Entries Tagged as 'Athlete Stories'

Location, Location, Location

Athlete Stories , Scott Tinley's Triathlon , Training Tips , Video No Comments »

By: Pepper Daniels

Pepper Daniels [Watch]

Often I find motivation in location. There are enough excuses to go around when you feel like taking an extra day off or skipping a workout. However, if you live on the Central Coast, the location of your workout is rarely an excuse. As I train for Scott Tinley’s Adventures, the “local’s triathlon,” here is the first in a series of my favorite locations to train on the central coast.

One of the best places to run is the Bob Jones Trail in Avila Beach. The trail head, starting just off Ontario Road, is a great place to start. It has the two most important features, parking and a restroom. But the most important thing about the location is the predictable weather. The soft, cool marine layer keeps you comfortable. Also, the nice paved trail, along the beautiful tree lined creek bed, is mostly flat. I work in my hills when I run trails. When I want to lock in a low and slow pace, this is the place.

Of course, I like to have a reward along the way. After all, training outside is one of the benefits of being a triathlete. So, as the Bob Jones Trail winds out to the Avila Beach Golf Resort, the payoff is revealed when the south facing Avila Bay opens up to the Pacific. On a recent Central Coast Triathlon Club run, at which we shot video for this blog, an unexpected thunderstorm scared away our entire group except for Patty and me. However, there were many payoffs courtesy of Mother Nature.

When you run along side of the Avila Bay towards San Luis Pier, you’ll be among active wildlife such as otters, amazing birds, and the occasional Black Lab and his owner. It’s peaceful and serene. On this day, we saw hundreds and hundreds of birds taking shelter in the cove between the coastal hills and the corner of the bay. Then at the end of the pier, the sea lions fight for real estate on their perch below your feet. Having never run all the way to the end of the pier, thanks to Patty, I never knew those sea lions lived there. Amazing.

Location, location, location. Take advantage of living in one of the world’s best locations. Have a great run.

A Road to Recovery

Athlete Stories , Pacific Grove No Comments »

By: Julia Duenes Stewart

Julia Duenes StewartFor nearly eight years I have wrestled with many physical infirmities. My physical hardships have included a car accident, multiple ankle sprains, a herniated disk in my lower back during pregnancy and two surgeries.

At my lowest point, I was in extreme pain during most of my waking moments and unable to walk unassisted. I spent many months in bed. And the herniated disk in my back could not be treated because of my pregnancy. After my beautiful daughter was born I needed physical therapy just to relearn the basics for most people's lives; how to drive, sit, walk, climb stairs. My ability to do daily tasks again did not eliminate the pain I felt but did allow me to function.

I still experience some amount of pain everyday and continue to rehabilitate my back through physical therapy. But I have gone beyond many of the basics, am further improving and am seeking the healthier lifestyle I once lived.

My physical therapist recommended I set a goal for myself that would enable us to measure my progress. I mentioned that prior to the start of my many physical ills I had considered and even begun training for a sprint triathlon. He suggested I work toward this end.

I have spent many months struggling to build up my muscles, endurance and flexibility. Even if I finished last, I felt determined to finish and hoped I would be able. It won't mean my recovery is complete, I still have a long road ahead. But finishing will stand as a milestone in my rehabilitation reminding me that I am on the path to becoming a whole, healthy and active human being once again. No pressure!

I am proud to say that I successfully completed my first triathlon at Pacific Grove, and will continue to grow in my recovery.

Making My 59th Triathlon Count!

Athlete Stories , Pacific Grove No Comments »

By: Jason Walter

The Triathlon at Pacific Grove has been one of my favorite races since I first competed there in 1998. In 2000, I had one of my best races ever finishing 5th overall with a sprint finish that was captured by the race photographer (attached). In the background of the picture is my family cheering: my mom, dad, sister, and both of my grandmas (who have since passed). My Grandma Walter lived in Carmel since 1963 and passed away in May this year. Last weekend we spread her ashes at sea in Carmel. This year's Triathlon at PG will be my 59th triathlon and I would like to dedicate it to my loving and supportive family.

“You’re doing so good, Mom”

Athlete Stories , Pacific Grove No Comments »

By: Maria Thomas

Maria and daughter

Every year since, we have both competed together in Pacific Grove. Having this one triathlon to do together each year has been so nice and I realize now that it was our way of communicating during my daughter's high school years. We would go to the pool and have talks in the car on the way there and back. We would run together and she was my best inspiration on our runs. We have supported each other when we were tired. It's funny I can hear my daughter saying "You're doing so good mom" while running, and realized when we finished I didn't have that great of a time, but with her by my side, I felt that I was doing so wonderful.

My daughter is heading off to college this September, but we are still planning on competing together at the Olympic distance this year at Pacific Grove. It will be our fourth year competing together. I will never forget all those years we had swimming, biking and running together.

I have attached a picture of my daughter and I running at our first triathlon in Pacific Grove. I still had one lap of the run to go, but my daughter was finishing. My husband (her Dad) was lucky to get a picture of us running together right near the finish line. Thank you for asking for our stories. I would have never remembered all the great times we had together.

Let’s Try This AGAIN – Triathlon at Pacific Grove

Athlete Stories , Pacific Grove No Comments »

By: Dave Mandelkern


11 years ago, the Triathlon at Pacific Grove in September 2000 was the first triathlon I ever completed. My company was going public at the time, and I was part of the IPO roadshow team, but the investment bankers gave me special dispensation to take Thursday, Friday and Saturday off from the three week transcontinental trip to come home and compete in the event that I had been training for since January. After I had turned 40 I decided to stop being a couch potato and set out to change my life by doing my first triathlon through TNT. My wedding anniversary always seems to fall on Pac Grove weekend, and that year was no exception. My wife was very understanding, and came along to watch me compete in my first tri (she told me a couple of years later that seeing me come out of the water on the first loop of the swim, she was convinced that I was going to drown on the second loop!). To make it up to her for being such a good sport, I took her out to dinner at The Old Bath House at Lover's Point on Saturday night. Unfortunately, between jet lag from all the flying and the exhaustion of completing my first triathlon, I fell asleep during the main course. I still haven't lived that one down! I had to take an overnight flight out on Sunday to catch up with the rest of the team in London, and in spite of my absence, we had an incredibly successful IPO in late September 2000, one of the last tech IPOs of the dot com boom. The investment bankers even presented me with a pair of gold spray-painted running shoes to mark the achievement.

The next year, 2001, I had a few more triathlons under my belt (TNT really worked-- I was now a team captain), wasn't falling asleep immediately afterwards, and really wanted to make it up to my wife. So I signed up for Pacific Grove again, and planned to have her join me in Monterey for the weekend to celebrate my first year of triathlons (and again our wedding anniversary). Once again, the best laid plans, etc. etc. Where were you on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001? I was in Manhattan, having just finished an early business meeting at 8:30AM and was on my way across the George Washington Bridge to New Jersey for a visit to one of our customers. My colleague had a boarding pass for United Flight 93 with his name on it, but I had persuaded him to take a later flight so he could attend the meeting with me (his youngest child is now named Dave). We didn't make it off the George Washington Bridge until 3PM that afternoon, and I didn't make it home until the following Sunday night (the preceding three sentences are an extremely condensed version of how I spent a horrifying day and a tragic week). While I was stranded in New York for the rest of that week, I kept checking in with my wife and with the TriCalifornia web site to see what was happening with the Triathlon at Pacific Grove, scheduled for the Saturday immediately after 9/11. I respect Terry Davis' decision not to cancel the race, but needless to say, I didn't make it back in time, and he really owes me a makeup race entry fee for that. My poor wife was there, for the second year in a row, with a wetsuit, a bicycle, and no husband. She seriously thought about doing the race in my stead, but decided that she really wasn't ready to do a triathlon without having trained for it. She stayed and watched the race (and my TNT team mates) as a spectator, and then drove all my gear home to await my return from New York City.


I did successfully complete the Triathlon at Pacific Grove in 2002, but I haven't been back since then. Maybe because 2002 was the year that the "check engine" light came on in my wife's new Ford Explorer as we were pulling off of Highway 1 into Pacific Grove. We coasted in to the Goodyear service station to find that her oil pump had failed and the engine had completely seized up. That car is now known in our family as the "Ford Exploder." Car was totaled but luckily still under warranty, and eventually was replaced with a new one. Luckily we were close enough that I was able to get my bike and gear to the transition area and pick up my registration packet in time for the race. We ultimately made it home in a rental car. You might think that my absence from Pac Grove since then was due to this incredible string of bad experiences, but that's really not the case.

Fast forward, and you'll see that I've been a little busy over the intervening years. Since completing that first triathlon at Pacific Grove in September 2000, I have now completed 100 triathlons, ranging from sprint distance races through full Ironman (including many TriCal events along the way, such as the inaugural Treasure Island triathlon and several repeats, your inaugural SF Alcatraz triathlon last year, and several Wildflower races in all three distances). That's out of 101 triathlon starts-- I've only had one DNF, at the City of Los Angeles Triathlon in 2009 because the surf was too high and rough for me to complete the swim course.

Triathlon #100 was the Lake Stevens Ironman 70.3 on August 14, 2011, just a couple of weeks ago. Along the way to finish #100 I have the distinction of becoming the first (and perhaps only) person to have completed a triathlon in each of the 50 United States plus the District of Columbia (completed in July 2008, all before I turned 50-- this was a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Challenged Athletes Foundation, and World T.E.A.M. Sports; see www.50x50x50.org for full details).

So here I am 11 years later, looking forward to another Triathon at Pacific Grove next weekend, and wondering what crazy adventure (or misadventure) my wife and I will have this year. I'm really hoping for a calm, uneventful weekend, and that this will be triathlon finish #101 for me; a fitting and appropriate way to start my second hundred triathlons at the same place where I completed my first, and to mark our 18th wedding anniversary. But we'll be driving down in my wife's new Ford Escape, so you never know what might happen!

Attached please find a pair of bookend photos of me along my journey; before the swim start at Pac Grove way back when, and crossing the finish line after #100 in Lake Stevens WA.