The Ultimate Athletes
Four Greenwich triathletes share what it takes to push through mental and physical pain to run, pedal and swim their way to the thrill of victory
(page 3 of 3)
Through high school and college, Darcy, the second oldest of six, played varsity sports. One summer, while cycling to cross-train for the upcoming field hockey season, she came upon a bike race in Greenwich. “I thought, ‘Hey! I ride my bike. That looks like a cool sport. I want to try that.’”
The racing has never stopped — from national championships to local races. What changed over the years was the type of race Darcy took on, and that choice depended entirely on the hours of training she thought a race required and whether she could squeeze such training around work and family. “During the time I was a state trooper, the bike racing was out of the question. I had been doing fifty races a year, including stage races. And the training was about 300 miles a week. Then [my daughter] was born. I no longer had the time. I no longer had the energy or the ability to travel,” explains Karen. “So I switched and did running races and duathlons. The other thing that was appealing to me was that with bike racing and short-distance duathlon, it was all very high-intensity, kill-yourself race for two hours. Physiologically, triathlon and Powerman was a nice change from the super-fast high-intensity stuff to going out for a sustained six-hour ride.”
The drive to compete runs deep in her DNA. “I came out of the womb an athlete and I have always wanted to see if I could do it, with the understanding that whatever challenge I give myself is going to work with whatever phase of my life I am in,” she says.
A more flexible schedule in 2003 allowed Darcy to take on her first triathlon, an Ironman. “There is such an allure and a romanticism about doing an Ironman,” says Darcy, who has since competed in four Ironmans and two Powerman Zofingen, Swiss-based long-distance duathlons that consist of 10K runs, 50K rides, 30K runs.
Victory Is Mine
To these women winning is as much about finishing as it is about finishing well. All may joke about the difficulty of getting up early in the morning but point to feeling jazzed once they are on their way to a race. There, they know they will be taking on something seemingly insurmountable but in the end gain achievement, confidence, inner strength and spiritual appreciation. When that happens, hardship is easier to endure. Joy is easier to celebrate. There is clarity, perspective, increased motivation.
For Karen Newman, cancer was a bit easier to withstand. For Katha, divorce was easier to endure. For Karen Brown, injury was easier to overcome. For Darcy, motivation was easier to retain.
There are other benefits. “I’ve met all kinds of people in all shapes, sizes and forms,” says Karen Brown, who admits she was “a heavy child” in high school. “I see people who have worked so hard taking care of their kids, and now they are out there doing something for themselves that will help them move in another direction.”
Her goal this year, after completing the Greenwich Biathlon in April, will have been to improve her time at the Kids in Crisis Triathlon in June and finish the MightyMan Half Ironman Triathlon in Montauk in October.
Karen Newman points to the great travel destinations and the meditative benefit of training and racing. “I feel a lot of God and love and joy when I race. That’s a gift He’s given me and I just try to enjoy every minute out there, even when it’s painful. I feel lucky to be able to do it.”
Katha agrees. “For me, the long-distance is very contemplative, in biking or in triathlon. It gets you into a really wonderful place. It’s not therapeutic. But it’s almost spiritual. I get in a zone, which is almost like what people find in meditation or hypnosis. It is your time. You own it.”