Ashley is one of my Racelab teammates and one of my closet friends. Ashley and I have a lot in common, we are both triathletes that love mountain biking, both have blonde hair and even share a birthday, you could say she is the peanut butter to my jelly. On the other hand we are also very different, she’s an animal lover me not so much and I’m pretty quiet and her, well…not so much! In our local triathlon community Ashley is well known for her athletic prowess, it seems like I see a Facebook post about her athletic accomplishments every week, be it a picture from the podium or a comment from one of our teammates about how much Ashley inspires them. Just looking at Ashley’s 155 character profile on Instagram is impressive, she is a:
- 9x Ironman Finisher
- 10x Ironman 70.3 Finisher
- 2x Ironman 70.3 World Championship Finisher
- 5x Xterra Triathlon Finisher
- 1x Xterra Triathlon World Championship Finisher
- 2x 24 Hour Solo Mountain Bike Race Finisher
and somehow she still has time to travel the world, work full time and pet lots of dogs!
Training alongside Ashley for the past six years I have always looked up to her. The results listed above may imply that Ashley was blessed with a lot of natural talent, but I have seen firsthand how hard she works for those results. She trains relentlessly. She pushes hard in each and every workout and never loses focus. She learned to swim as an adult and is now one of the fastest amateur triathletes in the open water. She’s overcome injuries and continues to break through barriers every year. Due to all of her experience she has also become like an older sister to me, someone I can ask any question no matter how embarrassing or how last minute.
While her hard work, experience and results are impressive, what I admire most is how willing she is to encourage others. She is always willing to help a teammate or a new triathlete, excitedly giving advice and answering questions. She does so with such a vibrant energy, an energy that is infectious. Most times her advice and encouragement is lighthearted and silly, because despite all of her success she is grounded enough to know that we all pursue these hobbies because they are fun. However, she has this gift of always knowing exactly what to say, even when the moment doesn’t call for humor. Recently Ashley and I were getting ready to compete as a female duo team at one of our local mountain bike races. This was my first time at an event like this, where all the athletes would be on the course at the same time. I was feeling a bit nervous, particularly about aggressive passing from some of the male competitors. I will never forget how Ashley encouraged me and how much it meant to me. After jokingly telling me she wouldn’t leave for her laps unless she saw me smile and suggesting that we sing Taylor Swift’s ‘Shake it Off’ as our theme song, she took a breath got serious, looked at me and said with confidence, “and if anything happens just remember, YOU DESERVE TO BE OUT THERE.” It was exactly what I needed to hear.
I’m so happy to be donating a bike in Ashley’s honor this month and to share a bit about how she has inspired me to keep working towards my goals. I genuinely hope that the girl who receives a bike in Ashley’s name will have a friend like Ashley to ride bikes with, sing songs with and laugh with, and someone to encourage her as they both reach for their dreams together.