‘Burst’ing With Talent

My friend Jaxon made a bold move to follow his passion and change careers from working in a cube to working behind a camera. I participated in the fitness section of his portfolio. It was a blast! Photos by Kelohimography

“Don’t let a win go to your head, or a loss go to your heart. Keep the faith and trust in the process, put the work in and your time will come.” – Brooks Laich (my fav athlete because of his talent as a hockey player and his life values)

Thank You for Rooting for Me

I am sad to share that the Spartan organization contacted me to say that Spartan Race Cuba for March is canceled.

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I have been training hard for months, even on days when I was in pain recovering from my surgeries and felt like I physically couldn’t do it. Every time I am out training I do my best to give 110%, drawing motivation from the incredible people who have been supporting me along the way.

I am not sure I believe the reason their government gave Spartan, especially given the current state of our nation. Politics aside, I did what I know best when faced with things out of my control, and adjusted my goals … again.

Here is my new race schedule for 2017… (Note to My Financial Donors: The registration and travel are booked for these races, so they are a definite go!)

40th Anniversary TD Five Boro Bike Tour
May 7, NYC

  • On the first Sunday in May, 32,000 cyclists from around the world come together to ride 40 miles through every borough of NYC on streets closed off to cars. It is the largest charitable bike ride in the US, with proceeds funding New York’s free bike education programs.

Tough Mudder Whistler
June 17, Whistler, BC

  • Whistler, BC, is very special to me because it is where I worked in 2010 for the Paralympic Winter Games. It was a life-changing experience, and I cannot wait to return to the area!

VA Momentun SUPTri
July 29, Bridgewater, VA

  • A unique multi-sport event that replaces the traditional swim portion of a Tri race with Stand Up Paddleboarding! The Tri starts with a one-mile paddleboard section in the North River in Bridgewater, followed by a 19-mile bike through the countryside, and finishes with a technical four-mile run on hilly terrain at the Valley Pike Farm Market.

I will continue to train and keep you updated along the way as I tackle these goals!

I am VERY GRATEFUL to my financial sponsors like OrthoVirginia, Rita Rich, Jenny Hogan, Alicia Kenney, Robert Brown, Gina Galli, Linda Barefoot, Marisa Palumbo, Beverly Marsters, Gigi Guzman, Tonya Harris, Angela Manning and Lito Velandria; and my product sponsor Flyte Fitness. I am also thankful to those who reached out to me in written support. ALL OF YOU ROCK! My GoFundMe account is open for anyone who would still like to make a donation to me toward the other two races.

Determination and Gratitude

2016, to say the least, was a year filled with medical drama for me. I underwent major surgery in February and was looking forward to recovery so that I could stay on track with my goal to participate in the Spartan Hawaii Trifecta in August. Six months later I was nearing recovery and got into a bicycle accident. I broke my wrist, along with major road rash and bruises. My years of training for and participating in the Spartan Hawaii Trifecta in August were officially dashed.

Through my bicycle accident, I was connected with Dr. Laino, an accomplished hand surgeon at OrthoVirginia. He implanted a permanent titanium plate and five screws in my wrist. Then, like the passing of an Olympic baton, Karen Popovich, an amazing physical therapist, took over my care in thrice-weekly PT sessions. She provided me with consistent mental and physical support that resulted in me thriving at a positive rate.

Recovering from two significant surgeries within months of each other can take an emotional toll on a person. I went through a brief period of self-pity until my friend Jenny gave me some tough love reminding me that my situation wasn’t permanent, and for that reason, I should feel lucky. I quickly adjusted my defeatism mentality and set new goals for 2017. I became fueled with a desire to reasonably beat the recovery periods for the surgeries and come out on the other end equally strong, if not, stronger. I read an email that Spartan was holding a once-in-a-lifetime race event in Cuba on March 18, 2017, open to only 1,000 participants. The opportunity intrigued me for many reasons. The March date seemed like a reasonable amount of time for me to prepare and aim to get back in challenge race mode. I submitted my application for the sprint and I am happy to share that I made the cut as one of the 1,000 racers! I shared my good news with Dr. Laino and Karen and asked for their medical approval, which they provided.

Next, I have to secure benefactors to cover the more than $3,500 in race expenses (race registration, airfare, hotel, etc.). I started a GoFundMe account and my friends have been very supportive (special shout-outs to Rita, Jenny and Alicia). I also need the help of business-level sponsors. I thought about how OrthoVirginia had a key role in building me back up after my accident and what a great sponsor they would make, so I reached out to them for support. Their director of marketing just notified me that they will be making a contribution! I am very grateful to OrthoVirginia and I look forward to them being part of my race experience in Cuba.

I have reached about $1,000 of my fundraising goal so far. If you or a business you know of are willing to join OrthoVirginia in sponsoring me, please contact me at galOTgo or you can make a direct donation through my GoFundMe account https://www.gofundme.com/galotgo.

I hope to make my friends and sponsors proud in March. More importantly, I am determined to show that when life presents you with challenge after challenge, you may need to keep readjusting your goals, BUT never give up on them!

SPONSORS: Contact me to have your company’s name and logo added!

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Final Piece of the Spartan Trifecta Puzzle

The day had finally arrived for the last leg of my Trifecta pursuit. It was 59 degrees and partly cloudy; a beautiful fall day for a race in Boston. On my way over to the stadium I could see participants walking along the top of Fenway Park carrying large jugs. I looked away, not wanting to psych myself out. I already conquered the Super and Beast, BUT the cement grounds of the ballpark were different from the grass/mud terrain I was used to, and just because it was a Sprint race, didn’t mean it would be easy. I was very torn because I wanted to get through the course quickly and to the best of my ability, but at the same time, given the historic location and access to special areas like the locker room and dugout, I wanted to pause at points and enjoy the experience. It sort of didn’t go down as planned. I tore through the course because I was unsure how to pace myself through the stadium. Toward the end, when I was running around the clay warning track past the famous Green Monster wall, I slowed down a little to look up and around. While I was taking in the awesome 360-view, I thought WOW, I never imagined I would be running bases at Fenway Park one day! I’m not even a baseball fan (I’m a hockey gal), but I appreciated the significance of the venue. I proudly finished the course in 51:56.

The Spartan obstacle races became addictive, which is something I didn’t expect when I originally signed up for my first, and what I thought would be only one. I never imagined the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Virginia would lead me to Killington Mountain in Vermont and then to Fenway Park in Boston. The journey to accomplish my Trifecta goal took me outside of my mental and physical comfort zones and revealed capabilities to me that I didn’t even know I possessed. I’m not sure what my fitness goals are for 2016 yet. I’m going to take some time off from racing this winter and figure them out.

(FUN FACTOID: The Green Monster aka “The Wall” was part of the original Fenway Ballpark construction of 1912. The wall is the highest among current Major League Baseball fields, and is the second highest among all professional baseball fields, including minor leagues.)

Visit Last Word on Sports to read my article on tackling challenges races from a rookie to seasoned competitor perspective.