During the holidays, we were able to meet with Gabriela Gallegos, an attorney and a full-time Race Director for Race El Paso. In addition to putting together three local races, including the all-female Mighty Mujer Triathlon, Gabriela spent most of 2012 training for her first IRONMAN. She raced and completed IRONMAN Cozumel on November 25th . We spoke about her career, training, and her growing passion for triathlons as the means of exercise, personal achievement and community empowerment.
Gabriela’s training has been very progressive. She began with sprint triathlons, then competed in Olympic-distance and half-ironman triathlons before committing to the full IRONMAN.
Gabriela purchased her first bike and began cycling in 2005 when a colleague described her tri training and explained the different triathlon distances. Soon after, she joined a running group and a masters swim class. Competing in a triathlon was an “awesome experience” for Gabriela. She described crossing her first finish line with “personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment,” something that becomes less common over time. Gabriela competed in a few more sprint triathlons that season.
When she moved to El Paso in 2008, Gabriela worried about participating in races and having quality training in a group setting. In the summer of 2009, she did Socorro Chile Harvest Triathlon and was impressed by the organization of that event. Disappointed with the quality of local, El Paso, Events, Gabriela realized, “There was no good reason why El Paso couldn’t have one [triathlon]”. So, Gabriela set out to organize one. She became a USAT-certified Race Director and founded Race El Paso, an organization that produces many local El Paso races. Eagle in the Sun Triathlon debuted in the summer of 2010. In 2011, Race El Paso added Flying Horse Half Marathon & 5k to the calendar. Mighty Mujer Triathlon was the third race organized by Race El Paso, added to the schedule of events in 2012.
Gabriela founded Race El Paso to provide opportunities for local and visiting athletes to set goals and get more active. Race El Paso events were meant to encourage first-timers to challenge themselves while offering veteran athletes a first-rate experience. This year, Race El Paso has four races on the calendar: Mighty Mujer Triathlon on April 20th, Mission Valley Duathlon presented by El Paso Sports Commission on June 23rd, Eagle in the Sun Triathlon on September 1st, and Flying Horse Half Marathon & 5K on October 26th.
Gabriela stays very busy with Race El Paso event planning and organizing, but she also stays active and continues to train for events. She prefers to race only a few times each season as a “reward” for her hard training. Her advice to triathletes is to approach training in small chunks, “Stick to your training and your body will adjust. Before you know it, everything is easier.” “Concentrate on what is in front of you, and not what is ahead of you,” she said. And don’t forget to reward yourself with a race. There are plenty of local ones now on the Race El Paso calendar!
Meet Suzanne: wife, mother of two, physical therapist, recreational mountain and road biker and cancer survivor. The many roles she has in her life keep Suzanne busy for the most part, but she makes sure she can find the time to ride at least 3 times a week. Originally from Pueblo, Colorado, she started riding 10 years ago “just for fun”. She would go for short rides here and there whenever time allowed. Maybe, because her competitive nature biking started to grow more inside her so she later decided to join a group and participate in beginner races.
Unfortunately last December she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of her chemotherapy-weaken immune system she was forced to stop riding in fear that the minor scratch could become a dangerous infection. So Suzanne had to miss in those weekly rides with her husband, friends and The 12 Hour of Old El Paso, where the mountain biking community and her friends were able to collect over 3,000 dollars that were donated to The Rio Grande Cancer Foundation on her behalf through a raffle.
When asked about what she likes about riding her answer was that she enjoys the sensation of being in control with the occasional little bump that may bring some out of control and excitement at the same time. She also enjoys the opportunity to challenge herself to go “just one more hill” without slowing down or stopping. Not to mention the social aspect of the ride; being able to meet and spend some time with the new friends she was been able to find through the group she belongs to, but most importantly the time that she is able to spend riding with her husband where they just enjoy the ride, the nature around them and it also allows them to retrospect and get courage for what lays ahead.