I discovered Project Athena in the beginning of 2012. My Weight Watchers commercials were being shown on TV, I was being interviewed on the news, my life was just a little bit crazy and I was yearning for yet a new challenge. A Google search for "adventure racing" + "women" led me to Project Athena. As I read about their mission, and the story behind Project Athena, I knew that I had found my "go" and I decided to apply for an Athenaship. As I continued to look through the site I discovered the Keys Race to Recovery Multisport Adventure. I knew I had found what I was looking for. 13 years ago I was married in Key West. I was over 250 pounds. I did not participate in any sort of physical activity when we were there. Looking back at my wedding photos I look (and felt) like a slug. I knew that I had to return to Key West in the best physical shape of my life, encouraged and motivated by an amazing group of people. Little did I know how amazing these people would turn out to be.
I got a phone call in March 2012. I was leaving the gym and the number said "Project Athena." My heart began to beat fast and I answered. It was Robyn Benincasa calling me herself to say that I had been awarded the Athenaship. She continued to tell me how proud she was of me, and how inspiring I was. ME?? This world class athlete was proud and inspired by ME?? I was humbled. I also learned that I was their first obesity survivor. This was also humbling. I had nine months to train my body from being a group fitness junkie into a lean, multi-sport machine. I really began training hardcore in June 2012. And all my hard work paid off in spades.
Lots of phone calls with my inspiration angel Louise, gave me the confidence that I was headed in the right direction with my training, and she helped to supply me with all the gear I would need on the adventure. She gave me tips, boosts, and I enjoyed every conversation I had with her. I looked forward to her calls, and sometimes we would just chat and chat and chat. I was saddened to learn that she wouldn't be in the Keys because she had a race in Nepal (yes, NEPAL) but I kept the sound of her voice in my head as I was paddling. Louise gave me lots of tips about kayaking and since I had very limited training IN THE WATER but tons of simulated paddling, I channeled her advice many times and before I knew it the time for the adventure had arrived.