Patricia Walsh couldn’t see well as a child. Doctors discovered a brain tumor, but by the time she was 14 her vision was gone.
That didn’t stop her from becoming a national champion paratriathlete — and a software engineer and corporate speaker.
Now Walsh, 33, who lives in Austin, has written a book telling her story and sharing tips for professional development and leadership. She’ll sign copies of "Blind Ambition: How to Envision Your Limitless Potential and Achieve the Success You Want," at 7 p.m. Thursday at BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.
It’s especially inspiring to hear about the challenges Walsh faces as a blind triathlete, competing in events where she must swim 800 meters, bike 15 miles and run 3.2 miles. Running is her strong suit, she’s improving on the bicycle and says her swimming is a work in progress. When she swims in open water, she’s tethered to her guide, who steers her by tugging on the rope between them.
"I have to be responsive, and we have to swim close without swimming over the top of each other," she says.
In the pool, she has to estimate when she’s at the end of the lane. When she’s almost there, she reaches out with her arms. A few weeks ago, she miscalculated, hit the wall and got a concussion. A few days later, still feeling the effects of the blow, she fell off a treadmill and gashed herself.
"It is scary," she says. She knows she’s more likely than others to get injured. Still, she plugs on. "It’s not that you overcome that fear. It’s realizing that the end goal is important enough to me to withstand failure and pain."
Getting comfortable with being out of your comfort zone helps, too.
Walsh won her division in the Paratriathlon National Championship in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Now she’s aiming for the Paralympic Games in Brazil in 2016. Qualification is based on a point system, and Walsh held a substantial lead this year against her closest competition. If she makes it, Austin pro triathlete Natasha Van Der Merwe will serve as her course guide, racing alongside her. In the meantime, Walsh is training for the Paratriathlon Pan American Championships in Mexico in May.
But back to the book. Walsh says she can help you attain your own goals, even if they are less lofty than climbing Mount Everest or competing in the Olympics.
"It doesn’t have to be a big, hairy, audacious goal, just whatever your current goal is," she says. "The goals you have are important — you may not end up on the news because of them, but they’re important all the same."
Opening the world of gym membership
That whole membership-to-a-single-gym concept just might be going by the wayside.
Two companies have announced programs that allow members to pay a single monthly fee giving them access to fitness classes and facilities at studios around the city.
In early December, ClassPass announced its expansion to Austin. The company, which operates in New York City; Boston; Chicago; San Francisco; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; Seattle; Portland; San Diego; and Dallas, offers a fitness pass that gets members into more than 30 Austin fitness studios, including Ride Indoor Cycling, Ballet Austin and Dharma Yoga.
A membership costs $99 per month and allows access to any studio in the network up to three times per month. Options include cycling, pilates, yoga, strength training, dance and martial arts. For more information go to tinyurl.com/qh27odd.
A few weeks later, San Francisco-based Fitmob launched its Passport program in Austin, too. Members pay $99 per month and get access to classes and facilities at studios including Kor180, Dane’s Body Shop and Wanderlust Yoga, and classes in venues like public parks. A mobile app lets members check class overviews, workout formats, intensity levels and community reviews. For more information go to fitmob.com.
With either program, you can take a spin class one day, yoga the next and lift weights after that, all for one flat monthly rate.
It’s an interesting concept that appears to benefit both members and gym owners. Members get to try out a variety of classes, and owners fill up their classes and get exposure to a wider audience.