Sisters Tri'n For A Cure
Ironman Arizona Nov 20th 2011, Completed!
Ironman Cozumel Nov 25th 2012., Completed!
Ironman Boulder Aug 3, 2014, Completed!
140.6 Miles .................
140.6 Thousand Dollars..................
Follow our journey and join us in our quest to raise some $ to fund a cure for breast cancer!
On Facebook at TessAnne Ironman - On our Blog at http://sisterstfac.blogspot.com/ - On the web
You are an Ironman! I first heard those words in Nov 06 after Rich and I shared the unbelievable experience of training for and completing Ironman Florida. IM Triathlon is a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run - 140.6 miles. It was an amazing journey and at the time I was unsure if my future would entail any more IM events. Since then I have been fortunate enough to complete 3 additional IM events. There have been bumps along the road, but isn’t that the way life is? I wouldn’t change a thing as I have an incredibly wonderful and fulfilling life. Currently my sister Anne and I are training for IM AZ Nov ’11. This chapter of my story gives some insight into one of the aforementioned bumps in the road. Following IM FL‘06 I was bitten by the IM bug. As the only way to register for IM is to sign up a year in advance, I jumped at the chance to sign up for IM AZ when they decided to change the race from spring to fall. Plus, as long as I was going to be in shape to do an IM in Nov, I might as well follow that up with one in June. Coeur de Alene ‘09 was now on my calendar. While in the throes of training, I was rudely interrupted by being diagnosed with breast cancer in Sept.08! How in the world was this possible? I was in the best shape of my life and I had cancer? I’m out riding hundred mile training rides, swimming endless laps in the pool, running better than ever, but that didn’t seem to be enough to keep me healthy. I had about 2 months until IM AZ, how was all of that going to shake out? A lumpectomy removed the tumor in Oct-not much training time was lost. After surgery, it was clear that it was in my best interest to undergo Chemotherapy followed by Radiation Therapy. After a lot of soul searching, research and heart to hearts with my oncologist and family, I felt the need to honor my training and participate in IM AZ. Training kept me strong and I went into Chemo on an adrenaline high. The race was on a Sun, Mon was spent as a family enjoying the wonderful AZ weather. Tues we flew home to face the reality of Wed. Wed morning found me in MGMC before the dawn. I went into surgery to have a port put in my chest for easier chemo treatments. My first treatment followed that afternoon. Thurs was Thanksgiving-I have so much to be Thankful for. Thanksgiving to Valentines Day found me cycling through the highs and lows of chemo rather than bi- cycling. I continued to train as much as I could. However, walking Rocky was the most I could muster on some days. What great motivators and confidants pets are. No one mentioned the pending Coeur de Alene event. I kept it in my heart motivating me, but had to wait to see how the chemo and rads would affect me. The real shocker came one evening in April- Rich was watching TV and I was in bed with a tri mag. Rich yelled for me to come downstairs and we watched in disbelief as my name scrolled on the screen as a lottery winner to participate in the Ironman World Championships in Kona, HI in Oct. Talk about hitting the jackpot. This is every triathlete’s dream come true and surely my consolation prize for having to go through the cancer scare. A fairy tale come true in the world of triathlon. Words can’t describe the race in HI or ever do it justice; you just have to witness it. Being there as a part of the mystique and being able to share it with “Team Tess” was over the top. I’ve watched all the IM World Championship videos countless times, and to be a part of that race was a gift I will never forget. It was difficult to focus on the challenge of IM CDA with out getting caught up in the pending Kona adventure. I wouldn’t recommend competing in 3 IM events in 11 months to anyone. However, I believe that focusing on and training for IM was one of the major factors in bringing me through my cancer treatments strong of mind, body and spirit. Along the way, my sister Anne caught the tri bug. How incredibly rewarding to be able to give advice to and cheer for someone who is just beginning in the sport. As Anne progressed and added longer distance events to her resume I let her know that once she was ready to step up to the IM distance, I’d do her first one with her. That’s where we were during the summer and fall of 2010, trying to decide which race would be ours. Then the unthinkable, Anne called with the news that she too had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Our cancers were similar, but not exactly the same. We both had genetic testing that came back negative, so we’re just part of the statistical crap shoot of 1 in 6 women. Here we are, Anne and I, we are: wives, mother’s daughters, nieces, aunts, but most importantly in this chapter of our story, We are sisters, we are survivors, we are trathletes. Follow us, support us, be inspired by us. We are here for you and your loved ones, Tri’n For A Cure!
My name is Anne Ruybal; Tess (Teresa) Balsley is my sister. Unlike her, I have never considered myself to be an “athlete”. I have not been involved in any type of organized or competitive sport since high school, Oh so many (34) years ago! I have occasionally hopped on the fitness bandwagon and decided to run a little (no more than 5 miles at once) or mountain bike a little (no more than 15 miles at once). My husband Joe and I used to hit the trails weekends as he biked and I roller-bladed; one day we actually did this for 35 miles! That was a long time ago though. In November of 2006 Tess and her husband Rich completed their 1st Ironman in Florida. We watched almost spellbound on the Internet as countless people crossed the finish line of that event; we cheered as we saw Rich then Tess cross, and I got a strange and unexpected choked up and teary feeling. I also thought exercising for 14 hours non-stop was out of the realm of my imagination or physical abilities. Yet something in me was intrigued.
After that I biked and ran a little more consistently. Life and work went on. Then my sister got breast cancer in the fall of 2008. She had surgery. That November we watched the Internet stream of Ironman Arizona as she crossed the finish line. The next week she started chemotherapy, and later radiation therapy. Through it all she continued to swim, bike, run, work, be a wife and mother, and live her life to the fullest. In January of 2009 I decided that if she could train for an Ironman despite all she was going through I should get off my 49 year-old duff and do something about that triathlon curiosity inside myself. I had my swim analyzed and got some pointers, then started swimming 2-3 times a week. I had my run analyzed and got some real running shoes, then started running (well more like walk/jogging) 2-3 times a week. I also got a road bike and rode it regularly. I completed my first triathlon in May. It was just a Sprint race consisting of a 750 meter swim, 20K bike and 5K run, and I finished it! When I finished I felt an elation that was indescribable, and was hooked. In June we watched online as Tess crossed the finish line at the Coeur d’Alene Ironman. Again I felt that well of emotion as I watched so many people of all ages finish the race. Later that month I finished my first Olympic distance triathlon. Before the race Tess observed that she was surprised that I’d decided to become an athlete at this stage of my life. Funny because she was my motivation and inspiration to do it. Later that year we travelled to Hawaii and got to watch in person as Tess finished the Ironman World Championship in Kona what a great and inspiring experience that was!
I recently read that you officially become a triathlete the moment you cross the finish line of your first multisport event. I’ve now finished 6 triathlons so I guess I really AM an athlete! So now that I am, why not go for the gusto and train for a full Ironman??
Last fall after completing my 2nd half-Ironman distance race, once again I followed my sister’s path this time with breast cancer. By the Mercy and Grace of God it was found early and by the end of 2010, after surgery and radiation therapy, that bump in my road of life was behind me. Tess and I decided to sign up for an Ironman event to do together and we chose Ironman Arizona 2011. Now for some serious increased training so hopefully I will finish the race with other mortal age-groupers well within the required 17 hours! Yet for me it’s about so much more than the race. We have been surrounded by the love, support and prayers of family and friends. We have been blessed to survive cancer and now it’s our turn to pay it forward by fundraising to help the Susan G. Komen For the Cure fund a cure for breast cancer. Through it all we plan to share our experiences as we prepare for this race.
So I echo my sister in urging you to follow us, support us, be inspired by us. We are here for you and your loved ones, Tri’n For A Cure!