Three years ago Gabriola’s Deborah Blake was facing a health crisis.
She had to move her aging parents into a care home and through the process learned about health problems that were an issue in her family.
It made her realize she needed to change things in her life and get more active to improve her health.
“I decided I would make some lifestyle changes,” said Blake.
She joined a walk/run group led by personal trainer Lesley Standerwick.
After a while Blake began to feel healthier and was enjoying the social aspect of the group. That social aspect was one of the driving forces that kept her going.
“I started to feel motivated. I started to feel really good. I had more energy,” said Blake. “It was a long, slow process.
In her walk/run group she met Susan Brookes, who had worked for years for Triathlon B.C. That friendship led Brookes to learn about the Qualicum Beach Triathlon. Brookes decided she would compete in the triathlon. It required her to bike 18 kilometres, run five km and swim 400 metres.
One problem was Blake wasn’t a good swimmer. She knew some basics, but wasn’t sure if she had enough knowledge to compete in that portion of the triathlon.
She turned to Nanaimo’s parks and recreation department for help. The department directed Blake to Maurya Tatler, the City of Nanaimo’s aquatic coordinator.
For four months, she rode her bike from the Gabriola ferry terminal to Beban Park to take swimming lessons from Tatler.
“She (Tatler) had complete confidence in me. Her confidence created commitment. I felt like I can do this,” said Blake.
After about the third session Blake began to get really excited about the process.
“Maurya really inspired me,” said Blake.
Blake didn’t finish in the Top 10 during the triathlon but for her it wasn’t about being the winner. It was about the accomplishment of finishing the race, something she wouldn’t have been able to do three years ago before deciding to change her lifestyle.
“I had a big smile on my face the whole time I was doing it,” said Blake.
Blake said she couldn’t have done it without the support of friends and family, such as her husband, Darryl Receveur, and sister, Laura Blake.
Now with confidence in her abilities and a great support network behind her Blake has made the commitment to compete in three triathlons a year with her granddaughter.
The City of Nanaimo’s parks, recreation and culture department offers aquatics and swimming lessons for all ages and abilities, including one-on-one sessions. For more information about programs offered please go to www.nanaimo.ca and click on the parks, recreation and culture tab or call 250-756-5200.