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"There's Gratitude in My Attitude" February 2016 Athlete of the Month

HUMANA Hero: Luise Easton, 77, Olmsted Falls, Ohio

There’s Gratitude in My Attitude”

Luise Easton was no stranger to the triathlon when she got the notion to give it another go in 2008. “I did them years ago, but then I had several foot surgeries. I didn’t do another one for 20 years,” the former high school physical education teacher recalls.

After overcoming medical hurdles, and an earlier battle to drop 100 pounds from her petite frame, Easton is proud to be fully active and athletic again. After completing a sprint triathlon, she sought more competitions and challenges, including finishing the 1.5 mile Alcatraz Sharkfest swim in San Francisco Bay for her 70th birthday. (She repeated the feat at 75 and plans to go again when she turns 80.)

“I’ve always been a swimmer, and did synchronized swimming as a teen. And I taught swimming for 25 years,” Luise explains. She began jogging to lose weight after quitting smoking in 1983, and was intrigued with the challenge of adding biking and running to make up a triathlon.

Living in the Cleveland suburbs, Luise learned in 2012 that the National Senior Games would be held near her and decided to qualify in swimming and triathlon. At Nationals, she earned five medals in the pool, but finished dead last in the 2013 triathlon.

Undaunted, she set a goal for redemption at the 2015 National Senior Games presented by Humana. This past summer, she went to Minnesota and captured the gold medal against stiff competition in the women’s triathlon 75-79 age group. Her combined time of 1:43:55 was the fourth best in the history of The Games.

“I was thrilled to win at the National Senior Games. Most of the time in my other races, there’s nobody else in my age group. I win because I finish,” she says. “But for this race there were five women in my group, so I actually beat other people. It was fun. I didn’t care what happened the rest of the week–not that I didn’t want to do good in swimming, but I was so thrilled to win that.” (She did also pick up two silver and two bronze medals in swimming.)

What changed in the two years between? “I got a coach and started strength training, bicycle training, swimming and running training. That was the difference.”

While driven by a competitive nature, Luise looks beyond the finish line. “I do like to win. But my motto now is ‘There’s gratitude in my attitude’ because at my age, to be able to do what I’m doing physically and financially, I have nothing but gratitude. Making friends through the games is another reason for doing it.”

Luise is always encouraging others, and offers simple advice for those who want to get going at any age. "Show up and put one foot in front of the other. It is that easy," she tells people. "Anytime you get up and do something you’re ahead of all the other people who don’t even get out. It’s never too late to start doing something.”

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