RCTC Athlete Spotlight: Donica Douglas Williams at IRONMAN 70.3 Florida

“You don’t play triathlon. You play soccer; it’s fun. You play baseball. Triathlon is work that you can leave you crumpled in a heap, puking on the roadside. It’s the physical brutality of climbing Mount Everest without the great view from the top of the world. What kind of person keeps coming back for more of that?” – Chris McCormack

One of the beautiful aspects of the sport of triathlon is learning about the WHY. WHY someone wants to take on that challenge, what it means to them, and what their race experience is like. Donica Douglas Williams took on her first IRONMAN 70.3 Florida in Haines City last weekend and was kind enough to share her race experience and a snapshot of her journey to IRONMAN.

From the words of Donica…

Six months ago I decided to join the triathlon world. I bought a bike on a Monday and then on Saturday did my first tri at the Sprint on the Flint. I really had no idea what I was doing. But it was fun. So, I got a coach in November and for Christmas Santa Claus signed me up for IRONMAN 70.3 Florida ~ Haines City. I couldn’t have asked for a better race. My swim felt great, and I have been told that’s one of the hardest swim courses in the IRONMAN Circuit. I can see why. The swim makes the Ironman M so the middle of it gets very choppy its like a washing machine in there!

My bike felt great also. The second half of the bike had a strong head wind and was very hilly! Once I came back in on the bike I was ready to run! And it was HOT!! My run felt amazing!! I just had fun and enjoyed the experience!! I had lots of support there from some of my Triattic teammates, including my coach, some new friends from Gulf Winds and Justin (my awesome sherpa husband) and Paul Pickles from our very own Rose City Tri Club. I got to seem them multiple times throughout the course and them cheering me on was just the icing on the cake!! Yes, I cried when I crossed that finish line!! This is such an intimidating sport for someone with little experience but I have to say, fellow triathletes are some of the friendliest and most encouraging people I have ever met!

A few more questions Donica was kind enough to answer for us..

Question 1: You jumped in to the sport 6 months ago, what made you decide to jump in?

A mixture of reasons. I wanted to see if I could do it. Watching Paul, Joy and Katina last year really inspired me.  Paul and Joy really have been so encouraging. In the past six years I have had two left hip bursectomys, major neck surgery to fix three ruptured discs and a bone spur that was sitting on a nerve root causing me to loose feeling in my left arm and hand, sinus surgery to remove a mass, battled anemia and internal bleeding. All of these things are so frustrating and if I had let these issues take over, I could have stopped trying to do anything. I feel like God gave me these gifts and I need to use them to show others you can do anything! He gives me the discipline and desire. Am I the fastest or best? No. But I try and give it my all and give him the glory!!

Question 2: What is your favorite part of triathlon?

I love running, haven’t always and it hasn’t come easy for me. Seven years ago I could not run one mile. I swam growing up but haven’t swam in 25 years until I got back in the pool last September. I really enjoy swimming. Its peaceful and calming. Gives me lots of prayer time. Biking is by far my weakest link but having only owned a bike for six months I know I have lots of opportunity to get stronger there. It’s hard to pick a favorite! I really enjoy making new friends and seeing all the incredible athletes around me is probably my favorite part of triathlons!

Question 3: During the race, do you have any crazy, awesome, weird memories?

During the swim portion, I was turning at one of the red buoys during the swim and a man grabs my legs and starts pulling me under, I kicked my leg for him to let go and then I get punched and he comes up and screams FU (he said the bad words though) at me! Rude! Hahaha!! The race was such a fun day for me. I loved seeing the father/son team in the PC division! I mean if that doesn’t inspire you then I don’t know what does. The son as Cerebal Palsy and says he wants to show people anybody can do anything!!

Question 4: What’s next?

I haven’t figured that out yet.


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