My name is Jeanne and I live in beautiful central New York, just a few miles from the Iron Girl Syracuse venue, where I completed my first triathlon in 2015. Little did I know at time of registration that it would change my life! I hadn’t exercised in years, and suddenly I was out there several days a week training for this race, and actually having fun doing it (yay for training buddies)! While I can admit that running is still not really fun for me, the people I have met while running, swimming and biking have enriched my life. The triathlon community is strong, caring, supportive and just plain awesome.


I’ll never forget the first open water swim practice I went to, nervous as all get out, and poof, out of thin air, a wonderful lady sensed my nervousness and helped me get my transition area set up. This was the theme of every practice I attended, folks openly helping others by answering questions, offering advice, and doing little things like tucking a tag back in to your tri top, or helping get that wetsuit zipper pulled up. Triathlon is like being with your family, where everyone looks out for you, gives a loud ‘whoop’ on the course, and applauds every little achievement. When you are struggling to get through a wall of sea weed, up Green Lakes SBJ hill without dismounting, or through that first quarter mile run with noodle legs, having your family with you makes every bit of difference. 


In 2013 I was faced with making some major changes to my health and lifestyle to help reduce my breast cancer risk after having been diagnosed with Lobular Carcinoma, a fancy way to say early stage breast cancer, which involved me needing to have a lumpectomy. A friend at work encouraged me to join a beginner women’s cycling group where we were taught all the things about cycling that you didn’t learn when you grew up, such as how to shift well, ride safely in a group and change a tire. As my legs grew stronger my knees didn’t hurt as much when I walked up the stairs, and I was gasping less for air when I reached the top step. Several coworkers had raced Iron Girl, and while I didn’t really know what this whole triathlon thing was about, their race report intrigued me as I had swam and ran (too many years ago) for my high school, and well, I had just learned how to cycle. Knowing they had my back and would train with me, I took the plunge and signed up for Iron Girl 2015 and had an absolute blast!


The support I received from these friends and other triathletes encouraged me to do even more, and I now am a coach for that same beginner women’s cycling group, lead my company’s cycling club raising money for local causes, was hired in 2018 as a triathlon coach for the YMCA, and have done countless tris and aquabikes since my first tri!


Triathlons have filled me with joy, instilled a new confidence and I feel healthier now than ever.  And now I am excited to have an opportunity to pay it forward and help others on their tri journey, hopefully at Barrelman, a race that I have not done but have heard absolutely wonderful things about, so wonderful that I had already talked some folks into doing this race with me before this opportunity came along. Come Tri with me, build your strength, build your confidence, and most of all, come have fun, because really, that’s what life is all about! 


Jeanne is a member of CNY Triathlon Club Group, Syracuse Bicycle Women on Wheels, and Syracuse Y Triathletes and can be found at: 

Instagram @jeannemarinelli