Athlete of the Month

The Team Sheeper Athlete of the Month award is handed out to a member of the team on a monthly basis, 7 or 8 times a year. The AOM is someone who made a notable contribution to the team or did something remarkable. Selection is made by nomination and voting by the membership.

You can nominate anyone and the nomination period is usually during the first week or two of the month. Look for notification that nominations are being sought.  When nomination close, the voting starts and once all the votes are tallied, the new AOM is crowned.

Besides bragging rights for a month, our AOM gets some goodies from our gracious sponsors, such as free shoes from TRH, a massage from SMI, gift certificates from GoRide.

The Runner's High is proud to sponsor this month's athlete who embodies the spirit of Team Sheeper. We are about more than just improving athletic skills and performances.

Kim Freitas

May 2003 Athlete of the Month

Team Sheeper is pleased to announce its May Athlete of the Month, Kim Freitas. Kim has been a long time member of Team Sheeper, and is a mainstay at the workouts. Her ability to balance family life, including 3 children, with work and training, is admirable. Kim is always available to help out the team, and has volunteered her time on numerous occasions over the years. She demonstrates great commitment to her teammates and her coaches. Tim Sheeper describes her as an athlete with extreme endurance and commitment. He also makes note of her kindness and thoughtfulness. Team Sheeper is truly lucky to have Kim a part of it.

Kim has written the following synopsis for her Athlete of the Month profile. I have kept it in her own words.

On employment:

I work at VERITAS Software as a Director in Strategic Alliances and Business Development. Our group builds and manages the community of partners who integrate and license VERITAS' products, including Sun, HP, IBM, Dell, Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, etc. Our goal is to create a "level playing field" among partners. Since our software products work on all major hardware platforms it's sort of like being an arms dealer among natural competitors. The market dynamics, which include new alliances, mergers and technology, make it fast-paced and interesting work. The team is really smart and each person works very hard. A lot of work involves sticking with your ideas and making them work within a structure. The lessons learned in endurance training translate very well to corporate action.

On family:

I've been married to Michael Topper for 11 years. We have 3 children, Langley (5 yr), Nolan (1 yr) and Galen (1 yr). Langley is the kid who has slept on the deck through hundreds of workouts, nestled in her running stroller or bike trailer. Nolan and Galen will get their chance too. One of the best things about Menlo Masters and Team Sheeper is how supportive everyone is of children and families. Sports and Family Life are inseparable parts of our lives and while there is a time for each, it's essential to share swimming, cycling and running friends with the children and for them to understand what a great contribution these health and friends make to our lives.

Mike's a very talented trail runner who has had 5 top-10 men's finishes at Western States 100 mile Trail Run. Running in the Sierra or the open spaces of our Santa Cruz mountains is a deeply rewarding and grounding experience for him. Langley and I have crewed for him at numerous 100 milers and it's inspiring every time. While Mike is thorough in his preparations and flawless in logistics planning, but any race that long unfolds in its unique way. His true strength lies in his ability both to pace himself over great distances and difficult terrain and to race completely in the moment.

How did you become involved with Team Sheeper?

In 1998 I entered Wildflower (Long Course) and then joined Menlo Masters so I could learn to swim well enough to finish the swim. At the time, the team swam at Burgess' 33-yard pool and we had about 60 members. Tim taught me enough basics to get me across the pool and back. As I recall at Wildflower, the next three age-group waves following mine swam over and past me before I got out of the water. I was never so happy to be on my bike. I finished knowing that I'd like to do more.

At that time Tim's triathlon team was called Beyond Barriers. There was a weekly track run and Saturday rides. We did a Wednesday workout of calisthenics on the Burgess Basketball court called "Gym Jams" - Sheri Mulroe, Laurie Ausseser, Judy Strauss, and Ginny Langmuir were regulars. The seeds and vision were there of what has become a world-class program offering 30 workouts/per week, multi-sport event schedule, specialized distance training tracks offered by a talented coaching staff.

I don't do as many of the team workouts as I'd like to. I remain a member because I know that when I do show up there is a group of spirited and motivated of athletes ready to do a great workout. I know that I will gain something from Tim's words, the performance of others and by trying to apply myself to the task. One of my favorite coaches is Dan Smith. He is very knowledgeable about training and absolutely passionate about cycling.

Do you have an athletic background?

No, In high school I did a few sports (tennis, basketball, track, softball). As I recall you mostly just "played" -without much emphasis on skill, strategy, coaching or training. At Wellesley College, I joined the crew team freshman year and learned to row. I loved being out on the water and part of a boat that really worked well together. A highlight was senior year when I was team captain and stroke of the lightweight eight, our team competed in Nationals near my hometown in San Diego.

After college I joined a cycling team to get fit enough to do a summer tour in the Tetons. In many summers since then I've cycle toured for several weeks in the Colorado and Canadian Rockies, California Sierra and Trinity Alps, Washington Cascades, and the high deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. In 1985 I organized a cycling trip across the United States. Cycling is the best way to travel, you can experience the geography first hand and you meet a lot of people. Mike and I have also cycle toured in Burma, Vietnam, Zimbabwe, Zambia, India, Sri Lanka, Mexico, New Zealand, the French and Swiss Alps and Italian Dolomites. While foreign trips are special, I never get tired of riding to the coast, over the Santa Cruz ridge and following Pescadero Creek to the sea. Cycling has provided me with some of the most memorable and powerful experiences and friendships of my life. It's a sport where I can explore the boundaries of my abilities and feel fully immersed in my environment.

What do you like most about triathlons?

I like the fact that by working at three different sports your body can develop a certain balance, flexibility and resilience. At times, I like emphasizing one sport over another as there are events to focus on, or because of certain time constraints or just to stay mentally fresh and excited. I find it really challenging to put a whole race together, to find just the right threshold for each discipline and to move efficiently through the transitions.

What race goals do you have for this year?

I'm not a natural competitor or racer so I've picked just a few events that will create some structure to the training year. My triathlon goal is to complete 3 Half Ironman's this year: Ralph's California, Barb's Race, and Big Kahuna. My cycling goal was to qualify for a long distance event in France called Paris-Brest-Paris. I completed the four required rides in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties (200, 300, 400, 600 km) in March-May. Another great thing about Team Sheeper is that there are very challenging and interesting team events that can be done close to home. Last year's fantastic Tour de Sheeper was a real highlight and served to get me back on the bike after having the twins.

Thoughts about the team?

Tim and the Team Sheeper staff and coaches have created an incredible community. Tim's dedication and awesome attitude infuse the program with a strong commitment to make every workout count and to make every person feel included. I appreciate how much team members contribute to the team to make the events work and to support one another. There are many outstanding role models among the team, especially parents who navigate the tradeoffs of work, family and personal goals with grace and flexibility. Under Tim's leadership the team has grown each year as well as refine things that work, and try new things. I try to use Tim's example in building the team to be more open, whole and innovative in my own life.

Kim's final thought - "My parents gave me a great gift - a love of being outdoors and a deep curioursity for seeing the world, slowly." Congratulations Kim and we wish you the best of luck qualifying for France!

Team Sheeper thanks Kim for being such an integral part of the triathlon program.