Race Coverage

Northwoods Stuff...

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Northwoods Race Coverage -

When not fighting crime and perpetuating the American Way of life, Denise Kaiser (photo right), whose

Christel Kippehan. Very cool, huh!

We also discovered, clumsily of course, a Northwoods Tri story that appeared in the Brainerd Dispatch in 2004. It was written by Troy "Sonova" Gunderson. We hope you agree that it's fun to stroll, whether sure-footedly or stumblingly, down Memory Lane. Even when we're strolling through someone else's memories.

logoWhile other families are lounging on lakes or playing golf this summer, Robert and Laura Miller's family is training for and competing in triathlons across the state.

Robert and Laura have participated in six triathlons this summer and their 13-year-old daughter Lexie has done one. (See "Family Art" and pretend the images are, from left to right, Laura, Lexie and Robert. We were unable to filch the photo that ran with the story. A technological incompatibility deal.)

Sunday will mark their seventh triathlon when they swim one-half mile, bike 17 miles and run four in the Lakes Country Triathlon, which starts and finishes at Whipple Beach in Baxter.

Robert, who's done nine triathlons, read a story two years ago about the sport and decided to give it a try.fam

"I was hesitant and didn't think I could do it," he said. "The first one I did I thought they'd have to drag me from the water. It's a self-challenge. This year I want to see where I'm placing and where I'm sitting in the rankings."

Laura went to cheer on her husband at last year's Baxter triathlon and realized it was something she should try.

"It made me more aware of my lack of ambition," said Laura. "At last year's race in Baxter I saw every age, every shape, every size and I said to myself, 'What is my excuse?' I decided to give one a shot. Even if you finish at the end of the pack you still feel this amazing sense of accomplishment."

The Tri Minnesota Triathlon Series is made up of eight triathlons starting in May and ending with the Lakes Country Triathlon, a bonus points race. Triathletes accumulate points in every triathlon in which they compete.

Currently, Robert is 10th overall in the male division and second in the 35-39 age group. His best finish was Aug. 14 at the Northwoods Triathlon in Nevis, where he finished 43rd.

Laura is sitting fourth overall in the female division and third in the 35-39 age group. Her 11th-place finish at the Northwoods Triathlon was her best showing of the year.

Nevis was also the race where Lexie made her first triathlon appearance. She was one part of the Baxter Babes relay team, doing the 14-mile bike portion of the race. Along with teammates Tina Borgstrom and Katy Mahle, the Baxter Babes took second in the female relay.

"Me and my sister would always go and watch my mom and dad's triathlons," Lexie said. "They had relay teams so I figured I could do at least one of the three events."

At the Lakes Country Triathlon, Lexie will run the four-mile leg of the event while Mahle swims and Borgstrom bikes.

Robert and Laura admit swimming isn't their strength. So in the winter they took classes at the YMCA to improve. Even with the swimming classes, the two still do better on land.

"My favorite part of the triathlon is the part I'm done with," Laura said. "I usually rank best in the run so that's the strongest part for me."

"I really enjoy the biking part and I do enjoy the last mile of the run," Robert said. "I never thought biking would be such a physical sport but it really pushes you to go faster."

For Laura, competing in triathlons has taught her the importance of goal setting when it comes to exercise. It's also given her healthy competition with her husband.

"I was 30 pounds heavier before I did my first triathlon," Laura said. "I hated exercise. Just by doing these triathlons, it's given me a goal to focus on instead of just going and struggling through a two-mile run. Now my goal is to beat Robert."

Even more than the exercise, competing in triathlons has given the Millers a chance to spend weekends together this summer. While Mom and Dad compete, Lexie and her 9-year-old sister Chloe cheer them on.

"Going to different triathlons has seemed like mini-vacations," said Robert. "The kids cheer us out of the water and they're such an encouragement to us. If it wasn't a family thing I don't think we'd do it at all."

"We've always given them the option of staying home with Grandma or going over to a friend's house," Laura said. "But they wouldn't miss it for the world. When you're tired and you see their smiling faces it means everything to you."

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