Casey Rasmussen had something to prove to herself–and to her young son when she entered the Lake Frances Triple P Triathlon earlier this month. Her goal was to finish the 16.5-mile course in 2 hours and 30 minutes, but more than that she wanted her son to see her do something outside of her comfort zone and work hard to succeed at it.
“Our kids deserve to see their parents strive to be the best version of ourselves,” believes Casey, a single mom who also works full-time as the Media Specialist for Pondera Medical Center. “I did this–and it was hard–but I wanted Kanin to know it is okay to try something new, even if it’s a struggle.”
Even though Kanin is only four, Casey is already looking down the road to when he is older. “Someday my little four-year-old won’t be little anymore. He will go through hard things. He will have to fight and be strong. And he’s going to know he has it in him because he watched his mom fight to be her best for him every single day.”
Casey admits she has more than just a competitive streak.
“I am the most competitive person I know,” she smiled. “This was my first triathlon. I run a lot and have done some fun runs but never a triathlon. I’m not a good swimmer so when I saw that it was kayaking instead, I signed up.” Casey met Triathlon organizer Carol Green through her job at PMC. “I adore Carol and wanted to be part of the event.”
Casey had never kayaked until about a month ago. “I just knew I needed to get a feel for it and that I would be able to do it. I knew I could bike 12 miles and run three miles, not because I train really hard or because I am a phenomenal athlete, but because the way I parent my child is all out,” she shared.
The journey from being a competitive high school and college athlete to exercising as a normal routine was very tough for Casey. “I feel like I have learned a lot about health and wellness and now focus on the health aspect. I don’t drink alcohol or pop or eat tons of sugar and junk because it makes me groggy and tired and I’m a better mom–and competitor–when I feel good,” she shared.
he majority of Casey’s triathlon training was done in “mom mode” with Kanin by her side. “I keep myself in good physical shape so that I never am too tired to play or be active with Kanin. We play all day long and that’s how I train. I wanted to do the triathlon but am so protective of my time with Kanin, I just decided he had to be there while I trained,” said Casey, and her work schedule allowed for that.
A graduate of Choteau High School and University of Montana-Western, she moved back to the Conrad area just over two years ago and started working at Pondera Medical Center. “I have a schedule that works with my co-parenting plan and I have the best gift from our administration that I could ever hope for, their confidence,” said Casey.
What was her training routine leading up to the Triple P Triathlon?
“On the days Kanin was with this dad, I spent mornings and evenings running or biking and I worked the majority of my work week,” said Casey. “When Kanin was with me I did some workouts at home while he slept; but mostly my training consisted of just playing and keeping up with a very active four-year-old.”
Kanin completed much of the Triathlon alongside his mom or cheering her and the other competitors on from his seat on the bike or in the stroller she pushed for nearly 12 miles.
“If I slowed down or struggled, he would tell me, ‘You can do it Mom!’ or ‘Come on Mom, go fast!,’” recalled Casey.
“Kanin and I visited the entire bike ride looking at birds and talking about normal kid things. When the hills got long or the wind was bad, I talked to him about it. I would tell him, “Okay Kanin, this is going to be tough but we can do it! We can do everything. We never quit!”
Casey and Kanin have done several fun runs together and each time they cross the finish line–together. The Triathlon was no different. When Kanin got a little tired, Casey ran with him on her back until he was ready to run again. “I put him on my back and told him that he raises me up everyday and now it was my turn to carry him. When he saw the finish line, he said he was ready to run so we grabbed hands and together we crossed hand in hand,” said an emotional Casey.
“The thing I am hands down most proud of is that every time we passed someone, Kanin cheered for them. He waved or said, ‘Good job’ or gave them a fist pump. When we got done, he sat at the end and we clapped for everyone who finished. I love that about him,” beamed Casey.
“It’s important to work hard and be your best; but it’s more important to be a good person. Kanin was kind to everyone volunteering at the Triathlon, at our bed and breakfast and at the restaurant. It just means so much to me that this triathlon was a chance for people to see the goodness in him.”
So how does Casey juggle her career, being a mom and finding time for herself?
“It’s through a lot of discipline, early mornings and late nights and the support of my work family at PMC that I am able to build a career and stay active. But first and foremost, I’m a mom. Everything else falls into place if you put your children first. I’ve had to dig deep for strength many times and in comparison, a triathlon was easy,” she shared.
“If you are new to fitness or afraid to try something new, don’t be!,” encourages Casey. “At the end of the day, you are the only one looking at yourself in the mirror. Give yourself something to be proud of. But, even more important, give your kids something to be proud of. They don’t care if you’re a mediocre kayaker, biker or runner,” she laughed.
If you were wondering, Casey and Kanin beat their goal and finished the Triple P Triathlon in 2 hours and 18 minutes.
“What’s important is that your kids know they are loved. And that we, as working moms, know it is possible to create a life where we can not only be great moms, but also have a career and challenge ourselves to do things that make us stronger,” concluded Casey.