Five years ago, Tisa Cawthon crossed the finish line at the 2011
Triathlon at Pacific Grove shocked that she’d survived the demands of a
three-discipline race. “It was so tough that I wanted to do it again,
but come back prepared, “ she said. At 35-years-old, she set out to find
what she was lacking. What Cawthon probably didn’t realize is that she
started that race fully equipped with what most athletes are hoping to
eventually gain from the sport: mental fortitude. Cawthon may have
started that race with only one arm, but what she brought with her was a
tenacity gained in a life of adapting to her challenge.
17, Cawthon was involved in a near fatal car crash that resulted in the
paralysis of her left arm. For the next 15 years she would secure her
arm in a sling. For the next 15 years she would endure the chronic pain
that goes along with towing the weight of a no longer functioning arm.
For the next 15 years she would hide behind the comfortable acceptance
of appearing to others that she simply had had a minor fall. At 15
years, she realized her arm was physically and mentally holding her back
and that needed to change.
It’s only May, but 2016 has already become the year that I have
stepped out of my comfort zone and pushed my limits more than ever
before. So far, I’ve ridden farther and climbed more hills than I had
ever imagine possible. All this, however, doesn’t happen without the
help of some pretty stellar, intimidating (but also way awesome) women!
The results: the euphoric exhaustion of exhilarating downhill descents,
breathtaking views, new friendships, and overcoming a major personal
Add on to that list a photo shoot with #TeamBetty2016.
Having battled and overcome an eating disorder, I would never have
imagined myself willingly modeling in front of a camera. But
representing Betty Designs,
a team that embraces strong, healthy athletes, gave me the confidence
to step into the light and be proud of my own strong body.
While instinctively I would have chosen to wear the team leggings or a
long-sleeved jacket, I was instead photographed wearing the team bathing
suit. This may not sound particularly challenging or limit pushing for
the average athlete, but to me it was a meaningful victory. It terrified
me that people would see my body and judge it negatively. But standing
there in front of the camera wearing only a swimsuit proved to me and to
the world that this time I had won - not my eating disorder.
Wildflower will forever be my favorite race. Thirty three years ago
was my first. I am hoping my last won’t be for another twenty or more
years from now. I have ridden up Nasty Grade a dozen times or so, each
time seemingly harder than the last. The Olympic course is mile for
mile the toughest Olympic course around. There are no flats on the
Olympic course, except in the swim. Memories of the race results fade
over time. However, the weekend memories endure. They will last a
have competed at Wildflower with my daughter Shelley, and with my son
Greg several times. Shelley was the 2nd collegiate woman three years
ago and Greg was the 2nd collegiate male last year. Both wanted to
snatch an overall victory for their Dad. I was incredibly proud of both
and would have been whether they finished 1st or 151st. I am very
thankful they have chosen a lifestyle that includes aerobic fitness and
multi-sport. I am delighted to share the Wildflower tradition with my
I have been participating in triathlons for 12 years but have been
competing at an international level for the past 2 years now. Anyone
that knows me knows that my two main passions amongst many are my family
and competing in any race that challenges me. I am developing into a
world-class athlete with extreme commitment and passion in a sport that
is my real love.
first experience in triathlon was crossing the finish line at Ironman
Canada with my Mom and my 2 brothers when I was 12 years old. I remember
running down the finisher shoot with the big lights and hearing the
words repeated over and over to the finishers YOU ARE AN IRONMAN. That
moment changed me and I knew I was made for this sport.
At the age of 24, I became a bi-lateral amputee. A work-related
accident in which I received a double dose of 13,000 volts changed my
life forever. I awoke from a month-long coma to learn that both my arms
had been amputated in addition to burns on over 40% of my body.
While blessed to be alive, it was frustrating to hear doctors assure
me that I would one day be able to do basic actions like button my shirt
and brush my teeth – things that one learns as a child. I grieved for
the part of Hector that had dreams and goals that involved an active