About VT

My name is Crystal Clarke and I am a vegan triathlete in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. I came up with the idea to have a website dedicated to my being a vegan triathlete when I signed up for Ironman Canada in 2006. My “plan” was to have a website where my training and diet would be monitored and people could see how easy it was to be a vegan triathlete. On top of that, it could be a hub for other vegan triathletes to come together for information, articles, and advice on the different subjects of nutrition and triathlons. However, my year of training for Ironman was wrought with intense life changes on top of the many hours of training (or stressing about training). Thus the website did not get done – I settled for a blog for a while, but the website has since been a project that has continued to evolve.

For clarification, I am not an expert on nutrition or triathlons. They are both merely hobbies for me. I have been interested in nutrition ever since I became vegan because it was at that time in my life that I discovered I have been lactose intolerant for my whole life. It was through this that I learned that diet plays a huge part of a person’s life, not just for fuel. The wrong foods for the wrong people can make life extremely uncomfortable and unsatisfying. For the first 23 years of my life I felt sick after almost every meal. Doctors took vast amounts of blood from my body to be tested in laboratories, they put me on cholesterol-lowering foods and medications, they checked my thyroid and heart for abnormalities, and they gave me prescription antacids for my heart-burn. Never once did anyone ever say to me, “Do you notice feeling sick after you eat dairy or meat?” This in itself has made me question the medical industry, who funds it, and how nutrition is downplayed in our society.

When I moved to Jasper, Alberta for a summer, I decided that I would take the big leap and went completely vegan, after being vegetarian for only six months. That was also the summer that I fell in love with running and got back into swimming in a pool (now I wish that I had utilized the pristine, fresh water lakes a bit more). Before this time, I had loathed running – I thought it was boring and time-consuming. However, running in the mountains behind my house on a packed trail was like nothing I had ever experienced before. In high school I occasionally ran down our gravel grid road before volleyball season started, but I had always disliked how slow it felt. Running in the mountains was adventurous and the trail my roommates and I ran always had wild animals around it. I would run through the woods clapping my hands saying, “Hello bears! Please don’t eat me!” That summer was a particularly bad year for black bears in the area, so it was necessary. It was also an added challenge to the running.

I remember running my first block that summer. One block was all I could run before I had to walk. Maybe it was a bit more than that, but I don’t think it was much. I decided after that to try out the trail. Before long I ran without stopping for the whole 2.5km one-way trail to a beautiful lake where I would take a few deep breaths at the shore and turn around. I proudly announced to my roommates that I ran the whole way without stopping. That’s when I knew I was hooked. That’s also when I knew that I wanted to try triathlons.

The next summer I decided to do my first triathlon and it went from there. Since then I have done numerous Olympic-distance triathlons, several Half Ironmans, and a few Ironman races. The journey has been long, wrought with emotional and physical struggle, but every time I cross the finish line of a race, every moment has been worth it. I hope that this website will continue to evolve and inspire others to start on their journey as well, whether that be in the vein of triathlon, veganism, or healthy living.

16 Responses to About VT

  1. Robert Cohen says:

    Hello, Crystal. I would like to email privately with you.
    My name is Robert Cohen and my website is
    notmilk.com
    This year, I did my first two triathlons (an Olympic
    and a sprint) and I just signed up for the 2011 NYC Tri
    and 2011 Montauk, NY 70.3
    I hope to do the Lake Placid, NY Ironman in 2012.

    Nice work with your website. I am a fan!

    Robert
    i4crob@earthlink.net

  2. Your blog is so inspiring! I just became a vegan two months ago and it is my goal to get into triathlons as well. :-) Good work and good luck with upcoming races!

  3. Annie says:

    Hi Crystal!

    I’m a fellow vegan in Saskatoon. Now I can safely say there are two of us!

    How did I find you? Funny story. You came to my house collecting bottles the other day for charity. I live in the house with the two crazy dogs (one’s called Mischief and the other one was jumping up like a maniac). You handed me a piece of paper and I noticed the “vegan triathlete” website which made me oh so curious so here I am!

    I’ve only been in Saskatoon since September. Any tips on where to eat/shop, etc.?!

    Thanks!

    Annie

    • Hi Annie!
      This is the best story ever! I totally remember your house. Little C loves dogs so much. She kept asking me, “Remember that dog that kept licking my face? That dog liked me!” Thanks for your support!

      There aren’t many good veggie places in Saskatoon, but I’m a big fan of Red Pepper (downtown on 3rd ave) and their coconut currie with tofu. Beware of Amigo’s… a lot of their food is not vegetarian, let alone vegan. In fact, I won’t eat there at all anymore. Keo’s (on Broadway) is pretty veggie-friendly. As much as I love Dad’s Organic market (on 8th) and Steephill Food Co-op (on Broadway), Superstore has great selection of vegetarian and vegan food. They have Daiya “cheese” now! There’s always Subway and Extreme Pita (they have a separate place to cook the veggies only and falafal). Let me know if you have questions. My email is vegantriathlete at gmail dot com.

      Thanks for this awesome comment!

  4. Allison says:

    Hey. I’m a new reader, and also from Saskatoon. I was wondering when you go for long rides for tri training, where do you normally ride? trying to figure out where the best place/roads to ride are, especially for 30k+ rides.
    Thanks for your help.

  5. George says:

    To Allison,
    If you are looking for long bike rides around Saskatoon, I suggest you join Horizon 100. They can show you many good routes

  6. Mila says:

    I’m so glad I found your blog! I’m just starting to answer my meat-eating friends’ question as to whether vegetarians and vegans can be athletic, in strength and exterior. I’ll be following you, but if you had any kick-starter tips, could you pretty please leave them here?
    http://pocketfulofoats.wordpress.com/2012/10/23/strong/

    Runner hugs :)

  7. Hello Crystal,

    I came across your blog on the internet and was wondering if you’d like to be a guest on our podcast series to support the Vegan Athlete Movement?

    Thanks.
    Anthony

  8. Mindy says:

    This sounds like an amazing blog/site. I am training for my first marathon in April. I have friends who are triathletes and I would like to join in the fun! Another friend of mine into fitness says we need meat for fuel. I am not a vegetarian but i know vegans can eat right and still stay fit without looking sick. Hence, my search for guidance and interest in vegan athletes! If i can head in that direction i would love to embark and start this journey. To take the challenge to train my body and eat right :)

    • Hi Mindy! I apologize for the late reply. Somehow I missed a lot of comments. Thanks for commenting! You can absolutely be an athlete and be vegan. Vegan athletes are everywhere from body builders to long-distance athletes. If you want to start on the journey (or perhaps you have already started?) the time is now. It’s an adjustment to your lifestyle and it takes a bit of time to figure out how to tell people and your family. Let me know how it’s going!

  9. sylvie says:

    Hi Crystal!
    I’m from BC, but I live in Calgary- just a province away! I found your blog because I am planning on doing some triathlons this summer and I am vegan so I was hoping to find others like me- which I have! I was wondering if you had any specific training plans that you started with? Unfortunately because of the cold and snow- I can’t bike or run outside yet and just wanted to know if you have any tips or tricks for training in the cold.

    Thanks!
    Sylvie

    • Hi Sylvie! To be perfectly honest, I didn’t follow a training plan when I started. If I could go back I would do it differently for sure. Search for some free plans online, there are some for sure! As for food, I started a post a while ago that discusses athletes and food. Keep checking, I’ll get it done by the end of this week!

  10. Hi, My name is John with AlphaMind Vitamin Coffee. My company is looking for great supporters and we have heard so much about this site. We promote and vend at IRONMAN Triathlons and so many athletes have told us to get in contact with you. We would like to send you guys some coffee to enjoy!

    Thank you!
    John.

  11. I would like to post an event on your site. How would I go about doing that?

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