Athlete Stories - Nation's Triathlon

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					                                 Personal Profiles of
                          The Nation’s Triathlon Competitors

Marion Paterson
Simsbury, Connecticut

I am a 41 year old woman. In August 2006, I had my ACL replaced with a portion of my
hamstring. Prior to that, I was cycling but not swimming or running since college. Some
friends talked me into signing up for an Olympic triathlon while I was still on crutches. I
figured it was worth the entry fee to have a training routine with them all spring and who
cared if I didn't actually feel up to the triathlon itself?
Well, I had to wait until February (race was in June) to swim or run. After running 9
times I met some college friends in DC and ran the 10 mile Cherry Blossom race. The 3
friends who talked me into the tri all backed out (for good reasons), and I thought, well,
it's just me. But by then I was loving doing 3 different sports and wanted to see if I could
finish a 4 hr tri.
Well, I did. Just under 4 hrs, which was my goal. I signed up for 3 sprints after that.
This year, I want to see how much faster I can get in an Olympic and am looking forward
to being in scenic, flat DC!!

Matt Stempeck
Washington, DC

I signed up for the Nation's Triathlon because I'm currently training
with Team in Training for my first triathlon and it has already
completely changed how I look at a workout. Rather than feel guilty
about the number of times a week I go to a gym, I'm having
amazing experiences and pushing myself to new limits with my
teammates. We're training for the CapTexTri in Austin, Texas,
among others, but I wanted another goal in place after I (hopefully) complete that one in
May. Plus, I live on the SW Waterfront and the thought of having a triathlon course go all
around my neighborhood was just too enticing to pass up!
Captain Bob Barwis
OSD (AT&L) / A&T
Portfolio Systems Acquisition / Naval Warfare
Arlington, VA

This will be my first Triathlon in 18 years. When I was an instructor at the Naval
Academy, and in my late twenties, I picked up the sport. Played college football and
was a lineman, so I have always been a Clydesdale. Weight back in 1990 was 235.
Ran a half marathon in 2006 at that same weight, but tore some cartilage in my knee in
2007. Now I weigh 265 pounds and I was looking for a challenge to help me get back in
shape. While I am stationed at the Pentagon now, I still am determined to find time to
in the three disciples and be ready on September 14th. Cant wait!

Gail Robyn Hodes
New York, NY

I'm 40 years old and have inspired my friend to try an olympic triathlon, we will
participate in Nations together and my father will be watching, as he lives on the Hill.
Last year I challenged myself to train for and complete an Olympic distance Triathlon
and fundraise for Team in Training. Much to my own amazement, I DID IT! It didn’t
happen overnight, nor did it happen alone. With 4 months of training, the generous
support of my friends, family and co-workers, and lots of encouragement from my team, I
was able to raise over $2,500 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society ("LLS") and call
myself a triathlete. My team raised a record breaking $1 million dollars! As unlikely a
goal as this seemed this time last year, the thought of doing it AGAIN would have been
absurd! But, along the way I discovered, I CAN DO THIS and I felt good about doing it.
Team in Training is in their 20th year helping raise awareness and funds for the
Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The society’s mission is as inspirational as my story:
"Cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of
life of patients and their families." I am truly enthusiastic to start my training.

Mark DeSimone
New York ,NY

I am racing this year in honor of Sept. 11 heroes.....I am a 9/11 survivor and a New York
City Police Officer. I have been competing for 4 years and do around 5-7 triathlons every
year ranging from Olympic distance to half Ironman. I am not only an New York City
Police Officer but a Police Academy instructor and teach terrorism response/HazMat
response. I train two to three times daily year round and coach a few other triathletes.

Carrie Weletz
Washington, DC

I began doing triathlons last year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society after my
friend Phil Ford underwent a bone marrow transplant for NonHodgkins Lymphoma. I
participated in the Philadelphia triathlon in June and caught the tri bug due to not only
the great exercise I was getting and skills I was honing, but also by the TNT coaches
and even supporters on the course who cheered for everyone (and particularly those
TNT participants). I decided after that positive event that I should do the Nation's Tri
since it is in my back yard. Last year's Nation's Tri, while it has some glitches, was a
beautful course that takes you past some great scenery. While I am doing three other
triathlons this season, I feel I have to support our local "tri community" and run in the

Patricia Brenes

Last year, I was excited about this race because it was the biggest challenge that I had
in my triathlon life. I started doing tri's in my home country Costa Rica, a long time ago,
but stopped when I came here to the US eight years ago. It was not until a visit to my big
brother Yamil who at the time lived in Belgium, that I decided to start all over again. I
was a little concerned about being in good shape on time for the race, but then with my
brother´s support and advice--he, by the way, is an international tri coach and a triathlete
himself--I started little by little, doing sprints and short runs. I was so excited to have the
Nation´s tri in my "home town" DC, and I was so inspired by my coaching brother, who
had recently completed an Ironman in Germany, that I asked him to come to DC and
race with me. Well, he did, and this year we are doing it again, and hopefully my younger
brother Omar, a cyclist who lives in Costa Rica and has done a few tri's, will come up to
join us. We can´t wait to race in the 2008 DC's Nation´s triathlon!


Keith Kroeger
Galway, Ireland

I’ve been in Ireland for over 7 years now and miss friends and family. I was heading to
the D.C. area in September and learned that his wife was taking part in the Triathlon.I
had been doing them about 21 years ago in Chicago, so I figured it would be fun to take
part. I’m really looking forward to it
Jay McConville
Alexandria, VA

I am running my second Nation’s
Triathlon this year – and like last year I
will be running in honor of my friend and
constant source of motivation and
inspiration, Tony Snow. Tony and I are
friends and neighbors, and we play
music together in two bands, Beats
Workin’ and Close to Home. Last year
54 people helped me raise $5,340 for
the Dana Farber Cancer Fund in Tony’s
name. Tony’s sister, Jenny Ashbrook,
raised over $8,000. We did the race in
honor of Tony who, through all his
medical troubles, from his initial
diagnosis, through treatment, and then again when his cancer returned, maintained a
positive attitude, a cheerful disposition, a deep and abiding faith in God, and an
inspirational love and attachment to family and community. Tony is doing well, though
he still fights the cancer in him. He is working, traveling, and playing music – and of
course spending time with his family. He has said many times that cancer is no longer
always, in fact much less often, a terminal illness, but it still remains a permanent one.
 The strides made by medical science in treatment are incredible – but more needs to be
done. Hopefully through the love of the community for Tony we can raise even more
money this year for cancer treatment. I will be kicking off my campaign right after I finish
the Boston Marathon this April. I will be counting on our friends to get me through that
and the Coeur d’ Alene Ironman this June. Through Dana Farber we have established a
website on which I track my progress and where people can comment and give best
wishes to me and to Tony ( ). I have run many
races, triathlons, marathons, and many others. None was as satisfying to me as last
year’s Nation’s Triathlon. In addition to being a fabulously organized race in a beautiful
setting, I was blessed with the support of many, many people who ran with me in spirit
for a good cause.
Shannon Trust (Age 36)
Herndon, VA

I have a pretty good story. Actually, I would imagine most triathletes have a good story
about how they got into this. But, mine has been quite a journey to the Nation’s
Triathlon. In 2001, I had a stroke at the age of 29. I gave birth to my 2nd son on January
14th and had a terrible time. Three days later I had a very serious stroke and lost motor
function on my right side, my speech, my ability to tell time, type, you name it. I was in
bad shape. We discovered I had a hole in my heart and during the trauma of the birth
must have had an unfiltered blood clot make it’s way to my brain. After 3 months of
recovery, I had the hole in my heart repaired with a device called a cardioseal that was
implanted between the chambers of my heart. Up to this point I had never been an
athlete and I really wasn’t taking good care of myself. I was diagnosed with MS (Multiple
Sclerosis) in 1996 at the age of 24 and felt like I shouldn’t push my body. I was afraid
and frankly the medicine made me tired and nauseated all the time. But, after I had my
two little boys, a stroke and a heart procedure I decided to get up off my tush and not
waste one more minute being ungrateful or unhealthy. I started doing the Body for Life
program created by Bill Phillips and lost a lot of weight and got into strength training,
running and cycling. Then, in 2006 my MS came back to haunt me with a relapse. I got
out of the hospital on Thanksgiving day 2006 and vowed to do more to keep moving.
So, I took up swimming in addition to running and cycling and signed up for the MS Bike
Ride and 2 mini sprint tri’s in Manassas last year. I completed the 100 mile bike ride and
the 2 mini sprints and was absolutely hooked. I love training for these events. I feel
such a sense of accomplishment each time I set a goal and reach it. I’ve signed up for
the MS Bike Ride again in May. But, this year my goal is to complete the Nation’s Tri. It
will be my greatest physical challenge ever so I am scared and excited. But, if I can
achieve this, who knows what I’ll do next year. JI hope my story is interesting and
inspirational. I am really looking forward to participating in the event this

Currency Kerndt
Chicago, IL

OK, here it is. I'm 68 years old, have been a Triathlete since 1981. I've competed in over
150 Triathlons over the years. The reason I'm coming to the Nations Triathlon all the way
from Chicago is that I love DC. I'm a US history teacher and have been for the past 30
years. to swim bike and ride in the beautiful area around our capital and national
monuments, is indeed a dream come true. My daughter-in-law and I are going together
and will make it a family affair. We are really looking forward to the event. It sounds so
organized and wonderfully planned. See you in September. Currency Kerndt
Luther White

I have been in the retail Automobile Business for 14 years and like all of us, work crazy
hours. In 1998, I decided to attend Law School in the evenings where I earned my JD 3
1/2 years later. Although successful in balancing a demanding work schedule with a
demanding school schedule, I forgot about "me", and in the process, gained 100 pounds
over my Law School Career. Upon graduating from Law School, I resumed a very hectic,
driven and focused professional career with little or no exercise. As a natural athlete, my
mind viewed my physical capabilities as an 18 year old kid while my body was
screaming the 30 something blues. Eventually, I realized that I was fat, and although I
was able to complete several sprint and International distance Triathlons at 350lbs, I
decided I was tired of being fat and became determined to do something about it!
Solution: Sign up for Ironman! Yeah, you know that event we all watched growing up on
ABC's Wide World of Sports.....that is what I needed to do! Well my Type-A personality
got the best of me as what sounded like a good goal amongst Type-A driven friends, did
not seem so smart once the guys left and I looked in the mirror. Like any truly driven
person, I had a choice to make, "either get busy living or get busy dying!" I decided to go
for it. At this point, I was 12 months away from my first IM and had to get going. I knew
how to swim, was pretty good on the bike and could run a mile or so..........Naturally,
living in New Hampshire at the time, with the weather suddenly turning, I began doing
some research and came across the Spinervals DVD collection. I bought a bike trainer
and ordered some Spinervals. As I waited for the shipment to arrive, I jumped on my
trainer and decided to have a go at it. Well 4 minutes later, I figured out that this was
hard and boring! I was done!! Now I did not know what to do, so I started to hit the pool.
A week later, my Spinervals shipment arrived and I looked at the box with hesitation;
"well, I thought, I might as well try them". Two weeks later, I was pounding the bike in my
basement for hours at a time like a man possessed! I got to a point where I had to meet
this Coach Troy guy, so I called, set up a VO2Max test and flew to Baltimore. Upon
returning from Baltimore, I hired Troy (had ZERO intentions of hiring a coach) and the
rest is history. Over the next 12 months, I would loose 100 lbs, run the Boston Marathon
and complete my first Ironman! Calm, Cool and in Complete Control! Why am I doing the
Nation's Triathlon? Because I can and is there a better place to demonstrate your
independence? Independence from living in a box; never having to doubt yourself; living
life the way it should be and sharing that experience with thousands of other like minded
Shawn Phillips
Woodbridge, VA

I am thwarting a Mid Life Crisis (MLC) as I turn 40 this April
and have always wanted to do a Triathlon. Although I run
and bike and swim, I haven't found the right race try all three
together. With 3 kids, 3 dogs and 3 wives (just kidding), and
a full time work schedule, there just never seems to be
enough time to train for "the big one." NO MORE
EXCUSES! Nation's Triathlon, here I come!

David Weingarten, MD
Washington, DC 20037

I did my first and only triathlon — a half-olympic — in Oregon
back in 1993. Shortly after that tri, I was planning on doing an
olympic length tri, but just a few weeks before the event I got
hit by a car while I was out on a ride. I suffered an open
fracture of my left tibia and fibula, and over the next 2.5 years I
underwent a total of five surgeries on that leg. I graduated
from the University of Oregon shortly after my last surgery,
and as part of the recovery process I left the country to go on
an extended solo bicycle/camping tour, biking >6000 miles
around Europe. Pictures and stories from that journey are on my travelogue website
( I started medical school in 2003 at Tulane in New
Orleans, but that was interrupted when Hurricane Katrina flooded Tulane’s School of
Medicine with 6 feet of water. I transferred to Oregon Health Science University, from
which I graduated in 2007. I’m now a resident in Neurosurgery at the George
Washington University, and though my free time is rather limited, I’ve been really trying
to get back into a regular exercise regimen. As a motivator to keep myself exercising
regularly, I signed up for The Nation’s Triathlon, which will be my first triathlon since my
leg got blown to pieces by the bumper of a ‘72 Mercury.
David D.
Tampa, FL

Some time around August 2006, I got it bad for one of my customers; she just
overwhelmed me with her grace and soft voice, me with a crush on a customer at 42
years old. Didn't see her for a while and then she came back in on March 16, 2007
because she had a lingering issue from the last repair. She only worked a mile from my
shop so I gladly gave her a ride to work in the morning. Ok, Ok, long story short, I fixed
her car again, sent her flowers and asked her out and she said yes!! And this is where it
all began!!!!! She, Christine, was a "trigirl" and I had NO idea what triathlon was all
about. Now here's the kicker, I'm a smoker for 30 years, party boy, ya know the type,
thinks he's a rock star, the whole bit. She makes it perfectly clear, "I don't date smokers"
so I quit cold turkey. I figure if I want a real chance with this woman, well its time to get
into shape; I mean she's been doing this thing for four years now- she's going to "kill me
"if you know what I mean. So I do small runs with her, I get out my 1988 schwinn steel
12 speed Traveler and try to keep up; oh yea forgot to mention, she's 100% organic too.
I quit booze, smokes, coffee and caffeine, eating out the whole bit in a month and do a 8
day hard core colon cleanse to start my "new life" . We date for 6 months, went to cheer
her on at three races, St Anthony's being the first and this is where I felt it- THE
ENERGY; it buzzes all around the race- positive attitudes, pretty people, positive people,
the "buzz" was instant. We broke up in the first week of September 07 and the next
week my mother past away from Leukemia; 3 day after the funeral, joined T.N.T.,
Suncoast Chapter here in the Tampabay Area; mission- was to do the Walt Disney Half
Marathon in January. I trained hard and needed to divert the pain and grief; smokes and
booze was not an option, so I trained for the Suncoast Triathlon at Ft. Desoto park in
Terra Verde, Fl. Throw my self to the wolfs I mean I can run fast now and bike well,
swimming- no problem; SWIMMING WAS A PROBLEM!!!!!!!!! Was fourth to last out of
the water, 17 minutes on a .3 mile swim, but I made it and off to transition. By now the
rain was pouring down, helmet on, glasses, shoes, out of t1 and off I go. The rain
freaked every one out, I must have passed 30 people on the ride no problem, back to t2
for the run, passed another 10-15 on the 3.3 run and finished humping the hump. Chip
time for my first event::: 1:17:22 and I was high for hours. I don't mind telling you all this
but I've done almost every drug on the planet- TRIATHLON is by far the best high I've
ever had. As a newbie until the end of this year and the 12 races that I will do including
St. Anthony's and The Nations Triathlon, it is my new life and everything revolves around
it. I train 6 days a week because when you live in Tampa, Florida- ya can!!! I had to
choose between the Marine Corps Marathon or The Nations Triathlon; I grew up in
Fairfax county, went to Lake Braddock High School, to come home and to swim in the
Potomac, Run and Ride in DC, It was a no brainer as a newbie. Next year The corps will
be waiting and I will conquer the other most American race. So I run this race Because
of a girl who changed my life forever. I run this race in honor of her, Christine Tekautz;
the girl who didn't date smokers!!!
John Fair
Niceville, FL

About a year ago I was diagnosed with Peripheral Sensory Neuropathy which has
affected my ability to be mobile. I have gone thru so many tests I can't remember them
all. Dr. Shin Oh, Professor of Neurology at Uni Alabama Birmingham is amazed that I
am still ale to walk without assistance. I have been competing in triathlons for 14 years
and train almost everyday, and I asked him if after all the training I do, if that might be
the reason I am sill able to walk let alone run and bike. He told me that everybody he
has seen my age with the symptoms I have are already in wheelchairs and to train as
much and as often as I can. He continues to monitor my progress and has told me that I
will someday be in a wheelchair that it is only a matter of time. I plan on competing as
long as I safely can. I will definitely have tears in my eyes running up Pennsylvania Ave
to the finish line!

Jeanmarie Fitzgerald

I've been participating in triathlons since 1998 starting as the swimmer for my brother's
team at the Mighty Hamptons (Olympic) triathlon event out on Long Island, NY. In 2001,
my brother George Catallo decided to train for an Olympic version as an individual after
he lost a number of friends and colleagues to the World Towers tragedy. One friend was
his mentor for triathlon training and an outstanding athlete. I was then faced with the
decision to continue participating as a team member and find my own team or begin
training to compete as an individual. I continued training as a swim team member
until 2006 when I did my first solo event at the Gold Coast (sprint) triathlon in June. On
a natural high from that event, I decided with my brothers' encouragement to train for my
first Olympic triathlon and competed at the Jarden Westchester triathlon this
past September of 2007. I can no longer give this up for a variety of reasons, the least
of which is the satisfaction of knowing I can succeed in this athletic endeavor at my age.
Having begun to get in shape in my late 40's after raising my 3 children was no easy
effort. On at least 2 occasions I fell into despair and depression. I noticed that these
depressive cycles followed when I did not continue to train on a routine basis (I'm a slow
learner, it seems!) Within weeks of a renewed cycle of training at least 3 to 5 times per
week (and without using medications), I was feeling better and stronger both mentally
and physically. So, whenever I feel like not going out on the road, I remember those
dark months. I get my swimsuit or my running shoes on and put in at least an hour of
training. And the best part is I will sometimes get my best ideas for work while training.
The bottom line is that I'm no good to anybody unless my mind and body are fit. They
are now thanks to my brother, George's encouraging words to participate with him and
train . I've even started a new business! Between the enjoyment of doing what I love
best in my job and pursuing the goal of participating in triathlons in different locations, life
has certainly taken a wonderful turn towards fun in more than one direction.


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