Friday, August 15, 2008

Mom post

Sally Long: Age 55
. I'm the bike leg of Team Long in the Greenville Sprint Triathlon.
. Weighing in at 100 lbs and standing almost 5'2"! I come in a small package, but have lots of competitiveness and passion.
. I grew up in Greenville, SC and attended Greenville High School before going to Converse College in Spartanburg.
. Following graduation I joined the global team at Caterpillar - most recognizable as the maker of the large, yellow earth-moving machines.
. Caterpillar is a wonderful company. It's where I met Doug and has been our employer and "family" for over 32 years. It allowed us to travel and experience people and cultures around the world.
. While living overseas in the Philippines in 1980 Doug and I had our first daughter, local triathlete, Ashley.
. Five years later living in Peoria, Illinois we had our second daughter, new Spartanburg teacher, Sarah.
. In January I retired from my job as Public Relations Manager after 32 years with Caterpillar.


. Growing up I loved playing all sports. My favorite memories are of playing basketball on the team with my sister, Libby. Our team never made if very far in the tournaments, but for four years straight we won the Best Team Attitude award. This is an award I hope to keeping winning each year I compete.

. Right after starting my career at Cat I joined the large number of adults who took up running. For years I ran daily distances of 3-5 miles. Even when living overseas I continued this trend. After moving back to the states in 1981 I started to compete in 10K races. I never remember winning or even placing in any of these races, but I absolutely loved the challenge it provided me to know my own pace and to try and improve on my own times over the season. This is how I exercised for the 20 years when I was busy working and more importantly being a wife and mother.

. Jump forward to 2000 and my introduction to triathlon. While most people know Ashley as a triathlete, it was Sarah who got me started in the sport. Sarah, her high school swim coach (Jennifer Heyer), and another friend urged me to join them in a local triathlon. This was my first tri. After the first race I knew this was something I wanted to do again. It brought back the excitement and challenge of those earlier 10K races. The four of us had so much fun we did two more triathlons that season. The last being the Chicago triathlon - the largest tri - in the world. I fell in love. Competing, racing, pushing and doing it in three disciplines.

. Swimming is the discipline I have to work the hardest on. While Doug, Ashley and Sarah grew up swimming, I grew up having fun in the water, but never learning to swim with form. Running has been the place I can find comfort and gain a few seconds over competitors. It wasn't until starting triathlon that I took up cycling. Today cycling is my favorite sport. I love the feel of my legs powering up the hills, the wind on my skin and being a part of nature as I pass along the roads.

. Triathlon has brought me great self confidence and self discipline.

. One of the best things I found through triathlon is the close relationship and new performance levels I've enjoyed after working with triathlon coach, Karyn Austin. Karyn is part of Robbie Ventura's Vision Quest Team. Karyn's is one of the best coaches in the business and Robbie is known internationally as past member of US Postal and now commentator for the Tour de France.

. After winning my age group in regional races Karyn and I decided I should enter the USAT National race last year in Portland, Oregon. To our surprise I came in 4th, qualifying me for the 2008 World Championships in VanCouver, Canada.

. Since retiring from Caterpillar in January, I focused on all aspects of triathlon preparing for the World's competition - from form and strength to visualization and nutrition. This training has been intense and gratifying. I love the learning. I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes with dropping a second in my swim, and getting more aero on the bike, and of improving my form in the run.

. This season has been short and focused. I won my age group at St. Anthony's in St. Petersburg, Florida, at Memphis in May in Tennessee, and came in 3rd at Worlds and 1st American (AG). After crossing the finish line in VanCouver - I called Doug and said - I did my best at Worlds - now it's time to move South. From June 7th - that's what we've been doing.

. Since landing in Greenville, Doug and I have joined multiple gyms/pools, run with the guys from Run-In, and attended the Tuesday bike rides at Donaldson. Greenville is just full of athletic opportunities!

. Living here also allows me to visit my mom more frequently. She is about to celebrate her 90th birthday. If sports were as open to females as they are today, I can guarantee she would have been one terrific athlete. Mom, thank you for encouraging me to get involved in sports.

I'm so proud of Greenville and the city's ability to meld tradition, culture and athletics. I think Greenville is a place with a strong heart, open arms and a vision of where it needs to go.


Damie said...

okay, Ashley...this is ridiculous! I love it! My family post would say something like- " I think my daughter does something called a triathlon. I am not sure what that means...but I think she finishes most of them." Ha ha! Your parents are great! Good for them- now I want to meet your mom at Memphis in May next year!

Beth said...

I love your mom and dad's post Ashley! What an amazing set of parents you have!!! I cannot wait to see how much Team Long crushes EVERYONE by this weekend!!

Anonymous said...

OH SALLY YOU ARE SUCH A BAD ASS!!!! I miss you!!!!! And, yeah for our great friend Karyn! I miss you both!!! I want Karyn back to kick MY ASS in the pool. Wahhhh! Sally, you are a stud and a role model for all of us. GOOD LUCK THIS WEEKEND, kick some A$$!
Jen H. :)

Pedergraham said...

Team Long posts are great!!!

BreeWee said...

This so cool... a dad post, now a mom post, I am super envious. My mom post would be some long prayer (no offense to my mom) and I would want her to talk about sport and be cool like your mom, and my dad post would talk about a tractor or something on a farm. You guys are classic!

I hope you marry a super cool guy that can play triathlon family with you! Have fun...

sunshine said...

All I can say is, wow! "Dad Post" and "Mom Post" were so motivational. Go Team Long!!!

Anonymous said...

Go LONG family! The last time I remember this family taking it on was at a St. Charles meet with Mustang Sally anchoring against Tony!

Go kick some butt and have a great time as well!

Love you guys! Karyn

Mendy said...

So great reading about your Mom, Ashley! She's super inspirational!!! Go Team LONG!

Eileen Swanson said...

Super cool! I would love it if my parents could do a tri with me. I am getting them to swim Alcatraz though ;-)


Meredith said...

Love Mom Sally and Dad Doug...they should become a part of the blog world! Fun!! How cool your parents are sportheads like you!!! Not too often does that happen, lucky Ashley! Thanks for the suggestions girl!!! And aren't you gonna get in on the duking out for Phelps/Lochte/Piersol sandwich with Eggers and ME!!!!?!? Come on, 3 guys, 3 girls, there's one for each of us...RR is too busy with Barack Obama!!!!