Jamaica Plain's Sandy Gonzales recently participated in the Columbia Threadneedle Boston Triathlon while raising funds for Team BMC.
Gonzales is one of 89 members of Team BMC all raising money for Boston Medical Center's Vision 2030, which is a new initiative to make Boston the healthiest urban population in the world through better medical care, eating habits and addiction treatment.
Gonzales answered questions from Jamaica Plain News about her work at Boston Medical Center, training for her first triathlon, and what she'll be thinking about while she's running/swimming/biking.
Q: What made you want to help people with substance use disorders?
Gonzales: I am empathetic by nature and I was also raised to value the importance of helping people and making a positive impact in my community. Everyone should have the opportunity to experience compassion and acceptance in their lives. Individuals suffering from substance use disorder are among the most stigmatized groups of people. If I can be that person who provides those moments of kindness and understanding for someone else, then I will. And I will have succeeded in making a difference in someone else’s life.
Q: Why did you want to participate in the Columbia Threadneedle Boston Triathlon for Team BMC?
Gonzales: I work in Faster Paths (I began as Senior Admin Coordinator and am now Interim Program Manager). We are an outpatient, urgent care bridge clinic for people with substance use disorder (providing medication for opiates and alcohol addiction). Raising money for (and awareness of) the cause of addiction is a no-brainer for me. It is a major crisis that I have a direct connection to -- we have had patients who overdosed. In addition to those that come to the clinic seeking help, I witness every day on my walk to work, the people in the surrounding area/neighborhoods who are suffering from this disease. I have a great deal of pride in the work that we do in our clinic (and at BMC as a whole) -- helping our community and meeting individuals exactly where they are (in their path to recovery -- whether that is at the very beginning, or halfway through), so I am happy to represent BMC at this event.
Q: Is this your first triathlon? How have you trained for it?
Gonzales: I have never done a tri before but I have an athletic background. Always an active individual, I raced in the Boston Marathon in 2013 when the bombs went off (I was two miles from the finish line when we all got pulled off the course for safety) and then went back the year after to officially finish. At the time I was working for a different organization, but I was also raising money for a cause: Team Stork -- supporting healthier babies and moms in the NICU at Brigham Women’s Hospital. I had had my own experiences with miscarriages and wanted to bring awareness (to all the issues within fertility and reproduction that women struggle with), raise funds for critical programs, and reclaim my own body (and regain my own strength).
Q: What will you be thinking about while you're participating in the triathlon?
Gonzales: I will be thinking about our patients and my family, friends and colleagues who are supporting me, and the hard work I have put in to get to this point. I will channel the inner resiliency that I have cultivated in myself (and that we encourage in our patients) to overcome any mental and physical obstacle that I am faced with on race day. I will be reminding myself to have fun!
I started doing obstacle course races after completing the marathon (Spartan, Tough Mudder, etc.) but had never attempted a triathlon before (although it has been on my bucket list). I thought teaming up with BMC was a great way to raise money for a critical issue while also getting the chance to tackle a new athletic challenge.
I have trained for this triathlon by following the beginner’s triathlete racing plan created by our team coach, Sue Sotir.