I’ve always been an average person, and growing up never really ventured too far from home, except when I took a road trip to Canada when I was 16 with 2 of my best friends, got my belly button pierced and came home to a not so happy mother. BUT that’s besides the point. That was the trip that opened my eyes and helped me to want to continue my travels. I joined ROTC in hopes of the military giving me that opportunity. In 2007 I was a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutentant (LT), and I was on a plane to Guam. For those of you that don’t know where Guam is located, it’s just south of Japan and North of Australia. You need to zoom in about 80% on google earth to even see this little island in the Pacific. An absolutely gorgeous island; the weather is a consitant 85-95 degrees with a nice breeze and mostly sunny (it really would be a weatherman’s dream job). I was about 20lbs over weight for my height, but mostly muscle, and I could run about 3 miles and then just about die. Growing up playing soccer, swimming and field hockey, I was a team sport kind of girl, on a short distant field, where I was always able to start and stop again depending on where the ball was or if it was my event in the swim.
I started racing in 2007, but technically I started training in 1991, when I kicked some serious butt in the 25 meter Kick at the age of 5. When I arrived on that island, I knew there would be no team to workout with anymore, I would have to do it on my own. The military teaches you alot of discipline, and it helped to have my Squadron doing mandatory PT (physical training) 3 days a week at 0530. It kept me motivated and kept me running. But, I met Colonel (Col) Cutting and his wive Shannon (2 Ironman Athletes), and they invited me to the pool on a Wednesday morning. I hadn’t been in the pool in over a year, but it wasn’t too hard to get back into the groove of my stroke and it felt great to be back in the water. The Cutting’s showed up after I had already completed 1000 meters, and Col Cutting said “Ahhh I knew she would be a good training partner!” and hopped in the pool, “OK let’s start with a 500 meter warm-up, then 10X50 meter sprints….and we will see how we feel”. Since you never say no to a Colonel, I agreed and pretended like I wasn’t completely out of breath the entire workout. That morning I swam a total of 3200 meters. These two super athletes (one in their 40’s and the other in his 50’s), totally kicked my ass. I felt like a ball of butter when I walked into work that morning. That afternoon, I received a phone call from the Colonel, “Sarah, meet Shannon and I at the bottom of Tarague Hill, by the Ocean, at 0600 tomorrow morning”. This was the first time I had driven down to the beach area, and by no means was I looking forward to running up this mountain at this hour. Total up to the stop sign and back is a 4.8 mile run. The first mile is flat, it’s an amazing run on this twisty turny road, surrounded by lush green jungle, watching deer and wild life run out on the empty road, with the sound of the ocean waves crashing next to you. You can either go straight to the firing range on flat road or turn right, and we always turned right to go up the hill. It’s about a mile run at an almost 90 degree incline to the top, then at the top it levels out and you go the rest of the way flat (which is a huge relief) to the stop sign, turn around and go back. The best part is on the way back you realize what you missed on the way up – you are running on the edge of a cliff that overlooks jungle, beaches and the Pacific Ocean. It’s breathtaking, the perfect shade of Blues and Greens. Col Cutting basically pushed me all the way up that mountain, and it took me over 50 minutes to complete the run. Each day of the week became a new training day for the next year. Mon/Wed/Fri we swam, Tuesday they pushed me on the Track, Thursdays we ran the dreading Tarague. We didn’t miss a beat.
A few months into our training, Shannon brought up the idea of me riding a bike. I had never riden a race bike and didn’t know the first thing about shifting gears. They brought me to the bike shop and that night I walked away with my first GIANT Road Bike. The next day was Tuesday, we ran the track in the morning, and rode 20 miles that night. I was so sore the next day, it was a whole new feeling. The next day I decided not only do I need to ride more, but wondered why I was doing all this training. What for? I signed up for the Sprint Tri Series (3 Tri’s set up 2 weeks a part from eachother). I knew what I was training for now, I was training to race. It was a whole new outlook on training, not for a team, not for other people, but for myself.
And this is how it all began.