Team sports, primarily lacrosse that included a short stint in college. Some golf, tennis.

What are your triathlon strengths and
I’m probably average at all three. I truly enjoy each leg of the race. I do mostly sprints and train as such, doing interval training, short and spirited workouts, plenty of rest and recovery.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? Green Lakes…this was before CNY Triathlon helped racers prepare. I showed up about 15 minutes before the start of the race, really not having a clue. I do remember that a friend beat me by about 14 minutes. I can still remember his smirk.

What is your favorite race and why? London, age group world championships, because there were plenty of competitors in my age group, of similar or maybe slightly faster speed, to pace off of in the run. That kept me focused and helped me PR for the run.

What was your worst race and why? Oswego Sprint Tri, because I came in second overall, missing first by 4 seconds. I had missed a turn, which could have accounted for the difference. The lesson was to “make sure that you know the course.” Actually, it was a really great race, at a great venue, and I was happy to get second.

What races are on your race calendar for 2015?

I don’t have any on the calendar right now. Since Cindy now races triathlons, we decide what to race based on our travel plans, and we like to try new venues. We did that last year and ended up racing a couple of ocean swims…one in Virginia Beach organized by the Navy Seals. That was a blast. My swim performance consisted of swimming 10 meters forward, then getting tossed five meters back. I didn’t get out far enough beyond the wave break, and kept getting flipped upside-down by the waves.
The Brights take a five-borough bike tour of New York City.

What are this year’s goals?To work on some other new hobbies besides triathlon, and continue to do tri training for fitness, but not necessarily racing.

In five years you hope to …Hmmm…well, in three years, I’ll be in the first year of the next age group, so I’d like to hit it hard again at that time.

Something most people don’t know about you. I once spent 18 days living

in a tent hunting moose and bear in Siberia.

What triathlon has taught you. It’s definitely taught me to make healthy lifestyle choices with both nutrition and fitness, and the competitive aspect of it is just wonderful.

Jeffrey Heim

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Jeffrey Heim

Tell us about yourself. I am currently working as a traffic signal technician for the City of Syracuse. I am orginally from the Buffalo suburb Cheektowaga (aka cheektovegas). I moved to Syracuse in 2001 after I got out of the Navy in which I was enlisted as an Aviation Electronics Technician.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? I started triathlon four years ago. I have always weight trained and I wanted a change and a new fitness challenge.


Who is your hero? I have no one hero. Heroes walk among us every day. When you meet them and hear their story you just know they are.


What is your athletic background? Many years of weight lifting but I didn’t play sports in school. I’m making up for it now…lol.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? That’s hard to say. Each race has brought me a new challenge. I used to think my swimming was my strongest at first but my bike suffered so I focused more on bike last season but then my swim times suffered……it’s a delicate balance.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? Green Lakes 2012…..I trained really hard for it. I remember getting freaked out during the wrestling match also known as the swim but I got on my back and calmed myself down for a few seconds then I was fine.

What is your favorite race and why? So far Delta Lake ……..simple……there is beer at the end!!


What was your worst race and why? Cazenovia 2012. I pulled my calf taking my wetsuit off, I was not ready for the hills on the bike course and my injured calf locked up during the run. I was glad I only did the sprint.

What races are on your race calendar for 2015? I did the Syracuse Half Marathon already and am doing the Springtime 10k, Mountain Goat, Charity for Children 8K Green Lkes Tri, Syracuse 70.3 and either Delta Lake or Mussleman……… more TBD.

What are this year’s goals? Syracuse 70.3 in under six hours. Last year was 6:08

In five years you hope to … Be healthy, injury free and still training hard

Something most people don’t know about you. I used to smoke and had asthma.


What triathlon has taught you. Patience. When I first heard of triathlon and the distances I was totally intimidated. I have learned that through hard work and patience, distance is just a matter of time.

Tanya Gesek

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015
Tanya Gesek

Tell us about yourself. I am a psychologist who specializes in children and families. I have a private practice and also work part time for SUNY Upstate in the Pediatrics Department. I have lived in the Syracuse area since 2000 and am the mother of a 12-year-old son, Kai, who is a seventh grader at Jamesville-DeWitt Middle School.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? I signed up for my first triathlon a little over four years ago when I turned 40. Call it an early midlife crisis!

Who is your hero? That is a hard question. There are so many people that I have been impressed with over time, not always someone famous. The heroes are the unknowns that overcome such adversity to bounce back and be better than ever. No one person fits that bill for me. 

What is your athletic background? I started as a dancer and dabbled in soccer throughout high school and college. I never really saw myself as an athlete but was always active.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? It’s funny, when I started to get back into fitness after my son was born, I picked up running. Now I feel like my running sucks. I guess many triathletes feel that way. I only learned to swim after I signed up for Iron Girl so that should be my weakest link but it is the sport I have grown to love the most.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? Iron Girl 2011! Leading up to it I was terrified. Thanks to my first coach, Lisa Dolbear, what I remember most is feeling like I really belonged out there, like I had found my niche.

What is your favorite race and why? I have to say that Gillie Girl is my fave. Iron Girl was definitely my first and has a special place in my heart, but it feels good to do a truly local race for women that also supports a great cause. 

What was your worst race and why? All of them. . . just kidding. I guess my worst race ultimately has been the best learning moment for me. I had to DNF Du the Lakes one year due to a calf injury. Devastating but humbling at the same time.  I learned to listen to my body and let the smaller race go. I was registered for my 70.3 and I wanted to be whole for that. It ended up being a good call, but a rough moment.

What races are on your race calendar for 2015? I am registered for Ironman Lake Placid. Eek. Before that I hope to complete the Syracuse Half Marathon, Syracuse Springtime 10K, Triple T in Ohio, and Syracuse 70.3.  After that I will turn to zumba and hiking for a while.

What are this year’s goals? This year I am hoping to see just what I can push my body to do. Whereas I never would have thought it four years ago, finishing IMLP will be a truly amazing personal and fitness goal. I have a great coach in Jennifer Corona and great supporters in my friends, family and triathlon community. (Thanks, Joe!) Together, I think we got this.

In five years you hope to. . . In five years, I would love to have the fitness to realistically sign up for another Ironman.

Something most people don’t know about you. So maybe keep it to things people don’t know but want to know? I have two tattoos and have picked out my third, I danced on Club MTV in the 1980s and I love ABBA.

What triathlon has taught you. There is nothing you can’t do.

Eileen M. Clinton

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

Eileen M. Clinton 
Tell us about yourself. I am currently the vice president of Risk Management at Brown and Brown Empire State. I have been in the insurance business over 33 years now. I moved around a bit with the job, from Massachusetts to Illinois to Binghamton to Syracuse, where I met my husband Jim, and had our son Matt who is now 23, a civil engineer near the city. I grew up in West Hartford, Conn., but always call Syracuse my home. I come from a family of five girls and one boy, so I learned at an early age how to compete!

How long have you been involved in triathlon and why did you take it up? I started triathlons in 2003, so it has been 12 wonderful years. I was an avid bicyclist for years, but discovered I had developed osteoporosis and my doctor said I needed impact to strengthen the bones. He suggested running or volleyball. I had run before, and started running on a more consistent basis. With summers at Cape Cod as a kid, I always liked to swim and I could bike, so triathlons became and still are my passion. I still have a lot of what I call “joy” moments training with friends, swimming at Jamesville or just being outdoors.

Who is your hero? My mom, Mary Ellen Higgision. She has been physically active all her adult life. When I was a kid, she would ask my dad to stop the car 6-8 miles from home and she would walk home for exercise (or to get out of a car full of screaming kids!). At age 85, she is the only one at her senior living center with a bike.

What is your athletic background? I made the varsity crew team at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., and rowed varsity crew for three years. I always loved to bike, even as a kid.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? My strength I would say is my consistency. I have tried to place in my age group every year since 2003 and have accomplished this goal. I actually started to enjoy the swim the last couple of years, but alas, I’m not very fast. I have taken swim clinics for years to get faster and all that technique goes out the window when you start your mass swim in an event, so I would say that my swim time is something I still want to work on.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? I think it was the Green Lakes Y Tri. I remember running neck and neck with my friend Mickey. My shoe lace untied and I had to make the decision to tie the lace or trip on my run to the finish. I decided to tie the lace and Mickey ran past me to the finish line. She earned that win.

What is your favorite race and why? I would say the First Syracuse 70.3. It was the first Ironman event in our area and the excitement and buzz was great. I also loved the flat run. I have relatives in Jamesville and I remember all of them out with their cowbells cheering me on.

What was your worst race and why? The 2013 Musselman 70.3. That was the year with the double fatalities. I learned of the first fatality Saturday night at the event dinner and it was so sad. Then I was on the bike course and came upon the woman who crashed. I saw the ambulance and we were told to stop.  The ref let us walk our bikes around the crash and mount up. It was not until I finished that I learned this young woman had died. This terrible tragedy at such a well run event was so sad. I will never forget it.

What races are on your race calendar for 2015? I always sign up for Cooperstown in May (yay, 55 degree water last year!), Delta Olympic, Syracuse 70.3 relay (I will do the bike section) and the Incredoubleman in September.

What are this year’s goals? My goal is to continue to place in my age group each year as I get older and not to crash. (I had a bad crash last September and it took me a while to heal).

In five years you hope to . . . Continue to have fun with the triathlon events and with my tri buddies. I also hope to qualify for Worlds and maybe tackle Ironman Lake Placid.

Something most people don’t know about you. I led bike trips for the national Sierra Club for several years, touring in places like Nova Scotia with groups. I loved it!