Athlete of the Month
What’s your WHY?
Katherine Tomlinson Age 44
I love running. It is the only time I feel normal. During my practice runs and races I am free. I am not the disabled person who struggles daily with headaches, vertigo, all over body pain. It gives me hope and joy that I thought I had lost though life’s challenges.
I ran my first race with my father Delos Dutton when I was in second grade. We did the Starlight Run. I loved it and we ran it together the next 5 yrs. He also taught me the importance of volunteering. We helped out at a aid station at the Cascade Run Off.
As I entered junior high I focused on sprinting but my freshman year my sister got me to try out for cross-country where I made varsity my first year and in track as well. I have great memories of track and cross country. When I started college I found my self lost. I was no longer the best runner. I left University of Oregon and was accepted into the Nursing program at University of Portland. I made the Dean’s list, was Vice President of Student Nursing Association. I was happy. I red shirt my first year in cross county and I watched my weight drop from 110 to 98. I went to the team Doctor and was told I was a heathy, thin runner. When I went home for the holidays my family was concerned and put me in St. Vincent’s eating disorder clinic. I was angry. I felt my school mates and goal where taken away so I dropped to 82 pounds.
After several years and many treatments I fully recovered. I married and bought my first house and was excited to start a family. Only to have those dreams ripped from me. I was rear ended on my way to work. The accident left me permanently disabled with frontal brain damage (short term memory loss, inability to make decisions, confusion, anger out busts) and inner ear damaged. I was on bed rest for 3 months. The vertigo, headaches and nausea are awful. My balance was at 50%. Recovery even after 11 years is slow. I did balance therapy, physical therapy for neck, back and shoulder injuries. I saw the chiropractor, did epidural steroid injections in my neck, low back, hips and shoulder. I could not drive, shop, read, work. Life stopped. I worked hard to get my balance to 76% and I have relearned to put objects away that are waist level or higher. I kept going to doctor appointments in hope something would help but nothing did. Then when I thought things could not get worse I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I woke up with extreme femur pain. It took everything I had to put my robe on and make it to the couch. One morning the pain was bad, it took till 11:00 to get to the living room to turn the TV on. This was the day of the Boston Marathon bombing. I sat there and cried. Then came the movement of Boston strong. I wanted to be strong. That’s when I decided that it was up to me to do something.
I started running 2-3 miles a days and made a goal to run one race a month. That was 2013, since then I have joined Portland Running Company Race Team. The first year I won Female Master of the Year award. The next year I won the Grand Prix! I have gone on to run eleven 1/2 marathons, (against my Rheumatologist recommendation) and several 10ks and 5ks. My personal best in the 1/2 marathon is 1:35:00, in the 10k 43:21, 5k 20:40. I have new goals and dreams. I am happy and feel very blessed to have my life touched by Paula Harkin. I have many people come up to me after races and even on practice runs tell me I inspire them and they don’t even know my story! At first I was embarrassed, then I accepted it and I am honored.
This past month I won the Bridge of the Goddess 10k run. It wasn’t my fastest time but it felt good to be out there chasing the bike pacer. There are days when I feel down and I think I am missing out on life, I can’t going to the movies, fly, swim, work, I can’t look up at the stars, I can only drive 8 miles during the day when it’s dry out. Then I have to remind myself what I can do and what I have. I can run, I have a great group of running friends, they are my family! My life maybe small but its full and that is what matters.
What’s your WHY?
Madison “Maddy” Wick Age 13
At 10 years old, Madison “Maddy” Wick did her first Triathlon. Now at age 13, Maddy trains with Strive (a Youth and Junior Triathlon team), the Columbia River Swim Team, and Whisper Running Club. She is a regular fixture on WHY Racing Event’s Triathlon course and has inspired many people, including her own family, to try the sport she’s passionate about.
You will find Maddy, along with her mother Misty and younger brother Austin (age 10), on the course at the upcoming AppleTree Sunset Run.
You completed your first Triathlon three years ago when you were just 10 years old. What inspired you to try one?
Maddy: I was heading home in the car from a swim meet. I didn’t know what a Triathlon was, but I thought it would be fun, so out of the blue I asked my mom if I could do a Triathlon. She did some research and found the Wahine all-women Triathlon. I did it and I loved it, so I just decided to do some more.
What was it about the event that made you feel like you had to do it again?
It’s different than any other sport because it’s three amazing races all in one. You get to do a swim race, then a bike race, and then you get to do a run race. One after the other. Also, the competition is different. People are much nicer to each other. I’m out there with kids my age and adults, and we all do it together. Everyone is really supportive.
You recently competed in the USA Triathlon Youth and Junior National Championships. How was that experience?
It was in West Chester, Ohio in August and it was draft legal [Draft Legal racing is a style of Triathlon racing that allows athletes to draft off of one another on the bike leg of a Triathlon]. I was pretty happy with my race because last year I finished 66th, which I wasn’t very proud of, and this year I got 33rd. I was pretty happy with that because my goal was top 30. It was really fun, too.
Did you find the same positivity that you’ve experienced with other Triathlon races? I imagine it’s a pretty competitive environment.
It’s really competitive, but before the race all the kids were talking about how nervous they were which I was not expecting at all. Everyone was super nice to each other.
You’re heading into 8th grade. You are training for both swimming and Triathlons. How do you find time to train?
I’m part of the Triathlon team Strive coached by James Bauman. All the kids have school, so he just finds times that work for everybody then he will put a practice together. He schedules different days during the week so if I can’t come to one practice then I just go to another.
How much time do you think you spend every day training?
I probably do about 2-3 hours a day.
And what is your GPA right now?
What’s been your favorite Triathlon event?
It would probably be the Blue Lake Triathlon. I do that every year. I just really love the course. The swim is great because usually the swim race is in rivers and the water is pretty cold, but Blue Lake is usually warm. The bike course is mostly flat, but it has one little hill which is nice for variety. The run is completely flat, and you also get to run in a little trail which I like for the variety. And it’s kind of the same people every year. It’s also the race that encourages newcomers. I like that.
You’re clearly a driven young lady, but what keeps you motivated?
Whenever I train with Strive it’s super hard, but when I go to practices there are lots of people there, so I have lots of teammates cheering for me. The workouts we do are competitive, but everyone is cheering each other on. It’s not that hard to stay motivated because everyone is so nice.
Misty [Maddy’s mom], what has it been like for you to watch Maddy on this journey?
Misty: I have been shocked by her drive to want to do all of it. She’s actually inspired our whole family to get healthier. I’m doing my first triathlon next month, which I would never be doing if it wasn’t for her. She’s inspired her little brother to get into it. She’s kind of been the glue in our family that’s got us all on a healthy track, starting to work out and run. We all got road bikes and we go ride now. It’s been amazing for us as a family. I’m so happy I signed her up for that first one.
What is your Why, Maddy?
Because I love it.
“Because I love it.”
What’s your WHY?
Dan Mattson Age 46
How did I get started racing? I was an athlete in high school, but I let myself go. I was overweight and not in the best shape. I made excuses to not exercise; like family, work, reserve duty or just life in general. When I was deployed to Iraq August 2009 to March 2010, I decided to start a journey of bettering my life through fitness. I ran to pass the time, and when I returned from deployment, I wanted to continue my fitness journey.
I signed up for my first triathlon at the 2011 Columbia River Triathlon, bought a bike, and pulled out my 10-year-old wetsuit (not a Tri wetsuit). I thought I was ready. Boy, was I wrong. I signed up for a Tri clinic at Northwest Personal Training, coached by Cindy Shrum. I learned a lot, but the biggest thing I learned was I needed to train. at fall I joined TRIumph Tri club, which really helped my swimming erformance, so I signed up for some local triathlons, but I still wasn’t where I needed to be to perform the way I wanted. On January 9, 2017 my life changed, and I set a goal and lost over 50 pounds. I had races to run! I ran the Couve Clover Run and I was able to run longer than ever before without joint pain.
Now I have way more energy which allows me to be more productive training and working. All I can say is racing has made only positive changes in my life. I cannot wait to see what this triathlon season brings with it.
“All I can say is racing has made only positive changes in my life.”
Bonnie Wilson Age 38
I was a reluctant racer. A very special person who was my trainer at the time was trying to help me find something I would love, but also show me how strong I really was. I tried one 5K and I was heartbroken. I came in towards the end and I thought it was the most miserable experience ever. He convinced me to try it again and I did. I had a conversation with a woman on that run that changed my perspective and I had fun, and loved it. I never looked back. Through racing I learned how to set goals and I have been able to keep 70 pounds off for over 6 years. I inspired my dad to take charge of his health. For the first time in years he is on the right track. I have been able to pace first time racers through their first half marathons and help them see what they are capable of. After six Marathons, 30 plus half marathons and countless smaller races, running has changed my life.
“I had a conversation with a woman on that run that changed my perspective and I had fun, and loved it. I never looked back.”