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Ambassador Spotlight: Colleen McGuinn

Spotlight for this week is on SBMAT Ambassador, Colleen McGuinn.  I love her inspirational hero–her dad–who used to run in Khaki Pants and the old school CONVERSE shoes!  Love Colleen’s story and love her spirit–and proud to have her as part of our team this year.  She’s married to a James also (betcha didn’t know the Expert had a real name!) ….and she’s awfully likeable for a fellow lawyer, too.  🙂

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Colleen McGuinn

Name:  Colleen Elizabeth McGuinn

City/State:  Catonsville, MD

Age Group: 35 – 39, but will be aging up to 40 to 44 very soon!!!!

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Biggest Inspiration:

So many things and people bring me inspiration, my family in particular.  But, athletically, my biggest inspiration is probably my Dad.  He is 79 years old (I am 39, and our birthdays are 4 days a part… so we’ll be turning 40/80 the same week in February, 2015!!) and is an amazing example of how to live life.  He was an athlete growing up: playing football, basketball and baseball… and zeroed in on baseball in college with a scholarship.  He could have played for the Yankees or the Brooklyn Dodgers, but in 1953, baseball didn’t pay like it does now.  Being the only child of immigrants, college and a chance at an education was too important to pass up.  After college, he started running to keep in shape.  This was WELL before running became a thing.  And the man runs in gray sweats in the winter, and KHAKI PANTS in the summer.  People use to see him and think he was being chased!  He also wore, and wears still, CONVERSE LOW TOPS… to run in… for 5 miles every other day!

Anyway, he continues to run, and has always treated his body well.  He keeps his spirit and mind healthy too.  Over the summer, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.  It was horrifyingly scary to see my hero unable to run, and waiting for news about chemo or if the cancer had spread.  It hasn’t, and we are so lucky.  He is able to be treated with hormone treatment and is doing so well.   As soon as the doc said “o.k.” he laced up those Converse and took to the streets!  His example of how to live a healthy life, to exercise and to be a parent and provide for his family, is such an amazing inspiration for me.

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Scary 2015 Goal:

Ironman Maryland, 2015.   I’m so excited and absolutely terrified (in a good way?) all at the same time.  I have run two marathons, and I was a swimmer growing up; but the idea of being on a bike for 7ish hours makes me want to vomit (in a good way?).  I can’t wait, even though I get huge butterflies at the thought.  As the saying goes, if it doesn’t scare you, you aren’t dreaming big enough!  Related to that, I plan on becoming one with my bike:  I know nothing about changing a flat or riding with aero-bars.  I have a healthy fear of my bike and that something will malfunction, so I really need to get more comfortable with it.

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How Triathlon Changed Me:

Wow where to begin?  One of the reasons I love SBM is because part of Meredith’s story sounded an awful lot like mine.  I was an athlete growing up (swimming) from childhood through college.  Then came law school and my “roaring 20’s” and meeting my husband James… marriage and our two awesome kids.  I am a prosecutor, which is a pretty high stress job, and requires a lot of focus and energy.  I handle all kinds of cases, but “specialize” in economic crimes, human trafficking, and family crimes (child abuse, sexual abuse, etc.)  Between work and life, I was (and am) very invested in doing my best for those around me and those I care about…. And that seems to require giving a lot of myself.  Prior to 2012, that also meant not paying attention to my inner-self and spirit.  I was tired, and busy, and busy being tired, and I did not pay attention to myself or my body.

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All of a sudden I was this person who was overweight and lacking my sense of individuality.  I was the kids’ mommy, my husband’s wife, Ms. McGuinn in the courtroom… but where did Colleen go?  After my daughter was born in 2011, I knew I needed to change and take back the part of myself I was missing…. I needed to be healthier and challenge myself, just for me and no one else.

I started with running, mostly because it’s the easiest on my time constraints (and budget), but I got back into triathlon in 2012 and love it.    I had done a few sprint tri’s in my early 20’s just for fun (and because it meant a weekend at the beach!), but I wasn’t driven or competitive with myself about racing at that time.  Now it’s like I need triathlon; I need that freedom that racing brings, of seeing what I can do, of challenging my mind and body.

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Triathlon just reflects my life so much… 3 things all at once (like wife, work, mommy) and sometimes everything is working and sometimes one is lagging… but it all comes together.  I love getting my body marked up before a race, and taking pride in my old swimming skills.  I love the release that running gives me in particular.  And biking… that’s my weakest link and brings me the most “fear” but I love it because I learn from it and am slowly gaining skill to master it a little better.  Plus flying down a hill is so freeing!  Wheeeeeeee!

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Favorite Piece of Gear:

My running shoes.  Instant therapy:  just lace them up and go.  My head gets clear and I feel so much better.

I do love my bike as well (her name is Marney) because she was a gift to me from my sister Marianne and brother-in-law Sean.  Marianne saw how much I was getting into triathlon (with only a hybrid bike to my name at first) and consigned her old road bike, and her husband’s, to put towards my road bike.  I got Marney for a crazy cheap price, and I was amazed at the difference a bike frame that fits and is made for racing can be!  I actually started to like biking… and that bike is such a gift of love from my amazing big sister.  Marney ain’t fancy, but she gets the job done.

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I Race For:

I race for myself, and therefore my family.  A happy mommy makes happy children and husband.  Plus I love that my children see me doing this, and know by my example (and my husband’s too… he’s now done 2 sprint tri’s, and I couldn’t be more proud) how important exercise and physicality are to a good life.  James and I both made a change to be healthier, and the kids see this.

I also race for those who can’t:  due to disease, physical infirmity, or other reasons.

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In August, 2014, my coworker and friend Vickie, who was a marathoner, lost her hard fought battle against AML. Her memory inspires me routinely: Team Vickie Forever.

My friend Stef, mother of three and the fastest runner I know, is battling ovarian cancer.  She loves triathlon and running, and is in my thoughts every time I lace up.   And I am inspired to race by the memory of a little five year old boy:  My friend Justin lost his 5 year old son Nate in an accident in 2012.  He and his wife have turned their grief into an amazing charitable foundation in their son’s memory, including a running team.  Their faith and generosity are so inspiring; turning pain and sadness into something so beautiful.  Justin and Katie do wonderful work with Go Out Be Great: the Nathan Chris Baker Foundation.  Nate’s memory is a wonderful motivator.  Team Nate! (nathanchrisbaker.com)

I race with a grateful heart that I can be out there racing at all, that I am healthy and my family is healthy.  My training and racing mantra is “One day you won’t be able to do this.  Today is NOT that day.”  I am thankful for each “today” I get!

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How I Pay It Forward:

Related to my comments about my Dad above, and because IMMD is such a “larger than life” idea to me, I am going to do that race for a charity.  My Dad had a great government job, is retired, and has my mom and all of us in the family.  So his fight against cancer has a full arsenal of support.  I know not everyone fighting cancer is so lucky.  So there’s a wonderful charity called “Little Things for Cancer”  (www.tlt4c.org).   They provide daycare (so patients and spouses can go to chemo together), help with finances and bills, meals, etc…. all the “Little Things” that make up life.  I will be racing on behalf of this great organization and raising money for those still fighting cancer, which is a much tougher fight than Ironman will ever be!

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What Else You Should Know About Me:

My husband James and I have been married for just over 10 years.  We have two great kids:  Jack (7) and Julia (3).   I am crazy about my kids, even as they drive me crazy.  Being a working mom, for me, is a constant juggling act, and I am often stressed about how I am going to get it all done… and often feel like I’m coming up short with one or the other.  I put a lot of pressure on myself.  Triathlon would seem counter-intuitive, given that training and doing races for myself would take away even more from my time.  And yet, taking the time “for myself” to do triathlon and to race always brings me back to center, keeps me “present” and in the moment instead of fretting…. And I know I’m doing the best that I can in life, and that’s good enough.

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Quick facts:  I love wine, chocolate (mostly with peanut butter), Nutella, ice cream, Mexican food, a huge Sunday breakfast, the Baltimore Orioles, steamed crabs, and beach time.  I have three older brothers and an older sister, and I love them and love being their “baby sister.”   My parents have been married for over 50 years, and are amazing and kind… And my biggest cheerleaders, even as an adult. My iPod is a study in random-ness, and my favorite song varies from day to day.  I wish I had more time to read.  My house is always in a state of clutter because, of all the things I need to devote time to, housekeeping is not one of them… I really need a wife!  My super-hero power is my ability to sleep (anywhere, anytime).  I firmly believe in the power of the long run and the truths you learn during them, about yourself or your running buddy.   I love “The Walking Dead” even though this does not help my paranoia that a zombie or serial killer may or may not be on the same running trail as me.

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I am actually fairly shy around new people, except at races when I love to talk to other racers and hear their stories and goals!

I am so excited for 2015!

How to Follow Me:

My Blog: http://crabcakesandironman.blogspot.com

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/McGColleen

Instagram: http://instagram.com/cemcguinn

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