From Pizza & Potato Chips to the Podium

Ashley - Embracing fitness through triathlon Ashley - Embracing fitness through triathlon

Sometimes in our pursuit of fitness we come across some truly inspiring people. Larry Klutenkamper writes about two such individuals... one of them his wife, the other his student.

Wife, Grandmother, ...And Triathlete

I have been involved in competitive running, cycling and triathlon for many years.  Along the way, I've the opportunity to meet and work with many great athletes and inspiring people. I'm blessed to be married to one of them...

Jane | Wife, Mother, Cancer Survivor

My dear wife Jane.  Wife, mother, grandmother, and breast cancer survivor. She is a very laid back and relaxed person until you put a race timing chip on her ankle and a finish line in front of her.  Then she becomes a laser focused, take no prisoners, race machine.  Jane has completed her 10th Ironman triathlon (which consist of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile run).  She has also completed over 25 marathons, which is a 26.2 mile run, and countless 1/2 Ironman triathlons and 1/2 marathons.  Jane recently qualified for the USA Triathlon National Championship contested this past August in Vermont. In November she also qualified for the 2013 Ironman World Championships in Kona Hawaii. Needless to say I'm very proud of her.

Ashley Before
Ashley Before

Ashley's Story

Then there is Ashley, a young wife and mother who I've know for awhile now.  If you would have met her about three years ago you wouldn't have considered her an athlete by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, if you would have seen her out doing anything at all, she would have been the girl wearing baggy sweat pants and shirt riding an old Huffy bicycle.  You know the one I'm talking about.

The Day Things Changed

Things changed for Ashley one day when she looked in the mirror and couldn't believe what she saw.  "Where did all this weight come from and how could I have let this happen to myself?" she thought.  That day she made a promise to herself to turn things around and change her life.

Ashley set her sights on a healthy, active, positive lifestyle.  She started eating healthier, working out and truly committed herself to a new life.  It didn't happen overnight but things did change for her.  She set goals along the way and each time she reached one she set another.  One day, she set her sights on completing a triathlon.  Which she did....  and then did again.

An Eye on the Podium

Recently, Ashley set her latest goal quite a bit higher by training to win her Age Group (AG) at the super challenging Innsbrook Triathlon.  I had the opportunity to help her prepare for the cycling stage of the race.  We worked on aerodynamics, bike fit, climbing skills and hydration/nutrition.

When race day arrived, Ashley started out on the 1000 yard open water swim when her goggles came loose and filled with water.  After struggling with the goggles and not being able to see during the swim she exited the stage 8 minutes behind the lead, and dead last.

But she didn't give up. Ashley got on her bike, put her head down and started making things happen and passing people in the process.  After the hilly 28 mile bike ride she averaged 20.1 mph and took around 5 and 1/2 minutes off her bike time from the previous year. Then she put her running shoes on and unleashed the fastest run split in her AG over the very hilly 6 mile run.  She ran at a 7:30 minute per mile average pace!

Ashley on the Podium

Never Give Up!

When the dust settled and the results were in, even after coming out of the swim in last place, she had biked and run herself onto the podium in 3rd place for her AG and 12th out of 105 females overall.  Not the win she had hoped for but a huge victory in the "never give up" department.

From the time she looked in the mirror and decided to make a change in her life until today she has lost over 140 pounds! Ashley's "after" photo on the podium is shown here.....  And yes, she is #278.

So the next time you're out on your bike wearing your team jersey and see someone out on their Huffy in long sweat pants and shirt, slowly moving along, give them thumbs up, wave or tell them great job.  You never know the possible athlete underneath all those clothes and on that old bike. The next time you see them they many be passing you or standing on the podium next to you!

Larry Klutenkamper

Larry Klutenkamper is retired and works part time in public relations, marketing, and community involvement in the fitness industry.  He is also an avid triathlete and has an impressive triathlon resume including 4 Ironman distance finishes.  As an accomplished cyclist, Larry has competed in road races, criteriums, and time trials, and is a USA Cycling Category 1 expert in mountain biking.  Larry lives in the Midwest with his wife Jane, who is a cancer survivor and accomplished athlete as well, and has 3 grown children and 4 grandchildren.  All 3 of his children have run marathons with Jane.

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