USAT Florida Region is so happy to announce our June Woman of the month, Amy Verlander. Amy is a Neonatal ICU nurse and lives in Orlando with her husband. She balances a full time job with training and being an awesome wife! She also has a very inspirational blog: www.sweatyandsweet.com. Please check out her bio below!
“In life, it is not the destination that matters, but rather the journey.”
A doctor I previously worked for once paraphrased this ancient wisdom to me. Although such a simple statement, I have come to find that there is great truth to it, both in life and triathlon. My journey in triathlon started way back in the early 90’s when I was nine years old and completed my first triathlon, the Meek and Mighty super sprint distance race held in conjunction with the annual St. Anthony’s Triathlon in St. Petersburg, FL.
Regardless of the fact that my next triathlon was about ten years later, that first race had obviously planted a seed; a seed about lifelong fitness and healthy living. I stayed active throughout all of my school years. I was involved in soccer, softball, swim team, cross country and track and field, even at the collegiate level, running for the University of South Florida. Every summer during college, I borrowed my mom’s bike and casually competed in what is one of my favorite home town races, Top Gun Triathlon. My fitness level allowed me to easily jump in with not much additional training. However, the tri bug really bit me hard after college. A new road bike as my graduation present was the fuel that sparked the fire. And as they say, the rest is history!
With increased independence after college running, I started researching and following new exercise plans and took on a more intense level of triathlon training. Then after countless sprint and Olympic distance races, I started looking for an additional challenge. Enter Ironman 70.3. For my first attempt, I just wanted to finish. But after that, it was about how much faster I could go. The third time was a charm, when I shattered my own record on the Florida course by almost 40 minutes!
But why do I push myself to do this?
What is it that inspires and motivates me? For me, it’s not the ‘what’ but the ‘who’ . . . my dad.
Growing up, I watched my dad compete in numerous road races and triathlons which helped shape me into the active woman I am today. I cannot even count the number of swims, bikes, runs and races we have done together throughout the years. Additionally, watching him train for and successfully complete his first Ironman, Ironman Florida to be exact, was remarkable. Plagued by hip pain towards the end of his training, he was forced to walk some of his last long training runs. However, his determination allowed him to finish the race strong and I hoped eventually one day I would be able to do the same. I’ll finally be able to achieve that dream in just a few weeks. On August 24th, my dad, husband and I will all toe the start line at Ironman Louisville.
Another source of motivation comes from my inner competitiveness. While training is a lot of fun, it’s the races that really push me to my limit. I’m always looking for that new exciting race to try and chasing after new PR’s! I love the focus I get when trying to meet a certain goal and the feeling at the finish line after knowing I’ve given it my all is incredible!
Finally, wanting to share with others my own journey about what I’m so passionate about, I started a blog to document my training and racing. I am also active on the social media apps Instagram and Facebook. Motivating and encouraging new and veteran athletes alike, to either begin or continue their fitness journey, then keeping up with their goals and progress circles right back around and keeps inspiring me. That’s the thing I really love about the triathlon community.
“No matter your background, if you’re a newbie, competitive age grouper, or weekend warrior, we all come together and support each other and have a blast doing what we love!”