I heard numerous stories about triathlons as I was growing up. Stories of the places my dad traveled to, the people he met, the races he lost, and the races he won. However, his Wildflower story was one of the few that left a lasting impression on me. Maybe it was his tone of voice, or that hidden smile behind his words, or the fact that my dad, Dean Harper, won the inaugural Wildflower race. Whatever it was, I knew someday I would have to see for myself what this race was all about.
My first Wildflower was 30 years after my dad's. That Sunday morning on May 5th, 2013, I raced my heart out for myself and for my team (Cal Triathlon--GO BEARS!), but mostly for my dad. When things got tough going up Lynch Hill or battling the headwinds on the bike, I looked down at the words I write on my hand before every triathlon, our father-daughter mantra, "Power Through." It's something we established back in 2008 when I was competing in my first collegiate swim meet and my dad was competing at the Ironman World Championships in Kona. Those two simple words brought us together despite being thousands of miles apart.
My experience at Wildflower exceeded all my expectations. I will never forget my dad getting to start my swim wave with the blow horn, seeing him for a brief moment on the bike course, and being there for him when he crossed the finish line. I will never forget getting to start the swim next to triathlon legend Michellie Jones, battling the winds and hills on the bike, and smiling at every aid station on the run from the amazing support of all the volunteers. I will never forget the multiple "Go Bears" I got from competitors riding up Lynch Hill as I sprinted down on my way to the finish. It's these little moments of amazing support that makes me already excited to return next year to Wildflower to race my heart out yet again. While in the end I didn't get to break the finishers tape like my dad did at his first Wildflower race, I know that when I tell my kids about my experience I will have that same hidden smile behind my words as my dad did when he told me his.
Shelley Harper, Cal Triathlon
What if it where possible to gain 20-30 watts on the bike for a very small investment? Say in the range of $200-$300. I’m sure most of you would agree this is a no brainer investment. In an era were $8k bikes, $3k wheels and $400 helmets are common place, a $250 bike fit SHOULD be a no brainer. Especially if a proven gain of 25 watts waits for you on the other end. Here is my story.
I took up racing triathlon about 3 years ago after many years of racing mountain bikes. At the beginning of my triathlon racing I was met with some bike problems. I am fortunate enough to have power on both my road bike and my tri bike and because of this I was able to see some disturbing power discrepancies between the two.
There are moments in our lives that change the course of the rest of our lives. These moments can be big or small; ceremoniously celebrated with a large group of people, or silently witnessed alone; they can be moments that you saw coming ahead of time, or moments that surprised you; you may recognize that these moments are about to change your life, or they might do so without your awareness: moments such as the day you first set eyes on your future life partner; your wedding day; the day your child is born; a time when you were in need and someone was kind (or unkind) to you; a conversation with a friend; a look from a stranger that penetrates you deep inside, a moment in a book that impacted you… No matter what these moments look like, somehow your life is irreversibly changed by them. I had one of these moments this year. This moment happened about 7 months ago during a long distance triathlon race in California.
My journey to triathlon and the significance of my race number for
the 2012 Avia Wildflower Long Course race began when I was a kid.
From around second grade, I struggled with my weight. I was always
self-conscious and worried that people were judging me not by who I was
but by what I was, which simply put was a fat kid. In high school I was
still self-conscious but being a football player it was accepted by not
only me but my family. My senior year my playing weight was in the area
of 315 pounds and I’m 5’11”.
After high school I had a full ACL reconstruction while also
going away to college. The pizza and beer being compounded by the
inactivity except for physical therapy took its toll. I ballooned and
the last weight I saw was 336 pounds after which I stopped getting on
the scale. At the Age of 19 I was hypertensive and pre-diabetic. When I
learned that I was risking diabetes I decided to change my life for the
better. I joined up with Kennedy Club Fitness (KCF) in San Luis Obispo
and started working out. I managed to get myself down to 286 pounds and
that was enough to get me away from diabetes and off the medications.
However, I was still self-conscious and felt like I was literally a
prisoner in my own body.
I would be lying if I said that dark thoughts never crossed my mind, the
feelings of isolation and helplessness are two things I will never
Today I am a highly competitive triathlete, slowly trying to make it up in the triathlon world. I swim, bike, and run a total of about 15 hours per week. But I haven't always been the competitive triathlete that I am today. I haven't always been racing against time trying to beat a PR or earn a podium spot in my age group. Before I discovered the world of triathlon, I was competing in hand-to-hand combat in the kickboxing ring.