Motivation Monday – Meet Jacquelyn Owens
I served four years in the United States Air Force and was honorably discharge. My accident didn’t occur while I was in the Air Force though, it happened after I left the service. I was involved in a traumatic car accident on Sep 30th, 2007. The Honda Civic I was in hit a light post, ricocheted, wrapped around a tree and caught fire. Two of my friends died in the accident and the remaining three survived. I was the last to be pulled from the car before it blew up. I suffered from 3rd and 4th degree burns on my legs, which led to a left ankle/foot amputation, and also had a fractured femur. I was in the hospital for forty-five days, and boy was that a journey! In the beginning it was rough. I had to figure out how to get out of a rut. I had a strong support system through my mother, father, family and close friends, but there was a week where I didn’t want to do anything; I just laid there on the couch thinking – “why me?” I remember my father saying, “Kid you have to be strong, quitting is not an option!” Growing up with a Boatswain-mate as a father was tough, but I’m thankful for it because it strengthened my character. At the time I didn’t want to hear anything, but finally after a week of feeling sorry for myself I made a choice to get out of the ditch.
I had just started a master’s program at Norwich University before my accident. I called the school on a Friday and asked when the next available class would start. The lady said, “We have one starting this coming Monday, and the next one doesn’t start until March 2008.” I thought for a moment and said to myself, “if I wait until March I will lose my mind.” Needless to say, I started that Monday and that occupied the majority of my time. Along with going back to school, I started back at work in January 2008. I hired a personal trainer to help me get back on track physically. I once knew how to walk, and I was determined to learn how to walk again. I went from two crutches, to one crutch, and finally down to a cane. I was walking on my own in April 2008 with the help of my new prosthesis. During my battle to recover, the most inspirational person by my side, my father, was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in January 2010. To this day I still hear my Dad’s voice, “you have to be strong kid, quitting is not an option.” I made a commitment to myself and to him to excel in all things. I graduated with an MBA in 2010, and started to be more active by doing 5Ks, 10Ks and half marathons, even while pregnant. The minimum goal was doing an event at least once a month for the whole year of 2011, a goal I completed. My exercise activity was put on hold for a little bit when I had a baby boy in May 2012; he has brought a lot of sunshine my way even on cloudy days. He is another motivation for me, and has helped inspire me to start competing in triathlons – a big difference from being a competitive soccer player for the All Air Force Soccer Team. I wanted to change it up a bit and challenge myself. Training has been crunched, but as always, it is all about balance.
Fired up you ask? Your damn right I am fired up. It took some hard work to get an opportunity to qualify for Nationals. I had to qualify within 40% of the 1st place time of the previous year’s winner. I attempted to qualify at ITU San Diego, but didn’t qualify in the necessary time; my time was 2:03 and I needed 1:55. I was kind of bummed, but I remained determined. I needed to qualify at a USAT sanctioned event, so the following weekend I drove eight hours to Redwood City, California to attempt to qualify again. Well, it was worth it, I qualified! At the Redwood Triathlon I was introduced to TRWB by a member named Elias Sanchez.
This year I traveled to Austin, Texas to compete in the USA Paratriathlon National Championships. I didn’t place in the top 3, which would have allowed me to advance to Worlds, but what I did do was cut my time, and I had a blast doing it. The women I compete against in Tri 5 (moderate leg impairment or below knee amputees) for Paratriathlon are awesome athletes. Some have been doing triathlons for a long time and often train 3-4 hours daily, some are even Olympians. Considering all the variables in my life, it can and will get better with determination, consistency and heart. My fiancé who is currently in the Army and is a TRWB member was my handler and has been very supportive of me and my goals. I met a couple of TRWB members Thomas Lee and Mike O’hara who were welcoming and supportive. My next event is ITU in Edmonton, Canada for the Paratriathlon National Championships, and I have a few more events scheduled for the remainder of 2013. I continue to be fired up and set the pace with God as my guide. Go Team RWB.
“When the going gets tough the tough get going, but it’s the toughest that never stop.”