An Athlete Among Us
By Sr. Airman Nichole Ramirez, 146AW
/ Published April 10, 2010
Channel Islands ANGS, Calif. -- While most of us strive to maintain a moderate level of fitness, others put just a little more effort into keeping themselves in excellent condition. Then there is that elite group; you've seen them. They are the ones running in the rain and you think, "I can't believe that person is out running! Who in their right mind would be out in this weather?"
If you truly want to know what type of person keeps that level of commitment, you need look no further than here at the 146th Airlift Wing Medical Squadron. Just ask for Capt. Linda Baltes.
Capt. Baltes is the Biomedical Science Officer for the wing, a corporate account manager for Roche Diagnostics and, a triathlete.
She is currently training for an upcoming mini-Iron Man, which consists of a mere 1.2 miles of swimming, 56 miles of biking and 13 miles of running. Her ultimate goal is to compete in the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii, considered the Mecca of the sport, which consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking and 26 miles of running (yes, 26 miles, which is a marathon in itself!)
With these kinds of goals, it is crucial for Capt. Baltes to fit in her training wherever and whenever she can.
In her profession, she travels nearly 300 days out of the year. When asked what her toughest obstacle is for training, she quickly responded "the bikes!"
Capt. Baltes said she has run countless unknown trails and paths during her travels, and will typically phone around to local gyms to get access to a swimming pool, but the one part she cannot seem to regularly get to while on the road is the bike.
When asked how she got into the sport, she chuckled before sharing and she recalls the poignant moment that started it all.
It was during her commissioned officer school training that she injured herself during an obstacle course run.
"My boot got stuck in the dirt and I had a labral tear and injured my IT band," she said.
For those of you who don't know what that means (and yes, I am in that group), it the ring of soft tissue that follows the outside rim of the socket of your hip joint. This ridge of cartilage, called a labrum, works a little like a suction cup to help hold your hip joint together. The IT band is actually the iliotibial band, a superficial thickening of tissue on the outside of the thigh, extending from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee, and inserting just below the knee. The band is crucial to stabilizing the knee during running, moving from behind the femur to the front while walking.
And if that wasn't enough, it turned out that wasn't the entire amount of damage she had. After many specialists and tests, it was discovered that her gluteus medius was torn off the bone and ripped in two places.
It was because of this injury that she stumbled into triathalons.
"My ability to be active was taken away," she said.
Having that privilege robbed from her, made Capt. Baltes appreciate the abilities she once had.
She vowed on her "surger-versary," to compete in a triathlon and held herself to her pledge. Capt. Baltes competed in her first event in Santa Barbara in a competition that consisted of modest 46 miles.
Now she finds herself in a very different level of competition. Sponsored by Xterra and pictured in Triathlete Magazine, she still only sees the work ahead of her.
"The pinnacle is the Ironman. It's the end-all, be-all, where some of the best legends in the sport have competed," said Capt. Baltes.
For many, such an injury would change a person's life to more restricted activity. For Capt. Baltes, it pushed her to new heights and has changed her life. She is an example and an inspiration. Proof positive that we can push ourselves to achieve extraordinary results with dedication and perseverance.