August, 2001 Fit to be Tied Column From the Pueblo Chieftain
by Gary Franchi
Team in Training provides motivation that transforms Pueblo couple’s lives
The real beauty of the world of fitness is that you don’t have to be a great athlete to both enjoy and reap the benefits from exercise. Virtually anyone can improve his or her fitness level, get stronger and healthier and, importantly, enjoy the ride while doing so.
Husband-and-wife Dan and Karen Driscoll of Pueblo are getting the most from their recent jump into the world of fitness via the Team in Training triathlon program. Team in Training is a product of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and its participants are guided through a training program that culminates in a major event.
Participants are in constant contact with their coach throughout their training period and have group training opportunities. The way the Team in Training programs works is that participants raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and their expenses to their culminating event (travel, motel entry fee, etc) are paid by the organization.
Dan and Karen are training for the Los Angeles Triathlon that will be held Sept. 9 at Venice Beach. The Olympic-distance event includes a 1.5-kilometer (.9 mile) swim, 40K (24.8 miles) bike and 10K (6.2 miles) run that will finish in Dodger Stadium. But a little background information is necessary to tell their story.
The Driscolls are both from California and met in Long Beach after Dan served a stint in the Navy. A 43-year-old pediatrician, Dan had a practice in Trinidad for five years before moving the family to Pueblo two years ago to go into partnership with Bryson Mchardy.
Dan and Karen don’t have fitness-related backgrounds, although Karen, 40, did take swimming classes in college. Their lives pretty much revolved around their four kids and Dan’s work.
Realizing he was out of shape, Dan was receptive to encouragement from a multi-sport friend in Trinidad, and a seed was planted in the couple’s minds. They began training a bit early last year and did the Ordinary Mortals Triathlon in Pueblo West in May of 2000 along with their two oldest kids – Gabe and Jessica, who will both be returning Centennial High School in a few weeks.
“I was last in my age division,” Dan noted with a laugh.
His placing was not important. Being able to complete a 525-meter swim, 12-mile bike and 3.1-mile run in one event was noteworthy when you consider that he could only run a quarter-mile, bike two miles and swim four pool lengths when he first began training. Last winter, the Driscolls did some running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing to maintain their cardiovascular fitness.
They got involved in Team in Training this year through Dan’s interest in leukemia and lymphoma. In his pediatric practice, he recently had a patient with lymphoma. Also, he was raised by an uncle who died of leukemia.
He had read a Team in Training article in a running magazine. Then, when he received a T in T brochure in the mail, he and Karen decided to give it a shot.
They now train between one and two hours a day, six days a week. That includes 2,000-yard swims, runs up to seven miles and bike rides in the area of 20-25 miles.
“Neither of us are superb, but we’ve gotten a lot better,” said Dan, who dropped his time in this year’s Ordinary Mortals Triathlon by eight minutes with a respectable time of one hour and 49 minutes while Karen finished in 1:41.
They followed that by doing the Saturn Triathlon at Monument in July, which was their first open-water triathlon swim, and will do a “trial run” triathlon slightly shorter than Olympic distance at the Chatfield Reservoir near Highlands Ranch this month.
Besides the drop in their triathlon times, they also have lost a few pounds and have discovered the real benefits of exercise.
“We both feel energized by this,” Dan said. “I’ve lost 20 pounds and Karen’s lost a few, too, although she’s not saying how many. This is just part of our lifestyle now. If I don’t exercise for a couple of days, I get depressed.” After Los Angeles and a triathlon in Salida this fall, he hopes to begin a 26-week training program for a Half-Ironman next year. A sleek, new, lightweight road bike should make things easier for him than the mountain bike he had been riding.
Most of their training has been outside the T in T group since those scheduled activities are in Denver. But they do travel north every two or three weeks to join the group, and they are in weekly contact via e-mail or phone with Charlie Perez, their coach.
Dan would really like to see other Puebloans join the T in T program so they could have local training partners.
They also need to come up with additional funds this year since they’ve raised only about half of the $9,000 they need for both him and Karen to compete in LA. They will have a bake sale Sept. 2 at the Super Wal-Mart and are planning a garage sale. Anyone who would like to help support their effort or just want more information about the T in T program can call them at 595-1143.
A triathlon is just one of the climactic Team in Training events. There also are marathons, half-marathons and century (100 miles) bicycle tours. Upcoming marathons in the program are the Honolulu and the Dallas White Rock in December and the Walt Disney Marathon and Half-Marathon in January.
The Team in Training web site is www.leukemia-lymphoma.org.
If recent performances this summer mean anything, it appears there will be some good local battles in this fall’s girls cross country season. The most recent was at the Beulah Challenge this past Saturday when Heather Loeske and Renee Opferman, both 15 years old, finished 1-2 overall overall among females with 10K (6.2 miles) times of 45:01 and 45:21, respectively, on a difficult, hilly course and on a very warm morning.
Heather moved to Pueblo recently from Texas and is expected to run for East High School. Renee will be competing for South High. Earlier this summer, 14-year-old Jessica Driscoll, daughter of the Team in Training tandem noted above, won the YMCA’s World’s Largest Run, which was a 5K race. Jessica will be a sophomore at Centennial. All of the girls have done some training together this summer.
It’s almost always nice to see new local races added to the schedule. The Pueblo area will get a new race this month with the Little Run on the Prairie 5K run and 2K walk scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at Lovell Park off Hahn’s Peak in Puebo West. The event is a kickoff for the annual St. Paul the Apostle parish festival. Ron Dehn is the race director, and more information is available by calling him at 547-9273.
Pueblo’s Michael Orendorff, 49, and Gerald Puls, 75, have earned spots in the national age group triathlon championships to be held Sept. 1 in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. They both qualified by finishing first in their age divisions at the Olympic-distance Rocky Mountain Regional Championships held July 29 in Las Vegas, NM. Orendorff was competing in the 45-49 age division, Puls in the 75-79 bracket.
The national triathlon also will be Olympic distance (1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run). Michael competed at the world triathlon championships in Australia last year.
Upcoming area races
* Aug. 19 – Tunnel Drive Run (Prediction Series race), 5M, 7:30 a.m., Canon City (784-6514)
* Aug. 25 – Little Run on the Prairie, 5K, 8 a.m., Lovell Park in Pueblo West (547-9273)
* Aug. 25 – Melon Run, 10K, 7 a.m., Rocky Ford (254-7723)
* Sept. 8 – Meddac 10K Run, 8 a.m., Fort Carson (598-2953)
* Sept. 23 – Hot to Trot Run, 5K, El Pueblo Plaza (542-1704)
Send comments and fitness information to Gary Franchi via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.