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Martha Lanier

- Triathlete, Author, and Motivational Keynote Speaker -

"Don't ever allow negative thoughts, negative people or negative self-thoughts keep you from reaching your goals"

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"As a survivor, I live every day to the fullest and eagerly accept new challenges. From experiences I've learned the value of including humor even in difficult situations and maintaining a positive mindset."


For most of her life Martha Lanier was shy and lacked confidence. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think she could become a triathlete, especially at the age of 62. Prior to this, she had never participated in any athletic activities even as a child, including jogging. She didn’t enjoy sweating, having sore muscles or working out.

At 60, Martha was told what no woman ever wants to hear … “You have breast cancer.” It was April 2008 when she discovered a lump in her right breast just one week after her yearly physical exam. A biopsy revealed she had breast cancer identified as Stage I infiltrating ductal carcinoma. She chose to take aggressive action and on June 3 had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery.

To prepare both mentally and physically prior to surgery and part of her recovery, walking became a daily routine. Just three months following surgery, she celebrated a major achievement by walking 30 miles in the Atlanta 2 Day Walk for Breast Cancer. Not only did she complete the 30-mile walk with her two daughters, she was also a guest speaker during the closing ceremonies.

Six months after her mastectomy surgery, each of her doctors told her she had healed completely and could do anything she felt like doing. When she called her daughter to tell her the good news, her response left her speechless. “Mom, this is awesome! The Aflac Iron Girl Triathlon is going to be held in Atlanta in June so this gives us six full months to train.” Her oldest daughter also wanted to compete it with her!.

"I quickly explained that although I enjoyed swimming, it was only for fun. I didn’t have a bike nor had I even ridden one in over 50 years! And, I was not a runner and never intended to be one because I just plain didn’t enjoy it!" Martha says. Then she realized this would be a great way to celebrate her first year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor. And she accepted their challenge. This grandmother bought a Speedo, joined a senior adult swim club and purchased a bike and a helmet.

Mentally she was committed; physically she had to keep reminding her body. Settling into a training routine, she was in the pool by 6:00 am, four mornings a week. She also hired the lifeguard to help her with her strokes and alternate breathing. She joined other women on long bike rides who were also training for the Iron Girl. She quickly realized she was a speed walker with a naturally long stride and focused on gradually increasing her distance and decreasing her time. It wasn’t long before she was eating healthier and feeling better than she had in years plus she had so much more energy.

A month prior to the event, Martha and both of her daughters were each contacted by Iron Girl saying the three of them had been selected to be featured in an NBC Sports special covering the Atlanta Iron Girl Triathlon. She was asked because she was a new breast cancer survivor and her daughters were asked because they were supporting her.

Twelve hundred women registered for the event. The swim was so much harder than she imagined and she was disappointed she had to walk her bike up two steep hills, but she kept going thanks to the cheers from the crowds, the encouraging words from her competitors and the support from her family, especially her two daughters who helped make her dream come true.

This was one of the hardest challenges Martha has ever experienced, but it was also the most rewarding. It helped her realize how much she enjoyed working out and how it improved her overall health. As a motivational keynote speaker, audiences have enjoyed and benefited from the stories of her experience and the life lessons that came with becoming a triathlete. "I will forever remember the thrill I experienced when my daughters ran with me across the finish line. We each share a lifelong memory of this day and are proud to say we are Iron Girl Triathletes!", she says.

Blindsided just four weeks later, this new triathlete was admitted to Cardiac Intensive Care with having an unlikely and unexpected heart attack. With a diagnosis of Stress Cardiomyopathy, she experienced first-hand what can happen when we let everyday stress control our lives. Trying to be invincible, she was a do-all/be-all woman. Physically she was in the best condition of her life. Mentally she was unaware she had high levels of self-induced mental stress.

Her cardiologist explained that Stress Cardiomyopathy is brought on by uncontrolled mental stress over a long period of time. Most likely this was related to rebuilding her business after breast cancer, publishing her book, Pink Lemonade and dealing with personal issues. Training and competing in the Iron Girl resulted in having an extremely strong heart for a person her age. Her heart function only dropped to 40% and she had a short recovery period. Today she has no physical limitations, continues to enjoy her workouts and living a healthy lifestyle.

Martha is the proud mother of three children and eight grandchildren. As a survivor of multiple challenges, she lives each day to the fullest. Her accomplishments include swimming with dolphins, parasailing, going over 100 mph in a Lamborghini on a motor sports racetrack and zip lining in Belize. She is the author of Pink Lemonade: Mastectomy Tips and Insights from a Breast Cancer Survivor which is both humorous and factual.

Martha Lanier is a popular motivational keynote speaker who is known for her distinctive presentation style that is both entertaining and informative. Her message empowers her audiences with relevant and relatable content in the areas of stress management, building confidence and courage, and living a happy and healthy lifestyle. She can be contacted through her website at www.marthalanier.com.

Martha Lanier

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Why did you agree to become part of Triathlon Inspires?

I am inspired by learning about other Triathletes and in turn hope that people are inspired by my story.

How does it feel to be an inspiration to others? Did you ever expect to become an inspiration?

I never dreamed I would compete in a Triathlon much less inspire anyone. All of that changed as soon as I started training for the Iron Girl.

Why are Triathlons so inspiring? What makes this sport so special around the world?

I believe most people are inspired by Triathlons because they are intrigued by the focus, determination and commitment Triathletes have in wanting to compete.

When did you start participating in triathlons? Where was your first competition?

My daughter challenged me to compete in the Iron Girl Triathlon. I thought it would be a great way to celebrate my one-year anniversary as a breast cancer survivor and having a double mastectomy with major reconstruction. Up until this time I had never participated in any form of athletics.

What motivates you in life?

As a survivor, I live every day to the fullest and eagerly accept new challenges. From experiences I've learned the value of including humor even in difficult situations and maintaining a positive mindset.

What would you say to other people with similar ambitions?

Don't ever allow negative thoughts, negative people or negative self-thoughts keep you from reaching your goals.

Who inspires you? Why?

I am inspired by my three children and eight grandchildren. I am also inspired by ambitious people who never quit trying.

How did you deal with obstacles in your life?

After I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I started writing a list of all of the good things that resulted from having cancer. For example, I was told I couldn't vacuum for 3 months, I didn't have to cook because so many friends and neighbors brought over delicious meals, I met some of the strongest, most incredible women I never would have met if we hadn't had breast cancer. I ended up with a long list. When training was hard for the Iron Girl, I made another list to keep a positive mindset. I listed things like training put me in the best physical condition of my life, it was great being outside in the fresh air, I cherished the training time with my daughter. Again, my list was a long one.

What do you like most about Triathlons?

My favorite things about Triathlons are the camaraderie with other Triathletes and the incredibly healthy way I felt during training.

Mention major accomplishments in your life other than triathlons

Some of the major accomplishments in my life are starting my own company, becoming a professional speaker, learning how to have courage and confidence to keep an open mind, eagerly accept challenges and never give up on anything I put my mind to do.

What is in the future for you?

At 67 I am thrilled and excited when I think about what lies ahead for me in the future. Although I haven't yet decided, I want to celebrate my 70th birthday in a big way.

Do you support or represent any Non-Profit Organizations?

Not at this time.


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