"...Why am I Still Doing This Thing?"



By Laura Swartz

THE YEAR OF 50…why am I still doing this racing thing?

Years ago, 23 to be exact, I ran my first marathon. Two years later I ran a second marathon and got my BQ nearly missing it by seconds. The article pictured was printed a month before that race and I hung it over my desk at work for the next 6 years. Mr. Mackay just put my feelings into words “persistence” and the “world tells us we can’t succeed”. Now I among others call this GRIT (the book I loved reading and often talk about). These words have been my inner mantra since I was gymnast and didn’t make the team initially in elementary school. Growing up If someone told me I couldn’t achieve one of my goals I just worked harder to prove them wrong. I did it for me. I have continued to do this in racing. Of course placing high or winning feels great but my husband would tell you even if I when I win a race or make the podium I analyze my race for the next 24+ hours. I would ask myself what I could do different/ how I could be faster/#bebetter.

I thought this year THE YEAR OF 50 would mean a big race but instead it meant a big finish. In January, I was trying to plan a race schedule with some new epic race. A balance of family time with training & racing didn’t allow for that so instead I set my focus on USATAGN Sprint distance. This is where the dedication, persistence, and support from family & friends came into play. The year of 50 meant I stood on the podium with my highest finish to date. There were obstacles as always. More than that there was tremendous support. A gigantic thank you to KRIS SWARTHOUT my coach who I taught me to soar higher than I dreamed possible, pushed me to get there when I needed it, and sometimes served as a therapist. To my husband DAN and main training partner I am so lucky to have you. I chase him & our friend JOSH KENT around the lakes or through Wirth Trails logging many miles-thx guys. My twin sister MICHELLE DANKWERTH is my biggest supporter and a tough chick herself as she completed her first 50 mile ultra for her YEAR OF 50! Another great big thank you to ERIK’S BIKE SHOP and the team at the Minnetonka store who continue to support me my bike and...

mechanical needs. My swim coach and training partner TERESA BREIST at ISWIM for all those fast 25’s and more in the pool. My weekly cycling groups (ERIK’s & Greenway to the Falls) challenged me to improve and work on my cycling skills. The fast guys DAN ARLANDSON, GREG DUMMER , JAY ADAMS and especially COLIN SMITH who dangled verbal carrots for me while I trained. Another one of the fast guys Dr. PEARCE MCCARTY at SPORTS AND ORTHOPEDIC SPECIALISTS for piecing me back together when I fell down (and that happened a lot). MATT BIERSBACH at MINNEAPOLIS ACCUPUNCTURE CENTER for keeping me healthy & centered. My new favorite PT BRETT JOHNSON at ORTHOREHAB SPECIALISTS for his thoughtful and methodical approach to helping me heal my injuries. And to the rest of you I trained with and competed with thank you. You also pushed me and sometimes you didn’t even realize it. The cool thing is some would say my age means I will be slowing down but this is where I prove them wrong. Hard work, training, mental toughness led me to a 2nd place finish in my age group at Nationals. I had my fastest ever bike split (avg mph) at Minneapolis Tri last summer.

Why am I writing this? So many people ask me “why” why do I keep training, falling down and racing? I guess the simple answer is I LOVE IT. I love to race & push myself how hard is hard, can I get just a little bit faster? I love the triathlon, bike, swim & run community. I have made so many incredible friends over the years. I have been encouraged & inspired by many of you and I hope I do the same for others.

The year of 50 meant a lot of things, traveling to see old friends, ,family adventures, sprint triathlons, cycling at the velodrome, Lutsen 69, last minute sign ups for a couple of mountain bike & cyclocross races (thank you Alison & Nikki) why not…It was the year of 50. The year of getting older, faster and trying new things.

To my family who is sick of hearing about THE YEAR OF 50. I am sorry but THE YEAR OF 51 has begin…let the adventures begin...


0 #2 Ross Rogney 2018-01-04 23:55
Great story, I hope to see you this June out in Excelsior. It's so much fun to see all these great racers.
0 #1 Greg Dummer 2018-01-03 15:15
Laura has been an inspiration to me since I got into the sport 7 years ago! Watching her GRIT has motivated me to work harder and not put any restrictions on what I can accomplish in this sport! Thanks for sharing Laura!!

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