Here's the story . . .

"KMF - Do you know what that stands for?" my father asked me.  We had just finished the Long Course Duathlon National Championship in Texas (2015).  Nope.  No idea.  As it turns out, on the second run there was a guy in front of my dad with "KMF" on the back of his shirt.  Try as he might, my dad couldn't catch up with him to ask what it meant, and it was driving him crazy.  He said that he kept his eye on him after the finish, and tracked him down to find out.  "Keep Moving Forward".  As well talked about it, we decided it was a great motto - for life and triathlon.  Especially during an Ironman race when the overwhelming tendency is to want to slow down, to take a break, to stop - just for a second; but you have to just keep moving (preferably forward).  Same with life - when things get crazy or don't necessarily go the way you hope or plan - break it down into smaller pieces and, well, KMF!

     ....and Smile.  There are oh so many reasons for this.  I have been sidelined by many things - I have fallen off my bike (a lot) - I have taken corners too fast, been taken out by others who have taken a corner too fast, I have been hit by a car, I have failed to unclip and hit the ground; I have had a stress fracture (and later a broken foot . . . ); I have had two children - there have been times I just could not race - or even just go for a swim/bike/run.  If you have been there, you know, there is nothing that makes racing or training more appealing than NOT being able to do it.  I have friends who would give anything to be able to race.  A long-time family friend battled tonsillar cancer a few years ago.  He would come to our monthly time trials wearing his chemo pump - and he would be so happy just to be able to be out there.  The next year he was in remission and had one of the best Ironman races of his life.  Another close friend of mine who is a long-time swimmer found a few years ago that his times were getting slower and he was having difficulty with arm fatigue while swimming.  The verdict - ALS.      There are so many people who would give anything to be able to do what we take for granted most of the time. I try to keep that in perspective - especially while racing.  It is easy to get caught up in the race, to set high goals and expectations - and sometimes things just don't go as planned.  I try to truly enjoy the process - even when it hurts - and just be thankful I am able to do what I do.  Push yourself, test your limits, but remember to have fun!  With all that in mind, I figure there is nothing left to do - but smile, smile, smile.


Athlete Spotlight - Renee Stanfield

For my next athlete spotlight, allow me to introduce, Renee Stanfield.  I first met Renee on a group ride in Jackson, TN, years and years ago.  From our first meeting, I was so impressed with her determination and passion for cycling.  Our paths crossed numerous times at cycling events over the years.  Last year (2022), she started getting interested in swimming, and I convinced her to come see me for a swim lesson.  That progressed to her trusting me to coach her  . . . and here is her story:
Renee Stanfield
*age 54,
*Married 33 years, two grown boys
*one granddaughter; 1 year old
I started this whole fitness journey way back in 2009 when I started run/walking. I have lost approximately 70 plus pounds figuring everything out on my own. Figuring when to run and rest etc., including how am I going to change how I was eating.  
Speed up to 2016 when I started cycling...I seriously got bit by the bug, which lead into racing and riding crazy amounts of miles...
For about 2 years I continually thought about trying a triathlon.  I figured I definitely could ride and run...but the swimming...
The only swimming I did was what my dad taught me growing up, which means I didn't know HOW to actually swim. 
Last year I started taking actually swimming lessons from Kirsten because I wanted to FINALLY do a triathlon.  
The swimming lessons turned into hiring Kirsten as my coach.
Since having Kirsten as my coach, I have progressed so much and I don't have to figure out anything anymore!!
Greatest accomplishment(s) since having a coach:
*finishing my first ever triathlon; 
*having a goal of running a 5k under 14 minute mile pace. 
The 5k was done with a pace of 13:51 and I was 2nd in my division.
I absolutely love having Kirsten as my coach. 
When I think I have done terrible she is always encouraging and uplifting!
I'll just say; I live about 2 hours from Kirsten BUT I will drive 2 hours to be at Kirsten's anytime because that's how serious I am about doing the best I possibly can and I know Kirsten will help me to reach my goals.

Athlete Spotlight - Jeremy Skinner

I first heard of Jeremy Skinner through a mutual friend, Mark Smith, who told me about this crazy friend of his who was doing over an 8 MILE swim, in the ocean, somewhere in Florida.  I finally met Jeremy at the Memphis 70.3, and shortly after that race in 2022 we started working together.  Dedicated, determined, and a long-distance athlete for sure, it has been so inspiring to watch him pursue his goals, and keep striving and challenging himself to be the best he can be.  Here is his story . . . 


Jeremy Skinner

Wife is Angie: Married for almost 20 years
Daughter is Isabella:  Age 13


I started running around 2006. It all started with a random conversation about a “marathon” at a poker game.  I didn’t really know what it was and never really ran much but said, “hey, sounds fun. I’ll train with you”. Little did I know that was just the beginning of what was to come. After the first and “only” marathon, then came another, and another, different states, etc.
After a hip injury in 2012, I was told to back off on the running and did just that. Around 2015, I decided to get into triathlon. A friend of mine told me that there are multiple disciplines, and you didn’t run as much.  I did a few aqua bikes and a couple of sprints and then decided to go for a 1/2 Ironman in New Orleans in 2016. After that, I decided to challenge the idea of completing a full ironman and did just that in 2017 in Whistler, B.C. Canada. Then as with most of us triathletes, that wasn’t good enough. So I decided to keep going and just completed Ironman # 5 in 2022 and targeting many more in the future. 


And if the Ironman scene wasn’t enough, I was “convinced” to try out marathon swimming and completed an almost 9-mile open water swim in Islamorada, FL (completed twice and already signed up for a third time). And let’s just say that I have never been a fan of swimming and have always considered swimming just a formality of triathlon! I will admit that it seems I have finally swum through the “I hate swimming” phase and actually enjoy it now. 


That leads me to where we are today- being fortunate enough to receive coaching from Kirsten Sass. I knew of the name several years back from a local triathlon and was introduced years later through a mutual friend. I have kicked around getting a coach to get to the next level but never really did it. Then after racing Memphis 70.3 on a couple of occasions, I found out that Kirsten coached and decided that if I am going to receive coaching, I wanted to be coached by someone that I know is a true athlete and that practices what they preach. When Kirsten said that she would bring me on and coach me, I have to say my whole outlook changed on my seriousness of the sport.
Here is how successful Kirsten’s coaching has been in just a short time for me. Kirsten starting coaching me just 5 weeks before Ironman Arizona in 2022. Within that short five weeks, she was able to fine tune my training to bring me across the finish line of Ironman # 5 with a PR of 45 minutes over my previous PR. If that wasn’t good enough, just a short 8 weeks after Ironman Arizona, Kirsten was able to train me up to finally cross the finish line of a marathon and qualify for Boston. I always talked about this and got close in 2010 but never did it until now- 13 years later! 

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Within a short timeframe, Kirsten has helped me reach a couple of goals that I wasn’t sure were still possible. Instead of simply “completing” these events like I had been, with the help of Kirsten, I am now focusing on trying to find my true potential and to see just exactly how fast and far I can go. The funny part about this all is that I waited until I was 46 to start taking this seriously! I am super excited and feel privileged to have Kirsten Sass guiding me along the way in this journey! 


To date since 2006 when I started, I have completed:
2 marathon swims (8+ miles) plus a third on the way. 
15+ full marathons (not counting IM’s)
Lost count of half marathons! LOL
5 Ironman’s
11 70.3’s 
Numerous sprint and Olympic triathlons over the years 


Next up on Jeremy's list is Ironman Tulsa on May 21st.  Wishing you the best race possible - race your race, trust your training, and always, always - keep moving forward!

Athlete Spotlight - Jake Brown

Please allow me to introduce Jake Brown.  I have been working with Jake since about June of 2022.  Here is his story:
My name is Jake Brown and I am 34 years old. I was born and raised in McKenzie, Tennessee. While living in Florida for a few years I met my wife Melissa who was on vacation from Canada. We currently live in McKenzie with our two children Graeme and Sloane. I have always been fascinated by endurance sport and in the summer of 2022 I decided I wanted to make the leap into a new challenge. In July I took a swimming lesson with Kirsten because I had always loved to swim but needed some coaching. Who better than to ask one of the best, and not to mention she was located right here in my hometown. After making the leap I then bought a road bike and have become very committed to running.
Currently I have completed 3 5ks over the last several months and want to continue to find bigger and tougher challenges. I knew I was on the right path having Kirsten as my coach was when each of my 5k times were faster than the previous race. Kirsten has made all of this enjoyable by being a personable coach who truly cares for your success to become the athlete you want to be. She makes a weekly plan for me that is easy to follow so I know exactly what I need to do. My biggest goal is to one day complete my first 70.3. With her wisdom of years of triathlon and phenomenal coaching I feel reassured that it will only be a matter of time. I will forever be indebted to her for helping me become the athlete I want to be. 
Sometime around December, Jake decided he wanted to run a marathon.  On April 29, he ran his first marathon - the Muddy River Marathon in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.  in 4 hours and 34 minutes!!!
It has been so fun to watch the progress Jake has made . . . and I can't wait to see what he does next.  He embodies one of my favorite quotes . . . Keep Moving Forward.  Set a goal, work for it, complete it, repeat.  Keep challenging yourself to be the BEST version of YOU.

The Story Of Somerset

The Story of Somerset

My parents decided within four days of meeting each other, they were getting married. And they did. My mother loved to tell that story. My father was finishing up medical school in London, Ontario, Canada. When he graduated, they decided to travel south, to East TN, to visit some of my mother’s family. As the story goes, they ran out of money somewhere in west Tennessee.

     At that time, the city of McKenzie, TN, was looking for a family doctor. Deciding that was a perfect opportunity, they found a little one bedroom, one bathroom house and planned to stay until they saved enough money to continue on their way east . . . and never left. My mother started having children (she always said she wanted a dozen, but stopped at six), and as they could afford to, they added on to the house.


     With a large local Amish community in the area, my father would provide medical services in exchange for their carpentry skills, so the house is filled with their woodworking craftsmanship. Most of the upstairs bedroom walls are reclaimed barnboard from area barns.


Initially three bedrooms were added to the upstairs, with a large living room on the ground floor. When my younger sister and two youngest brothers came along, so did an additional three bedrooms with a masters bedroom on the ground floor below them.


Always having a great imagination, my parents designed secret passageways connecting several of the bedrooms. One day my father asked my mother whether she would rather walk downstairs or slide, she immediately replied, “slide”, and the Amish designed just that - a slide at the end of the back hallway going downstairs. I still remember as they worked through the process - initially having the slide go straight (into the wall) until they realized that didn’t end so well (literally), and added a curve at the bottom.


    The living room includes an expansive couch along the perimeter, a post in the center of the room surrounded by a pile of pillows, and rope swings hang on the beams on either side of the post so one can simply “swing” across the room if desired. My children have also added hammocks strung along the center beam, which seems to be a favorite spot of theirs when watching movies.


      When I was a junior in high school, my parents packed us all up and we moved to India for a year (which is a whole other story in and of itself), and when we returned they added on to the house again, filling an entire room with purchases they made while we were there. This room is appropriately called, “The India Room”, which is perfect for yoga retreats, business meetings, rehearsal dinners, or any other large gathering. The bathroom even has a heavy door that was designed to keep elephants out - so it is the “safest” bathroom in the house ;). While they originally just had a traditional “two footer” toilet, commonly found across India, we did add a “regular” toilet as well.


                                                           The Cabin

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     My parents also had a love for log cabins. They found one that was for sale, had it taken down, and then held a “log raising party” and built it back up behind our house. Always loving beautiful wood, they added an upstairs and filled it with their favorite varieties (cherry, walnut, hickory, wormy curly maple, etc). One room upstairs has 2 bunks with queen size beds, and in the middle they designed a book shelf that opens into a closet (like in the diary of Anne Frank).


The other room upstairs became my mother’s writing studio, and she filled it with her keepsakes from growing up in Saudi Arabia (again, another story in and of itself). It now has a bed (also hers from Arabia), and serves as another bedroom.

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Both rooms downstairs are lined with shelves and filled with books (both my parents loved to read). There is a cd player filled with classical music, a little coffee bar area, and a gas fireplace - the dream being to curl up by the fire place with some classical music and a good book.


     Leading up to the main house from the cabin is a wandering path through a flower garden with a water feature. Another long time dream of my mother’s that was lovingly created by some local landscapers who became dear family friends.


    Two whimsical butterfly chairs are tucked away by the upper waterfall, and by design, there are flowers of some sort blooming throughout the spring, summer, and fall.



                                                                            The Pool


     As kids growing up, we had a small in-ground pool, that saw lots and lots of use. When I was in high school, however, my father discovered triathlons. He would tether himself to the side of the pool with a contraption similar to a large fishing pole with an elastic line, so he could swim in place without having to constantly turn at the end of the pool. Still desiring a larger swim area, he would swim in our pond - often coming out covered in green slime (I hear it’s called duckweed, but all the same . . . ). With a love for swimming, but not the pond, he had the pool replaced with a larger one - this one with two lanes, 25 yards long, an attached hot tub, and enclosed it.

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Complete with a slide and a diving board, it is just as popular with the kids as it is for the “swimmers”. When I started doing triathlons, as well as my husband, my sister, her husband, and numerous friends, the pool got more and more use and made its creation all the more worthwhile. It became a dream of ours to be able to host training camps utilizing the house and pool, and our beautiful country roads, and help athletes of all ages and abilities improve their swim/bike/run skills.


     One of my mother’s favorite authors was William Somerset Maugham, so it was decided to call the property, “Somerset”, and there is a sign above the driveway saying just that. As you pull down the drive there is another sign with “Slow Please”, as there are often children and dogs out in the driveway playing.


On the flip side, as you drive out, there is a picture of an “Om”, which symbolizes oneness, completeness, connection with the world, gratitude to the universe, and harmony in all things; one of our favorite symbols from our time in India. And the final sign as you leave the driveway is an Arabic inscription which means, “May God’s protection be with you”.

     Since my husband and I have been living at Somerset, we have added a large kitchen (because it seems no matter how large or small your home, everyone likes to gather in the kitchen).



We also added a screened in patio (my kids like to call it the “inside-but-outside room”), with a table and some lounging chairs, which is a lovely place to take a moment to relax and reflect.


We have hosted triathlon camps, bridal parties, yoga retreats, and friend reunions, as well as some live music on Memorial Day weekend (a bit of a family tradition). We like to say our place “has character” - it’s a place we want people to come and feel at home. A place to relax, to enjoy, to unwind, to get away from it all. We have kids, and dogs, and peacocks - but if you’re looking for somewhere “with character”, a good story, that is unique and built around love and family - we like to think we have something special and unlike anywhere else you will find. We hope you come visit us at Somerset!



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For more information, or to book a stay, please visit our website at:

McClain Hermes

McClain Hermes

November, 2021. I receive a call asking me to attend a training camp working with visually impaired Paratriathletes. Specifically, a two time Paralympic swimmer who was interested in learning more about triathlon. I, of course, agreed immediately. That girl, was McClain Hermes.

I traveled down to Alabama, where I met McClain. Quick witted, fast learner, competitive, driven, with a great sense of humor - we hit it off immediately. She has an incredible story, which she has graciously agreed to let me to share . . . it is my honor to tell you about McClain:

Mcclain - LA


McClain’s vision problems began when she was 8 years old. During school one day, she suddenly could not see out of one eye. For over 12 years now, she has been dealing with issues related to retina detachments and has had numerous surgeries in an attempt to save her eyesight. Despite all this, she is now completely blind in her right eye (no light perception) and only has a limited amount of light perception remaining in her left eye. She has a diagnosis of Wagners Syndrome, which not only caused the retina detachments, but also led to her being color blind, completely night blind, having glaucoma, and her progressive vision loss.


As someone who had always loved to swim, and having the determination to continue to swim competitively no matter the obstacle (as well as having some incredibly supportive parents), McClain has turned her disability of being legally blind into her ability in the pool! She is a Paralympic swimmer that currently holds over 20 American Records, 5 Pan American Records, and 1 World Record for the S11 and S12 Vision Classes. In 2018 McClain won 2 gold and 4 silver medals at the PanPacific Championships, and she won 2 bronze, 1 silver, and 1 gold medal at the 2019 PanAmerican Games.


At the age of 15, McClain was the YOUNGEST member of the 2016 USA Paralympic Team in Rio, and competed in three swimming events. She competed in the 2017 Paralympic World Championship, where she earned a gold medal and was named World Champion in the S11 division for the 400 Freestyle. She also earned two silver medals and two bronze medals for the S11 Vision Class at the World Championships. She is currently the National Champion in the 400 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 1500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 breaststroke.



McClain represented Team USA again at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan where she competed in four events: the 100 backstroke, 100 breastroke, 200 IM, and 400 freestyle. She finished 6th in the world in the 400 freestyle and finished 10th, 11th, and 13th in her other events.


After her success in Tokyo at the Paralympic Games, McClain decided to try her hand at a new sport, and has transitioned from ParaSwimming to Paratriathlon. Her goal is to compete in the 2024 and 2028 Paralympic Games as a triathlete and to bring home a medal. McClain wants to show others that it is possible to Just Keep Tri-ing despite any adversity or hardships they may face.

Not only is she a talented athlete, but she is an intelligent and intrinsically motivated student who graduated from Gwinnett Online Campus in May 2019 and accepted a Presidential scholarship to study at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland where she studied Communications with a focus in journalism. She has set high academic standards for herself and she has to work hard due to being legally blind to maintain those standards. McClain was a member of the National Honor Society and named a USA Swimming Scholastic All American. At Loyola she has been a part of the Dean’s List and Presidential Honor Roll for her high GPA each semester and was nominated to five different honor societies.

As a journalism intern with Swimming World Magazine, McClain has written several successful articles reaching over 800,000 readers. Her goal is to be a professional motivational speaker, author, and entrepreneur.

McClain has spoken throughout the United States about her accomplishments in the pool and her community service. Back in 2009, McClain and her father began “Shoes for the Souls” as a small service project. The first year she collected and donated 365 pairs of new and slightly used shoes to the Atlanta Mission, which serves homeless men, women, and children. That "small service project", started by an eight year old, has now collected and donated over 27,000 pairs of shoes to The Atlanta Mission.

McClain continues to motivate others to see beyond their perceived disabilities and pursue their dreams with perseverance and dedication. She hopes that other young people hear her message about Shoes for the Souls and realize that it doesn't take large sums of money and you don't have to be an adult to make a positive impact on your community

As you can see, she’s pretty amazing. We did some racing together last year, and will be kicking the race season off on March 11, in Sarasota Florida - stay tuned for details!



Here are some additional articles about McClain:

Swimming World

Fox 5 DC


D2L Fusion speech:



Do The Next Thing, Again

Do The Next Thing

    I have been thinking about my friend, Ron Turney, a lot lately. I have told this story before, but I find it has been on my mind especially during these uncertain times. You see, Ron was a swimmer. He LOVED to swim. He also was a triathlete, and while swimming was his passion, he also enjoyed running and cycling. Several years ago he discovered that, despite consistent training, his swim times got progressively slower. One day he had trouble even lifting his arms out of the water. The diagnosis - ALS.

     Ron had the most positive attitude you can possibly imagine. During one of my conversations with him, he shared this story with me. One day he wanted to ride his bike. He tried several times, but kept falling because his muscles and balance just would not let him. It would have been easy to get angry, or depressed, or just give up. But instead, he told me - “So, I just moved on to the next thing I was able to do - “Do The Next Thing”. That was his motto.  He acknowledged it, accepted it, and moved on.

     To this day, that has got to be one of the bravest, strongest, most amazing things I have ever heard. Although under very different circumstances, over the past several months with so much unknown, with stores, businesses, and schools closed, with races cancelled, with new challenges surfacing every day, and with life as we once knew it so changed - I have thought back on those words numerous times. While it is so easy to get caught up in focusing on that which we cannot control, I have found comfort in focusing on that which I can. When things change and an option simply is no longer available, I try to move on to one that is. I think of Ron, and I “Do The Next Thing”.

Nothing is a given. No one knows what tomorrow may bring. Seize your opportunities and make the most of what you have. Use your talents to their fullest. Chase your dreams. Refuse to settle. And when all else fails - Do The Next Thing. And, of course, Keep Moving Forward.

Thank you, Ron, for being an inspiration.

I am proud to have known you.


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In loving memory of Ron Turney 3/26/56 - 9/26/18





Picking Up The Pieces . . . And Moving Forward

Well, it seems I have been missing in action as far as any type of blogging goes for the past couple years. This is my attempt to catch up, and from here will continue to move forward. It has been almost 2 years since my world absolutely shattered. The sudden and unexpected loss of my father caused a ripple effect that touched every part of my life - family, work, triathlon, and then some. No sooner did I start picking up pieces then something happened to scatter them all again.

    Despite the challenges, there were many bright spots . . . I have been lucky enough to continue doing something I am very passionate about, racing as a guide for the elite, visually impaired paratriathlete, Amy Dixon. Last June began the qualification period for the Tokyo Paralympics this year (2020), and I made her races my priority. The first race just so happened to be in Montreal, and our hotel was about 15 minutes from where my cousin, Alex Winkler, lives. It was so very cool to go have dinner with her, her boyfriend, and my aunt and uncle one night.

Rooftop Dinner with Amy, Pat, Alex, Peter, MaryLou and myself

The next race was a couple weeks later just a few hours away in Magog, and Alex kindly stored Amy’s tandem for us until we came back to race. Magog was an amazing race - with Amy digging deep to take 3rd in a sprint finish!

A well-earned 3rd place!

We then went on to race the Paratriathlon National Championships in LA, this was not part of the Paralympic Qualification, but it was an amazing race and we had an absolute blast. It was so special to stand on the top step of that podium with her!!!

Pretty proud to stand on that top step with Amy!

Afterwards, I was able to travel with Amy back to San Diego and see where she lives and trains, and we did an ocean swim with a local group which was very cool.

From there we were able to go to Tokyo and race on the course where the Paralympics will be held this year. It was more challenging for us than predicted, as on the first lap of the bike course it felt like the rear wheel was rubbing. We later discovered there was a crack in the frame and the rear wheel was almost completely locked onto the frame where it collapsed down. Pretty scary - but we made it through.

We finished up the year together with the World Championships in Switzerland, which had a crazy bike course but was (of course) absolutely beautiful.

We love to bike . . .

As far as my personal racing goes, it was a big year for me in that I turned 40 (gasp), and thus officially started racing in the Masters Division. I was able to do some of my very favorite races including Memphis in May, the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon, the Music City Triathlon and the Riverbluff Triathlon. I also raced in the National Championships for Duathlon and Triathlon.

After the Riverbluff Tri - with Elvis

However, there are two events that were my personal highlights from the year . . . The weekend after I got home from racing in Switzerland with Amy, we hosted a Tri Camp at my house. This has been a LONGTIME dream - my father and I schemed about it for years, but neither of us ever had the time to put it together. However, with the help of an amazing coaching group (BPC Coaching) out of Memphis - it became a reality. The idea behind it was to have a long-course training camp for the folks getting ready for the late season longer distance races like IM Chattanooga, 70.3 Augusta, and IM Florida. We held part of the camp at the Carroll County 1000 acre lake - site of the Dixie Triathlon, which is about 15 minutes from my house, and had some open water swim practice and a nice hilly run route. We were able to host people to stay at the house, my husband Jeff cooked the meals, we had some informational sessions on gear and nutrition, and then a long ride and long run on some of my favorite training roads. It was just an absolutely incredible weekend, great people, great training, and when the weekend finished it left us with such happy hearts - definitely one of my favorite weekends of the year.

As a side-note, with the announcement of the Memphis 70.3 on October 3rd, BPC has put together an amazing training program with plans to do another tri camp at the “Winkler Performance Center” (so dubbed by Coach Dale Sanford, and the name has stuck) this spring. Definitely check it out, even if Memphis is not on your schedule. The coaches are just amazing, and it’s going to be a pretty fantastic time!  

Check it out:

My other absolute FAVORITE weekend of the year just so happens to be the weekend right after the training camp. Last year I was absolutely dying because I was out of town for the inaugural Dixie Triathlon - the first triathlon located in my hometown. However, this year, I was home. And - it was INCREDIBLE. My aunt and uncle, my cousin, Alex, her boyfriend and another friend all came down. We had friends from Memphis come stay with us as well. The volunteers were mostly my coworkers from McKenzie Medical Center and my family.

My favorite volunteers! My sister, Robyn and her husband, Fred.

So many racers were from the local tri community and close friends. The entire thing had this fun, supportive, encouraging vibe - it reminded me of my first triathlon and why I fell in love with the sport. There was live music afterwards, and everyone ate and swapped stories about the race, races past, and races yet to come. The awards were hand-made from local pottery and woodworking studios. Afterwards the celebration continued with a houseful of friends and family - and again my heart was full. If you have ever thought about doing a triathlon, or you are looking for a truly unique event, then put the Dixie Triathlon on your calendar. You’ll be so thankful you did.

My local tri community surrounding a swing constructed in loving memory of our dear friend, Rusty Newman.

Looking ahead, 2020 is a HUGE year, as I continue to race with Amy Dixon. Our first race is rapidly approaching at the end of February. Qualification goes through the end of June, and we are ALL IN on qualifying, so I will try to post our progress and hope you will follow and cheer and help support us as we attempt this amazing goal. I have all sorts of things I have been working on and am excited to share with you, but I will save that for the next story . . . stay tuned!


Wishing you all the best in 2020 - may it be the BEST year yet.

And, as always, Keep Moving Forward.

Thanks for Reading!


(And a few random pics of course  . . . )

My favorite race pic from the year! Dixie Triathlon - transition and finish in the background.
Ahhhhh family :)
With my Uncle Peter and Sebastian
The AMAZING champion belt from Riverbluff Triathlon - to be passed to the next winner!
Elvis and Pam Routh - Memphis in May Triathlon
Very fun race in LA!


Yep. Masters. Make it GREAT.


KMF.  R4R.  DoTheNextThing.

Some 'Magic' Racing

    For a number of reasons, it seems I have had difficulty posting many stories this year.  Several have been started, and hopefully I will get them completed.  As it turns out, I also have a story from last year that I have not shared.  I remember writing this up after some local Team Magic races last year, and time slipped away, so I decided it would be fun to post them before the races this year.  Well, it was pretty bittersweet re-reading it, but I wanted to share . . .  


Some ‘Magic’ Racing with my Dad and Friends


I love to race in Tennessee. Over the years I have gotten to know more and more of the area racers - and usually a good group of friends end up at the same races, which makes it very fun. Team Magic Racing puts on many events, but two of my favorites are the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon and the Music City Triathlon (in Nashville of course). For the past several years I have had conflicts and had to miss the Chattanooga race, so I was very excited when this year worked out. Not only that, my father was going to be racing, as well as several of my local triathlete friends - which made it even better!

The Chattanooga race has a lovely downstream swim, a new bike course this year cut out a lot of hills and made for a really fast bike, and the run wound down along the river and back. The city is, of course, just beautiful, and a whole group of us managed to have dinner together the night before. I have to tell you, I just love racing with my dad. Even when he is not with me I always think of him - what he would think about the course, how we would discuss it after - what was the best part, what was tough, who had faster transition times, the ‘race within the race’ of the hometown crowd, etc - so having him racing was really special. I saw him as I headed in from the run, and he was just smiling and so excited cheering me on. Afterwards we met back up at post-race tent, and discussed our races. We both ended up making the podium - and I just could not have asked for a better day.

The Music City Triathlon is at the end of July and is notoriously HOT and HUMID. And - I love it. Again I was excited as my father was racing, along with tons of friends from home and the Nashville area. The swim is in the Cumberland River, and is a race director’s nightmare because the current can sometimes be rather ‘challenging’ shall we say. Team Magic has done wonders in adapting the swim course to negate this, and this year went nice and smoothly. The bike is on closed roads, the majority on a 4 lane parkway, completely closed to traffic, with some nice rolling hills. And the run, is hot. Very hot. I had a friend, Kevin Elmore, fly in from California to race, and again a group of us were able to meet the night before for a nice dinner.

The race went well, it always makes me happy to see my dad out there on the run, and we all tried to encourage each other along as we melted…




 I am lucky to be able to do a lot of different races in a lot of different places, but these ‘hometown’ races still rank up there as some of my favorites. There is just something really special about racing with so many friends, and I never take for granted being able to race with my father. My heart is full.


Thanks for reading. If you get a chance, come race with me in Tennessee!


                                    Back to 2018 . . . 

 This year I was fortunate enough to be able to once again race in Chattanooga and in Nashville.  The friendships and support of the triathlon community helped me through - although my father was, of course, very much on my mind.  The Music City Triathlon celebrated it's 40th anniversary - which is pretty amazing.  Kathleen Johnston did an incredible job rounding up memoralia from the previous years - including lists of race results.  Turns out my first Music City race was in 2000 - my second year of doing triathlons!  The most exciting thing for me this year, is that my 18 year old niece, Abby Maimone, flew down from New Jersey to do her first triathlon!  She was with me in packet pickup when we discovered this, and she looked at me and said, "That means you did this before I was born".  Yes.  Yes, indeed.  Lol.


     Abby had a great race.  Elvis and the kids were there cheering.  I saw tons of friends from the area out there racing.  The weather was the coolest it has probably ever been.  The triathlon community was as supportive and encouraging as always.  And, I thought about my father.  And I thought of all the years we did this race together.  And how proud he would be to see everyone out racing.  And what we would have laughed about, and discussed, and strategized about after the race.  And then I went out to a wonderful brunch with the family and some friends that I met . . . through triathlon.  And although my heart still aches something fierce, it is still full with all that life has given, and continues to give, me.  And I am so very thankful I never took for granted a single race I shared with my Papa.


 Once again - Thanks for reading. If you get a chance, come race with me in Tennessee!



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One of my favorite pics from last year - my Dad stopping to say hi to a friend, Tomas de Paulis, who was diagnosed with Stage 2 Lymphoma. He was unable to race last year, but his treatments were successful, and this year he not only raced, but won his age group. So very awesome!


2018 - Keeping the tradition going


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It was a good day in Nashville.


Jumping Back In . . . With Amy Dixon

 One year ago, I was contacted through a network of people, and asked if I would be interested in racing as a guide for a visually impaired triathlete. Something I had long contemplated, I jumped at the opportunity. After a lengthy phone conversation gleaning tips from the amazing Caroline Gaynor, I traveled to Florida and met the incredible Ivonne Mosquera-Schmidt who patiently taught me what I needed to know to help guide her though a swim/bike/run. Hands down one of the most terrifying, and rewarding things I have ever done - and I remain absolutely passionate about today.


With Ivonne, March 2017

A few short months later I was able to fill in as a guide for Amy Dixon, another incredibly talented visually impaired paratriathlete, and we hit it off fantastically. I ended up guiding for her in Yokohama, Edmonton, and Rotterdam in 2017. Although I am very much at the lower end of the totem pole compared to the caliber of guides these athletes have, I offered to continue guiding for her in 2018 - making her races my number one priority - if she needed me.

With Amy Dixon

So, one year later, I am back at the Sarasota CAMTRI Paratriathlon American Championships, this time guiding for Amy Dixon. Thankfully a little more experienced and prepared - but no less nervous, humbled, and inspired by the athletes that surround me.

Amy had overcome even more challenges since we last raced in September 2017; she had a hernia repaired, and continued to battle her progressive eye disease which had resulted in further deterioration of her vision over the winter. Non deterred, she had already been back in serious training mode, and even put together a camp helping teach guides and visually impaired athletes how to swim/bike/run together. Her biggest goal of this early season race was to finish within the qualifying standards to make the national team. There was a strong women’s field - the competition was going to be tough.

Happiness is an outdoor pool in the warm sunshine!

While the days leading up to the race were warm and sunny, race day brought cool temps and drizzle. We had a solid swim and exited the water in 3rd. Amy’s coach, Jim Vance, was out on the course giving us stats on the bike - which was awesome. The bike happens to be both of our favorite part of the race. And - Amy has the most incredible tandem (named Bomber) that you can imagine. The course was perfect to just settle in and go - which we did. However, the competition was strong - and we came in off the bike still in 3rd position. Out on the run, a 5k, and the goal was to run negative splits. We passed Jim, “You wanted a race, well you’ve got one!” he called to us.


And - Amy ran such a great race. She was able to dig deep and negative split her run. She held her 3rd place spot, and best of all - she made the cutoff and qualified for the national team. And - I think she might have even smiled out on that course somewhere!


It never ceases to put life/training/racing into perspective for me, to spend a few days surrounded by such amazing athletes. The challenges they overcome on a daily basis, the things they accept and refuse to be limited by, the dedication, the determination, the grit that they all possess - it just puts so much of life into perspective. Thank you, Ivonne, for trusting me that first race, and thank you to Amy Dixon for continuing to trust me, and allowing me to be your guide. It somehow makes all my years of training and racing mean something a little more to me - and I am so incredibly honored and humbled.




 Totally. Completely. Shattered.

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Tuesday. February 20. A day just like any other. For the past few months I had been leaving my house around 4:15am to meet my dad at a pool about 30minutes away from my house to swim. This morning, I did not. I was hosting the “Fresh Freestyle” swim camp at my house the upcoming weekend, so I swam at home to make sure the pool was ready. I saw my dad at lunch - we had a work meeting with all the providers at the medical clinic where we work that he leads monthly. It was an absolutely beautiful day for Feb, and I was not the happiest to spend my lunch hour indoors, but it was a good meeting. On the way out, I stopped and told my dad - “Good meeting, Papa.” He gave his typical response, “Was it ok?”.  "Yes, it was good", I replied. I finished up my afternoon seeing patients, and at one point I had a break and swung by his office - but his door was closed signaling he had left for the day. “Good” I thought. It was just beautiful, and I hoped he was out on his bike enjoying it.

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My day ran later than expected, and I was trying to get out on the bike myself. I was literally in my kit opening my car to get out my bike when my phone rang. It was my husband, Jeff, which was unusual because he almost never calls unless something major is going on. “Your papa has had an accident, I am bringing him in, are you at work?” Not what I wanted to hear. This wasn’t the first call like this I have received. He had a nasty attack by a pit bull while cycling a few years ago, and Jeff had to bring him in - it tore his entire calf muscle. My standard response is to go alert my nurses, and then find his partner, Dr. Colotta, and warn him that I need him on standby. This time, however, it was not a simple fix. Jeff pulled up and my dad was in the back of the car - completely unresponsive. We rushed him next door to the ER, and within 20 minutes he was life flighted out to the Vanderbilt Trauma Center in Nashville.


What happened, still remains a mystery. My brother-in-law was at the end of my driveway collecting the trash bins, and saw something in the road about 100 meters away. Luckily he went to investigate, and found my dad in the road. He had been riding his elliptigo - which was barely scratched. His helmet was cracked. The front of both of his knees were scraped - but not much. His head had taken the brunt of the fall. Later investigations ruled out any type of hit and run. We simply do not know what happened.


My sister, two of my brothers, and I headed to Nashville. Upon arrival we sat down with the neurosurgeon - and the news was grim. He had sustained severe head trauma - a skull fracture, bleeding, and swelling of the brain. The next 72-96 hours would be critical. If he made it past that, we were looking at long term rehabilitation, and he would likely never practice medicine again.


The next few days were spent driving back and forth to Nashville, trying to continue seeing my patients, and praying like crazy for a miracle. We were very blessed to have a friend with an apartment about 15 minutes from Vanderbilt, and Roy graciously opened his doors to us so we had a place to stay in case we received a dreaded midnight phone call. One morning after staying there I finally had a chance to put on my running shoes and head out the door. And I stood on the sidewalk, in the rain, and I honestly did not know if I could run. For the first time in my life. Running has always been my therapy, my break, my chance to sort through every day life or leave it behind. But it has also always been my connection with my father. And, I didn’t know if I could do it. I weighed my options - go back and lie in bed, sleepless, with my mind filled with unbearable thoughts, or put one foot in front of the other and move. So - I started walking. And oh so slowly, started moving a little faster. I was able to run, maybe not run so much as move my legs and let my mind go. And- cry. Because I knew my father was fighting the hardest battle of his life. And, the outlook was not good any way you looked at it. But selfishly I so wanted him to fight and make it through. And, I cried.


Friday. The first day of the Fresh Freestyle Camp. I had so been looking forward to this weekend. My dad was supposed to be participating too. A short couple hours into the swim camp and I heard from my sister that all was stable with my dad. We were getting close to our 96 hour mark, still praying for a miracle. And then, just like that, things changed. Within fifteen minutes I got a call saying his condition had changed. I needed to get to the hospital. I let my brothers know, and we headed back to Nashville.

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Back to the conference room. Back with a neurosurgeon. Where my father was at least responsive to painful stimulus up until this point, he was not any longer. More tests were being done. Some couldn’t be done until the next day. But, we already knew the odds were not in our favor. Back to Roy’s that night - where the dreaded midnight (actually it was around 11, but close) phone call finally came. Further changes, none of them good. Back to the hospital, a CT scan showed the swelling was getting worse. Only thing to do now was wait until another test could be done Saturday to show the extent of the damage.


I do 'wellness visits' at work, which include counseling people on completing a living will. Countless times I have explained the importance of having one, if not for yourself then for those you love and who have to make the decisions if something were to happen.  Unbelievable, here I was now, in some surreal reality, thankful that my father had a living will, but absolutely hating that it was necessary. He very clearly and explicitly stated his wishes, and had already told us all numerous times. No life support. DNR if no chance of improvement. Let him go.


Saturday. Februarly 24. The final test was done. At 3:28 pm my father crossed that final finish line. And - my heart Shattered. My life Shattered. My world. Shattered.


This year will mark 20 years since I first toed the line at the Memphis in May triathlon. My father signed me up, and put me on his bike. And that started a wonderful adventure into the world of multisport and a new relationship with my father. He bought me a bike for my birthday that year - and we rode 40 miles together. We rode together all summer, and he used to say his favorite thing was seeing my shadow right behind him as we rode. I was still going to university at Western in London, Ontario, Canada - but spent my summers at home where we raced all over TN.


I did my first marathon with him - the Mardi Gras Marathon in New Orleans. He ran the whole thing with me - it took me almost 5 hours. And, he never complained once. When I finished school in Canada I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah - and kept doing triathlons, convincing several friends there to race with me too. I met my mom and dad in Las Vegas where my dad and I did the half marathon together. While I was in Utah he did his first Ironman - the Greater Floridian, and he sent me the bumper sticker from it - “Are you tough enough?” No way, I thought. That was 2000. In 2002 I moved home, and in 2003 we did Ironman Florida together.


Later I ran the San Antonio Marathon step for step with him

 We both loved to race so much. And back-to-back races. It was such a challenge. One year we did the MachTenn triathlon in Tullahoma on Saturday, then drove to Columbia Missouri to do the 1/2 Max (half ironman) the next day. One of our favorite races was the Max-O-Mania race weekend (also around Columbia) - 3 days and 5 races as a team. I remember on the bike I was feeling really good, and it was so fun I thought he might like to pull, when I asked him he was like, “That was NOT part of the plan”. So I laughed - and kept pulling. In the evenings there was a big dinner with all the racers, and “yellow jerseys” were given to the race leaders - and we were very proud to get a few of those. The last event was an olympic distance triathlon, and it was so fun to cross that finish line together.


 A few years ago one of our friends wanted to go do the Disney marathon. Sure, that would be fun - and a good destination for the kids. Well, then I discovered you could do a “Dopey” challenge - start on Thursday with a 5k, then Friday 10k, Saturday 1/2 marathon, and Sunday full marathon. No takers - except my dad (although a couple did the Goofey Challenge - which was the 1/2 marathon Saturday and the full on Sunday). So - we did the whole thing. However, while I ran, he took advantage of the fun aspect and took his picture with all kinds of characters.

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During the marathon he even stopped and rode the roller coaster. And, my father does not like heights, and is not big on roller coasters. But, he had so much fun he rode it AGAIN! And then completed his marathon.


And so it goes - year after year filled with bike rides together, long runs, pool swims and open water swims. We did several Ironman races together - Florida, Wisconsin, NYC, Hawai’i and Florida again.


When he got a lottery slot into Kona he came to cheer for me in IM Louisville as I attempted to get a slot to race with him


And we made it do Hawai'i together!

 When Ironman races in North America filled up faster than the hottest concert tickets we traveled to destination races - and did Ironman Lanzarote and Nice, France (where there were more people still out from the night before than there were people headed to the race start). He always wanted to do Escape from Alcatraz - so one year a whole group of us entered the lottery and all got in.

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We would sit down in January with our race calendars to plan our year - first putting in our favorite local races: always starting with the Steamboat Triathlon in Cape Girardeau,


then the Los Locos Duathlon, Memphis in May weekend,

One year the race was in Tunica . . . interesting transition....


Chattanooga Waterfront, and Music City Triathlons.


Then we would pick somewhere new - one year we did River Cities in Shreveport (just for the race swag), and one year it was the NYC triathlon.  


We loved to find a fun end-of-the-year beach destination sprint (Panama City has a great one) so that we could race and then enjoy the beach for a few days.


We would ride our bikes to local 5ks, run, then continue on our ride. No matter where we went we generally found a race, or at least found a place to swim/bike/run together. When I qualified for Boston he came with me and cheered me on.

With my Uncle Peter and my dad before Boston Marathon


And - the highlight of my triathlon career - last year (2017) at the USAT National Championships, he was not able to race, but he was there and cheered me on as I by some absolute miracle won both the Olympic and Sprint distance races. And the best part? He was there. The.Best.Part.

Different race, but you get the picture....


When I first started racing, we did every race together. As the years passed I started racing more on my own - but I always, ALWAYS, had him with me. From finding a hotel close to the race. To setting up transition. To surveying the swim, watching the current, the sun, finding the best strategy for starting position. To the bike - how he would have loved the course, or where the tough parts were.


And the run, always picturing him there, seeing him smile, hearing him say, “Go Kirsten, you gotta dig deep now”. And when I crossed that finish line, he was always my first thought. The first person I contacted to let him know how things went. When I won Worlds in Chicago I messaged him, “Papa - I think I just won the whole freaking race - can you believe it!?!?!?!”, and his response - “I am smiling so big right now”. And no matter what, when we saw each other again our first question would always be - “How was your race?” Every detail, however insignificant others might find, was always of interest. When we asked each other what we had planned for the day/weekend - we knew it related more to swim/bike/run/race than anything else.



 We worked together. Our houses were close enough that he paved a lane between the two so my children could ride their bikes to GrandPapa’s without having to go out on the road. Despite the chaos of life, work, and racing, my brothers and sister and I would make the time to have dinner together with him on Sunday nights. We celebrated every birthday and holiday together. He was so much more than just my father, my Papa - he was my coach, my training partner, my racing partner, my best friend, my rock. And now, I am adrift. Shattered.


I’m going to be honest, it is going to be so incredibly hard for me to race this year. Even though I have carried him with me for years, and will continue to do so, I catch myself thinking about what I want to tell him about. And, I can’t. That I will never again survey a swim with him and plot our strategy. That I won’t meet him out on the bike course somewhere and hear his “Go Kirsten”. That the run course will not have his smiling face on it - urging me on. That we won’t ever sit together afterwards, waiting on awards, rehashing all the details, excited about what went well and pondering on how to improve our weaker areas.


 In some ways it is like when you fall off your bike and end up with a bad case of road rash. The first step is to scrub it out while things are still somewhat in shock. And when you wake up the next day, just for a split second you hope and pray it was just a bad dream - that it didn’t really happen. And then you move - and everything hurts. And it is tempting to just stay perfectly still, and keep pretending it isn’t real, even if it’s just for a few minutes longer. But then you realize that things won’t get better or disappear, and lying there isn’t going to solve anything. So you get up, and try not to let on how badly you are hurting. And at first everything is hypersensitive - the slightest touch makes the nerve endings scream, and you try to avoid any contact with the injured areas. But - that is easier said than done. You alternate between keeping things covered up, and letting them breathe - generally when no one else is around to see. And slowly things start to heal - often breaking open a few times in the process. The deeper the injury - the slower the healing, and even when things heal, the scar remains forever.


People keep asking how I am - and telling me I am strong. I am not. I can smile, say that I’m ok, taking things one day at a time, some days better than others - you know all the standard responses. But - I am absolutely, shattered. And I am holding on with everything I have to the sliver of light that I know is there, that the utter and complete darkness of despair threatens to eliminate. It will get better with time. I know. But it does not change what is. The light holds the memories, the good times, the races, the finish lines, the swims, the bikes, the runs, the trips, the Sunday night dinners, the list goes on - and I really did appreciate each and every one of them. And as utterly crushingly hard as it is to imagine racing without him - it is even more so to imagine NOT racing. He instilled in me a love of the sport, and to stop would disappoint him terribly - of that I have no doubt. So, slowly, I will try to pick up the pieces. I will try with everything I have to Keep Moving Forward. And, this year, I will race for him. And - while racing provided a bond with my father that I treasure beyond measure, it may just be what saves me in my loss of him. That is the light that I cling to.


However, I remain - Shattered. Totally. Completely. Shattered.




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Ironman Florida 2017 Group
Paris Landing, TN Tri 2017









Valentine's sometime around 2000
When we were unable to ride home from work together I'd find these on my bike...








Totally.  Completely.