Optimism with Jamie Whitmore

Episode #1

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Jamie Whitmore is the most successful female XTERRA athlete (off road triathlons) winning 37 championships in a dozen different countries, including the XTERRA World Championship in 2004. In 2008, Jamie survived a rare cancer and was told she would never run or bike again. So, in 2016 she won a Gold and Silver medal at the Summer Paralympics in Road Cycling. Jamie is an XTERRA Hall of Fame inductee and the 2014 ESPY winner for Best Female Athlete with a Disability, and is the mother of twin boys. In this episode of (Un)Common Threads, Jamie talks about the importance of optimism, competitive spirit, and doing what you love no matter what life throws at you.

Transcript

Jamie Whitmore [00:00:02] You don’t quit anything if you start, you finish, and sometimes it’s about finishing that’s far greater than what place you come in. I’m always going to get to the finish line, and it’s just it’s been such a huge thing throughout every aspect of my life, from cancer to divorce to finding somebody new to like raising my kids as a single mom is just this like, I can’t quit.

 

Justin (Host) [00:00:28] This is (Un)Common Threads, a TinnCann podcast featuring extraordinary people and open discussions about their defining moments. From failure and heartbreak to triumph and fulfillment, (Un)Common Threads is a weekly examination of the experiences that distinguish individuals of remarkable achievement. I’m Justin Paul Villanueva. And on today’s episode, I talked to Jamie Whitmore, a former triathlete turned paracyclist. Jamie spent the first part of her career competing in Xterra Triathlons, which are sort of like Iron Man’s off road counterpart.  Among XTerra competitors, she’s one of the most decorated. Jamie has won more than 30 XTerra races, and landed on the podium for a handful of world championships. The Championship event takes place in Hawaii and it combines a one mile swim, a 19.2 mile mountain bike that climbs 3500 feet up and down the lower slopes of the West Maui Mountains, and finally, a 6.5 mile trail run that traverses forest trails and beach sand. And just saying that, Jamie, I mean, you know, I kind of knew where we wanted to start, which was in 2002. What was going on in your life around that time and how you get there?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:01:48] I remember I had graduated from college, I was dabbling in road triathlons and I was also getting into mountain bike racing. And so it was one of those like, how can I put these together? And that’s when I discovered XTerra. I did my first race in two thousand and one and became, I think I was second place overall, and there was like, it was weird because I was already a pro mountain biker, but I was still an amateur roadie. So then in 2002, I hit the circuit full blown, won my first race in a small island called or on a small island called Saipan. And that’s where I had beat the reigning world champion by like twenty five minutes. And so it was just like, I knew that was my niche and Ned Overend who’s like one of the greatest American mountain bikers ever was just like, you’ve got it, you’ve got to do X Terra. And so that was kind of that springboard platform to where I was so in love with the sport, not so much swimming. I’m still definitely terrified of open water swimming. But I managed to just make sure I was always faster than a vast majority of people, so I didn’t get eaten by sharks.

 

Justin (Host) [00:02:56] So when you won your first championship, just to clarify, like how long had you already been in Xterra?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:03:04] Yeah, it was, it was legitimately my third race ever.

 

Justin (Host) [00:03:08] Really?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:03:10] Yeah, I had. I had been, I had been mountain biking. I was full fledged on the NORBA circuit. I turned pro at the end of 2001 I had won every expert race that I ever entered, so I went pro there. I was still doing amateur triathlons, I would do things like Wildflower and I mean, other kind of big events, nationals and things like that. And I was, I would say I was anywhere from a top five to top ten in the world, so I was looking to go pro in that. But but my love for mountain biking was far greater than my love for triathlon.

 

Justin (Host) [00:03:47] Gotcha. So. So that was 2004 was your first one, is that correct?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:03:54] That was my first actual world championships. But in all fairness, there was a high likelihood I should have won in 2002. But when I got into transition back then we had two transitions. And whoever was running the transition there, I was the first female to come in to to to get my running shoes. Only my running shoes were not there. And it took it, took them over a minute to find my shoes so that I could exit onto the right like I was there forever. You see me like freaking out, but not being mean to anyone. And so it was super like crushing because I was favored to win that race. And I ended up losing by a minute and a half because it was second place ended up being able to see me because I had been stuck in transition. So, yes, I only ever won one Championship race, and I feel like that that mishap is what fueled my fire to win so many extras because I was just out to prove myself.

 

Justin (Host) [00:04:59] Yeah. So what’s the self-talk after this loss where there was a minute of your time taken away from you? What are you telling yourself to get through that?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:05:08] Um gosh, I would say it’s kind of a twofold. First, I’m always a person that really tries to look at the positive in every situation, and I remember being really disheartened over that because it wasn’t, the gal who ended up winning, like, it’s not her fault. So there was literally nothing I could do. Like, I can’t protest it. I can’t be angry at many of the volunteers because they’re they’re absolutely as volunteers of their time. So it was one of those where I lost out on a lot of money. I lost out on another world championship. So all I can do is have this attitude of moving forward and believing that it just kind of lights that fire. I think I’ve always been an athlete or a person who every setback makes me stronger, builds more character, makes me just dig deeper and try to prove myself more. I can just remember being a kid and anybody telling me like, Oh, you know, you can’t do that. I would be like, I’ll show you. And I was just like, this really ordinary kid who would be like, God, tell me I can’t do this. I mean, like, I would fight to the death.

 

Justin (Host) [00:06:16] Is there a specific moment back then from when you were a kid where someone told you no and you told them, I’m going to do it regardless of what you told me?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:06:25] I think it was more of being a girl. Growing up in my time to where women’s rights and equality in sports were really moving forward and giving us more opportunities. So I would say it was more of boys like me being just as good as boys in different sports and that, but then them being really angry at that. I remember being in seventh grade and this boy, I will not say his name, but I remember first and last name, was so mad because I was on the opposing football team because I used to, like our PE teacher was so old school, he used to let the girls go over and play in a group and then the boys and I would always fight to play with the boys. We were playing football and he was so mad at me for I don’t even remember what it was. Maybe I intercepted the football, whatever it be, but he threw the football at me and hit me. And so then I started to like, charge him and then he threw dirt in my face and like, people were holding us back and I was ready to just fight him. And it was just like, I just always dealt with boys that were like that. Even into the early start of my career of boys not or men not wanting to let a girl pass them. And then you had guys that had respect for talent, like they didn’t see me as a boy or girl. It was just like, Nope, that’s Jamie, she’s fast. You know, she can go. And then there were just these guys that were like, I’m not letting a girl pass me on the trail. So it’s just like, whatever.

 

Justin (Host) [00:07:57] Oh, that’s incredible, I’m so glad that you mention this just because in another interview I’d seen you had mentioned actually wanting to go to the NFL. So at that time when you’re younger, like, was there one particular team that you were saying to yourself, Oh, if I could play with them? Sign me up.

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:08:15] Yes, I was a huge 49er and Raider fan growing up. Like, I just I loved either team because being from Sacramento, we didn’t really have a Sacramento team. So the Bay Area teams, I grew up loving the Giants and the A’s as well, and the only time they’d ever played each other would be Super Bowl or World Series. So I could I could freely cheer for them. And I remember I loved Joe Montana, but also like Bo Jackson was one of my heroes because I mean, he was the first to play two sports and play them well. And so Marcus Allen, like, if I could have been a kicker. See, I knew the reality of being smaller than any, any other guy out there. So I was like, I got to be a kicker. I would have to be a kicker if I go. If I go play football like pro ball, that’s the only way I’m surviving. I’ll be annihilated by everyone. Maybe quarterback. I could maybe maybe be a quarterback. But now my goal was, I’ll be a kicker.

 

Justin (Host) [00:09:11] So then, yeah, like with that mentality too. I mean, you had gone on to play a seemingly a bunch of other sports throughout your kind of like early ages. Is that right?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:09:23] Yeah, I was. I dabbled in swimming for a while. I did volleyball. I remember my freshman coach saying I was the last picked, so I better step it up because I was the shortest person on the team. And she just was not, she should have never been a coach because she was super unmotivating and unkind. And I’m the type of person that, you know, if you’re going to demean me or somehow put me down, I don’t want anything to do with you, and I’m going to carry on because there’s plenty of other people out there that will see, like like, see my value and want to either shape me and make me better without putting me down. And I attribute that to my dad. My dad always made me believe I could be anything I wanted, and it wasn’t a matter of like, I guess girls will sometimes look for other girls to look up to. I never did that because for me, I looked up to your character or your ability or your athleticism. It did not matter if you were a boy or girl or, you know, just didn’t matter to me. If you were great at what you did or you were kind or you were articulate or whatever characteristic that drew me towards you, then that’s what I wanted to to be like. So my I don’t know, I just grew up always thinking like, well, if he or she can do it, so can I. And my dad never told me I couldn’t. So I just like, go for it.  So I moved on and I started, I did learn, I very much liked individual sports over team sports because then nobody had to rely on me. I wouldn’t get mad at anyone because that always made me feel bad. Like, if someone was like goofing off and not paying attention, like I would be mad at them. And I didn’t like that about myself because I would be so competitive that I would be like, get it together! So I realized probably individual sports were better for me health wise.

 

Justin (Host) [00:11:15] Yeah, yeah. And actually, did you go on to continue some of these sports on and into college?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:11:21] I did. I ran, I ran. I went to Cal State Northridge as as a runner, so I did cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track. And I mean, it was it was just a great time to get an education, make friends and kind of travel all over the U.S. racing. And it was fantastic. I loved it because you still had team camaraderie, so I had teammates. But then none of them really relied on me because I was not in a relay. I just did my run in, however well or terrible I did. It was just me.

 

Justin (Host) [00:11:57] Yeah, I was curious as to how you go on to just study criminology and then somehow become a professional athlete. How did you make that decision between the two?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:12:09] How? It’s it’s a very good question because I can remember graduating with my criminology degree and figuring out, like, do I want to interview to be a U.S. marshal? And then I saw this interview of Barb Lindquist, and she was talking about how she was a collegiate swimmer but couldn’t really run and was picking up on the bike and was doing these triathlons. And I kind of turned to my dad. I was like, Who? I want to try triathlons. And he said, Well, I still claim you on taxes, so why not give it a try? That’s literally why my dad, my dad, has always been supportive of whatever I’ve chosen. He’s like, you can live here, you know, I’ll help. I’ll help because he knows, like, I’m not just going to freeload. I would bust my butt. I would. I learned to ride a bike outside, I upped my running game, I was going to the pool four days a week, like I was super serious about being something, so it was just a matter of finding out if it was going to be mountain biking or track on that that I became successful at.

 

Justin (Host) [00:13:09] Yeah. So getting to that win of that world championship, where did you start allocating your time to be more productive and efficient with these workouts.

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:13:21] You know, I think, so, I honestly don’t think much changed in 2004 from the previous two years of racing. I think it was more of circumstances. So in 2004, my dog got really, really sick. I had gone to a camp in Arizona, and she had picked up this thing called Coccy for short or Valley Valley Virus, and it’s like a small percentage of dogs. Get it. She was only three years old and she was like my best friend, named after my uncle who’d passed away. So she meant everything to me, and it was all in her lungs, and the only way for her to live was this very expensive medication. That no joke was like, probably like four hundred dollars a month. And I was a starving athlete who slept in airports and car rentals because like, I couldn’t afford anything else, and now I got to keep my dog alive. Also, my dad bet me in at the beginning of the year that if I finally won worlds, he would do, he would start doing triathlon and he can’t swim like he would do, and he can’t swim like he’s a mountain bike. He could run fine. But he, like drowns in the water. So there were these like what it was is I think there were just these incentives. One was so that my dog, I didn’t lose my dog. And second, it was so that my dad would have to do a triathlon. And when I crossed that finish line because I had won almost every race that year, I won nationals. I won the USA Championship, I won world and I won the European Tour Championship. And I think today I’m still the only one that has won all three of those. And I remember hugging my dad at the finish line, saying, Now you have to do a triathlon, you have to do XTerra.

 

Justin (Host) [00:15:08] And apparently you did pretty well because I think the number is 37, 37 XTerra races and it left all of us at TinnCann wondering what keeps you going forward? I mean, yeah, take me through your mind. How do you? Is there actually a finish line that you’re imagining already for each of these 37? Or is there like a time?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:15:32] It’s it’s twofold. One was my rivalry. I had a huge rivalry with Melanie McQuaid, and literally, I like I say things, things that there are certain things that will fuel athletes and that it was very much like the Dave Scott, Mark Allen rivalry and Iron Man. They didn’t like each other. I mean, it was really hard for us to be in the same room. So those kinds of things absolutely fueled me when I got to the starting line. It was like, she is the only person that is in my way. So that was nice about it being like the two of us because literally it was her and me and we just, our rivalry just shot us so far high above everyone else. The other thing is like when you are in mountain biking or even triathlon, the race itself is so long in the way that it unfolds or unfolds is that you cannot you cannot rush it like it’s not going to be one in the swim. So you have to be very patient. So for me, I go in having several different race plans if I’m this far down in the swim. Like, I literally would have to calculate being forty five minutes to two minutes down because sometimes I’d get out of the water and Melanie would be two to two minutes ahead of me. And that’s bad because if it’s a course that favors her more of a power course on the bike, I’m not going to make up a whole lot of time. And then that’s a lot of time on the run when her run was getting better and better. So I would constantly have like Plan A, B and C, and later on, I’ll tell you about like how that went even in Rio for when I was racing in the road race. You have to just mentally like, visualize all different kinds of scenarios. For me, it could even be like getting a flat tire. Like, I actually would practice changing my tires so that I was down to a minute in the front and two and a half minutes in the back because if I had a decent swim and I got a flat tire, I could still win the race if I could change that flat within two to two and a half minutes. So there were just all these things that you’re constantly thinking about. One time I was running and I lost. I was down. Oh my gosh, she had to probably be like almost a full almost a mile ahead of me in Milwaukee. And I stepped in mud because I was like charging hard, stepped in mud and my shoe got stuck in the mud because it was just like sticky clay mud and for like a split second, I contemplated continuing to run without my shoe and I was like, I can’t. I have like four, four or five miles to go. I can’t. So I had to, like, go back, pull it out. Then the shoe went flying, put the shoe back on, I won that race by 18 seconds. So it’s just one of those things like, I always have this until I get to the finish line, the race is not over, attitude. I’ve always had that like I literally, the bike could break, and I’d probably still be trying to push it to the finish line. So it’s like any, but it’s a mindset that you have before you go in. Like I, my dad always taught me like, you don’t quit anything if you start you finish. And sometimes it’s about finishing, that’s far greater than what place you come in. I’m always going to get to the finish line and it, and it’s just it’s been such a huge thing throughout every aspect of my life, from cancer to divorce to finding somebody new, to like raising my kids as a single mom is just this like, I can’t quit. Like, I don’t know why, but I’ve just like, I can’t quit. I could be crying, I could be beat down on the ground. And just like, I don’t know, how I’m going to do this. And then and but I but I still just can’t quit. I can’t quit. I don’t know how you.

 

Justin (Host) [00:19:14] Wow. I want to take it back a little bit to a couple of things. One. Did you ever think that your degree in criminology had somehow factored into how strategic you’ve been in relation to training or in the middle of a race trying to calculate these different avenues you could take?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:19:33] I would say yes because criminology and criminal justice is the study of human behavior. And so it’s like, why do people choose to do what they do? And I’ve always been fascinated by, like just choices we make or circumstances or like how society can shape us, just things that happen, traumas, good things. And I think it’s always made me come from the standpoint of really thinking outside the box and evaluating every situation. And I don’t know why, but it just it just does, I think, because I’ve never wanted to be a victim. So one of the main things I always studied was all of like victims, basically people who had had traumas, who’d been attacked, who’ve been discriminated against or whatever. And you always have two choices. You can be a victim and say the Oh Poor Me card. Well, this happened. This happened, this happened. Or you can be the rising star that is successful in life and achieves great things and still had all those same things happen and the choice is truly yours. So what kind of and I guess it comes down to what kind of character do you want to have? And I have always, always, always admired anybody who has just had basically for lack of a better word, crap happened in their life and they’ve turned it around or they’ve still been a kind person or they still chosen to do right. And I mean, I could get into all spectrums of people choosing wrong and making excuses for it. But that’s but that was criminology, in a nutshell. And I often tell my kids, like prison is full of all kinds of people that make one mistake. I mean, they make one mistake in life, so don’t ever be that person. You know, we all bring excuses to something. Don’t ever be the person that uses your excuse.

 

Justin (Host) [00:21:18] Yeah. So that actually brings us to 2008, I believe, what was happening around that time?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:21:25] Oh my gosh. I was in a lot of pain. I would say the end of 2007, I noticed something was wrong with my leg and it was during the World Championships where it was just profusely cramping and feeling really tight and having weird tingling sensations. And I went to doctor after doctor ran test after test, and they just kept missing what was wrong with me until it got so bad that I was completely bedridden and my leg was I was unable to use my leg. There was a point I couldn’t even go to the bathroom on my own anymore. And it turned out that I had a spindle cell sarcoma and they didn’t know where it was growing from, only that I had a large tumor. Until they cut me open in March. It was like March twenty eighth. It was a nine and a half hour surgery, and they took out a grapefruit sized tumor that was growing out of my sciatic nerve and through my pelvic bone, which is why they kept missing it. Because they they just couldn’t. It literally was going through your pelvic bone where your joint goes into there and moves around. So it was it was extremely painful for many reasons. And when I woke up, we found out, well, I didn’t find out right away. It wasn’t until a physical therapist came in and said, Hey, I’m here to teach you how to walk. I was like, what? What do you mean you are you going to teach me how to walk? And I was so just like the audacity of this guy. I’m this XTerra World champion. I’ve been running for like 15 years and you’re telling me I have to learn to walk. And so I went to, like, jump out of bed and and yeah, I almost fell over. Thankfully, he caught me and I realized I can’t feel my leg. It can’t move in there. And there were just so many emotions of like, wait, wait, if I can’t do any of this, how am I supposed to go back to being a pro? So it was it was very disheartening and kind of this humbling experience to realize that I thought I was going in to have cancer removed and I was coming out disabled.

 

Justin (Host) [00:23:24] Mm-Hmm. And especially doing something for a living where you are proactively moving your body every day. Can you expand upon that?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:23:32] I would say finding out I had cancer threw a lot out the door because it is the one thing that you have absolutely no control over. And I think that’s what cancer taught me. You truly have no control over majority of things that happen in your life, except your attitude. So from the point in the moment, I remember hearing or finding out that I had cancer because it was a weird story, as it was, my dad was sitting next to me, and when these doctors were giving me my options of you can do radiation, or you may have to do chemo and. And here’s what it looks like. I’m sitting here looking at these guys because no doctor ever told me, Jamie, you have cancer. No one. So I had no clue until they walked in to tell me options after surgery. And I just remember crying and telling my dad, like, I don’t want to die, I don’t want to die. And I knew I had so much still to accomplish in life. Not not like from an athletic standpoint, but just from being a light like I have a strong faith. And this is where I learned that it is truly like living by faith that matters like just believing that it is all going to work out for the purpose that I am here on Earth to serve. And so it was this just huge like gut check of like, hey, you’re not in control, you can’t control your races, you can’t control what other people do. You can’t control, you can’t control anything. And guess what? You can’t control whether you’re going to live from cancer, whether you’re going to be disabled, like you have no choice. So the only thing I had, the only choice I had to move forward with was to live in the moment and be absolutely positive about everything. And if you go back and you meet anybody that met me during radiation or my hospital stays like all of my nurses, even when I was pregnant and on bed rest like they’ll always tell you the same thing, I was super positive. I would tell stories. I would make everybody laugh because I truly, truly embrace living in the moment and and just like fighting the good fight, staying positive and eating right, whatever I whatever little bits and just like seriously praying that like I had more time on Earth because there was a greater purpose.

 

Justin (Host) [00:25:56] Yeah, wow. So don’t obviously, our listeners can’t see me. But in the midst of that, I touched my neck out of anxiety just because the idea of not being able to control some of these things is a very overwhelming thing. And so in the midst of that like what things, how do I explain this, whenever someone showed an ounce of negativity, how would you react to that? Like, is it, were there certain people that you actually had to proactively cut out? Not that you have to name any names or.

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:26:32] No, I honestly think that my attitude was so infectious that when I could tell, I remember sitting in radiation with a bunch of ladies, I mean you because you have to kind of go and you prep for an hour and you sit in this room and you wait for your turn. And I could just I remember seeing all these old ladies that were older than me, just really scared. Like, maybe they had just gone through chemo and they were just beat down. And I would walk in every day with my cane and I would be smiling and I would just start making them laugh. And I got a lot of emails from those people who researched me and just said, like, I couldn’t have, I couldn’t have made it through without you. I was so scared or and that’s why I’m using these words is because it’s their words. But it was nice to know that no matter how hard things got or how dark they got, that you know that my light was still somehow or I’d say God’s light was somehow shining through me. And that was, I think that just became my purpose of just making people smile. And it’s it’s hard like people are negative, and it’s not usually people close to me other than sometimes my son. And he’s but he’s learning. I mean, he’s exactly like I was as a kid, and I’ve seen such a growth in him, even from fourth grade to now sixth grade. And I constantly tell him, like people, people are always going like, always be surrounded by people that are negative and you’re going to be surrounded by people that will go to worst case scenario. Don’t let that bring you down. Don’t let them squash your light. Don’t let them ruin your day. Like, that’s just that’s just sometimes who people are, and maybe they just need you to shine a little brighter. So, but it is exhausting. Like, sometimes I will crawl into bed at night and be like, I, my energy is zero. And tomorrow’s a new day, for sure.

 

Justin (Host) [00:28:25] And it sounds like some of the one of the people that has definitely seen your light has been Bob Babbitt. If I’m not mistaken, who is actually one of the people that introduced you to Para cycling?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:28:40] He he did. So he is the co-founder of Challenged Athletes Foundation, and he was a huge fan of mine. I guess you could say that, I don’t really know. I don’t want to put words into his mouth, but he knew who I was from my XTerra days and he ran like the competitor magazine and competitor awards banquet and stuff that I had gone to twice. And so when I was sick and we had made the announcement that I had a paralysis of my left leg and I wouldn’t be returning to pro sports. No, he was like on the phone. Hey, Jamie, to my to my ex-husband, there’s still, tell Jamie, there’s still the Paralympics. That was a huge thing.

 

Justin (Host) [00:29:22] Oh wow. So was this before or after the kids?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:29:28] This was before. So first I had cancer. Then the cancer came back, so I had another cancer surgery and that one was even more devastating. They took my glute muscle, they took part of my tailbone and it was and I was walking back on a walker for a while. Right after that, I was supposed to start chemo. I went into sepsis. So I, um, I literally almost died from that. It was terrible. I had a picc line. I was on antibiotics for twenty four hours a day for like, oh gosh, what was it? Five weeks, I think, and I was in and out of the hospital, I was down to ninety eight pounds. I mean, it was just I couldn’t even do chemo, put it that way. It was that bad. And then after that, I was living with this nephrostomy drain out of my back, and we were trying to figure out what to do with that. And it turned out that they were going to auto transplant my kidney, and it was during that surgery that I was three days pregnant. So, then I thought I had cancer again, and so I was all freaking out and went to an E.R. and was like, Something’s wrong. And literally, it’s like four weeks post the auto transplant of my kidney. So I have both kidneys on one side and they told me, Oh, we know what’s wrong with you? And I was like, What? I haven’t even done CT scan and the doctor lady is like, well, you’re pregnant. And I was like, What? How? Oh, that one time and then and then I went in to make sure that the pregnancy was still like a viable pregnancy because we knew I had gone through surgery. I had been on medications. I had had an x ray. And the guy, the technician was like, Oh yeah, yeah, everything looks good. And by the way, you’re having twins. I about died.

 

Justin (Host) [00:31:13] Logistically, I mean, it’s got to be tough to plan out things, you know, as you’re raising two kids, how far out are you actually setting up your time to be efficient with your training?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:31:25] So that that’s that’s a two part  answer. First, I would say leading into Rio, nothing was going to stop me. I would say my attitude to the Rio Paralympics was exactly like when I was a pro. I was so determined I was not walking away without a gold medal somehow. And and it was such a magical experience because I could have walked away from sport after after cancer. And I and it’s not that my identity is in sport. I just love it. I love all things about competing and traveling and just experiencing things. So it was amazing to go in. My first medal was on the track, which was the silver medal. It was amazing then, but then I was like, I need, I want a gold medal like not to be selfish or greedy or anything, but I’ve been working my butt off. I’d won all these world championships, I set two world records in 2004 on the track like, I mean, I want a gold medal. I want that experience. And I had one race left out of four and it was the road race which is so unpredictable because it doesn’t always go to the best, strongest athlete. It’s sometimes very much often goes to the smartest athlete. And that’s what it came down to. I played a completely different road race game and it came down to a sprint and I narrowly edged out China in Germany for for the win and got a victory. My kids were there. It was one of the absolute greatest experiences. But following that, I then began to go through a not so great divorce and I just was so broken for so long. Like, I’ve never been depressed in my whole life. And the weirdest thing is, if you had walked alongside me, you might not have known I was even like dealing with being depressed because it was just when I’d be around people. My energy would still be super high. I’d still be super positive. And then at night I would come home and I would just be like crying in my room. And I can remember my son, Ryder, coming in and rubbing my back and hugging me and saying, It’s going to be OK, mom. And I mean, I was just it just it nearly broke me because then I also kind of got into an abusive relationship, not not too long after that with another person. And that’s a whole story. I don’t even want to go into. I mean, I can, but it was it was just like, we got to a point that I was really questioning, like, you know, what’s going on here? Like, why do I feel so shattered and broken and yet so positive? It was just this really inner struggle that I had. And one of my teammates was like, Jamie, you’re one of the nicest people I have ever met in my whole life, and the way that these people are making you feel, it was like hurting her. Like she just couldn’t believe that I was on the struggle bus so much. And I just and I remember in 2019. So this is before COVID hit. I remember, like, praying, just like, let me be at peace. Let me learn to, like, be super independent and just focus on my kids. And when the right guy comes along, he’s going to he’s going to want to know me so much that he’s going to first seek God and then he’ll find me. And it was just this weird sense of peace that I finally like encountered. And I kid you not like two three months later, I met my now fiancee, and it’s just been amazing. And and it was just one of those that I I remember being so down in the dumps and yet getting up every day because I had to. My kids needed me. Like, there was no checking out. I couldn’t just be like, Yeah, I kind of don’t want to deal with the world today, like I had to. I had to get up. I had to be present. I had to help my kids with school. I had to keep riding a bike. I had to keep my insurance. I had to keep speaking in front of people and motivating them because that was my calling and I did all of that while completely just being broken. I don’t know how I did it.

 

Justin (Host) [00:35:37] Well, I mean, you managed to do it, that’s for sure. I mean, that is such an incredible story. I mean, especially as we’ve been talking about the fact that yours is one of just true resilience. So with all of this under your belt, as we’ve talked about the thirty seven championships, the dropfoot, the cancer, the twins and then an ESPY that we didn’t even get to. Yeah, what’s next for you?

 

Jamie Whitmore [00:36:04] You know, I mean, I’m getting married in June, and I’m now like the AAC rep for para cycling, the alternate alternate rep. So there’s a few more duties on on my table for that. The kids aren’t getting any younger and, you know, like I want to keep racing as long as I can, I always say as long as I make A B or C team, I’ll keep racing. But at some point I do feel I’m out there more as a mentor supporting para sports because it just like I would support women in sports, like we need bodies, we need more people competing. I love being fit. I love being active and getting paid to do it, even though it’s not like, you know, NFL. or soccer payments, millions of dollars. It’s one of those I make ends meet. I do what I love, and I’m able to be here for my kids like ninety five percent of the time, so I’ll take it. But I can feel that shift. That shift is no longer this driven. All all like training is first and then I’ll deal with everything else. It’s kind of like, OK, I got to stay up tonight and work on presentations or the kids have a birthday party because I can’t do anything small scale. Everything is like grand gestures. So I just I want my kids to be like proud and know that if you’re going to do something, do it right, do it well.

 

Justin (Host) [00:37:30] Well, that’s definitely something that will carry on through your legacy, though, that’s for sure. Well, Jamie, I want to thank you for for coming on for our podcast and to our listeners. Thank you so much for listening. You can schedule a one on one video call with the expert you heard from today, or browse other esteemed experts by visiting us at TinnCann.com. That’s TinnCann.com. If you have ideas of who you’d like to hear from or talk to you on tin can drop us a note at hello at TinnCann.com.

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