Professional athlete and 3-time Ironman champion

Continued Sponsorship from The University Club of Boston

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I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a rough year. Typically at this time of year, I get a little blue; the leaves on the trees turn color, which, while stunningly beautiful, is really just a sign that we’re heading into a long, and usually brutal winter. Winter is a bit of a dreary time for a triathlete in Boston. More indoor cycling than you can shake a stick at, running in sleet, snow, slush and on ice. I’ve long believed that the tough conditions we have to face here in the winter make New England triathletes tougher than most, so I suppose it’s a blessing, but most definitely also a curse.

I’m not gonna lie. It’s been a rough year. Typically at this time of year, I get a little blue; the leaves on the trees turn color, which, while stunningly beautiful, is really just a sign that we’re heading into a long, and usually brutal winter. Winter is a bit of a dreary time for a triathlete in Boston. More indoor cycling than you can shake a stick at, running in sleet, snow, slush and on ice. I’ve long believed that the tough conditions we have to face here in the winter make New England triathletes tougher than most, so I suppose it’s a blessing, but most definitely also a curse.

This year, however, I find myself begging the leaves to fall off the trees and cheering the arrival of winter. Not that I want to wish away time, but I will celebrate the arrival of 2012 in a big way. Not just because we’ll be celebrating the wedding of our best good friends Hillary and Maiki on New Year’s Eve, but because I think both DaveyG and I have had about all we can handle this year and are ready to turn the page to a new and better year ahead.

Good things have already started happening for the new year, so we’re off to a stunning start already for 2012. Most notably, I am pleased to announce that the University Club of Boston has elected to continue its sponsorship support into 2012. I couldn’t be more pleased with this partnership.

Founded in 1891, (ironically, the same year Stanford was organized!), The University Club is Boston’s premier social and athletic club. While The Club has had a few different homes around the city in its history, its current home is in the heart of Copley Square.

DaveyG and I first joined The University Club when we moved to Boston. I’d come to learn that the "UClub", as its affectionately referred to, had a proper 4-lane, 25 yard pool. Other than MIT and Harvard, proper length swimming pools were not easy to come by in Boston at the time. The UClub was so conveniently located, just a block and a half from my office and about 5 blocks from my home, AND with a beautiful, old 25 yard pool that NO ONE ever swam in? We couldn’t resist.

DaveyG and I attended the "new member" cocktail reception when we first joined The Club in 2000 and I wondered if we’d made a mistake. No one wanted to talk to me. "What? You don’t play squash?" "How can you not have a squash ranking?" While I tried to joke about how it was a bad idea for me to have any sort of bat, club, racquet or stick in my hand; particularly when there were flying balls involved, my fellow new members seemed genuinely concerned about my future wellbeing without the game of squash as a part of it. So I slumped in the corner, sipping my chardonnay, and quietly cherished the jewel 2 floors below, even if it made me a social leper.

A few years later, it was decided that the pool needed a bit of a face lift. The pool was closed so that it might undergo a pretty radical makeover; new lighting, lofted ceiling, new tile, hot tub, locker space, and aquatics office space. When all was said and done, my cherished jewel shined like a proper jewel should.

This new blessing became a curse, which has now come full circle and become a blessing again.

You see, once revitalized, the pool became very popular. What was once made to feel like my own private oasis was now……crowded? I used to walk down the steps to the pool to find I was the only swimmer in the entire pool. Post-makeover, there were several times I had to........ wait for a lane? I wasn’t sure I liked it…….

But out of this fascination with the new pool came not only new interest in getting in some laps as a workout every now and then, but a real, genuine interest in swimming. The Club hired a new professional to help build a Master’s swimming program under the direction of the Aquatics Director. Then, when spring came around, the swimmers started wondering……could we bike and run too?

Nearly 2 years after its inception, the UClub Master’s Swim Team has grown from 8 members, swimming 3 workouts per week to approximately 40 active members, participating in 7 coached workouts per week. The team participates in local and regional meets; approximately 5 per year. The youngest team member is 22. The oldest is 83.



The triathlon program started from nothing. There once was a time at the UClub where ladies in the locker room would look at me kinda crooked and say, "You do what??" But now, the UClub has a triathlon team that is nearly 25 athletes strong. While some team members came from athletic backgrounds (rowers, runners, cyclists), almost none of them had triathlon experience, yet now, less than 18 months later, team members are racing in all triathlon distances from sprints up to half Ironman distance races. Some are even considering toeing the line for a full Ironman.



The enthusiasm of this group is infectious and every time I head up to the UClub to train; be it to swim, get a treadmill session in, or hit the gym for some strength work, I am inspired by this group of "beginners" who are now sporting full training and race kits, are learning about wattage, heart rate training, race nutrition, triathlon equipment and who are challenging themselves each and every day to be more fit, more healthy and to become better triathletes. Sure, they still look at me every now and again and say "You ran how far today?"……but more and more, their training numbers are looking a lot more like mine and I love it!

18 months ago, the tri group got together and wanted to help support me. The Club waived my dues as a show of support and sponsorship. They helped with travel money for my trip to Kona and to Cozumel last year.

When I arrived home with performances that were disappointing to say the least, I never got one look of disappointment or disapproval, but got pats on the back and kicks in the butt to get back to the pool, get back in the gym, get back on the treadmill and get back to work.

Then this year, after my encounter with the pavement in Germany, when I arrived at the UClub for a "swim" 3 days after my accident, and was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from members and employees alike. The Aquatics Director nearly wept to see me clutching to the lane-line after less than 200 yards, unable to swim, sharing in my concerns for the future of my career.

Not dwelling in what had happened, though, members of the swim and triathlon community mobilized to help while I was immobilized. I had an outpouring of support and offers of help like nothing I’d ever experienced before in my life. "I can I come walk your dog?" "Let me drive you around so you can run some errands." "My husband works at MGH and we’re going to get you in to see the best trauma ortho in Boston." "Can I go grocery shopping for you?"

And so on…….

And so on………

And so on………….

I was watching "The Blind Side" the other day on TV. I was struck by the conversation between Mrs. Touhy and her "lunch friends". "You’re changing that boy’s life," her friend said. "No, he’s changing mine."

Truer words couldn’t be spoken about my relationship with the University Club. I feel guilty sometimes. Here I think I am supposed to be a role model for new triathletes, inspiring them to try new things they never thought were possible; to push the envelope and achieve things they couldn’t have imagined. But instead, they inspire me every single day with their dedication, their passion and their incredible munificence and their genuine interest in helping me in my career to continue to achieve.

Thank you to the University Club of Boston; the employees, the membership and most of all, the incredible members of the Master’s Swim and Tri teams for your continued support into the new year. The relationship means a lot to me.



Onward to 2012. It’s gonna be a good one, knowing that The UClub’s got my back….and I’ve got theirs!

For more information on the University Club of Boston, please visit www.uclub.org

Persistence. Determination. Love. The Journey!

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