Pay It Forward 2013 Athlete!

Merry Christmas!  In what has become my favorite week of the entire year…I have decided to finally make a decision about the winner of my 2013 Pay It Forward athlete.

First, thanks to everyone who entered.  I was touched by all your stories and honestly, wanted to sell my house, SUV and start a non-for profit organization to do more with my time and energy —  You all are amazingly inspiring!

Courtney Javorski is the winner!  Courtney is a 35 year old mother of two (teenager + toddler) and has always dreamed about doing an Ironman.  During the pregnancy of her 2nd child, she was diagnosed with cancer.  Courtney went through all the chemo, radiation, drugs and every thing else to beat cancer.  Two years later, her cancer came back.  Here is an exert from her email to me:

Things were looking up & I was about to hit my 2 year mark of being cancer free in June of 2011, but on April 20th of that year, (I’ll never forget the date cause triathlon season was getting started) during one of my many scans I was told that cancer had come back. Devastated, blind-sided, and confused were only some of the emotions I was feeling. I was given such good odds, 90 percent chance it would never return. How could I be that 10 percent?! Depression set in as everything that followed happened so fast. I began my chemo & radiation treatments in May & had some not so pleasant side effects. Skin blistering & darkening, bruising from needles & shut down veins, loss of appetite, fatigue…

Of course, in addition to the challenges of cancer itself, Courtney also has the financial, personal and professional challenges that rear their ugly head when we go through a life- altering illness.

I am hoping, with some help from me, Courtney can reach her goal of crossing an Ironman finish line in 2013!

Congratulations Courtney!

Courtney will start blogging in the New Year, so she can keep you updated on her journey.

Merry Christmas & Happy 2013!


  1. Courtney is lucky to have you and I will be cheering for her along the way!!
    And oh man that sounds like a rough life! Makes me want to smack myself for any complaining I do…

  2. Wow! Good luck to Courtney.

  3. Good Luck Courtney!! Wishing you all the best on this amazing adventure

  4. fantastic, Jen! So glad to see you keep this going. I hope you both have a great year working together!!!!!!!!!

  5. Thank you Jen & everyone else. This is an amazing gift & I hope to take you all on my ironman journey through my blog! Merry Christmas & happy new year :)

  6. I second Elizabeth’s comment that Courtney is lucky to have you as a coach and BEST OF LUCK to Courtney this year!!! I look forward to following the journey!

  7. Congratulations to a well deserving lady! The best to Courtney and her family!

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Dear Santa:

Dear Santa:

This year my Christmas list is not going to be about world peace or pleasesellmyhouse.  Instead, it is going to be about Triathlon and what I want to ask for Christmas and 2013.

  • Please just give us Midwesterners some sun this winter.  We are not greedy.  Just would like maybe 1-2 days/week of some sunshine to keep everyone from screaming at one another.
  • How about a little bit of gratitude instead of entitlement?  I know times have changed, but this sense of entitlement has spilled out into our great sport of Triathlon and I liked it best back in the day where everyone was grateful for everything.  My biggest pet peeve is when people are not grateful for things.
  •  Can you please help me out with Training Peaks?  I love the software and it is a product I am extremely grateful for, but can you please get my athletes to fill it out on a regular basis?  I cannot read minds (that could be a “wish list” item actually) and I cannot make magic (another “wish list” item) but if I am not updated on Training Peaks on a regular basis then my job becomes infinitely harder.  As a Type-A athlete, I cannot wrap my head around this one for whatever reason.
  • How about a little sharing and love?  I think this is one of the professions where Triathlon coaches are multiplying by the day.  Some of that is good – and some of that is not so good.  I think there is enough room for various coaches – the good ones always prevail anyway.  However, what happened to all of us coaches talking about different ways to get the best out of our athletes?  For some reason there are “secretive” discussions going on instead of open discussions, forums, emails and more open communication so we can all grow – learn from one another – and make the best triathletes we can.   As I always say, coaching triathlon is not life or death…and there are no secrets…just about building relationships and figuring how what really works for each athlete.  I would love to get a small group of Triathlon coaches together on a monthly open discussion to bounce ideas off of and help one another become better coaches.  I really see a need for this.  And, I wish other coaches would reach out for help!  We can all help one another.
  • And, building on the above, what about female athletes?  Please help them understand that we need to support one another (we can use this for politics & religion too, right?), SUPPORT each other’s differences,  different ideas on how to train, or what to race, or what to wear OR even different needs and desires in this sport.  NOT everyone wants to win.  NOT everyone wants to go gluten-free (or whatever it is).  People make their own choices.  IT IS OK and we do not have to approve.  If we all would remove ourselves from all of this – think about how refreshing that would be AND how much time we would have to do other things – like train and recover!
  • Santa, can you please provide patience for these athletes…and remind everyone it is December.  I do not need to see PRs in December or massive miles in December.  Instead, please ask everyone to enjoy the holidays.  Drink some egg nog.  Partake in some holiday drinks and eat Christmas cookies.  In fact, please do not weigh yourself in the entire month of December.  Does it really matter when your “A” race is in June?  July?  No, not at all.  And, please remind these athletes that the WILL be running slower, swimming slower and biking slower in December.  That is the plan.  Remind these athletes that it does all come back…when the time is right.  Unless these athletes are racing an IM in March, they need to relax.
  • I know this is a big “please”, but can you please remind have athletes that IF they ask what things will make them faster, better and more efficient, then they need to listen and implement.  I spend a lot of time talking to athletes and discussing what they need to work on in the New Year, what will make them faster…and what they need to work on.  Inevitably, it is hard to change and mix things up.  Change is scary.  But, honestly, if they keep doing what they were doing – then they cannot expect different results.  IF the athlete has been talking about going to Masters or a Group run – THEN go.  Please do not blow it off, make excuses and then complain that their swimming is stagnant…or they are bored in the pool.  The options are in front of them.  Get out of your comfort zone and take some risks.  If you don’t want to change, then just stop complaining.  We all make choices.  Commit yourself and step up in 2013.  Face your fears.
  • Can you please invent a shocker that will give an athlete a shock every time they compare themselves to anyone else.  No need to kill anyone, just a shock that is strong enough to slap them when they start thinking silly things and want to run 100 miles in December because they ate too much pie or their best friend is doing it “just because.”
  • Santa, can you please help the athletes understand the joy of this sport?  That we are supposed to do this for FUN.  It is a hobby for 99% of these athletes.  Help them understand that we need balance, we need structured plans, we need a mentor, a cheerleader and a master weaver…someone to weave everything seamlessly together for the benefit of the athlete.  Can you please tell them that it is a privilege to have the funds and health AND TIME to do this sport.  I know many people that would kill to do this sport – but for many, many reasons, some we could never even imagine, they cannot.  Remind these athletes that this is a privilege not a chore.  Getting up at 5am and getting into a cold pool is NOT a chore.  It is a privilege.
  • Remind athletes to thank others.  Remind athletes to THANK their local businesses, their race directors, their governing body, their mentors/coaches, their teammates, and their family.  During the holiday season, really step back and remember who and what helped you achieve your goals this year and say THANKS.  It goes a long way and doesn’t take too much time.

I realize this is a very tough list, Santa.  And, last time I sent you a tough list was when a teenager and I wanted to be like Michael Jordan – and we all know how that worked out.  So, please, this time around, help me out!?

Thanks and Merry Christmas!  xo


  1. Well said Jen. Good list and many I would even add to my list. And about chatting once a month with some coaches I would be up for those chats. I may be new to in triathlon coaching ranks but I have been coaching for long long time. I’ve got to have one idea:) Good luck with Santa

  2. Count me in if you start a coach’s group! :)

    AND if you figure out how to get all your athletes to log into TP and update regularly, let us know, ok?? I’m with you in NOT understanding why that is so challenging??

    OK so I AM doing an IM in March so therefore I AM running 100+ miles this month so nobody judge me, ok?? 😉

  3. Been a while since you blogged. Sorry about your house not selling, I know that has to be stressful.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and everything.

    I don’t know much about coaching, and stuff, but hope you have a good year. I know you will be successful probably in your sport, but hope your Coaching Aspect is with less stress. You are very busy, and it would be nice if your athletes took the time to help you, so you can help them.


  4. This was probably my favorite post ever from you Jen!! Beautiful!!

  5. Yes. LOVE IT. It’s not rocket science, I don’t know why people can’t do triathlon *and* BE NICE! I only wish I were closer so I could just soak up all the awesomeness and smart thoughts from you and my other favorite IL coach :)

  6. Maybe I can play Santa a little. I’ve been thinking a lot about the athlete data topic.

  7. I’ve been thinking about a lot of what you ‘wished for’ in the past couple months. I have a hard time as I feel I am usually going against the grain with what people expect from me. I should be on a tri team, I should have a coach, I should still be working at my old job, I should be getting married, pffft, I should want to get married, I should want to do several IMs next year (this one took me a while to realize 1 was enough) and whatever else people *think* I should be doing. And yesterday something clicked (it might disappear soon, but I’ll hold onto it as long as I can). I don’t have to feel guilty for not doing what others *think* I should be doing. I’m honest, I stick to my word, I’m not a flake, I am beyond grateful for anyone and everyone’s help. And now I’lll shut up and cross my fingers your athletes communicate with you and take your advice!!! 😀

  8. Hi Jen –
    ‘Been doing sprints for the past few yrs and would like to take my game to the next level (oly and him). In ned of help – swimming specifically. Email back please?


    (Dr Desiree Oliveros’ hubby)

  9. So a lot of times when I read your blog and it has something about your athletes in there I wonder – Is she talking about me? I think she might be talking about me. But this time I didn’t think that!

    I like to update TP (although I did start to slack towards the end of the season but not on the important key workouts!). And I try to LISTEN to what you tell me and DO what you say – if I didn’t, then why have a coach? And I have stopped comparing myself to others…And I agree that this sport should be fun and it’s a privilege and I thank volunteers at races…so I don’t have a guilty conscience reading this one. =)

    I hope Santa delivers for you this year. Merry Christmas!

  10. Wow! Our Xmas lasts are quite similar! Very well said Jen!

  11. Love this post- great perspective AND an excellent reminder to follow through on joining group sessions (*masters !*) & not making your life harder by lagging on the TP updates! Your point about women is interesting because I go through the same thing at work (in a male dominated industry)- why are we focused on beating each other/ comparing ourselves constantly when supporting each other would be so much more impactful to the group overall? No easy answers to that one. Now, off to update TP!

    Happy holidays!

  12. jen, sounds like you need a break from your athletes! :( i always love your attitude and how you come off when you let it out. i read this on my blog, it’s from 2009 when i was training for IMKY. XXOO. -judi

    Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets,
    so love the people who treat you right,
    forget about the ones who don’t,
    and believe that everything happens for a reason.
    If you get a chance, take it.
    If it changes your life, let it.
    Nobody said life would be easy,
    they just promised it would be worth it.
    Live simply.
    Love generously.
    Care deeply.
    Speak kindly.
    And enjoy your life.

  13. LOL luv it! funny it looks a lot like my list to Santa!…

  14. For the life of me I can’t figure why people wouldn’t update their TP?
    LOVE your list!

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