Hard Work Pays Off for Triathlete

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COTTAGE GROVE, Ore. — You can do anything you put your mind to–that’s the life motto for one Cottage Grove woman who had to overcome two obstacles just to compete in this weekend’s triathlon.

This week Mindy Garner is lacing up her running shoes, putting on her bike helmet, and getting one last practice in before this weekend’s tri at the Grove.

This Saturday’s triathlon is a first for her and a first that almost wasn’t possible.

“I’ve never been a swimmer,” Garner said. “Every time we’ve come out to the lake, my friends have had to keep an eye on me if I ever went out in the water.”

But her friends inspired her to stretch her muscles and try something new.

“Last year I got to come out here and watch them do it and I was like, ‘I’m going to do that!’,” Garner said.

So Garner got to work. First, she needed to learn how to swim.

“In February, I went and took swimming lessons and learned how to swim so that I could do this triathlon,” Garner said.

Those swimming lessons were a Christmas gift from her friends.

“It feels awesome, and I have all my friends to thank for it. They knew what I wanted to do, and they helped push me,” Garner said.

There was something else standing in Garner’s way.

“I have degenerative joint disorder in my neck,” she said.

Her joint disorder is so painful that it makes some of the simplest tasks extremely painful. Doctors told Garner she needed surgery, and that surgery was just what she needed to reach her goal.

“My neck started working really well after surgery, so it gave me the opportunity to actually do it,” Garner said.

Garner says she’s ready to bike, run, and even swim in her first triathlon, and she’ll cross the finish line in a new frame of mind.

“Pretty much anything you put your mind to, you can eventually do it,” Garner said.

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