At Tri360, we celebrate every athlete’s journey and achievement, whether they have just finished their first race or qualified for Kona, whether they are young or old, slow or a mid-packer. We all bring unique perspectives and unique experiences and all of us have great stories to tell.
This special section of the website serves as a collection of all of your stories, highlighting a different local athlete every month. Because it is by recording your stories that the story of Tri360 is written.
After watching her friend complete a triathlon last year, Ashley Curtis decided it would be her next athletic challenge. Like many of us, she was bit by the bug. She wasn’t concerned about the sport’s level of difficulty, but was more intimidated by what seemed to be an expensive sport. (For the record, it doesn’t have to be, but we hear this a lot.) Despite her best efforts to assemble a bike, she found she needed extra help with that. That’s where we came in.
Upon the recommendation of a friend, Ashley brought her bike into our store. We took her bike and converted it to a safe, well-oiled machine. Of that work, Ashley notes, we “… did a wonderful job while also keeping my financial needs in mind.”
Next up for Ashley is the Colonial Beach International Triathlon in July, then Timberman 70.3 in August. “My goal in continuing triathlons is absolutely to make myself stronger,” she says. “Not just physically, but mentally as well. It's been so awesome waking up every day feeling a little bit stronger and faster. I hope to continue doing triathlons well into my 60s.”
With dedication and determination like that, we’re sure she’ll have great success. Her nominator, Ben, noted to us that he fully expects to see her qualify for AG Nationals soon. Now, Ashley in her own words:
How did you get into triathlon? It was a combination of factors. I moved down to the D.C. metro area from Connecticut about a year ago. I was immediately enamored by all the awesome bike and running trails in NOVA and D.C. I've been an athlete my whole life, but living so close to the W&OD kind of renewed my love for running and biking. Then one day, my friend mentioned that he had signed up for an Ironman 70.3 (Timberman). I knew relatively little about triathlons at that point; just the basics. I decided to head up to New Hampshire to watch and support him as he completed this totally insane race. That's really all I kept thinking as I watched. This sport is insane. It's the middle of the summer and these athletes are out here breaking down their bodies for the sake of sport. And I kind of got hooked at that point. I've been a competitive person my whole life and being out of college kind of brought my athletic competing to a stand-still. I wanted back in the game, you know? I wanted that feeling back. And is there anything really more competitive than triathlons? You compete for yourself, against yourself. Isn't that really what the sport is about? Yeah, winning your age group would be nice, but I think it's about going out there and pushing yourself harder than you ever have before. Every time I step out to train, my only goal is PRs, PRs, PR.
Why do you do it?I do it for the personal pride. Training hard six days a week changes you. You become harder in a way; tougher, more focused. Every day you hold your head a little higher and stand with your back a little straighter. Because when you're sitting at work at 9 in the morning slogging through whatever task is in front of you, you have that little light at the end of the tunnel that comes around 6 pm when you lace up your sneakers or strap on your helmet or take that first dive into the pool. Triathlons ignite this fire inside of you, and regardless of whether or not you're actively training or competing, that flame never entirely goes out. You do it because it's crazy! Because it makes you mentally and physically stronger. Because at any given moment during training you hold the power to be the best you've ever been.
What is your favorite race? Kona. Is that a cop-out answer? If so, I'm sorry, but it's true. Kona is the triathlon Mecca. Don't we all want to be there one day?
What is the one triathlon related item you couldn't live without?My Nike tri-shorts. Honestly, they are the most handy and versatile item in my tri repetoire. Couldn't do it without them.
Do you have a mantra that helps you through a tough training session or race?There is one word that I find myself repeating over and over in my head during a particularly tough session -- "push". It's something my favorite high school coach used to scream at me all the time: "PUSH, CURTIS! PUSH!" When I hear that word it just makes me dig a little deeper. Even when I'm running on empty, that little mental pep talk gives me my second wind.
Your fave – swim, bike or run? You know, it changes every week. But right now I am loving every minute in the pool. I've never been a strong swimmer and each session that I feel myself get a little bit faster and a little bit less tired, I fall in love with it even more.
What inspires you about the sport? The thing I love about triathlons is the unity of it. The community. When you compete in a triathlon, you are competing on the same course, at the same time as the professional athletes. What other sport can you do that in?? I see these videos from Kona where you've got big names like Carfrae and McCormack racing right alongside an 85 year old woman who's survived cancer and whose dream is to complete a full Ironman. How awesome is that? It makes me want to cry. These people go out and beat themselves up every day so they can do this totally insane thing that only a tiny portion of the population has ever done. It's the most inspiring thing you can witness.
What was the best piece of advice you received when first starting out the sport? "Listen to your body." I've always been lackadaisical about hydration and nutrition thinking it was all overrated and unnecessary. Boy, was I wrong. The other day I went out on the bike on an empty stomach, thinking I would be fine. I bonked so hard around mile 25, I practically fell off my bike. I realize now more than ever that you need to feed your body properly if you want it to perform for you. And if you feel an injury or anything coming on, don't push yourself too much. Taking that day off is going to be way less detrimental than a pulled muscle due to overexertion.
The worst? That dairy products makes a good pre-workout meal. Don't do it. It won't end well.
If you could do anything in triathlon, what would it be? I would really love to get top 5 in my age group at a 70.3 eventually. Considering Timberman in August will be my first half Ironman, I'm not getting my hopes up, but it's a goal that I always keep in mind.
What’s on your mind when you’re racing?Finishing. Ha!
Where is your favorite place to train in this area? I usually knock my rides and runs out on the W&OD. I hop on in Arlington and ride it out all the way into Sterling. Gorgeous ride, just enough hills to keep you on your toes. I've recently been metro-ing into the city to run around the monuments and Potomac. I couldn't ask for a more scenic route.
You won the Ironman World Championships, what did you eat?I know it's probably the worst thing you could eat but I would probably knock out a whole cheese pizza by myself. Follow that up with a gallon of Gatorade.
Tell us one silly or ridiculous thing that caused you to lose time in a race? This one race I decided to try out a pair of running shoes I hadn't used much. I knew the back of the shoe was stiff but I refused to wear crew socks because I thought I would look like a dork. Well sure enough, by mile 4 I had two big beautiful blisters blossoming on my Achilles. It's safe to say the pain cost me a couple minutes. Now I know -- you can't worry about looking cool in this sport.
If you would like to be featured or you would like to nominate another athlete to be featured as a future athlete of the month, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or nominate someone here.