Archive for the ‘Member of the Month’ Category

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!

Ken Geary

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Ken Geary

Tell us about yourself. I am the typical baby-boomer, 58 years old, in denial of the aging process and still trying to remain an athlete. Luckily I have lots of role models that are very successful in remaining fit and strong! I have two daughters, one still in college, and they are both athletes also.


How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? I am relatively new to the sport, having started in 2011. I saw many of my running friends move to the sport as a way to diversify their fitness and try something new. It seemed like a natural progression, so I jumped in.


Who is your hero? I don’t have a single hero, there are just many excellent local role models, and I look up to many of them. If I had to single out someone it would be Brendan Jackson, my first coach and role model. Brendan is excellent at inspiring others to believe in themselves and guides, rather then pushes, his athletes into a pattern of success.


What is your athletic background? It’s diverse and sporadic. High school track and wrestling, softball and football as an early adult, then a long hiatus while my kids were growing up. My daughters and I took up tennis together (my daughter Jessica is captain of the LeMoyne tennis team). Tennis led me to running to improve endurance, and three marathons later I decided to engage in the sport of triathlon.


What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I would say that my strength is swimming and my weakness is running. It’s that aging-athlete curse, and a complete reversal of where I was four years ago. I attribute the swimming strength to the coaches I’ve had along the way, Brendan Jackson, followed by Bill Houser and then Karen Allen-Turner. All are great coaches and each has their own set of tricks to make you better.


What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? My first triathlon was the Syracuse 70.3 in 2011. What I remember most was the cycle training, and how difficult it was at first. I trained with team Fleet Feet, had a great summer of rides and was inspired by the wide range of athletic abilities. Truly, anyone can do this sport if they are willing to put in the training time.


What is your favorite race and why? Easily it’s the Green Lakes Triathlon, mostly because it is the first race of the season and it’s a chance to catch up with all my tri friends that I barely see all winter.


What was your worst race and why? The 2013 Syracuse 70.3. It was incredibly hot and muggy, and I started the day realizing that I’d left my own personal fluid mix at home in the refrigerator. Use a checklist, it works. I bonked on the run because I couldn’t cool down. Then the deluge (rainstorm) opened up and they closed the race–not that I was going to complete it anyway. I gained a lot of respect for those that toughed out the race that day and completed it in that incredible energy-draining heat.


What races are on your race calendar for 2015?My calendar is just forming, but I have signed up for the Green Lakes Triathlon. I am sure there will be three or four others.


What are this year’s goals?

To improve my Olympic distance cycling time.


In five years you hope to … : I don’t have my goals set out that far, but I do want to improve each year and continue to train smarter and not harder. This year I am using the Computrainer to improve my cycling efficiency, and I am optimistic that I will see results.


Something most people don’t know about you. I am a Canadian, and I don’t love or follow hockey. I think that is why I had to leave the country and move here…


What triathlon has taught you. Role models are everywhere, and I get inspired by watching entry level athletes improve and flourish. It keeps me motivated to continue to work on all three sports. It is the main reason I joined CNY Triathlon, to be a part of a club that encourages athletes of all skill levels. I learn new things from fellow club members all the time. We are lucky to have so many talented athletes and coaches that are willing to donate their time to us. It makes you want to pay it forward, and do the same for the newer club members and athletes.

Susan Kreplin-Michaels

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Susan Kreplin-Michaels  

Tell us about yourself.

I am 58 years old. I lived in Skaneateles for 25 years and moved in 2013 to the Town of Sennett. My hometown is Weedsport. I’m a graduate of Le Moyne College where I majored in accountin

g. I currently work part-time for Cuddy Financial Services in Auburn. I have been married to Lee Michaels for over 28 years. We have no children but three great cats, Gummer, Sawyer and CharLee.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? My first fairly serious triathlon was the Tinman in Tupper Lake in 2003. It was sort of on a lark. I got talked into it by my good friend Tim Walczyk, who also competed. At that time it was possible to qualify there for an IMLP slot. Amazingly I got one but did not accept it. My first IM was the 2004 IMLP. I was planning on it being a “one and done.” In those days they were actually posting results on a board in the competitors’ post-race food and refreshment area. I had no idea how I had finished. My husband walked over to the results board, returned with a big smile on his face, and told me that I was 2nd in the 45-49 AG and had earned a Kona slot. That night we discussed the pros and cons of going to Kona. He was for it; I was against it. The next morning we found out that John Van Slyke and Mike Parker, both of Skaneateles, had also qualified for Kona. So I signed up. Believe it or not, the second IM I ever did was Kona 2004. I had a pretty decent race. Overall I’ve completed six IM races, four of them at Lake Placid. In 2006 I won the 50-54 AG and earned another Kona slot. At Kona, I was doing quite well. Around 11 miles into the run I had worked my way forward. Lee was waiting for me at the top of Palani Hill, right where the QueenK begins. He had been counting and excitedly told me I was fifth. What he did not know but I did was that I was injured. I faded to seventh place overall, thus missing a dream visit to the podium. After 2006, I began racing in 70.3 events, in the hopes that I would not be injured as much. I had some pretty good suc

cess, especially at Timberman and Muskoka, where I have won my AG three times. In 2010, with injuries continuing, I began to race the Olympic distance. Even though I had not competed in the USAT Nationals, I was selected to compete in the Worlds in Budapest in 2010. While there, I met and quickly became fast friends with the great Ellen Hart from Denver. More about Ellen later. Overall, I have competed at USAT Nationals four times and have competed as a member of Team USA in the Worlds four times: Budapest, Auckland, London and Edmonton.

Who is your hero? First is my husband Lee. He has been guru, cheerleader and staunch supporter. He is always willing to take a road trip or get on an international flight to watch me race. My second hero is Ellen Hart. She has a well-publicized medical disorder that she deals with all the time. She is an amazingly versatile triathlete, regularly winning whatever age group she is in, from sprint to full IM races on the U.S. and World stage. Despite all her success, she is very modest.

What is your athletic background? At Weedsport High School, I competed on the boys’ track and x-country teams until I was a senior and the school added girls’ teams. I ran the 220. I also played basketball, volleyball and field hockey. In college I played basketball, volleyball, field hockey, and  ran x-country.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I would say that my strength is biking and my weakness is swimming. I have a coach, Eric Prager. Under his guidance, my swimming and running have improved. And, I have managed to stay relatively injury free.

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? My first serious triathlon was IMLP in 2004. My husband advised me to “smile any time someone smiles at you or calls you by name, and don’t complain.” A decade later, I still try to follow his advice.

What is your favorite race and why? I have two favorites. The first is IMLP 2006, when I won my AG and set an AG course record that lasted two years. The second was the USAT National Championships in Milwaukee in 2013, when I made the podium with Ellen Hart.

What was your worst race and why? Without a doubt, it was the USAT National Championships in Milwaukee in 2014. Everything was going great until a nutrition error caused me to fail miserably in the last 1.2 miles of the run.

What races are on your race calendar for 2015? USAT Nationals 2015, again in Milwaukee, Rev3

Olympic Williamsburg, Va., Gillie Girl, and other local races.

What are this year’s goals? To qualify for Team USA at the 2016 Olympic Worlds.

In five years you hope to … The first comes to me quickly: To race competitively in the 60-64 AG. The second requires a story. Last summer I finished third overall in Gillie Girl, sharing the podium with Megan Leubner and Kara Hoselton. It was very exciting to discover that their combined age was 1 year less than my age. I would love to have something like that happen to me again in five years. I have formed many wonderful friendships within the multisport community. I hope to hold on to all of these friends and make new friendships.

Something most people don’t know about you. Until the summer of 2013, when the USAT Nationals fell on the same weekend as the Great Race in Auburn, I canoed competitively with my husband. Several times our team received an award in the “open” category.

What triathlon has taught you. While racing, keep smiling, don’t fret over the little things. While
training, don’t try to fight through a lingering injury, as it will usually get worse.

Steve Tibbits

Sunday, November 2nd, 2014

Steve Tibbits 
Tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in Utica. Moved to Guilderland, N.Y. in 1988 and returned to New Hartford in 2001. Currently 55 years old and happily married for 34 years to my wife Lorrie.

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? Became involved in triathlon in 2012. I joined ATC Endurance swim sessions in New Hartford, I was already a cyclist and thought tris would be fun.

Who is your hero? My father.

What is your athletic background? High school football and track. A few years bike racing and local running races.

What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses?My strongest element is the bike. I can swim distances, but at a slow pace. So that is my weakness. I am working on that, though!!

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? Delta Lake Triathon in 2012 with ATC Endurance. I most remember freaking out in the water–it was my first experience with so many people swimming near me so I sat up until they were all away from me! I am over that now.

What is your favorite race and why? 2014 Lake Placid Ironman. I trained for seven months and loved it. A fantastic venue and amazing sense of accomplishment.

What was your worst race and why? I loved them all! But the first was my worst because I was a beginner and didn’t know what to expect. Like taking 3 minutes in transition to put on my socks.

What races are on y

our race calendar for 2014? I focused on Ironman 2014 and did the Old Forge Tri in August.

What are your goals for 2015? I signed up for Ironman Lake Placid, and will do the ATC Endurance tris in Cooperstown and Old Forge, and hopefully Ironman Florida in November. I hope to take 45 minutes off my IMLP time. I was 18th in my age group and want to be in the top 10. I placed third in my age group at Old Forge and would like to take first this year.

In five years you hope to... Qualify for Ironman Kona.

Something most people don’t know about you. I am an open book, but if I had to choose something..I wish I had finished college.

What triathlon has taught you: To believe in myself, and live every day.


Donna Boots

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Donna Boots 

Tell us about yourself. I turned 55 this year. I have lived in Central New York my entire life, now living only three miles from the farm where I grew up. My little slice of heaven on earth is on Gates Road, west of Baldwinsville, where my husband and I live and work. We own and operate Merritt Seed Company and just recently started Merritt Apple Orchard, which is now producing apples. Being self-employed is hard work. I guess you could call me a bit of a workaholic. I believe in working hard and playing harder. Besides my love for triathlon, I love participating in mud run obstacle courses like Tough Mudder and Spartan races. I love mountain biking and trail running. I love to travel and I have been very fortunate to have traveled all over the world. My favorite sayings are:Dream It…Do It…I Did….and continue to…Life is Good! and Have Passport, Will Travel!

How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? My husband was an avid sheep hunter and I used to go along with him on all his hunts. Sheep live high in the mountains so hunting them involved a lot of hiking and climbing. When his knees went bad he stopped mountain hunting and I needed another outlet to focus my energy on. With a seasonal business, in 2006 we I started going to Florida for a couple of months to escape the winter and there I had time to swim and bike to my heart’s content. One day I thought if I took up running I could do a triathlon. So I started running. I did my first triathlon in 2008.


Who is your hero?

My big sister Pat. She is a true big sister that I look up to and admire. She is my best friend and biggest cheerleader. No matter what is going on in my life she is supports me 100%. She always has my back.

What is your athletic background?

I was very athletic growing up in the country as a middle child with three brothers and two sisters. In high school I was a diver on the swim team, competed all around in gymnastics, played field hockey, ran hurdles and did the shot put in track. I was voted Most Athletic my senior year in high school. After high school I really didn’t participate in any sports. Over the years I kept pretty active with work and did a lot of hiking and non-technical mountain climbing.


What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I think my biggest strengths are my strong will, mental determination and a never-quit attitude no matter how hard the going gets. My weakness is that sometimes I underestimate my ability and don’t push as hard as I could.


What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? It was a sprint: Tri-America in Brewerton in 2008. I remember feeling like I could take on the world after crossing the finish line.


What is your favorite race and why?

How do you pick a favorite race…so hard to do…so many stand out for different reasons. I suppose my favorit

e races are the ones for which I have trained properly, executed properly and the stars align to make it feel like a perfect race. If I had to pick just one I would have to say it was the Cape Argus Cycle Race in Capetown, South Africa in 2013. The 67.5-mile mountainous route circumnavigated the Cape Peninsula on completely closed roads and offered beautiful cliffside ocean views while riding. With over 31,000 riders completing the course it is one of the largest single day cycling events in the world.

What was your worst race and why? I can’t say as I have ever had a worst race. I have, however, had one really scary race moment. During Ragnar Key West in February on my very first leg of the relay I set off at too fast a pace on a 7.5-mile leg in the dark on an unfamiliar course with no fluids or nutrition. I barely remember rounding my last turn at mile 7.2, seeing the lights of the exchange in the distance. I made it to the exchange, stumbling in on auto pilot using dogged determination. Tara, our team’s next runner, had to grab the slap bracelet off my wrist because I was out of it, I was within a hair’s width of heat stroke. I thought my quest to reach Key West was over without making it out of Miami; it took well over an hour to start feeling normal again. I learned a very important lesson about proper hydration and nutrition in humid conditions and to never, ever, no matter how fit, trained or prepared I think I am, go out on a long run, ride or swim without proper supplies.


What races are on your calendar for 2014? This year has been pretty full. I did the Green Lakes YMCA Tri, Tinman Tupper Lake 70.3, Iron Girl, Xterra Off Road Tri at Green Lakes, Skinnyman and most recently back-to-back 70.3s at Incredoubleman in Sackets Harbor in September (photo at top). In addition to triathlons, I mixed things up with Ragnar Key West, Tough Mudder Buffalo, Point to Pint Century Ride and I’m All That! I have one race left on my calendar: Ironman Western Australia, December 7.


What are this year’s goals? This year’s A goal is to complete my first Ironman distance tri, Ironman Western Australia. When I first signed up, my goal was to merely finish even if it meant crawling across the finish line in 16:59:59. I enlisted Karen Allen-Turner to coach me knowing with my busy schedule I would not be able to train properly on my own. I would need someone to make me accountable. As part of my training she suggested I sign up for Incredoubleman in Sackets Harbor this year. Completing back to back 70.3s on consecutive days would be a good test of stamina as well as a confidence builder for Ironman. I was able to put together two consistent races: 6:17:56 on Saturday followed by a 6:17:54 on Sunday and was the first overall woman finisher for the two-day combined time. Now I am actually setting a goal time, no longer competing to finish but actually competing to race. It’s a neat feeling to see how proper training has changed my perspective on the race.


In five years you hope to: Still be Dreaming It and Doing It! And enjoying life to the fullest.


Something most people don’t know about you. I bungee jumped off the Victoria Falls Bridge in Zambia, over 300 feet, with Victoria Falls roaring behind me and the Zambezi River flowing below. I felt like an eagle soaring! OK, so now you know I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, within reason, or maybe not. Zip line, anyone?


What triathlon has taught you. It has taught me how strong a person I am. It has also taught me not to judge a book by its cover and that everyone has a story. I see so many different types of athletes in all shapes and sizes and ability and fitness levels that compete in and complete triathlons. I am in awe of each and every one who gets out and just “tri’s.” I hope they all know just how strong they are or can be. Being a member of the CNY Tri Club and taking part in the sport of triathlon has given me so many opportunities to learn and grow not only as a triathlete but as a person.


The postings I have been putting on Facebook offering Apples for Athletes at discounted prices to members of the CNY Tri Club is my little way of giving something back to a sport which has given me so much.