Photo Credit: Fixed Focus Photography
This week we highlight the story of one of TeamSFQ's long-time members, the ever tenacious and inspiring Sabrina Adams. Sabrina hails from Chesterfield, VA, and shares candidly how triathlon has affected her life, how it has set in motion fantastic goals that are fueled with grit and determination, and why it is vital to celebrate big and small achievements everyday.
When and where was the moment when you decided you wanted to become a Triathlete?
It was late spring 2011 and I saw a flyer at my local YMCA for an introduction to triathlon clinic. The clinic was a partnership between the YMCA and Tri Girl/Tri Quest. I knew what a tri was, but had never really considered competing in one, especially since I couldn’t swim. At the time I was exclusively a runner, who had a couple of half marathons under my belt, but didn’t want to run a marathon, but wanted a new challenge. I decided I would use the clinic as a catalyst to learn how to swim at 37, so that I could compete in a women’s only try that was going to be held at the Y in August of the same year.
How has being a Triathlete helped you grow in the many other roles you play in your life, such as a co-worker, friend, daughter, wife, teammate, and member of your community?
Being a triathlete has shown me that everyone has potential to be an athlete. You don’t have to be super thin or muscular to compete. So anytime one of my friends, coworkers, or acquaintances show interest in trying running or triathlon, I encourage them to pursue it. At work I can be laser focused, but when needed I can problem solve on the fly and quickly adapt to change. The confidence I have from completing multiple triathlons motivated me to become more involved in my local government to better my community, particular when it comes to making my county more pedestrian friendly, and ensuring that everyone has access to healthcare. I have spoken with local state and federal legislatures and other government officials. The journey with my mom and Alzheimer’s is a difficult one, but with my faith, the support of my husband, and the mental and physical endurance I developed from triathlon, I push on for my mom.
How did you maintain your motivation and focus for racing and training for Triathlon this last year when you juggled injuries, a demanding work schedule, and caring for your mother's decline with Alzheimer's?
Honestly, I struggled last year. I had so much on my plate and my depression reared its ugly head. I had to start taking an antidepressant / anti-anxiety medication again and return to therapy. I was barely holding it together. In regards to my mom, I am fortunate that I have found a safe community for her that is 10 minutes away from my home, but the emotional toll of watching not just my mom, but my best friend, fade away is rough. This past New Year’s Eve made it 7 years since my mom was officially diagnosed. Just when I think I can handle her having Alzheimer’s, the disease will cause another change in her that takes me back to square one.
Even though at times my training was sporadic at best, I kept pushing because IMNC 70.3 was truly just for me. Training for that race was my time alone-no answering emails or phone calls, putting out fires, or thinking about how Alzheimer’s was robbing me of my mom. I was determined that I was going to toe the line. I made it to the start line, and successfully completed the swim and the bike, but was taken off the run course at mile 10 due to not making the time cut-off. My lower backed seized up on me at the beginning of the run and didn’t let up. By then I was so mentally tapped out that I didn’t have the mental fortitude to push through the pain and run. That DNF hurt me to my soul, but I have no regrets. I left it all out there.
Last year you had a disappointing race at Ironman North Carolina, 70.3, but you came back to race the Richmond half marathon just a few weeks later, what gave you the resilience to get back out there and race again?
Pride…I could not let my race season end with a DNF. The Richmond Half Marathon was also my first race as a plant based athlete.
Recently you decided to start living a plant-based lifestyle, how are you feeling after making such a massive life shift?
After my DNF at IMNC 70.3, I was in the pits and took some much needed time off to regroup. While vegging out I came across the documentary The Game Changers on Netflix. It’s about a UFC fighter who goes on a quest to find out what’s the best diet for an athlete. Unlike some other documentaries, The Game Changers was not condemning or condescending. The information was presented in such a way that it gave me that push to really consider going plant based. Off and on I had considered going plant based, but I thought I couldn’t go without certain food. The Game Changers caused me to think more about what I would gain instead of what I would lose. I gave myself 2 weeks to transition…kind of a farewell to some of my favorite animal-based foods. Ironically the food didn’t taste as good as usual. I wish I would have gone plant based sooner! I have a lot more energy, less stomach issues, and my sleep and overall mood have improved.
Why are the words Prepare and Persist meaningful to you?
Last year I started choosing a word that I would focus on for the year to help guide me to reach my goals. Last year the word was commit. This year I couldn’t settle on one word, so I decided I would just roll with tw0-prepare and persist. Even though these are my words for 2020, they are what will help me reach my goal for 2021. I have attempted the iron distance 4 times, and each time I have fallen short. I know I have it in me to complete an Ironman, I just need to do it. While looking at the Ironman calendar, I discovered that IMNZ is always on the first Saturday of March. In 2021 it will be on my 47th birthday, which would also be my 10 anniversary year as a triathlete. I LOVE celebrating my birthday! I celebrate for the entire month of March, which includes wearing a tiara and doing something nice for myself every day. What an awesome way to bring in my birthday by finally becoming an Ironman…now back to prepare and persist.
Since IMNZ is in March, the bulk of my training will be in 2020, and part of it will be during the time when most triathletes are in their off-season. To finally get this monkey off my back my preparation is going to have to be on point and I will have to be persistent with not getting distracted, which is easy to do with my sometimes hectic life. Seeing the words at home, at work, and in my vehicle will serve as a constant reminder to keep me on track.
What are your Triathlon and life goals in 2020? Do you have any races on your schedule yet?
My primary goal for 2020 is to stay injury free. The first quarter of 2020 I will focus on strength, speed, and mobility. Up until April or May I will do nothing but road races, primarily 5K’s. I have found a great locally owned race company, Road Rage Events, that puts on amazing races in the Virginia Beach area. Many of the races are on the same course, so I can track my progress. Second quarter I will do a couple of tris that will be no longer than an Olympic. The only specific tri event I have on my calendar right now is Rev3 Williamsburg, and I have not finalized which distance I will do. My other races will be races put on by Kinetic Multisports, a regionally owned race company that puts on races in VA, MD, PA and DE. I try to support local race companies as much as I can. Third and fourth quarter I will really start to get into the weeds with my preparation of IMNZ. Not too sure which races I will do then.
My life goals for this year are to reclaim balance in my life, continue my plant based lifestyle, keep my depression in check, read 50 books, and save money…my IMNZ is not going to pay for itself.
We look forward to cheering on Sabrina throughout 2020, and look forward to celebrating her month long birthday bash, (either in person or from afar), in New Zealand 2021.