Ironman 2011 Athletes

Alex Osias, 34     Bib Number 456

Boulder, CO, type 1 diabetes for less than one year

This is Alex’s second Ironman. She started doing triathlons as  part of a relay team 2 years ago.  Last year she wanted to do them on her own and was going to just do the Boulder 70.3.  Then she got a slot at Kona, the premier Ironman. She did Kona with support from Team WILD’s diabetes educator, Marcey Robinson and crossed the finish line with a smile on her face! Alex joined WILD because she wanted to be a part of something that is showing other women with diabetes that you can do whatever you want. You don’t have to miss opportunities in life because of the ‘Betes.


Gillian Forsyth, 43 Bib Number 692

Chicago, IL, Type 1 for 13 years


This will be Gillian’s first Ironman! She was never very athletic in high school and has never been very good at team sports such as soccer or softball.  She started running a couple of years before she was diagnosed with diabetes.  She ran her first marathon a year after she was diagnosed in Bordeaux, France. From there she became hooked on long distance running, although she was a little disappointed to find out that not all marathons serve wine at the water stops!  Gillian also began mountain biking and participated in 24 hour relay mountain bike races.  After moving to Chicago, the mountain biking stopped and she joined a marathon training group and even qualified for the Boston marathon several times.  Several years ago she started taking swim lessons with a couple of friends at the local Y, where a young Guatemalan swimmer named Hugo was the first to successfully teach her how to swim freestyle at the age of 38.

She then signed up for her first triathlon which was an all-women sprint distance event.  From there she did one Olympic distance. A year after learning how to swim, with two triathlons and many marathons under her belt she signed up for her first half ironman.  She trained and participated for Steelhead 70.3 distance completely on her own.  She had no idea what she was doing. She ended up buying her bike the day before the race and to made up her own training calendar. When she got into the water she was panic struck and nearly took the cap off to quit right then and there.  Once she calmed down she started the swim. It took forever, however she completed the race. After completing a couple of other half iron distances she knew that one day she would do a full ironman.

So, 19 marathons and 4 half ironmen later she signed up!  In Gillian’s mind it was fate that led her to IRONMAN WISCONSIN in 2011.  Not only is she training with a great group of triathletes but she is also doing it with 9 other type 1 diabetic women who are doing it for their first time also!  You can’t beat that!

For the past 13 years Gillian has been training and participating in endurance events keeping silent about her struggles of training with diabetes.  Although she knows that it CAN  be done it is such a relief to have the support and just to be training with other women who get it!  Meeting and training with the WILD girls has lifted a layer of difficulty off of training that has been priceless to Gillian. She compares it to running a marathon in clogs vs. running shoes or participating in an ironman on a mountain bike vs. a road bike.  It is like that, but a million times more beneficial!

When times get rough, Gillian goes by Lance Armstrong’s – “pain is temporary, quitting is forever”


Heidi-Jane James, 32

Wellington, NZ, type 1 for 18.5 years

Heidi-Jane is a primary school teacher by day and a 3 time Ironman! She has completed them all in under 12 hours and 38 minutes. Her best time to date is 11:51. With this amazing background, Heidi-Jane is Team WILD’s most experienced Ironwoman.

When Heidi-Jane was diagnosed with type 1, she was ranked #1 in NZ for 1500m and 3000m on the track.  She went on to become a National Track Champion and compete for NZ in cross country and track. When she graduated from university she started cycling and went to 3 ITU World Duathlon Champs in Belgium, Australia and Hungry.  Ironman was the next challenge she wanted to take on.  She always wanted to do one and now she has successfully done 3…by the end of next January, she will have done 5 and competed in the ITU World Long Distance Triathlon Champs.

New Zealand is a very small country and it is hard to find other people with diabetes that compete in these events.  There are 2 other women at do Ironman but they live at the other end of the country and there isn’t an organization like Team WILD in NZ.  Heidi-Jane wanted to race with other people who go through the same dramas that she does, thus she joined Team WILD.  Plus, she says, it looks like fun!

Jennifer Ahn, 38     Bib Number 560

Chicago, IL, Type 1 Diabetes for 15 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationJen will be participating in her first Ironman this September as a member of Team WILD in Madison, WI. She has been a part of the team for three years now, completing two half-ironman’s in 2009 and 2010. Jen joined Team WILD to help inspire women living with diabetes and says she would likely not be doing this if it wasn’t for Team WILD. She loves that they are a cohesive group of women that are supportive and fun! (quote from last year?)


Karen Lipinsky, 45     Bib Number 752

Boulder, CO, Type 1 Diabetes for 18 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationKaren works as a software analyst in Boulder, CO. This will be her first Ironman. She has completed many tri’s as well as two 70.3 distance Ironman’s with Team WILD. Ironman is not something Karen would have anticipated doing in her wildest dreams (nor would this type of thing have been the topic of any of her dreams for her first 4 decades!).  But once she started running, and then started doing triathlons with Team WILD, it became more and more fathomable. And she would just like to see if she can…

WILD has successfully helped Karen train for a race in two half-ironman events and she has no doubt that with WILD’s help she can also conquer Ironman Wisconsin!

Karen is the Team Captain, and in that role has discovered she is a superb motivational writer for athletes with diabetes! Expect to see more coming in the future from Karen, once she is an IRONWOMAN!

“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you” –Ovid


Karyn Brown, 36     Bib Number 518

Denver, CO, Type 1 Diabetes for 21 years

Karyn works as a mechanical engineer in Denver, CO where she lives with her husband. This will be Karyn’s first Ironman after being introduced to the sport in 2009, where she rode the 56 mile bike portion of Team WILD’s inaugural race in Austin, TX. She has then gone on to complete two ½ Ironman’s on her own as well as many shorter distance tri’s.

Karyn says she does not believe in “I can’t”, it leads to many “I don’t even try events”. When the opportunity came to do an Ironman with Team WILD she jumped on it! While Ironman can be much a solo sport Karyn loves the fact that being on Team WILD she gets to race with 10 other women, much less, 10 other women who all understand the ups and downs of diabetes (especially in endurance events). They all inspire Karyn. If they can do a 15 mile run, run a marathon, have three kids, or a full time job WITH diabetes, than why can’t she?

Karyn also loves to ski. She got 50 days of skiing on her telemarks this year before she shoulder surgery in March of 2011 and has continued her other hobbies despite the heavy volume of weekend training time for the Ironman.

Karyn’s Favorite Quote: “Well-behaved women rarely make history” Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

Kathleen Fraser, 44     Bib Number 726

San Francisco, CA, Type 1 Diabetes for 15 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationKathleen works in Diabetes research and outreach in San Francisco, CA. Her brother and niece also have type 1 diabetes. This will be Kathleen’s first Ironman. She has been on Team WILD since the inaugural race in 2009 and thought after two ½ Ironman’s, why not do the full Ironman? She does not consider herself an extreme athlete, and before WILD she did not consider herself an athlete at all. She was always active but definitely not athletic. The team was doing the Ironman, so Kathleen decided to do the Ironman! She says it’s about making a commitment to herself, to the team, and to the cause. She has set a goal to do her very best and believes that it truly is the journey that makes life so wonderful.

Kathleen does not think she would be attempting the Ironman if it were not for WILD. The Bay Area has a huge triathlon community and she has a close friend who did the triathlon thing 10 years ago. Kathleen had absolutely no interest. None. Zip. Not one person in her close social circle was involved in swimming, biking or running. Getting connected and staying connected locally has been a challenge of Kathleen’s.

WILD is the support and motivation she needed to continue down the challenging path of competing endurance events with diabetes. Having WILD keeps her looking forward at her goal…Team WILD in Wisconsin. For many of the WILD women this is all new and each seemingly small accomplishment takes on greater importance. Kathleen feels that we are all in it together.

She also feels as though she is paying the WILD energy, spirit and diabetes knowledge forward. Over the 2 years she has been involved with WILD, her social and support circle has expanded! When WILD Women come to SF, she is a part of their SF experience! She also loves seeing WILD Women every time she visits Chicago, for example. In fact, Kathleen would feel quite comfortable calling a WILD Woman she’s never met if she happened to be in her city. New Zealand here she comes (Heidi-Jane James)!

Motivational Quote that keeps Kathleen going: “I am determined to continue down this road and make it work for me”…..Owen W. 14 year old triathlete in California with type 1 diabetes.

Kathy Ziegert, 32     Bib Number 419

Madison, WI, Type 1 Diabetes for 19 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationThis will be Kathy’s first Ironman. She has been involved in sports throughout her entire childhood and into adulthood; mainly playing soccer and running.  She was diagnosed with diabetes during her 7th grade basketball season and went on to participate in track in the spring.  At that time, she didn’t know anyone her age with diabetes, but no one in her life indicated it should be something that stops her from doing things.  So, she found ways to manage being an athlete with diabetes.

Being active plays such an important role in Kathy’s diabetes management that it has become a part of how she defines herself.  She’s completed three marathons as well as the inaugural Team WILD event, the Longhorn 70.3 triathlon in 2009.  She likes the idea of pushing her body to its limits.  The marathon called out to her as a runner, and after becoming a triathlete with Team WILD, attempting the Iron-distance triathlon seems like the step for her.

She says, “It’s a bucket-list sort of thing!” Her favorite parts of training are:  the first push underwater off the wall in the pool, reaching a new maximum speed down a hill on the bike and the smiles she gets from people when she is running with her dog!

Kathy does not think she would be attempting the Iron-distance if it were not for Team WILD. She has learned such valuable information about insulin and carbohydrate needs during endurance events by being a part of this team.  She can attest to this knowledge, as her blood sugars were in the 400 mg/dL after finishing her first marathon 10 years ago.  Since joining the team, she have significantly less low blood sugars while training and her blood sugar was around 150 mg/dL after completing the Chicago marathon last year!  Being a part of this team reminds her that she is not alone in her struggles as a diabetic and an athlete.  As a team, she feels stronger and more powerful standing together than when standing alone.  She truly believes in the mission of Team WILD and loves the idea of inspiring others (both with and without diabetes) to get up and move!

Kathy’s favorite vegetables are kohlrabi and green beans but secretly loves jelly beans and Skittles

“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”  Maria Robinson

Lorrie DiCesare, 47     Bib Number 780

Chicago, IL, Type 1 Diabetes for 31 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationLorrie works as a Senior IT Manager in Chicago, IL and has been on Team WILD since the beginning. This will be her first Ironman, but has completed two ½ Ironman distances and many Sprint and Olympic tri’s as well.

She has always loved sports, especially team sports. She always loved playing basketball and softball.  Her high school basketball team won the state championship, which was the first ever state championship for her high school.  She can still remember the championship game like it was yesterday and sometimes even pulls out the video to watch as the came back from behind in the final minutes to win the game.  She says she still look the same as she did over 29 years ago, except for that eye shadow and some wrinkles!  What was she thinking??? And that hair…it was the 80’s and so stylish! She later went on to play collegiate fast pitch softball as a pitcher and switched over to slow pitch softball after college.

So why the switch to triathlons? Lorrie says that she always feels a bit out of her comfort zone when participating in triathlons. While she loves being a part of the WILD team, it’s still an independent sport.  Even though each team member will inspire and cheer other members on, it’s really the motivation, drive, mental strength, commitment and challenge from within that counts.  So, she says “It’s the feeling of beating those demons within my head that constantly question my abilities because I’m outside my comfort zone that makes it all worth it.”

But despite the independence you need to complete a triathlon, Lorrie loves being a part of Team WILD. She especially loves what WILD stand for- to show the world that we have strength and courage and that diabetes doesn’t control who we are and what we can and can’t do.

Lorrie can also spin a basketball on all of her fingers with both hands!

Lorrie’s Favorite Quote: Success is always to be found on the other side of fear.   –Unknown

Lyndsay Riffe, 29     Bib Number 292

Chicago, IL, Type 1 diabetes for 26 years

Team WILD, Ironman, diabetes, athlete, inspiration, motivationLyndsay works as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Chicago, IL. She has participated in two 70.3 Ironman’s with Team WILD as well as been a helpful part of the Team WILD staff. This will be Lyndsay’s first full Ironman. She loves endurance events for the process of getting to the finish line. Having finished two half ironman’s she knew she enjoyed training and competing and was up for the challenge. S

Lyndsay enjoys the intense training regimen that keeps her on track  for getting a lot of time exercising to help with her blood sugar as well as knowing it is great for her heart and overall health. In an odd way—it is during endurance activity she feels like “I don’t have diabetes!” Finishing an Ironman is a life goal of Lyndsay’s. Training with Team WILD was the perfect opportunity to tackle that goal now rather than saying “someday.” She loves having training buddies from Team WILD and teammates that understand diabetes.

Lyndsay’s Quote to live by: “Keep your meals clean and your workouts dirty.”

Susie Olsen, 40      Bib Number 619

Chicago, IL. Type 3 Supporter, her whole life!

Susie is a supporter of Team WILD. She doesn’t have diabetes, but she trains with several members of the WILD Ironman team in Chicago, promotes the cause, and supports her WILD friends in any way she can.

Susie works as a Regulatory Affairs specialist for a medical device manufacturer in the Chicago suburbs. Ironman Wisconsin will be her first Ironman distance event, and her third triathlon as a supporter of Team WILD. She participated in the 2009 Longhorn 70.3 and 2010 Branson 70.3 with Team WILD. The journey to Longhorn 70.3 included over 80 hours of road-tripping to Texas with Team WILD’s very own Lorrie DiCesare and Kathy Ziegert. Susie says she could write a book about those road trips, or maybe even a movie… but those are stories for another time. Anyway, when the opportunity to do an Ironman presented itself, she first thought “Heck no, I could never do that!”, and then she thought “Wait.. why not? Whatever happens, why not at least give it my best shot??” She says that one thing which constantly amazes and inspires her is that the WILD women don’t let anything stand in their way. They find a way to get over, around, or through any obstacle.

There is a Nike Advertisement pinned to Susie’s wall at work, and she has looked to it for motivation many times in preparing for Ironman. It reads: “All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.”

Go Team WILD!