November 14, 2022

Bob Babbitt & The Challenged Athletes Foundation: Empowering Lives Through Sport

It is the mission of the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) to provide opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue active lifestyles. Involvement in sports at any level increases self-esteem, encourages independence, and enhances quality of life. On today’s episode, hear from the co-founder of the CAF and triathlon personality, Bob Babbitt, as he shares the origin story of the organization and some memorable moments from the grants received and accomplishments achieved!

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TriDot Podcast .164 Bob Babbitt & The Challenged Athletes Foundation: Empowering Lives Through Sport Intro: This is the TriDot podcast. TriDot uses your training data and genetic profile, combined with predictive analytics and artificial intelligence to optimize your training, giving you better results in less time with fewer injuries. Our podcast is here to educate, inspire, and entertain. We’ll talk all things triathlon with expert coaches and special guests. Join the conversation and let’s improve together. Andrew Harley:  Hey folks! Welcome to the show!  Plenty of stories and inspiration today, as we have triathlon legend Bob Babbitt joining the show to share musings from his corner of our sport and tell us all about Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Bob started racing triathlons in the late 1970s, and has been closely tied to the sport ever since.  He is the founder of Babbittville Media Group, and the cofounder of Competitor Magazine and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  He’s a member of both the IRONMAN and USA Triathlon Halls of Fame, and travels the world interviewing the greats of the sport with his show, “Breakfast with Bob”.  I’m a big fan of Bob Babbitt, I’m a big fan of Breakfast.  Bob, welcome to the TriDot podcast! Bob Babbitt:  Thank you guys, I really, really appreciate it Andrew.  It’s always nice to connect with people who really care about our sport! Andrew: Yes sir!  Also joining us today is someone who cares about the sport, coach John Mayfield.  John is a USAT Level II and IRONMAN U certified coach who leads TriDot’s athlete services, ambassador, and coaching programs. He has coached hundreds of athletes ranging from first-timers to Kona qualifiers and professional triathletes. John has been using TriDot since 2010 and coaching with TriDot since 2012. John, thanks for joining the TriDot Babbittville meetup collaboration today! John Mayfield:  Absolutely. So an old quote that I think is great is, “It’s such a privilege to count your heroes among your friends,” and Bob is the epitome of that, so it’s just a privilege to have him here on our podcast.  It’s a privilege to have the opportunity to spend time with him, it was privilege to have the honor to attend the illustrious “Thank God I’m Not Racing” party hosted by Bob Babbitt and the Challenged Athletes Foundation in Kona a couple weeks ago. Yeah, super cool, always great to hang out with Bob. Bob: Thanks John! Andrew: Yeah, I took a hat home.  Bob, you were giving away “Thank God I’m Not Racing” hats at that party, and a missed opportunity, to not wear that on the interview today.  Oh, John’s got his! Bob: There you go!  That’s what it’s all about! Andrew: I’m taking a screen shot, this is going to our listeners.  Boom, got it. Good job, John!  Good on you!  Well, I'm Andrew the Average Triathlete, Voice of the People and Captain of the Middle of the Pack. As always we'll roll through our warmup question, settle in for our main set conversation, and then wind things down with our cooldown. Before we get too deep into the show today, I want to give a shout-out to our good friends at UCAN.  Here at TriDot we are huge believers in using UCAN to fuel our training and racing. In the crowded field of nutrition companies, what separates UCAN from the pack is the science behind LIVSTEADY, the key ingredient in UCAN products. While most energy powders are filled with sugar or stimulants that cause a spike and crash, UCAN energy powders, powered by LIVSTEADY, deliver a steady release of complex carbs to give you stable blood sugar and provide long-lasting energy. I personally fuel many of my workouts with the orange-flavored Edge gel and the unflavored UCAN Energy.  Between their energy mix, energy bars, almond butter and more, there is definitely a LIVSTEADY product that you will love.  So head to their website, ucan.co and use the code TRIDOT to save 20% on your entire order.  That’s ucan.co, promo code TRIDOT. Warm up theme: Time to warm up! Let’s get moving. Andrew: It’s amazing to watch the top pros square off several times a year at all sorts of different distances and events. Kona, St. George, PTO events, CLASH events, Challenge Family events, and Super League Tri, they all draw a world-class athlete field, clearly the best in the world of triathlon.  Bob, John, for our warmup question today, I’m curious though: if you could take the best triathletes in the world and watch them compete in a different sport than triathlon, what sport would you choose, and why?  Bob Babbitt, what are you thinking? Bob: It’s funny, years ago we were playing volleyball with Scott Tinley and Scott Molina, some of the legends, and I realized a lot of these guys don’t have hand-eye coordination, and that’s why they decided to go into endurance sports.  So I would try to keep these guys in endurance.  I would like to see those guys follow Cam Wurf and try racing professional cycling.  I would also like to see them in some gravel races and things like that, it’d be pretty cool. Andrew:  I’ve seen Heather Jackson as an example of that. Even since Kona here in 2022, she just did her first 100‑mile trail race.  I saw that on her Instagram feed, I know she’s kind of dabbling in some of that adventure-type stuff.  But yeah, it’d be interesting to see if the guys and gals that dominate right now at the world stages of triathlon, would they also dominate on mountain bikes and gravel, and some different forms of endurance sports.  It’d be interesting to see, wouldn’t it? Bob: Yeah, absolutely. Andrew: John Mayfield, what is your answer here? What sport would you like to see professional triathletes compete in? John: Mine was a little more sadistic, made me feel better about myself.  I’d like for them to play golf.  I’ve told stories about my former life when I was a bank senior VP.  I played lots of golf.  I actually got pretty good at golf, then I got into triathlon and my stock went down.  But golf is a tough game, and I would imagine some of those natural athletes would immediately pick it up and smash the ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway. Others would, like Bob was saying with no hand-eye coordination, would struggle to even hit the ball.  But then maybe to meet somewhere in the middle we make it into speed golf, which is a new, emerging, hybrid sport where it’s a little bit less about how many strokes you take, and more how quickly you get through. So these folks are hitting the ball, and they’re immediately running dead sprint to the ball, hit the ball, run to the next one again.  So there’s a little less of a premium on hitting the ball straight at that point, it’s more about how quickly can you get from stroke to stroke.  So maybe meet in the middle and play some speed golf. Bob: John, it’s funny you mention speed golf, I put on speed golf tournaments in the 90s.  Actually, Greg Welch, myself, Paul Huddle, we’d go to a little executive course here in San Diego, Lomas Santa Fe Exec.  We’d play 36 holes in about 90 minutes. John: Geez. Bob: We’d keep golf bags that actually have spikes on the bottom, and because we’re playing an executive course we’d carry a 7, 8, wedge, and a putter, we’d only carry a couple clubs.  You have volley shorts and a headlamp, because we have to be the first ones to tee off at 5:15 the morning.  What’s great is you just keep track of pars and birdies, John, so you never have a bad hole.  A par is a point, a birdie is two points, and then you just jog.  You actually played better golf.  I’ve had two holes-in-one running, and I’d never even come close to a hole-in-one before.  It takes your mind out of the game.  I agree with John, it’d be really, really fun to do more of those tournaments.  We’ve always thought about going the day after IRONMAN in Kona and going out to Four Seasons and having a little running golf and matching your Kona time with your time in speed golf.  It’s the real deal, and a lot of our guys are good at it. Welch is a hell of a golfer, by the way. Andrew: Interesting, good to know! John:  I could see that. Andrew:  So my pick here, I would be intrigued by seeing our best triathletes in the world take their hand at a team sport.  We’re used to seeing them compete for themselves, one-on-one, and to put them in a team sport atmosphere I think would be really cool.  Just to see how they respond in a team environment – who is the rah-rah guy, who is the motivational gal, and who is the team player who stands out from the pack. So to your point, Bob, to not pull them too far out of their element, I thought water polo would be a good team sport to put them in.  All of our triathletes can swim to varying degrees of ability, they’re all better than me. It’s an environment they’re used to, being in the pool.  They’re used to swimming back and forth, it’s just throwing a ball and a goal into the mix and seeing how they would do in that environment.  So that’s my pick here.  I’m curious to hear what our audience has to say.  Make sure you are part of the I AM TriDot Facebook group, every single Monday when the new show comes out, we throw our warmup question to you.  So go find the post asking you: what other sport besides triathlon would you want to see the pros compete at?  Can’t wait to hear what you have to say! Main set theme: On to the main set. 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Between the Challenged Athletes Foundation, Breakfast with Bob, Competitor Magazine, the Muddy Buddy Ride and Run series, and so much more, Bob Babbitt’s heart, soul, and personality are woven tightly into the tapestry of triathlon.  Today this fan favorite and legend of our sport joins us to share his experience with tri, and the inspiring work of the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Bob, let’s start at the very beginning.  Your very first taste of IRONMAN was in 1980, back when the race was held in Oahu.  It was the third IRONMAN race ever, it had 108 participants, and you were one of them.  Bob, tell us about that race. Bob: Well, the main thing was we didn’t really know what we were doing.  My roommate at the time was a guy named Ned Overend who would become the World Mountain Bike champion, but back then mountain bikes hadn’t been invented yet.  So Ned was working at San Diego Suzuki as a mechanic, and I was a schoolteacher running a P.E. program in San Diego.  We read about this thing in 1979.  The IRONMAN was in an article in Sports Illustrated, which was sort of the bible for all of us.  It was an eight-page feature on this guy named Tom Warren, who had won the IRONMAN. There was only 15 starters and 12 finishers, both in ’78 and ’79.  So when Tommy won it in ’79, this article in Sports Illustrated led to 108 of us signing up the following year, that was the impetus.  We didn’t know anything about it.  Tommy put on one of the first endurance events probably in the world, he put on this thing called the Tugs Swim-Run-Swim, which was a half-mile swim around this pier in San Diego, you ran five miles on the beach, and you swam around the pier again. But more importantly, you ran through the finish, and the first 75 people to get to his bar, which was another three or four blocks away, they got breakfast and a Tugs mug. Andrew: What motivation! Bob: Yeah! Actually, what led to all of this was Ned and I finished the race, got our mug and our plate with runny eggs on it, and there was a guy named Mike Plant who had a company where he would take photos of people at the races.  This was before your guys’ time.  He would send little miniature photos to your house and you could order the full-size photos. So this guy took a photo of Ned and I at the finish at Tugs, so tracking this guy down to get our photos led to him really introducing us to Tom Warren, who had won the race.  Because it’s not like you go online and find out what the IRONMAN was.  You had to find somebody who had done the thing.  So we set up a meeting with this guy Tom Warren, and he’s like, “Babbitt, just come to my office, it’s just south of Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach on the west side of the street.”  We get there, and it’s a parking lot.  There were no buildings there.  It was a motor home with a bike on the back, with running shoes tied around the side-view mirror, and a paddleboard on top. Andrew:  That sounds right. Bob:  So I stuck my head in and he’s like, “Babbitt, welcome to my office!”  He’d order chips and salsa and beer from the pay phone behind him, then he’d go paddle out in the ocean, he’d ride 40 miles, he’d run a 5‑mile loop. Every morning he ran the same five-mile loop from Crystal Pier to the Mission Beach jetty and back.  Actually, there’s a black line around the light pole where he would turn around every day, and his grimy hand left a ring that’s still there to this day around this pole.  He ran this thing every day for 50 years.  Anyway, Tommy told us about this event, and we ended up signing up, sending our $25 in, and he’s like, “Well, you’re going to need a bike.” So Ned and I went to a police auction to get bikes.  Mine was $75, the whole back end was burnt.  We put our RadioShack radio on the front of it, bungee-corded it on, it had the fuzzy raccoon seat cover, the foam grips on the handlebars, kickstand, reflectors, it was made to go. Andrew: Sounds like it, yeah! Bob: Then we had a rock-climbing group, so the only helmets we owned were rock-climbing helmets, and rock-climbing helmets don’t have holes in them.  So when we’d go ride, we’d ride ten miles and go, “Oh my god, my head’s going to explode! This bike ride’s going to take us ten, twelve hours!” Andrew: They were probably decently aerodynamic though, without any holes, right? Bob: Maybe, but it made us realize that we might average ten, twelve miles an hour, and how the hell are we going to finish? So I went out and got panniers, sleeping bag, and tent, because I was like, “Okay, we’re going to swim 2.4, ride 56, camp out, and ride back the next day and do the marathon.”  That was sort of the thought, because there was really no rules.  You would bring your own support crew.  So we ended up heading over, like I said, 108 of us: Dave Scott, Laddie Shaw, a bunch of Navy SEALS, Gordon Haller, who had won the event the year before in 1978, he had beaten a Navy SEAL named John Dunbar.  A lot of military were involved with those early years of IRONMAN.  Then we went over in 1980 and it was supposed to be the Waikiki rough water swim, followed by the Route Oahu bike ride, followed by the Honolulu marathon.  We got over there, the race director brings us in the room and says, “Hey guys, I’ve got this opportunity.  ABC Wild World of Sports is here to film cliff diving on Sunday, and since they’re here, they’ll film our event tomorrow, on Saturday.  But if we have to delay it a day like we did last year because of the storms…”  The surf was breaking ten feet up on the wall.  Ned and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we were going to die the next morning.  There was no way we were going to get through the surf.  “Nice knowing you, it’s been a lot of fun, but we’re gonna die tomorrow.” We’re standing there at the hotel where they’re doing the pre‑race meeting, and the waves are breaking up against the building at the Grand Otani, and we’re like, “We’re toast.”  So he comes in and he goes, “Hey, because I can’t afford to postpone the event or I’ll lose ABC, we’re going to do the event tomorrow, but we’re moving the swim to Ala Moana Channel, which is totally flat,” and I was like, “Oh my god, we’re gonna live!”  Meanwhile, Dave Scott and all the SEALS were like, “You can’t move the swim!  What the hell, it’s called the IRONMAN!”  And Ned and I are like, “Yeah, you can’t move it!” knowing they were gonna move it, and we were gonna live.  So it was actually very cool.  And we get in the water, and you swim down, back, down, back.  It was four lengths, and I was staying as shallow as possible, and there was a 59‑year-old in the race named John Huckabee, the only guy with sponsorship.  Like Rocky he had like, “Acme Meats” on the back of his jersey.  But he had run the Athens marathon like three times in one day, that was his claim to fame, but he couldn’t swim.  So as I’m coming back on my first lap, I almost run into the guy they called the Incredible Hulk, who was walking the swim, moving his arms, at the IRONMAN triathlon. Andrew:  So it was that shallow. Bob:  It was that shallow.  And he’s the only guy to get blisters on his feet during the swim portion of the IRONMAN Triathlon World Championship, which was pretty cool.  But anyway, I get out of the water and I’m so excited, there was a guy and his kid in the one shower that was there, so I had to wait until he was done with his kid, and they just happened to be at the park. Then my crew was there.  I had a long-sleeved shirt, which is great in Oahu, and a beige hiking shorts with a leather belt, and wore #3 – not because I was seeded, but because I sent my $25 in third – and a kickstand, the whole bit, and we didn’t know what bike shoes were.  So I got on the bike, and I’m tuning in my radio going through Waikiki. At 25 miles, there’s my crew on the side of the road, and there’s a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke.  There was a snow cone at mile 90.  Coming in at the end of the bike, there’s a bamboo mat and I hear this boom box, and my crew’s like, “How about a massage?”  I’m like, “Oh my god, my neck is so sore!” So I got a 45‑minute massage between the bike and the run, and then waddled off through Waikiki.  They had a rule back then, they had scales throughout the bike and the run, and if you lost five percent of your body weight you were pulled out of the race.  Where the science came from, I have no idea.  But I get off the bike and they weigh me.  Then I’m waddling through Waikiki eating Hawaiian sweet bread and drinking Gatorade, because we didn’t know anything about nutrition, and I get on the scale at mile five and I could hear the guy on the walkie talkie and he’s like, “Hey, can you give me that again?  The guy gained five pounds!  You can’t gain weight during this thing!” Andrew: How is that possible?! Bob: You can’t do it!  But the cool part was, we’re running up Diamond Head, and my crew in their little Fiat convertible’s right behind me.  We’re running up Diamond Head, and we’re gonna drop into Kapiolani Park and I’m thinking, “I’m finishing this thing in one day! This is unbelievable!  There’s gonna be bands, cheerleaders, I can’t wait to see the festivities at the finish!”  We drop into the park, and we come in and I see a light bulb above me and a chalk line across the road, and I hear this voice out to the right, “Hey you!” “Yeah?”  “You in the race?”  “Yeah.” “You’re done!”  Nobody.  No Mike Reilly, one guy doing one‑armed pushups in the park, that was it.  And it was like, “I did this humongous thing, and there’s nobody here.”  But it was one of those deals that I knew this event had changed me.  I knew, by finishing this thing, I had given myself a business card that told me I could do anything.  And I basically came back after being a teacher, and went to see this guy Mike Plant who had a magazine called Running News, and we chatted for a long time and talked about triathlon, and the next thing you know it’s running in Triathlon News, and I became the LA editor and drove up to LA every weekend to cover this silly sport.  So that was very cathartic for me, just doing that event, having no clue I could do it, finishing it, and just like so many people nowadays, it changed my life forever. Andrew:  I was about to say that, Bob, it is remarkable to me how the race has changed so much.  The event itself has changed so much, just the scale of the production is just beyond what you guys imagined doing back then.  But the sentiment for the athlete, and the accomplishment of that finish line, is still very much the same as what you experienced virtually by yourself with one person telling you, “You did it!  You’re done!  Good job!” It’s cool to hear that the sentiment is still the same, even though it’s changed so much.  You, Bob, as the race has changed, as the experience has changed, you are as close to the action and the storylines as someone could be, without being in the race themselves.  What excites you the most as you look at the state of triathlon today Bob: What I love about the sport right now is you’ve got IRONMAN, you’ve got IRONMAN 70.3, you have Super League, you have PTO, Challenge, CLASH, there’s so many opportunities.  I think so much of our sport revolves around the tip of the triangle, which is your pros.  Obviously I grew up with Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Molina, the Big Four.  I’ve got my Dave Scott and Mark Allen bobbleheads here from Iron War.  All that stuff, the sport revolves around and gets its lead from the tip of the iceberg, from the top pros.  Then what happens is people in the masses want to read about those guys or learn about those guys.  Then they get into the sport and find that, “Oh my god, this sport is really cool, I want to be involved.”  So with the amount of great television now, great online coverage, the great personalities of Kristian and Gustav and Lucy and Jan, it goes on and on.  That’s the part that excites me the most is, I think we’re going into a golden age of this sport where the pro athletes understand they have an obligation.  Their obligation is to share information and to share their love of the sport, which transfers to our age‑groupers.  One of the things I think that people sometimes forget, is that pros in other sports grew up to be pros.  Soccer players, football players, basketball players, they were identified when they were very young and were nurtured along the way.  Someone like Skye Moench, she was a CPA, and Gwen Jorgensen was working at Ernst & Young, before they were identified as a talent, or before they realized that they had a talent.  So our guys WERE age‑groupers.  Our pros were all age‑group athletes who evolved into professionals, so they relate to the age‑groupers, and age‑groupers relate to the pros.  And on race day – I can’t go play Wimbledon and hang out with Roger Federer, I can’t go and play golf with Tiger Woods at the Masters – but in Kona, I’m in the same bay with Jan Frodeno and Lionel Sanders and those guys. So we talk story afterwards.  I can talk to them about the wind, and “How was it in Hawi?  How was it in Kawaihae?  How did the aid stations work for you guys?”  I just think that there’s a connection that you don’t see in other sports, between our elite-of-the-elite and the person who’s doing their first-ever triathlon at a short-distance event.  They all feel that they are triathletes.  One of my favorite stories – I am a big proponent to grow the sport, we need the short-distance races.  Everybody’s become so IRON-centric, it’s “I want to do a 70.3, I want to do a full,” and then they’re gone.  They get their M‑dot tattoo and sometimes they leave.  Well, the big thing out here that I’ve been pushing is pool triathlons, because the swim scares the crap out of people, as you guys know as coaches. The swim is something that a lot of people have never really done.  These races start with a 5K run, then a 10 or 12 mile bike, then a 150‑yard swim in a pool.  So we have this great event out here called the Tinsel Triathlon every December in beautiful Hemet, California.  The nice thing about these pool races, you don’t need to be by the beach.  You can be out in the middle of nowhere.  It is in the middle of nowhere.  So Michellie Jones, IRONMAN World Champion, Olympic silver medalist – Andrew: And TriDot coach! Bob: Yeah, and TriDot coach, exactly! Michellie loves racing as much as I do, and she will come to all the little pool triathlons, all that stuff, we’ll go together.  So we’re at this Tinsel Triathlon, and there’s a guy there with his board shorts on, his belly hanging out, his bike with the high bars and the koozie. Andrew: Love it. Bob:  He’s doing his first-ever race, and he’s like, “Oh, this young nice girl is helping me put out my towel and how to set up!”  So it’s Michellie, right?  He has no idea.  So anyway, he finishes the race and the race announcer goes, “Hey, before we start up the awards, the IRONMAN TV show is going to be on later today on NBC, you guys should watch the IRONMAN TV show.”  And this guy with his bike with the high bars and his koozie and his board shorts, he’s just finished this thing and his wife says, “Honey, what’s the IRONMAN?”  He doesn’t hesitate for a second, he goes, “Same thing I just did, but a little longer.” So in his mind, he and Jan, he and Lionel, they’re like this, “We are all triathletes.  We all got wet, we all rode, we all ran.”  And that lightbulb went on for me that this sport changes lives, and it doesn’t matter the distance, it makes you feel great about yourself.  It makes you better at everything you do.  It makes you a better employee, employer, parent.  Just doing those three sports makes you better at everything you do, and there’s no difference between your age‑grouper and top‑level pro, we all experience the same thing. John: You were gracious enough to give a talk at our 2022 Ambassador Camp in St. George.  And Bob, I’ve heard some of the stories you’ve shared before, I’ve even heard you share some of those stories before, and still I was riveted. I was with you emotionally, word-for-word, as you talked about the history of triathlon and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.  Our ambassadors absolutely loved that as our opening session for camp.  It kicked us off, got us off on a great foot.  Bob, you’re clearly a very gifted storyteller.  When did you realize that was a strength of yours, and what sparked the idea to turn that storytelling ability into Babbittville Radio and Breakfast with Bob? Bob:  I think everything started with, it was Track Club News, and it became Running News, and Running and Triathlon News with Mike Plant.  I like creating different characters, so I created some characters for the magazine called the Running Wino, the Reverend Campagnolo, Minister of Triathlism – I was in a priest suit with holding a bible, you can’t get away with this stuff nowadays – then Old Fart of the Month.  And Mike brought me into his office one day, and he had this pile of letters.  Back then you couldn’t just send an email.  If you were upset or excited about something, you had to sit down, write it, get a stamp, put it in an envelope and mail it. He goes, “I’ve got all these letters. A lot of these are like, ‘I can’t believe this guy’s talking about somebody as an old fart, and Running Wino is ridiculous,’ but the other ones are, ‘This guy is hilarious.  You need to have him do more.’” Andrew: Bob, how old did you have to be to be considered for Old Fart of the Month? Bob:  Well nowadays we have 80 year-olds, 90 year-olds.  But back then, if you were over 50 you were considered an old fart.  There was a guy named Bill Bell, who passed away last year I think at 96 or 97. He didn’t get into the sport until he was 55, and then when he turned 65 he’s like, “Bob, every race I go to it’s 50 to 54, 55 to 59, 60+.  I can’t compete with these guys, I’m 65!”  So I call USA Triathlon and go, “Hey guys, we need to add another age division.”  And then he’d call me every few years.  Then it became 70+, then it became 80+, and now if you look at USA Triathlon, there’s 90 to 94, 95 to 99, and they’ve had participants.  Bill was in those events when he was in his 90s.  So the whole idea of age group is, like you said, old fart was a lot younger back then, now they’re a lot older. But anyways, Mike looked at me and he goes, “Listen, the cool thing is, the one thing you don’t want to be in life is vanilla. You want people to feel passion about what you do, what you write about.  So the fact that these people sat down to write a letter, and either hated what you wrote or loved what you wrote, that’s exactly what I want for this magazine. So don’t ever forget that.  Don’t be vanilla.”  That always stuck to me, because you could write a race coverage of a race, of covering the IRONMAN, and talk about Dave Scott and Mark Allen, and you can tell everything that happened in a race, or you can find one part of it that really is something you’re passionate about.  So one year at IRONMAN, my coverage was this guy, Dr. Corey Foulk, who decided to do IRONMAN on a cruiser bike.  He had a 55‑pound Schwinn Typhoon, and he qualified for Kona, and rolled this bike.  He had a Hawaiian shirt on, barefoot, bike with a kickstand on it painted fluorescent yellow.  He paid $25 for the bike, and another $50 in paint to paint this thing.  And that was the story.  He did this bike ride barefoot on a cruiser bike, because he wanted to show people you didn’t need a $10,000 bike to do the IRONMAN triathlon. Andrew: Which is still true to this day. Bob:  To this day it’s still true.  That to me was the race story.  I always like to look at what moves me.  You can’t tell everything.  Back in the day, when you’d look at a newspaper, they’d say, “This person did this, and this person did that,” and they list all the age groups. That’s vanilla.  That’s not passion.  Bring the passion, bring that to the game, and people will respond. Andrew:  I have a broadcasting degree from my university, and taking journalism classes, everything you’re talking about, our principles that are taught to this day in modern journalism is storytelling.  I remember, Bob, a couple years ago David McNamee, a male pro triathlete from Great Britain, he got third in Kona a few years back. I was watching the coverage, and on your show, Breakfast with Bob, David literally said that, deep in the hurt locker, late on the run, trying to hold off other males surging for that third place, a huge motivation for him to dig deep and stay in third was so that he could go on Breakfast with Bob the next day as one of the three podium finishers.  So your show is a highlight for the athletes, it’s a highlight for the fans, you’ve become just an integral part of the big race experience. What is it like to be part of IRONMAN events in that capacity? Bob:  I just love the athletes, and I love the stories. It’s funny, because my wife Heidi does all the social, and shares all the stuff.  We did 73 interviews from Kona, and we just got back and we did 37 from St. George.  We did 110 interviews.  I get energized from each and every one of them, because I learn something from every athlete we chat with.  It’s always fun.  Kristian brought it up during our Championship Edition.  He goes, “This is the eighth time we’ve chatted this year.”  I’m like, “I think you just set a record, I’ve never had somebody on the show eight times in one year, which means you were at Championship Edition three, four, five times.”  So that, to me, and the fact that I’ve wanted the athletes to feel loved and supported, I want their stories.  I want the age‑grouper at home to hear the story of Jan Frodeno saying, “The only reason I got into swimming was because my mother was worried I was gonna die surfing in South Africa.  So she wanted me to be drown-proof.”  Well, that led to everything else that happened in his life.  I think that’s such a cool story.  Or when we’re sitting with Skye Moench at Zions Bank last May before the IRONMAN, she goes, “You know, I worked at Zions Bank.  I was a teller at Zions Bank.  Not this one, but at Zions.”  Then we got into the fact that when she graduated high school her parents told her, “We can’t afford college for you, so whatever you do, you’re going to have to work your way through college.”  She worked cleaning houses, she worked at Zion’s Bank, and she ended up graduating with a CPA with no debt.  To me that shows, when people talk about how somebody is going to work hard and be dedicated, Skye Moench is going to work hard and be dedicated, because that’s really what her makeup is.  She’s never going to give up.  She understands that, “Yeah, I can always go back to being an accountant, but while I’m an athlete I’m gonna give 1,000% and be the best athlete I can.” John:  So that said, I’m guessing you are not going to “pick your favorite child” and tell us who your favorite pros are, but maybe you’ll give us some insights here.  When it’s race week, you’ve got your schedule coming up, you’re doing these 110 interviews inside of just a couple weeks, who are your favorite athletes to interview, and who gets you most excited when you see them walk onto the set? Bob:  I love to interview Lionel [Sanders], because I like athletes that are engaged, and Lionel’s always engaged.  If he’s agreed to come on, he’s not just there to go through the motions.  We’re going to get into something that I had no idea we were going to get into.  I love them all, but what’s great about Lionel or a Sebbie [Kienle], all of a sudden you’re talking to Sebbie about a chance you can go too hard and get injured leading into a race, and he goes, “Hey, there’s a fine line between being fit and F’ed.” That became just such an epic moment.  You never know when something’s going to happen.  When we were first interviewing Lucy, the first time in Kona, I said, “So as a swimmer, as somebody who’s trying to make the 10K national team back in 2012 and make your 1500, what was your typical mileage a week?”  And she goes, “Oh, 100,000 meters.”  I basically almost fell over.  “Wait, what?!”  Sometimes you get these answers and you’re just like, “Oh my god!”  It makes you realize what they went through, and what our sport means.  Think about Lucy all those years, swimming 100,000 a week, not really making any money, and then she jumps into this silly sport on a lark and becomes sponsored by Red Bull and all these major brands.  You know she was working just as hard before, but now she’s reaping the benefits, and appreciates all of it.  And going back to Dave Scott, Dave Scott wanted to be a top swimmer and a top water polo player.  He didn’t have the genetics.  He wasn’t Michael Phelps, he didn’t have that.  But what he did have was the work ethic, where he would work harder than anybody else. Well, that transferred to triathlon.  All of a sudden he got into this new sport and became the very best, because the work ethic he had in one sport transferred to the brand-new sport that was just growing. Andrew:  So my impression, Bob, and you can tell me if this is right or wrong, but just from following you on social media, from hearing stories about you, it seems like when you’re not at the races or recording content for Babbittville Radio, you are hard at work for Challenged Athletes Foundation.  You are very hands-on helping fundraise, personally working with some athletes. All the other things you do are fun for sure – you’re passionate about the pros, you’re passionate about the age‑groupers – but empowering challenged athletes to participate in sport is clearly your top passion.  What is the origin story for Challenged Athletes Foundation? Bob: You know, for us, actually everything goes back to IRONMAN, believe it or not.  We had a young man named Jim MacLaren, who was a football player at Yale back in 1985, he was a 300‑pound offensive lineman.  He was taking summer acting classes in New York City, and he was on his motorcycle going to class one day when he got hit by a bus, thrown 90 feet in the air.  Dead on arrival, lost his lower left leg, and came back from that to run a 3:16 marathon on a walking leg.  I met him in Kona at the IRONMAN when he came over there.  He went 10:42, top 20% in the race, with a walking leg.  At that point, I had covered through Competitor Magazine, I found that a number of the wheelchair athletes, the stories you would hear from them – one in particular was a man named Jim Knaub.  He was an Olympic-trials pole vaulter and was going to work out one day and he was hit by a car on his motorcycle.  We call them “donor-cycles”, motorcycles are really something I’m not very happy about.  So Jimmy became paralyzed, and he was one of those guys who changed the game.  He would go to rehab centers, and they would be in the midst of telling the people in rehab, “You need to get a van with a lift, get rid of your regular car.” Then Jimmy would roll in in his ’63 Rambler convertible, reach behind him, grab his wheelchair, fling it out, jump into it, roll in and say, “They told you what you can’t do, I’m here to show you what you CAN do.”  The first time he taught me about adaptive sport, because I’m interviewing him at his house for a cover feature of Competitor Magazine, and I see this nickel on the floor.  I’m like, “Oh my god, poor guy,” so I reached out to pick up the nickel.  The nickel is glued to the floor.  And there’s Jim Knaub drinking a beer, looking at me, and goes, “Babbitt, you thought the poor cripple couldn’t pick up a nickel off the floor?  That’s your first lesson.”  I’m like, “Okay, thank you for that.”  Don’t ever underestimate anybody.  That became a mantra, and we’re really proudest of the fact that we were the first magazine to have a wheelchair athlete on the cover.  We did that with Craig Blanchette, we did that with Jim Knaub. My team wasn’t very excited about that, because we’re a free magazine, where people pick it up.  Are they going to pick up a magazine with a guy in a wheelchair on the cover?  They did. So anyways, Jim MacLaren finishes the IRONMAN at 10:42, he’s traveling the world, everybody knows who he is, he’s sponsored by Budweiser.  Eight years later he’s racing in Orange County California, a van goes through a closed intersection, hits the back of his bike, propels him head-first into a pole. The guy’s already an amputee, then becomes a quadriplegic.  At that point, because of my background with dealing with wheelchair athletes and my relationship with Jeffery Essakow who worked at the Tinley Company, and Rick Kozlowski who was a local race director, we decided we’d put on a little triathlon to raise money for Jimmy. Because Jim Knaub and so many others had told me the worst part about becoming paralyzed was, all of a sudden you’re 30 years old and you’ve got mom and dad back in your life.  No sense of self or independence.  Our goal was we were going to raise $25,000 to buy Jimmy a van with hand controls to give him that independence.  That’s what we did.  We raised $49,000, a little triathlon, the job was done.  Then three amputee women come up to us at that event who were on a relay team, and they were like, “Listen, Jimmy got us into endurance sports, and we love it.  But did you know that when you get injured, your health insurance covers an everyday wheelchair or a walking leg.  Nothing to do with sport is covered because they consider sport a luxury item.”  That’s where I’m like, “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.”  All the people in your TriDot community understand how important fitness is, how important sport is.  People underestimate the power of sport.  So that’s when we got our 501c3 and decided if someone needed a piece of equipment, training, or travel to sustain and gain life through sport, we’d be there.  And it’s been 29 years.  Next year will be our 30th anniversary. We’ve raised $150 million, we’ve sent out over 40,000 grants to athletes in 73 countries, all 50 states, and more importantly, in 104 different sports.  Everything from beat baseball to sled hockey to wheelchair basketball.  You name it, we provided grants for it. Andrew:  So you mentioned Bob, the numbers since 1994: 40,000 grants, over $150 million so far.  What’s cool is it’s not just endurance sports.  Like you said, 104 different sports now have been supported by Challenged Athletes Foundation.  To me, when I think about those athletes, just like every athlete crossing the IRONMAN finish line means something to Mike Reilly, every athlete supported by Challenged Athletes Foundation means something to you.  So from those 40,000 grants, those millions of athletes, what are a few of the stories that mean the most to you that you can share with us today? Bob:  You know, one of the stories that I love to tell is – because people say, “God, it’s great what you’ve done with your charity, but I’m just one person.  How do I help change somebody’s life?  How do I change the world?”  And I’d say, “Well, let me tell you the story about this kid from Ghana named Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born with a deformed leg.”  So he had no tibia in one leg.  He had a fibula that stuck out the back of his knee with a foot on it.  And in Ghana, you’re considered a second-class citizen if you have a child with a disability.  It’s a curse on the family.  So his dad deserted the family when he was born.  Mom was told to abandon Emmanuel in the jungle, because that’s what parents did with their disabled children.  If you saw the people disabled in Ghana, they’re begging on the side of the road.  That was their lot in life.  But his mom refused.  She would carry Emmanuel to school every day.  When Emmanuel was 13, mom became ill.  Emmanuel started shining shoes for a couple dollars a day, left school to support the family.  When he turned 18, his mom passed away, and he decided to do something to honor her life. He wanted to ride a bicycle across Ghana.  One problem, he didn’t own a bicycle.  So through a missionary, we received a typewritten grant request asking for a bicycle. And we’re looking at this grant request, and we’re like, “Where the hell’s Ghana?  Is it by Dallas, is it by Cleveland, where is this place?”  So at that point, we’re looking at the application, and his birthdate was May 5, which is my birthday.  So we’re like, “Okay, we’ll send the kid a bike, we’ll never hear from him.”  He gets the bike, he rides 600 kilometers across Ghana on one leg on a mountain bike.  People are running after him like he’s Forrest Gump, because nobody with a disability in Ghana had ever done anything like this before.  So we’re seeing all this media, and we’re like, “Okay, let’s bring him to San Diego for the event we started for Jim MacLaren.”  We bring him to San Diego, he’s never been on a plane before, he has $3.00 in his pocket, he’s never been out of Ghana, and he does the 56-mile bike ride here on one leg on a mountain bike, it takes him seven hours.  I’m like, “So Emmanuel, what’d you think of the bike ride?”  He goes, “Bob, I did not know San Diego was so hilly.”  It was like, “Yeah, it’s pretty damn hilly.”  So he finishes the bike ride, and our title sponsor was Loma Linda Hospital, and we took Emmanuel there to see if he is a candidate for prosthetic.  They said he was, so we did a deal where we’d take care of the cost of the leg, cost of transportation, and they would take care of the home stay and the operation. So we fly Emmanuel back to Ghana, and this is where IRONMAN comes back in.  I started thinking, “If we don’t capture this, it’s a huge miss.”  I had worked with a woman named Lisa Lax, who produced all of the IRONMAN TV shows for NBC, she also produced the Olympics for NBC.  And her twin sister, Nancy, produced the Tour de France for CBS.  So the two of them – Andrew:  So a little experience capturing content. Bob:  – sixteen Emmy awards between the two of them, they produced the Kennedy Honors.  The stuff they do now is unbelievable, but back then they were just getting going.  And I said, “I would love to capture Emmanuel on this journey, and be there when he has the operation, and be there when he does our bike ride next year with two legs rather than one.”  And Lisa’s like, “Bob, that sounds great.  Love to do it.  Is he coming what, five months, six months?”  I said, “No no, five days.”  She goes, “Oh crap!”  They put a crew at their own expense on a plane to Ghana, they start shooting him, and they’re blown away.  They come to the hospital for the operation, he gets his new leg, and six weeks later does a triathlon.  It was a three-mile run, 12‑mile bike ride, 150 yard swim in a pool with Rudy from CAF, who’s right behind me.  Then we sent him back to Ghana, and he’s got on his medal from doing the triathlon. Gets off the plane with jeans on. First time he’d ever worn jeans, because before he had this thing sticking out the back of his knee.  Got jeans on for the first time, he’s got a $15,000 leg in a country with a per capita income of $400, and they had a ticker-tape parade through his hometown of Koforidua for this conquering hero who’s come back from doing this triathlon with his brand-new leg.  So we bring him back to San Diego to do our bike ride the following year, he does it with two legs rather than one, in four hours rather than seven, and receives our Most Inspirational Athlete Award from Robin Williams.  Then we sent him up to Nike to receive the Casey Martin Award, which is for people who are inspirational to the disabled, and which comes with a $25,000 grant.  And we match that, so now Emmanuel’s our ambassador to Ghana with $50,000.  Then Lisa and Nancy set it up for him to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, to talk about the rights of the disabled in Ghana.  Then they take the film and send a rough cut to Oprah Winfrey, who agrees to narrate the film. Andrew:  It just escalates!  It keeps escalating! Bob: When you do the right thing, good stuff happens.  I’ve always been a firm believer in that.  If you told me, “Hey, we just met this kid Emmanuel, do a five-year plan,” none of this would have been in the five-year plan.  I’ve always believed that in business as well.  Sometimes it’s great to have a plan, but sometimes it’s better to be nimble and react to opportunities.  So then Lisa and Nancy pitch ESPN on Jim MacLaren and Emmanuel receiving the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY awards, and they love the idea. So we’re sitting in the Nokia theater in LA for the ESPY awards, and here comes Matthew Perry from Friends who’s hosting the show.  He introduces a 13½‑minute feature on Jim and Emmanuel and on CAF, narrated by Kieffer Sutherland from at the time the hottest show out there, called 24. Andrew: Yup, I remember it. Bob: Then when the piece ends – which was spectacular, Lisa and Nancy produced the piece – here’s Oprah and Emmanuel and Jim hugging on stage, and our little charity – we’d been out for about ten years, we’re a little baby charity.  You got LeBron James and all these people in the audience crying, and Bill Walton, and it was amazing.  So one person watching that night was President George W. Bush in the White House, and he wanted to know if he could meet Emmanuel.  The following week we’re launching the film at the National Geographic Theater in DC, and we get a call that President Bush would like to meet Emmanuel.  So now we’re in the waiting room at the West Wing, and we’re watching up on TV and there’s the bombings in the subways in London were happening right then.  And we’re like, “Oh, there’s no way the President’s coming.  This is a major deal.  He’s not going to take time.”  So they usher us into the Oval Office as Rumsfeld and Cheney are sprinting out of the Oval Office.  You’ve got the Secretary of Defense and the Vice President are sprinting out.  We walk into the Oval Office, and it’s myself and President Bush and Emmanuel, and my partner from Competitor Magazine.  We’re in a little semicircle with the most powerful guy on the planet and he’s like, “Emmanuel, what I appreciate is you were never looking for government help.  You were looking to make a difference on your own for the disabled. So when you ride your mountain bike, do you ride SPDs, do you ride flat pedals, or do you ride cages?” Andrew: Look at him with the bike knowledge! Bob:  He said, “I ride with my boys out at Quantico with the Secret Service, and we ride hard.  How do you ride your bike?”  So Emmanuel’s wearing his Ghana garb, like a full gown, and he reaches down to take his leg off to show the President how his leg works, and it makes an audible click, which the Secret Service wasn’t very happy about, and they all start moving towards us. The next thing you see is President Bush with this leg in his hand.  The next day we get an email from the guy who set up this visit and he goes, “Hey guys, thank you so much for coming.  The President loved meeting Emmanuel.  FYI, we keep a list of the firsts that happen in the Oval Office.  The first person to take their leg off in the Oval Office was Emmanuel Ofosu from Ghana.” But the cool part was, at this point the president of Ghana had done nothing to help Emmanuel with his quest to get a disability act passed in his country.  So now, the papers on Ghana have a front-page photo of Emmanuel with the most powerful guy in the planet.  So when Emmanuel gets off the plane in Ghana, the president of Ghana’s there to meet him, and commits to getting his disability act passed in parliament, and six months later it gets passed.  Next thing that happens is, in 2010, myself and some of our other CAF athletes are riding with President Bush down in what’s called the Warrior 100.  He creates a mountain bike event he puts on every year to take care of the men and women who lost limbs or were paralyzed in combat.  So we’re with President Bush, and the first night we do the shaking-hands photo with President Bush.  So I’m like, “President Bush, you probably don’t remember, but a few years ago I met you in the Oval Office with a young man from Ghana.”  He goes, “Emmanuel?  I never did find out, does he ride flat pedals?  Does he ride cages?  Does he ride SPDs?  How does he ride his bike?”  I was like, “President Bush, you probably don’t realize this, but a disability act was passed in parliament, and a big reason for that was you.”  So when people talk about, “How do you make a difference?” You start by lighting a match, and you never know how big that bonfire’s going to get.  In this particular case, Emmanuel now travels the world, is a motivational speaker.  He named his first little girl Linda after Loma Linda Hospital, his second little girl Comfort after his mother.  He changed his nation because he wasn’t looking for personal help, he was looking to change the plight of the disabled in his country.  That’s a big part of what we try to do at CAF.  When I see, like the photo behind me of Bill Walton and Scout Bassett with their bicycles – Scout Bassett now is a Nike ambassador, and she’s with Bridgestone, and she’s training for the Paralympics, she’s down at the IMG academy down in Florida, and she’s a motivational speaker. Watching our athletes become more than athletes, to make a living and to be, rather than thought of as lesser-than, but to be thought of as greater-than, that’s a testament to what CAF has brought to the table. John:  So Bob, for our athletes listening who love what Challenged Athletes Foundation is doing, what are the best ways to get involved and support everything that’s going on, what you guys are doing for these athletes? Bob: There’s a number of ways.  One is go to challengedathletes.org and just make a donation, it’s always appreciated.  We have volunteer opportunities.  Next year we’re rolling into our 30th anniversary, so we’re going to have our big what we call the “Best Day in Tri” which will be in October.  We do a bike ride, our Million Dollar Challenge bike ride from San Francisco to San Diego, 640 miles, seven days.  That leads into the triathlon.  People ante up $12,500.  We had a 120 riders who raised $1.8 million for the ride, and had 27 challenged athletes as part of this.  The cool part was, you have a police escort out of San Francisco.  They meet you for lunch, usually along the ocean during each day.  When you’re done with the ride, your masseuse is waiting for you.  Your mechanic is there to tune up your bike, and your bags are in your five-star hotel room.  Then every evening there’s a program which showcases one of our challenged athletes.  So people finish this ride and they are changed forever.  It is something.  You’re a professional athlete for the week.  Usually people who live out here in SoCal, we do like 16 weeks of training leading into the event, so everybody is way ready for a really tough 640 mile bike ride, and that leads into the triathlon.  So this last week we raised $1.8 million for the bike ride, another $1.3 or so during the triathlon, the Best Day in Tri, so it was about a $3.1 million week, which was phenomenal. Andrew: And a great opportunity to participate if you’re an athlete looking to support. Bob: Absolutely, and bringing the family out. One year Chris McCormick came out to do the triathlon and loved it, said, “I need to bring my girls to see this.”  So the following year he did the bike ride, and his girls and his wife were in San Diego for when the bike ride was coming in.  It comes in on Friday, and we have all our kids out there to put the medals on the athletes.  We have little hurdles set up, we’ll have like 150 challenged athletes out there.So all the kids are playing, and Macca’s wife is saying to her daughters, “Girls, why don’t you go play with the other kids?”  And one of her kids goes, “Mommy, we can’t play with them, we don’t have a magic leg like they do.”  It was like, all of a sudden, this thing that people used to hide, this prosthetic leg – Andrew: Yeah!  It’s a super power! Bob:  – it became a magic leg, because it’s got super power.  The kids will put Scooby Doo on their leg, they’ll have Black Panther on their leg. It’s amazing, because it used to be people would look down on themselves, or other people would look down on them for having a prosthetic or be in a wheelchair.  How many commercials do you see now where you don’t see somebody with a prosthetic or see somebody in a wheelchair?  Diversity, inclusion, all of that has become really, really important, and I think people, the media, companies are realizing that if there’s 20 people in the room, the one person with the prosthetic leg is going to draw some attention, so that’s not a bad person to put in your TV commercial. Cool down theme: Great set everyone! Let’s cool down. Vanessa Ronksley:  Hello everyone!  It’s cooldown time!  I’m Vanessa, your Average Triathlete with Elite-Level Enthusiasm!  Today I’m introducing to you a true gem of a human. Her name is Julie, and she describes herself as a professional data nerd.  She loves romance novels, gaming, crochet, and roller derby, and she just recently completed her first 70.3, so a huge congratulations for that!  Welcome to the cooldown, Julie! Julie:  Hey, thanks so much for having me!  Very excited to be here! Vanessa:  So Julie, I am excited to hear about your race, how did it go? Julie:  Yeah! I didn’t die!  And I didn’t give up!  And as a back-of-the-packer, I finished five minutes before the cutoff. It was two laps on the run, and the whole first lap I thought, “I’m just gonna DNF.  I’m gonna give up, I’m gonna go to the transition area.”  But I stuck with it, and I finished, and I had no idea I could do something so hard. Vanessa:  I love that so much.  I love that you think about doing hard things and having a goal, and you seriously accomplished it.  So congratulations, that’s really amazing.  So previous to this 70.3, how long have you been doing triathlons, and what got you into the sport in the first place?  I did notice that you have done a couple of tri relays with your dad, so who convinced who to do that? Julie:  Yeah! So my dad is kind of to blame for all of this actually.  About ten years ago I had bariatric surgery, and I needed to start getting active.  So my dad has been a lifelong cyclist, encouraged me to get a bike and start riding, and I got going on that.  Then a few years later I found a local non‑competitive women’s-only triathlon and I thought, “I like to swim, I like to bike, I hate to run.  Two out of three ain’t bad.”  So I ended up walking the entire 5K, but I finished and thought, “Okay, this is cool!”I ended up moving on to roller derby that I’m involved in, but the pandemic completely shut down roller derby.Covid and full-contact sports just do not mix, so I needed to do something that I could do by myself.  And I could hop on my trainer, I could run around my neighborhood, and when swimming at the gym opened back up, I could do that.  So I got more serious about that.  I decided to actually learn how to run.  I did the None-to-Run program, and I still do the Galloway-style walk/run intervals – Vanessa:  Well done! Julie:  – and just made that my thing.  And as I was training and decided I was going to do the half, I needed some smaller events to motivate myself.  So I talked my dad into doing a relay with me.  I swim, he bikes, I run, and it gave him a training goal.  He actually lives 15 minutes from me, so we’ll go out on training rides together, and we carbo load together the night before the race. My mom comes along and takes pictures, and it’s just a great way to keep myself motivated during the training cycle. Vanessa:  That is so cool!  I love that so much that he convinced you to get on your bike, and that’s turned into something that you’re extremely passionate about.  That is really, really – Julie:  Yeah, it’s been great! Vanessa:  Good job, well done!  I love that!I know that you came to TriDot through the Preseason Project, so how did you discover that? Julie:  Yeah, I saw the ads for the Preseason Project on Facebook, because I’m involved in a couple triathlon discussion groups there, and I really liked the idea of training with the structure and making it responsive to my own data.  Because the first year of the pandemic, I just kind of winged it.  I would run around in circles, I would hop on my bike, and not really have any sort of direction.  I’m not a competitive person, but I like to compete with myself, and track my own times and see how I’m getting better.  So it really resonated with me that I would be able to base it all on my own skills and my own abilities, no matter how slow those might be, and ultimately improve my own times to be able to do the things I wanted to do. Vanessa:  That’s so great!  Good for you!I love that you discovered it that way.And you’re a data person anyway, so I’m sure this is right up your alley. Julie:  Oh it’s amazing.  I have spreadsheets, my friend.  I have spreadsheets on top of spreadsheets. Vanessa:  That is so awesome!  I can only imagine, are they color-coded? Julie:  Oh heck yes! Vanessa:  Perfect!So you love TriDot so much, and now you’re officially a TriDot Ambassador, welcome to the club!  What made you want to represent TriDot? Julie:  Yeah!I think seeing that TriDot could help me, a proud member of Team Turtle, do really hard things, was what made me want to share that with other people who maybe don’t think they can do triathlon, who think they’re too slow to get into it, maybe people with other challenges in getting into triathlon.  For example, I have bipolar and OCD, and I found that the way TriDot gives me my workouts, it gives me a whole week, and I can schedule those based on – if I’m having a bad brain day, then maybe I can talk myself into doing an easy ride on the trainer, watching a movie, and rearrange things as my brain needs it.  I’m also a working mom, so being able to schedule things around when I can get away from work and run on my lunch break, or when my kid wants to go play at the playground at the gym while I go swimming has been just tremendously helpful.  I wanted to be able to encourage people, if you think there’s reasons you can’t do it, there’s ways around it, and TriDot can absolutely help with that.  Having the community also has been just a tremendous help, being able to reach out when other people are struggling, or when I’m having some anxiety about racing, and just sharing unicorn gifs when somebody has a great race or just, “Hey, I’ve been there too, you’re not alone.”Having that emotional support crew, because I’m not a part of a local triathlon group, so having the online community has been tremendously successful.  I want to keep giving back to that, and helping other people find that as well. Vanessa:  It totally sounds like you’re the type of ambassador that I hope that I am as well.You just love everything about TriDot, and you are there to support and encourage, and also to draw from the encouragement and support from others when needed. Julie:  Yeah, doing the half-IRONMAN was really stressful for me, because I was concerned all year long that I wasn’t going to make the cutoff, and that was a huge source of stress.  After the Preseason Project I did my first half-marathon, I did my first Olympic, and more than once there were times when I would post to the TriDot Facebook group like, “Oh my god, I can’t do this, somebody talk me down.  I want to quit, oh my god!”  And there were tons of people chiming in like, “No isn’t, you’ve got this!”  Or in a couple cases, “Here’s a book that really helped me,” or “Have you listened to this episode of the podcast?”  Somebody pointed me towards the back-of-the-pack podcast episode, which oh my gosh, that’s my people!  It was just a tremendous resource. Vanessa:  Do you have any goals for next season, or any dream races that you would like to participate in? Julie:  Yeah, so my next big goal after doing the half is to finish a marathon, which is so weird to think of myself as the kid picked last in gym class who couldn’t run for five minutes without dying.  So I’m doing that in February, I’m doing the Mesa Marathon, which is prime running weather here in Arizona. It’s gonna be amazingly beautiful. Vanessa:  Perfect. Julie:  Then after I do that, my big dream after that is I want to do the rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon, which is about 25 miles.  You go all the way down to the bottom, you spend the night, you hike all the way back up.  I figure if I can do a half-IRONMAN, I can do darn near anything, so I can totally hike the Grand Canyon. Vanessa:  Of course! Julie:  I guess they’re doing some renovations on the lodge at the bottom of the canyon right now so it’s on pause, but I’ve got some time to train, I can do that. Vanessa:  You can totally do that!  I can’t wait to follow along on your journey!  That’s really amazing! Julie:  Yeah, it could be fun! Vanessa:  Yeah, good for you!  Now, what would you say to a friend who wants to do their first triathlon, but they’re a little too scared to pull the trigger and register for it. Julie:  I would say triathlon is for everybody.  A lot of people have this vision of this skinny little elite athlete on a $20,000 time-trial bike, when in actuality you can show up to a local race with a mountain bike or a Walmart bike, and whatever swimsuit you have sitting around.It doesn’t matter how fast you are, what your body shape is, what your gear looks like, we’re here to support you, and anybody who puts their mind to it can get out there and prove to yourself that you can do hard things, and have a lot of fun doing it! Vanessa:  I 100% agree.I actually did my first triathlon on a fat bike, like the tires were so wide and everybody was passing me on the bike course.  And yeah, you’re so right, triathlon is for everybody.  I’m so happy that we were able to connect and chat about this, because that’s ultimately why I wanted to be a TriDot ambassador as well, is to show that everyone has the ability to do hard things.  I love your mindset, thank you so much for sharing your story, and I look forward to following you forward! Julie:  Thanks a bunch! Andrew:  Well that’s it for today, folks!  I want to thank the legendary Bob Babbitt, and the also-legendary John Mayfield for joining us for today’s conversation.  To experience UCAN’s LIVSTEADY products for yourself, head to their website, ucan.co, use the code TriDot to save 20% on your entire order.  Head to medi-dyne.com to check out the ProStretch Addaday recovery tool lineup.  Use promo code TRIDOT for 20% your order.  Thanks so much for listening!  We’ll have a new show coming your way soon.  Until then, happy training! Outro: Thanks for joining us. Make sure to subscribe and share the TriDot podcast with your triathlon crew. For more great tri content and community, connect with us on Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Ready to optimize your training? Head to TriDot.com and start your free trial today! TriDot – the obvious and automatic choice for triathlon training.
Co-Hosts: John Mayfield
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