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.