Millie Jackson is the Associate Dean for Collections at The University of Alabama Libraries. She has a Ph.D. in English.

Below is a photo of Millie followed by an interview where she candidly explains her motivation and desire to achieve her goals.  She is an inspiration to us and we look forward to having Millie join us at She Does Tri in April.  Enjoy Millie’s story and I hope you find her words as touching as I did.

* What gave you the desire to do a triathlon and sign up for the She Does Tri camp?

I have been working out again for about a year but my workouts didn’t become really serious or consistent until I began working with my current trainer, Sam Morgan. It was a hard year. Last Thanksgiving I fell and injured my left leg. I had two surgeries in March and it took a few months to recover.

The desire to do a triathlon came gradually over the summer. I’m a former runner and decided that I really wanted to be able to run again so that started it. I started running a little over the summer and set a goal of a 5K by December. Sam got me in the pool this summer initially to help with my knees. I started asking him questions about my stroke though so he started helping me improve. I have a lot of friends who ride with the Druid City Bicycle Club in Tuscaloosa who have encouraged me to start riding again. I recently purchased a new bike so I can join them. I did not realize that there were different distances for triathlons until one of my cousins completed her first triathlon this summer. When I looked at the sprint distance and realized that it wasn’t as long as I thought, I decided to set a goal of doing one in the next four years. After I talked to Sam about it, the time line shrank dramatically. I started looking for information on women and triathlons, which is how I found She Does Tri camp. I always seek support and community for the things I do and I thought that the camp sounded like a great opportunity. Krista answered my e-mails right away and has been really encouraging.

The other thing that made me start thinking about doing a triathlon was the half marathon my cousins registered for that is at the end of February. I was going to do the 5K but I didn’t really feel like being the only one up at 6 am on Saturday for it. After thinking about it further, I decided I would set a goal of doing the half marathon with the rest of them. I want to finish that race too. I know I may walk a good bit but just being able to think about doing it is an accomplishment since I could barely walk a block about four months ago.

· What things have you accomplished through training?

Lots since June! I am much stronger and can do so much more than I could at the beginning. I have lost 73 pounds so far and 53 inches total. Most of all I feel much better and I feel more confident. My knees do not hurt like they did when I was at a higher weight. This week Sam reminded me that the first time we worked together I was trying to do squats with a chair. He reminded me of this after we had spent an hour in the pool swimming laps and starting to work on flip turns.

* What are some of your goals for this year with triathlon, fitness, etc.?

I want to finish my first triathlon. I have two on the calendar for the summer of 2011 – one in May or June and one in August. Initially the open swim was the scariest part to me when I started thinking about doing the triathlon. The bike portion is what seems challenging me for the Luray Triathlon though since it is hilly and I live in a relatively flat place. I have completed two 5K’s this fall. When I started running again (slowly and not far), I decided I would set a goal of a 5K by December. That moved up to October because I decided I wanted to do the Komen 5K. I was happy to finish and I did run most of the first mile before I started walking. Then I registered for another one with my cousin who lives in Atlanta. I walked most of that one because the course was mainly up hill. I want to be able to run an entire 5K.

My main goal is to feel better and to be healthier. I want a regular fitness routine to be part of my life for the rest of my life.

* How does the training make you feel and what are some of the benefits to working toward a goal?

Training has made me feel great. I feel less stressed and I have a lot more energy. The real difference started when I started a consistent schedule and developed more accountability for what I am doing on days I don’t train with Sam. He gives me a schedule for four weeks that I keep track of and talk to him about. I do something at least 5 days a week. I look forward to my workouts. I like the challenges in my training program. Sam has been very encouraging and has motivated and challenged me. That has been very important.

There are many benefits. One is getting off my blood pressure medication. I have also discovered that I really can do things I never thought I could do.

About a month or so ago I began going to the Rec Center early in the morning on the days I work out by myself. I really like starting the day that way.

* How has your nutrition changed or how would you like it to change?

Absolutely! I’ve been following a fairly restricted diet (monitored by a doctor) and I have basically cut out sugar and bread. I don’t miss sugar as much as I thought I might. I always looked for sugar and caffeine when I was feeling stressed or tired or for no reason at all. I grew up with the “food as comfort and reward” mindset. It isn’t always easy but it’s worth it. I haven’t had caffeine in some time either.

* What does your normal weekly workout schedule look like and how important is each different activity you are doing (swim, bike, run and lift)?

So far my schedule has look something like this: Monday – walk/run and weights for upper body, Wednesday – stairs and push ups or swim, Friday – walk/run and weights lower body, Tuesday and Thursday – work with Sam. I’ve done a lot of cardio and strength training since June. In November my schedule is going to change to get ready for the half marathon and then the triathlon.

* What would you tell women who are afraid to do do a triathlon or triathlon camp?

I was in New York a few weeks ago for a meeting. I bought a t-shirt that says “Go for it: Life is not a dress rehearsal.” You have to do things that challenge you and that you want to do. Life is too short to be afraid to try.

* If you have anything else to add or have something different to write about please feel free.

I think my mental attitude has been really important. I’m willing to try pretty much anything that is thrown at me. I can’t always do it right away but I know I will be able to in a few weeks or a few months. I have tried not to say I want to do X by this date or I want to weigh X by this date. I’m trying to just let my training and weight loss progress. Obviously races have dates that are goals though. It doesn’t mean I don’t get frustrated with myself from time to time because I can’t do something right away. That’s just part of who I am though.

Creating the calendar that David suggested in his webinar with dates of races, vacations, work travel and other things that might interrupt training has helped a lot. I can see how far apart each event is and how much time there is to prepare.

I turned 50 last January. I had wanted to lose 100 lbs before I turned 50. It didn’t happen because I didn’t really have a plan and I wasn’t being consistent with my training or eating. Now I expect to hit 100 lbs by my 51st birthday. I am continually surprised by what I am doing and what I am able to do because of adding a consistent training program to my life. It’s a vital part of my busy schedule.

Millie Jackson