Courtenay Brown has been on the move her entire life.
So it should be no surprise that the 32-year-old grew up to be a professional triathlete.
But it was, especially to Brown. Her sport growing up from move to move across the nation and world in a family full of career U.S. Naval officers was horseback riding mixed in with a little gymnastics.
I started running recreationally in college, said Brown, a Boulder, Colo., resident who is competing in Aberdeen Sunday. When I later moved to San Francisco, I did not have a car. But the law office where I worked used bicycle messengers that I helped to coordinate. The messengers encouraged me to start cycling. It turned out to be a great way to see the city.
That led to racing bikes. And she started running again, which got her to start thinking about triathlons. All she had to add was the swimming.
I thought swimming would be the easy part, she said. I am glad I was ignorant about that. I didn't realize how technical it was. If I would have known how hard it was going to be to get the swimming part down, I probably would have never gotten into triathlons.
She has been involved in triathlons for the last four years. Brown turned pro in 2009. She will run her first off-road triathlon Sunday in Aberdeen at the XTERRA Forest Drive Off Road Triathlon.
Brown will also put on a free triathlon clinic today (see fact box) in Aberdeen with fellow Boulder, Colo., pro triathlete Will Kelsay. On Sunday, Kelsay will try to defend the XTERRA title he won in Aberdeen last year.
Both Brown and Kelsay are accomplished professionals. In May, Kelsay competed in the North Face Endurance Challenge 50K on the Great Wall of China. He is an XTERRA veteran respected for his abilities around the world.
Brown recently beat 232 other women to win the 11th annual Big Sky Duathlon (2.5 mile run, 15.5 mile bike, 2.5 mile run) near Denver. Earlier this year, Brown won a bronze medal in the national Duathlon championships which qualified her for the world championships in Spain in September.
Brown is looking forward to her first XTERRA. I have the routine down of swimming, biking and running in triathlons. But this will be a nice, fresh change going off-road.
She expects trading in her on-rode racing bike for a mountain bike will be the biggest difference. Mountain biking is much different than road biking. You can't have as much as a controlled effort off-road. Mountain biking is more of a skills challenge for me, and more things could go wrong on a mountain bike.
Brown loves all triathlons and all aspects of it. I love the diversity and the challenge of trying to balance having to do three sports in one. It is a fun way to have a fit and active lifestyle and enjoy the outdoors. I feel so lucky to be able to spend so much time outside with the sport. Most people do better if they have goals, are fit and active and have a community to support them. The triathlon community enables people to have a lot of fun while improving their lifestyles.
The right training schedule, good nutrition, proper rest and having your equipment ready are important things before the race, said Brown. During the race, it is more about mental tenacity. I always tell people to stay consistent, stay persistent and don't be afraid to go hard. Don't be afraid to be breathing hard and feel like you can't go any faster. It is a race. You are supposed to be breathing hard.
Brown also is looking forward to her second trip to South Dakota, meeting new athletes and seeing a new town. I have been to the Badlands when my family drove across the country in 1990. So I am excited to be coming to this race and helping with the clinic. I can relate to and help introduce those who are new to triathlons because I didn't grow up doing any of these sports. I hope that I can help show people how to make this sport part of their lives and how to have a lot of fun with it.
Triathlon has a welcoming community. It is a sport that focuses on being the best you can be, which is a real positive thing. I enter my races not with the attitude that I want to win, but that I want to do the best that I can do. The triathlon community is really good at celebrating everyone. That is why the sport is growing in popularity so much.