Being born into a family of 9 children automatically makes you competitive. I was the 8th child, the 6th daughter and the one who always had to show my family that I could do anything they could do. When my sisters and cousins would go in the back yard to work on their splits and jumps for cheerleading tryouts, I was out there too showing off my back handsprings and Chinese splits.
I thought I was going to compete in the 1980 Olympics. 
When my extended family got together, we didn’t just sit around and eat fat food. It was a family tradition started when I could barely walk to get together and play volleyball. We would get together every Saturday night and play for hours. While most of my cousins were off playing games or swimming, I was on the volleyball court.
Volleyball: The game I love to play throughout school
and with my family

My family formed me into who I am today. Their work ethic and my competitive nature pushed me through high school as one of the top athletes in my class. I played volleyball. I was a cheerleader and I ran track. No distances for me though. I was a middle distance runner and high jumper. The thought of running a mile was ghastly! I went on to play volleyball at my community college and at Western Illinois University.

Following college, I ran a couple of distance races, but running was boring and I had no desire to spend the time training. Instead I chose to continue working out with my endless library of workout tapes. I exercised daily. I worked out through my wedding, a move to Milwaukee, my first child, a move to Tremont, and then another child. I took prenatal exercise classes through both pregnancies and felt great. Exercise was my stress reliever. It made me a better person and a better mom, but it couldn't fix everything.
Our first home in Butler, WI 1994
I spent five years watching my parents’ health fail. My mom was told she had NASH, or non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver, and she wasn't a good candidate for a liver transplant. Because my dad spent so much time caring for my mom, he ignored his own health issues and was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer. They died 10 months apart in 2004 & 2005. During all of this, I gave birth to my 3rd daughter and while I exercised through the pregnancy, my passion just wasn’t there. I spent a lot of time on the road between my home in Tremont and visiting my parents in Rochester.

I’ll never forget what my mom said when we got her prognosis. “I have so much more life to live.” I didn’t want to be like her - 68 years old fighting for my life after years of being overweight and not knowing how to make a change. I wanted to re-awaken my athletic spirit which had been lying dormant for the last few years.
2006 - Not looking so athletic anymore
With the return of the Tremont Triathlon in 2008, I had the perfect opportunity to do just that. I said I was going to do the triathlon that year, but I didn’t. I have a long laundry list of reasons why I didn't participate, but the key factor was fear of failure. Failure was not an option for me. I will never commit to something I have not trained for and I didn’t feel ready to do a triathlon in 2008. Instead, I showed up at the triathlon to cheer everyone on and to take pictures. That morning I was truly disappointed in myself for not committing to the training. The entire event was so much fun and I felt that spark of athletic spirit begin to stir again.
2008 - Down right chubby
I trained over the next winter. I spent the spring swimming, running on the treadmill and a little time on the bike. In May of 2009, I received what I considered to be devastating news. I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. I felt like I had just taken 10 years off my life, but I knew God was giving me the motivation to commit to the triathlon and take off some of the fluff I had put on over the last few years. I finished my first triathlon at Tremont in 2009 and knew that spark had come back to life. During the process of training for my first triathlon, I lost 15 pounds. I felt physically strong again for the first time since my parents fell ill. 
2010 Tremont Triathlon
In October of 2010, I went to a training weekend to become a Les Mills Body Flow Instructor. Being a cardio girl, I really didn't expect to enjoy Body Flow nearly as much as I did. I fell in love with the program. We launched Body Flow 50 in January 2011 to great success. Over the next few months, I continued workout out and teaching, but decided to take on a new become a Body Pump instructor.
Body Pump Launch
We launched Body Pump in June of 2011. Over the next few months, people would continue to ask me how much weight I've lost. While the number on the scale wasn't changing, my body was definitely re-shaping. Inches were lost, or gained in the right places, as I continued to strengthen my body through teaching Flow and Pump. 

I fell in love with teaching. I love watching my class participants push themselves to the limit and then come back for more. I love watching week after week as they work on their bodies, meet their goals and glow from their triumphs. In November, I went to ZUMBA training. Dancing is fun and if it is a mean for one more person to meet their goals, I am all over it. 

With Abby as she prepared for her 1st triathlon (2011)
In December 2011, I quit my job as Program Director for our local park district. I wanted to pursue my passion as a group fitness  instructor inspiring as many people as possible to take the steps necessary to become healthy and active. 

As a member of our local triathlon club, T3, I watched as several people signed up to compete in the 2012 Ironman Louisville. Apparently, there was a fever spreading throughout our club and I caught it. I signed up to participate in Ironman Louisville in January 2012 and I seriously think I've lost my fricking mind. 
Wearing my T3 colors with pride
I started training for the Ironman in January and have been working toward my goal of completing the course within the 17 hours allotted. I've been asked, "What is your strength? Are you a good swimmer?". I laugh. You see I am a middle of the pack girl, sometimes even the back of the pack.  I learned how to really swim freestyle when I trained for my first triathlon. I've never really trained on the bike and running? Well, I'm happy with a good 9 minute pace. 
Swimming can be enjoyable. It just took me a while to learn that. 
I have an awesome support crew built in with the 21 other people from T3 (Tremont Triathlon Team) who are participating in Ironman Louisville, but I also have an incredible support team in my husband, Jeff, and awesome niece, Cheryl. If she hadn't signed up first, I would definitely have been slower at pulling that trigger. 
Jeff, Cheryl & I at the Indy Mini-Marathon
Ironman Louisville turned out to be more than ever could have dreamed of. A decent swim. An excellent bike and never finding the wall in the marathon. 

Cheryl & I relaxed leaving T2
The best part of the day was walking into transition and seeing Cheryl there. We laughed and talked our way through transition and started the run together.

The smile that never left my face
 15 hours, 9 minutes, 56 seconds of smiles. The joy and satisfaction of the day surpassed all of my expectations.

Ironman Cheryl
At the end of the day, Cheryl & I both achieved our goals. We could officially call ourselves Ironman. A title I will wear proudly for the rest of my life. 

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