Lucky Kaiser of Boardman joined son Todd Beckett in the Inaugural Potomac Triathlon in Virginia.
By JAYME RAMSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
For Boardman resident Lucky Kaiser, the events of June 23 were a far cry from normal and can be attributed to the persistence of a determined son. Kaiser and her 27-year-old son, Todd Beckett, participated in the Inaugural Potomac Triathlon in Virginia on that day.
She hardly slept before the event, she brought the wrong snacks to refuel between stages, she only practiced swimming the .8-mile distance in choppy waters once, and she substituted running by walking her dogs.
Although it might seem as if Kaiser did just about everything wrong in preparing for her first triathlon, she did something right because she finished strong, and now is more determined than ever to stay in shape and motivate others to do the same.
She placed second in the Athena age group of females ages 40 and over with a cumulative time of 2 hours, 41 minutes, 34 seconds. She finished the .8-mile swim in 49:10, the 16-mile bike ride in 1:30:38 and the 3-mile run in 21:46.
The events that unfolded can be traced to a dare from Kaiser's son, who found out she rode her bike everywhere and started sending her lists of triathlons. Since January, he had been pestering her to compete in one, and then one day she succumbed.
"He pointed to some choices, said 'pick one,' and I pointed to one in Virginia," Kaiser said.
Instead of a difficult training plan, she kept her same daily routine and added a few more challenges.
As the triathlon approached, she realized that the feeling of swimming in a river would differ from that of swimming in a pool.
So one weekend, she rode her bike to a friend's house and they drove to Berlin Lake. She jumped in the water, swam what seemed like a mile and jumped out. She then rode her bike home and took her dogs on a long walk. That was her only test. She figured if she could do it all in one day, then she could swim, bike and run all in one morning.
Because she is an anthropologist concerned about the environment, Kaiser rides her bike more than she drives her car. She started out riding her bike around Mill Creek Park, to Giant Eagle, and then to YSU to do research. She knew she could survive the bike part of the triathlon.
She hated to run and figured that instead of running every day she could just walk her dogs. Her training strategy must have worked because she ran 3 miles in under 22 minutes, after swimming and biking. She placed first in the running portion among women in her age group and 19th in the women's overall standings.
There is more to her day than exercise. An amateur archaeologist, she goes to digs to look for dinosaur bones and other objects of archaeological significance. One of the reasons she did the triathlon and continues to stay active is for her archaeological aspirations.
"I said to myself, 'Well, if you're going to be going to all these tropical countries and carrying cameras and heavy packs you might as well get in shape doing something,' " Kaiser said.
She goes by Lucky and she is lucky that she has two kids that are as up to any challenge as she is.
"Once we do something we all have to do it to the 'nth' degree," said Kaiser.
Son is like her
Kaiser's son Todd mirrors her spirit. He could have started the triathlon by her side and then at the sound of the gun, left her in his dust, but instead of going for a personal record, he floated up next to her on his back during the swimming stage singing songs from his childhood.
Prior to the triathlon Kaiser told Todd she decided to walk the last 3 miles. However, when the time came to begin the 3 miles, Beckett stole her snacks and started to run with them. She chased him and ended up running the entire length.
While other triathletes were refueling their tired bodies with Gatorade and power bars, Kaiser was supplementing a Coke with some Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and a Little Debbie snack.
"They [the other athletes] were looking at me in awe when I laid out my snacks in the transition area prior to the race. They were thinking 'What is that woman doing with that Coca Cola?' "
Beckett finished 30th in the 25-29 age group with a cumulative time of 2:26:36. He finished the swim in 32:57, the cycling in 1:31:55 and the run in 21:44. He is now training for the Great Floridian Ironman Triathlon Oct. 19.
Kaiser said Beckett worked at a Washington, D.C.-area communications company when a friend bet him he could not quit smoking.
When he did quit, they made another bet that they couldn't prepare for a triathlon in six months. All of a sudden they both fell into a routine and were training for a triathlon last June which they finished.
"In a year he went from cigarette smoking to competing in a triathlon to competing in a marathon to training for an Ironman triathlon," Kaiser said.
Kaiser's son and daughter, Autumn Beckett, live in Washington, D.C. Both are very active, riding their bikes over 30 miles a day to and from work even during the hot Washington summer months.
"I think the relationship that I have with my children has kept me young enough because we've always done a lot of things together and we challenge each other to be better," said Kaiser, "It's just been really good for everybody and I'm really proud of them."
Kaiser is active in the communities of Youngstown and surrounding areas. She advocates bike riding in the park and wants to see more support for laws protecting bikers, runners, and other athletes who use the park roads and trails to train on. She envisions bike paths connecting the surrounding communities of Youngstown. She encourages everyone to get outside, get on a bike, and get a complete body workout.
When asked if she would ever consider competing in another triathlon, Kaiser laughed and stated a seemingly-definitive, no. Then she paused and said, "Well, I might consider doing this one again."