Friday, February 01, 2008

Celebrity Sightings at TCSD Meeting!

I went to our monthly Tri Club San Diego meeting on Thursday, where a good time is always guaranteed. Nothing better than catching up with friends and enjoying a good speaker. Last night was great--Bob Babbit (of Competitor magazine and radio) interviewed Samantha McGlone.

Who is Sam McGlone? Just the winner of the Ironman 70.3 World Champion and 2004 Olympian for the Canadian Triathlon team. Oh, and she also came in 2nd place in Kona this year. In a nutshell, an awesome athlete and after hearing her speak, a glowing personality. She told us the story of how she got into running....when she was 5 years old! She begged her father to let her go running with him but he said she was too little. She wanted so desperately to join him on his 2 mile runs that she decided to prove to him that she could do it by running laps up and back on their driveway, which was something crazy like 44 laps. So at 5 years old, she ran the 44 laps on the driveway, after which, her father had to oblige her by taking her on his runs. About a year later, she was dropping him! Good stuff.

In addition to seeing Sam McGlone, David Goggins, amazing UltraMan (double Ironman in Kona) and ultra marathon runner (5th place 2006 Badwater) also attended the meeting. How cool is that?

Finally, I got to meet Saul Raisin, one of my heroes! This guy was an amazing young pro cyclist for Credit Agricole, bringing both talent, enthusiasm, and purity to the sport of cycling, which it so desperately needs. I was putting my money behind this bright star to be the next Lance Armstrong of the future.

However, these hopes were dashed in 2006 when he crashed during the first stage of the Circuit de la Sarthe. In the hospital, he developed massive swelling in his brain and lapsed into a coma, at which time his parents were contacted and asked to sign the documents for organ donation. The doctors informed his parents that he would probably not survive, and that if he did, he would probably be paralyzed. Miraculously, not only did Saul survive, he awakened from his coma, and after a long, rough period of vigorous therapy, was able to make a full recovery--both in his physical and cognitive skills. He's back on the TT bike, and although can no longer ride for Credit Agricole, is making big plans for his future.

I had a chance to "catch up" with him at the tri club meeting. I asked what he was going to do now that he could no longer ride for the team. His response gave invaluable insight into his amazing perspective and positive attitude on life--much wiser than his 25 years:

"When one door closes, another one opens. Cycling will always be a part of my life. I ride every day. But it's not my whole life. There are more things to life than just cycling."

Saul has started a foundation to raise money for research on brain injuries. He received an award at this year's Competitor Endurance Sports Awards for the "Comeback Athlete of the Year". His next stop is Washington D.C. where he will be meeting with members of the US Air Force to discuss ways to treat soldiers coming back from Iraq that have suffered brain injuries. And athletic plans for the future? He revealed to me that he has been adding swimming and running to his regime of workouts. Hmmmm........

I feel so fortunate to have meet Saul. Not only is he physically gifted athletically, but expresses a unique combination of charisma, wisdom, altruism, and passion for life that is truly a rare find. I wish Saul the best of luck in his endeavers and will be following his progress; I know his future will be nothing short of earth-shattering. If you want to find out more about Saul, read his book, Tour de Life (which I'm currently enjoying), on his experiences. Also, check out his blog to check his progress.

From Saul's blog:
"...I now have a normal life and have pledged to give back and help others that have brain and spinal cord injuries or any other major illness. I want to grow my Raisin Hope fund into a foundation. I hope to have shown people to never give up and always fight to the finish. I have been truly blessed with a loving family, friends, and the best support group on earth."


Rainmaker said...

I watched one of those Dateline/20/20 type shoes on his story back a few months ago. Very impressive.

That's cool that you're tri club is very active like that!

Cliff said...

Very inspiriing quotes, Rachel. :)

Sara said...

I love Samantha McGlone - she was just named Triathlete of the Year by Triathlon Canada Magazine. You are so lucky!

Benson said...

Wow! Great people, great stories, great post.
You're lucky to be where you are.

Michelle Panik O'Neill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michelle Panik O'Neill said...

I thought Samantha gave one of the more interesting interviews at a TCSD meeting in a long time.

Come stop by the membership table the next time you're at a meeting and say hi!