At the beginning of each year, Dr. Alyse Kelly-Jones and a small group of her healthiest and most physically fit friends sit down to discuss the triathlons and long-distance running races they plan on participating in over the coming year.Shooting to the top of last January’s list was the Bone Island Triathlon in Key West, Fla., on Jan. 12. They are proud of what their participation represents: middle-aged women living a healthy and fit lifestyle and sending the message that others should try to do the same.Five years ago, Kelly-Jones, who lives near the Arboretum, founded Tri It For Life, a nonprofit organization that guides women toward healthy lifestyles through multi-sport training and commitment. Several TIFL mentors and friends joined Kelly-Jones on the Key West trip: Angela Mason and Mary Sansbury of Matthews, Carol Rodd of Plaza-Midwood, Fran Cook of uptown, Melodee Coleman of Gaston County and Carolyn Bellof of Tega Cay.In 2007, Kelly-Jones rallied over 100 area women to train for and participate in the annual Ramblin’ Rose triathlon in Huntersville. Coached by Kelly-Jones and Sansbury, Cook was one of the original “Ramblin’ Rose 100.” as they were called.Out of this concept, TIFL was developed. First-time triathletes are led through a 12-week program in which they train to compete in running, swimming, and biking.“I am not a competitive athlete by any means,” Cook said. “I do triathlons for health, fitness and mental stability. … I went on to run two marathons and compete in the larger triathlons.“It’s now a part of my lifestyle to go out and cycle in 20 degree weather or 80 degree weather. It’s also the relationships I’ve developed. At the core of everything we do is our relationship.”Prior to the Bone Island Triathlon, members of the mentor group participated in other triathlons in 2012, including the Lake Logan International Triathlon in Asheville in August. The following month, Kelly-Jones and Mason completed the Patriots Half Iron Distance Triathlon in Williamsburg, Va.The group often convenes on weekends to train in biking and running. During the week, several of them are members of master swim programs at the Childress Klein and Siskey YMCAs, where Sansbury works part time as a swim coach.Though a triathlon is the combination of the three sports, only Kelly-Jones, her brother Patrick Kelly (who lives in Florida) and Bellof completed all three at the Bone Island event. They competed in the half-distance event instead of the full triathlon. Sansbury, who has osteoarthritis in both knees, competed in a category called Aqua Bike, which means she biked and swam but didn’t run.The rest of the mentors formed relay teams. For one team, Cook swam, Mason biked, and Coleman ran. On the other relay team, Rodd swam and was joined by Florida residents Sharon Rymer, on the bike, and Alyssa Cerkleski, who ran.The group has already made tentative plans for the 2013 season. Most important is the group’s plan to expand the TIFL program into Raleigh.Kelly-Jones and Cook are leading the way. The first mentees have already registered and they will begin their training in February. Their first triathlon will be the Ramblin’ Rose in Raleigh in May.Moving forward, the mentors are planning on breaking new ground again when they participate in the first Carolina Half triathlon, being held in September in Davidson.
Friday, Jan. 25, 2013
Group mentors women to be healthy
Tri It For Life looking to spread in this region
At the Bone Island Triathlon in Key West, Fla., on Jan. 12, are from left, Alyse Kelly-Jones, Carol Rodd, Sharon Rymer, Carolyn Bellof, Fran Cook, Melodee Coleman, Angela Mason, and Mary Sansbury. Back row, Patrick Kelly. COURTESY OF CAROL RODD
Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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