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!