Mont-Blanc, Mini Triathlons, Personal Bests

In my original game plan, I thought that when I retired from playing basketball in my fifties, I would ski mountains and run marathons into old age. Alas, an accident at the peak of my career at age 26 ended my basketball playing days. Illness filled my life with detours. Today a bad back, blown-out knees and chronic pain from fibromyalgia prevents me attaining the goals I once set.

The first part of my life as a first generation Title IXer, I fought to get off the sideline and into the game; the second half, I learned how to be a gracious cheerleader. That is why I am so proud of my daughter for incorporating fitness into her daily life as a doctor, to my friend Tina for winning a Gold Medal in basketball at the Senior Olympic games, for my little sister and her friends in their fifties for competing in their 2nd mini triathlon.

Karen sets a new personal best

Karen sets a new personal best

Karen and her friends, Ann Jackson and Jean Pupkes, joined 317 other participants on Saturday July 21st in the 9thAnnual River City Days Triathlon Sprint held in Chaska Minnesota.

fab' 50s finish sprint triathlon

fab’ 50s finish sprint triathlon

Training for the triathlon may be just as difficult as the actual event. Karen alternated training schedules prior to the meet. A strong swimmer she loved the first leg, a third mile lake swim, yet struggled with the final 3.1K run. This year my brother-in-law Dick, 2 months after undergoing a thyroidectomy to remove a cancerous tumor, decided to join her. An avid biker, Dick whizzed past people on the 16 mile ride, avoided sinking on the swim, and walked the first K, all uphill, of the run.

While my sister and bro defy age by challenging their bodies to remain fit, I am inspired to focus not on what I can’t do, but on what I can. Since my mid twenties, I have seen a team of doctors for a list of ailments. For the past 4 years, as a guinea pig in a clinical trial treatment for a multisystem inflammatory autoimmune illness, I have avoided light exposure.

my umbrella and me

my umbrella and me

But that doesn’t stop me! I hike in the Alps under an umbrella, walk to work covered in gloves and a hoody, and swim across the lake in my wet suit and scuba gear. In solidarity with my sister and brother in law, I participated in my own mini triathlon. Early Saturday morning, I biked 7 miles, walked a mile and then swam a half-mile. Afterwards, I couldn’t lift my arms to hold a book. I broke no records but as the sole competitor, solitary contestant, I won the event!

In a personal best, Karen had the best time in her age group for the swim and beat her overall time by 12 minutes. Dick, setting his own record, inspired anyone who has battled cancer.

My adult life is not as active as I had once hoped; yet I have accepted that I will never ski down Mont-Blanc, because I can still admire the mountaintops from my window. I will never again play the game I love, but I can impart my love of the game to the girls I coach. I will no longer knock down J’s (jump shots), but I can swim through summers on my beloved Summit Lake.

Life is good!

Posted in education, inspiration, relationships, sport.


  1. Pat, you have captured the essence of a positive attitude and perspective in the face of physical limitations. What a gift! Sometimes our greatest obstacles do become our greatest blessings. I love your uplifting and inspirational stories and can’t wait to read your memoir. Your fighting spirit shines through!
    Blessings and Hugs,

  2. You have not only been the most enthusiastic of all cheerleaders, but an inspiration to me and so many others. You are the ultimate role model for me and my family – never giving up and always being there to encourage, persuade and assist others in meeting their goals and living their dreams. Every day of your life is like running an event and you are winning it – all the time. You never give up and you always manage to find joy in whatever life brings you. Keep on keepin’ on my friend.

  3. Pat, I want to be like you when I grow “young!” You are an inspiration for all of us babyboomers:) Keep a going!

    Best of the best-


  4. Sis,
    LIFE IS GOOD! and its all in how you approach it with a positive, “can do”, adjust as needed attitude. As you know, It’s not always if you win, but how you play the game. You have learned to play the game of life with patience, new personal goals, appreciation and determination! Super proud of you for your personal triathlon sprint this summer, your grit to keep moving in spite of pain and dark days and these inspirational and enlightening blogs week after week!! Te amo sista!

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