Wednesday, September 3, 2014

From the Midwest to the West Coast: The Beginning...

While I was reading pg. 188 of Walking with God in the Chapel this morning, I began to reflect on my time here at the University of Southern California so far. In this book, Gray and Cavins guide us through the Old Testament from the perspective of the cause and effect of sin vs. walking in the way of the Lord. Viewing the world we are surrounded by has made the Old Testament come alive.

A common theme in the Old Testament is the connection between idolatry/sin and defeat/brokenness. The further the people of Israel were from God and His commandments, the more they fell into sin- especially sins of the flesh including coveting multiple wives and even child sacrifice. This was always accompanied with idolatry (worship of foreign gods). The root of this idolatry stems from ignorance or not knowing/trusting the Lord.

If you look closely, this is happening within our own lives. I see myself as Israel when I don't keep my eyes on Jesus. I create obstacles of idols that prevent myself from growing even closer to God. I fill my heart with so many useless things, temptations, and attachments that keep me from truly becoming one with God as I was made in His image and likeness.

As stated in this book, 'sin...brings about a reversal of creation, a kind of "de-creation"'. This quote was in reference to Israel's sin that was driving them out of the promised land of Canaan. This is also true for our own lives. All sin/idolatry brings about the reversal of our creation (being made in the image and likeness of God), and it also is keeping us from that true perfection within the Promised Land of Heaven.

The good news is... THERE IS HOPE! Jeremiah gave words of building and planting- a time of return and rebuilding. Just as Israel had hope to reenter the promised land, we, too, have the hope of coming back to God and His Kingdom. Jesus is the sower who is constantly building and planting seeds in our own hearts to allow us to mold into the image we were created to be.

In particular, I am blessed, with the help of my spiritual and financial mission partners, to be God's instrument to plant these seeds in others and watch the Holy Spirit nurture and let them grow. I have already seen God touch, open, and light a fire in so many hearts since I have been here.

Just as Israel has won great victories through prayer and trust in God (even when the odds were incredibly against them), this is how we can fight to be victorious over the sin and brokenness of this world.

Apart from much prayer, I have been given the opportunity to jump into one-on-one mentorship/discipleship with 5 girls, host many welcome-back barbecues, pray with various students, and become great friends with some awesome people through running, soccer, a beach day, and great milkshakes and coffee.

Thank you all again for all your love, support, and prayers.

In Christ,

Tanelle Berard

P.S. Please pray for all the up-coming bible studies that are starting up this next week, for further unity between the Caruso Catholic Center and FOCUS, and an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on this campus, especially on the athletic department

Volleyball, body surfing, and a lot of sun on Labor Day at the beach with my team and four students!

First welcome-back BBQ with students lined up all the way back to the church!

THE TEAM: John Potts (left), Me, Emily German, and Danny Zink (right)

Sunday, February 2, 2014

A Change of Plans

So... I'm sure most of you have heard by now that I am not competing in triathlon this upcoming season. For those of you that are just hearing of this, I want to start off by thanking you all for your generous support and love. This decision was not easy by any means.

This past summer, I got an injury right around Dallas ITU Pan American Cup race. After weeks of frustration and rehab without improvement, I finally got an MRI to reveal my 3rd femoral neck stress fracture. What was the culprit this time? Probably taking 10 days off from running for finals and going right back to my usual mileage or more. I was overambitious and impatient.

Regardless of how or why the injury happened, I knew there was a reason for it. There is always a reason for everything in God's greater plan, so it got me thinking. I realized that there was no way for me to get back in shape and healthy for the end of the season, so I took an extended break for the first time in my life. During this break, I studied and took the MCAT thinking I was maybe called to go to medical school next year.

More importantly, I also grew enormously in my faith. When I got back to UNC this fall, I started to get more involved in our campus ministry by leading a bible study, spending more time with the community, and diving into my prayer life. For this first time in my life, I was asking the questions 'what does God want?' and 'what is His plan' instead of 'what do I want?' or 'what is my plan?'.

Every time I started applying for medical school, I felt a deep-seeding discontent and uneasiness. One night at Eucharistic Adoration, I finally asked Him, "Can I stop applying for medical school?" Instantly, I was filled with peace, tears, and joy. This was also the moment I knew I needed to apply for FOCUS.

FOCUS stands for Fellowship of Catholic University Students. Their mission is to invite college students into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church; inspiring and equipping them for a lifetime of Christ-centered evangelization, discipleship, and friendships in which they lead others to do the same. As an employee of FOCUS, I will be a missionary on a college campus with the main goal of evangelization to college students.

My spiritual director once told me the best way to find God's plan is to take steps in either direction and listen to His response. First, I tried to take steps back towards professional triathlon. I thought that because my life was now centered on what was truly important, I could be an effective athlete for Christ. I was lining up possible sponsorship opportunities, getting back in contact with my coach and USAT, and getting back into shape. But once again, I was filled with uneasiness, discontent, and a pit in my stomach. As hard as it was for me to admit it, this was not God's plan, and the second I changed my mind, I was filled with peace and joy again.

Next, I knew I needed to figure out if God was really calling me to FOCUS or not. So I took steps towards what my life would look like as a missionary. I was leading my bible study, started investing in more women on campus, and led a small group at a retreat. The more I got involved as a student missionary, the more fulfillment I found. At that point, I knew I needed to apply for FOCUS.

So I applied, interviewed, and was offered a job all within 3 weeks, AND, in case you haven't already guessed it, I will be a FOCUS missionary next year! I will be going to training in Florida this June, fundraising my salary, and going to a college campus of their choosing in August.

As for triathlon, that is being put on hold. I am so grateful for all the opportunities I have been given and all the people that helped me get there. Without triathlon, I wouldn't be the person I am today. Thank you, again, to everyone for your support, encouragement, and understanding. I love you all. A special thanks to all of my amazing sponsors the past couple years especially Des Moines Tri Club. I am so appreciative for everything you have done for me.

I will be praying for you all.

God bless,


My life in the meantime:

Climbing 14ers

Rock Climbing

Swing Dancing and the most amazing Melissa Timmermeyer


FOCUS interview weekend

The Great 8 Mates: Winter hiking and camping

Denver March for Life

FOCUS Student Leadership Summit Conference

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dallas ITU Pan American Cup

Coming into this weekend, I was so ready to race! After Kansas, I was super motivated to improve and get back into shape. This came along with some very solid workouts (even in the week of the race). Because I had been putting in a lot of hard work, I was unfortunately not rested for the race, and it definitely showed in the run this past weekend. Overall, I am very happy with where I am progressing for this part of the season, and I am content with my 4th place finish in Dallas.

Now onto the race: I was very pleased with my swim compared to my previous races this year. I dove into the water and sprinted as hard as I could to get up to the front. Unfortunately, about 50 meters in, my shoulder was snatched by another swimmer and all my forward momentum went to a halt. So, naturally, I was slightly swallowed up by a group of swimmers (that I eventually went around to bridge up to the front pack). In this race, I was able to recover from losing my rhythm for several strokes. At a bigger race, I will probably not be so lucky to be able to bridge to a stronger pack.

Coming into transition, I was near the end of a pack of 10ish. I sprinted my way through the maze, and ended up 3rd out of transition (results show I had the fasted T1!). My fast transition allowed me to quickly bridge to the two riders ahead of me and begin my bike fairly relaxed. And that was the motto for the whole bike: nice and relaxed. The group as a whole didn’t have any incentive to go any faster or slower because the group behind us wasn’t gaining on us and we were at the front of the race. I considered breaking from the pack, but my legs were already feeling unusually tired.  I also knew that the wind and strong group of riders would make a break nearly impossible to keep.

Coming into T2, I came off the bike near the front of the pack (to avoid any unneeded collisions). I had an amazing transition once again, and came out in the front of the group (fastest transition time once again). I started out onto the run and felt very strong! I was at a very comfortable pace, and I knew I could hold that pace for the whole 10k. Sadly, that was not the case. 800 in, I was passed by the eventual winner of the race, and it all went downhill from there. I just didn’t feel like my normal self on the run. My legs got heavy, my tempo slowed, I wasn’t using a forward lean, and I found myself gasping for air making it hard to breath. This caught up with me more and more through the run, and I just kept getting slower. I ended up behind two Americans at the finish line. I was pretty bummed at that result, but in the end, I am still proud of where I am at this point of the season. I know that I am a stronger runner than I showed on that particular day, and I am so excited to prove myself at my next race.

Thanks again to all my generous supporters! Special shout out to the newest part of my team: Dr. Jon Roed at Des Moines Spine and Sport!

Next up: Edmonton ITU World Cup

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kansas 5150

Lets just call this one a trying race. I am neither extremely disappointed nor proud of my performance. I came into the race pretty fatigued. My training leading up to the event was very solid to shock my system after taking a 10-day easy period to get through dead week and finals. Given the circumstances, I classified this race as a "C" race. I was doing it to possibly get a few points to qualify for Hy-Vee and to shock my body into fitness. I was, however, not prepared mentally for the race that came to be.

Race morning came with a few extra surprises for me. The swim was canceled due to lightning, so instead, the race was turned into a bike-run. In addition to the race change, we had a significant delay. The cold and rainy morning did not spark my race-day fierceness that I usually have. Given my under-enthusiasm for a duathlon, I neglected to do a second run warm-up which left me chilled and tight for the time trial bike start. All-in-all, I was plain and simple being a mentally weak WIMP.

Right before the race began, I realized I was the highest number (meaning I got to start first with riders being let off every 10 seconds behind me). I was not too thrilled about this because I knew the lower numbers had a way easier time seeing their placement in the field. Trying to block all this negativity out of my head was difficult, but I was still ready to race. I am never going to get to a start line and give up before I even start. 

As I was let out of the starting shoot, I starting clicking away on the bike. I kept talking positively to myself and tried to get into a solid rhythm. Not even 2 miles in, I got passed by Lauren Goss (the eventual winner of the race). Knowing that she started at least 30 seconds behind me really sucked because I knew on any other day, I should be able to stay ahead and keep up with her. I tried to ignore it, but eventually more people started to pass me. I just felt weak going up and down the hills. I stayed at a hard pace, but it didn't seem to be hard enough to keep up with the riders I usually keep up with. Coming back from the bike, I knew I had catching up to do- both with time and hydration. My water bottle filled with UR unfortunately slipped off my bike at mile 2 due to the wet conditions, so I didn't get any water on the bike (just one more thing that wasn't going my way).

Coming out onto the run, I already passed two people in transition (thank you ITU!). The rest of the run I
focused on staying calm, collected, and strong. This seemed to work because I was passing people throughout the race. I never ran extremely outside of myself, but I was happy with the solid effort that I put in. I knew I could have ran harder, but I sadly allowed myself to settle. I crossed the finish line 5th but ended up in 9th place (not a great result, but I can deal with it).

Next race, I am going to let it hurt, be strong, and show that I can contend for the podium spots. I need to be able to be consistent and strong whether I am rested or broken down, in rain or shine. This all comes from experience. I did learn a lot during this race, and I am excited to keep growing in the sport. 

God bless,


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

St. Anthony's Race Report

First off, I want to share how incredibly excited I was to race this event! The start list was incredibly talented, and I was honored to race with these amazing women for my first non-draft professional race. CLICK HERE for a start list with everyone's main accomplishments to give you an idea of the talent I was racing with.

So, given the fact that this was my first non-draft professional event and the field was so deep, I set a modest goal for myself of top half. I definitely exceeded my expectations with a 13th place finish.

Leading up to the race, I had an awesome time. My home stay, Sherri, was so wonderful and accommodating. I am very grateful to the event organizers for this amazing perk as a professional in the field. The day before the event, I was able to meet up with professional athletes TJ Tollakson and Ben Kanute. This was super convenient and helpful to me to know some people at the race. Together, we rode the run course, and then after the athlete briefing (which was super intimidating to be surrounded by superstars), Ben and I did a pre-race run and swim. I felt great in all three disciplines, and I knew I was ready to put out a great race!

On race day morning, I got up at 4am, ate, biked to the race site, and then proceeded with my normal pre-race preparation. I finished up by jogging to the swim start, swimming a bit to warm up, and then lining up. The swim start for this race was a deep water start, so we were called into the water to line up between two buoys before we started. I chose a position to the right because I prefer left breathing to see my opponents. This, however, was a mistake. The swimmers on my left ended up creeping past the buoys before the start (as the men did), and before it could be corrected, the cannon went off for the start. Due to the waves coming in from the left, the left side racers were pushed right in front of me, causing me to have to change directions and go around. This definitely cost me some time and the lead swim pack. Thankfully, I felt great the rest of the swim. I kept gaining positions throughout the race which was very encouraging. The huge swells and waves definitely played to my advantage. I ended up coming out of the water in 16th- right in the middle of the group.

Low res preview: Your order will be delivered in far superior resolution and image quality without water marks.
Low res preview: Your order will be delivered in far superior resolution and image quality without water marks.Going out onto the bike, I knew I had to put in a solid effort. I did my best to keep a steady, yet hard, pace for the whole bike. I ended up gaining a couple positions on the bike which was super awesome given that I couldn't put a lot of time in on the bike because of school. That leg definitely surprised me the most. My bike average was 24 mph which was my fastest bike split to date. My new aero helmet from definitely helped! Thanks again!

Coming into T2, there was about 6 of us. I quickly switched into my shoes, and went out on the run. The first thing that hit me coming off the bike was the heat. Because I was training in Colorado, I was definitely not used to this. To top it off, I don't think I drank enough on the bike- one bottle of UR Driven was not enough. Even though I felt dehydrated and slightly sluggish (my stride tempo just never came), I put in a very solid run. I was very diligent on drinking water and gatorade to avoid worse dehydration. This paid off, and I ran myself into 13th place. Overall, I was very pleased with my race, and I am excited to keep improving throughout the season. Given the fact that I prepared for this race while being a full time college student is super fulfilling.  I just finished school, so I have time to dedicate myself 100% to training, recovery, and nutrition. Let the games begin!

Low res preview: Your order will be delivered in far superior resolution and image quality without water marks.

A couple noted takeaways from the race:
- never be in a start position on the swim where you can be blocked in at any point
- bring two water bottles on the bike (one filled with UR Driven and an extra one filled with water)

Thanks again for all my sponsors including Des Moines Tri Club,, Hands on Sports Massage, UR, Bike World, Giant, and all the other amazing sponsors of my amazing z3 Elite Triathlon Team.  A special thanks to Jenny Weber for preparing me for the race and all of my friends and family. Lastly, I would like to thank my Lord, Jesus Christ, for all of the amazing gifts He has given me. I hope that through sport I can honor and praise Him for all his graciousness.

Thanks for reading! Up next: Kansas 5150...

...and a Road Cycling Collegiate National Championships weekend report!! (coming soon)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

How It All Began...

Wrapped up in my towel after swimming lessons, I was sitting up in the bleachers next to my mom at the mere age of 6. I was staring down at the water below me, watching the older swimmers on swim team splash their way through the water. The noise was enticing and tempting. Still in my trance, my mom looked down at me and asked, “Do you want to join swim team?” Immediately, my heart was filled with excitement. “Yes!” I exclaimed. Ever since this day, I had been hooked on competitive swimming.

Soon after, it became clear to me that I was meant for distance. Often times, I was the lone 9 year old signed up for the 500 free. I loved the thrill and challenge of the long race. People would call me crazy, but that just fueled my fire. Immediately after I aged up to the 11-12 age group, I entered myself into the mile, 66 laps of pure guts. After my first go at it, I climbed out of the pool with a big grin on my face. Yes, I was exhausted, but I knew I had way more to give. It was then engrained in me that I was a true endurance athlete.

7th grade came around, and I knew I wanted to join a school sport. Swimming was out of the question, because middle school swimming was not nearly competitive enough compared to my current swim club. With more thought, I decided to run cross country. Because I was one of the best runners on the swim team, I thought I could really excel in the sport. And excel, I did. By the end of my first year, I won a race as a 7th grader (beating all of the older 8th graders). Then, during my 8th grade year, I won the majority of my races and was breaking school records. On the track, I was always running the longest races, and constantly wanted to do more at practice. I attributed my endurance to all the work I had been doing in the pool. Swimming was a great stepping stone to realizing my full potential in sport.

By the time high school came around, I considered myself equally talented in the pool as I was on the track. I couldn’t choose what sport to choose when it came to high school cross country or swimming. They both happened to be during the fall season. So naturally, I did both. I would go to swim practice in the morning, race to school, attend cross country practice immediately following school, and finish up with another swim practice. Then, I would race home, eat dinner, and finish all of my homework before repeating the cycle again the next day. This was exhausting to say the least, but I loved the challenge of it. I was pushing my body to its limits, and I was reaping the benefits of it. By the time taper hit, I was nice and rested to succeed. I finished 7th to help my team win state in cross country, and I also made it to state in swimming, achieving best times in all of my events. Although doing both sports in the same season was difficult, it proved to be equally rewarding in the end.

After swimming and cross country season were over, many people tried to introduce me to the idea of triathlon. The most influential person to convince me; however, was my swim coach. He had experience with triathlon, and he really persuaded me into giving it a go. He put me in contact with a triathlon coach, and before I knew it, I was meeting Jenny Weber at Starbucks to discuss my start in the sport. That next summer, I had started my transition to triathlon. My first race was the 2008 Hy-Vee Junior Elite Cup. I finished 8th place. I was top 2 out of the water, got rocked on the bike, and was able to pull a few people back on the run. From there, I knew what I had to focus on: the bike. At Junior Elite nationals, I ended up 6th in a much more competitive field. Unlike Hy-Vee, I was able to hold my own on the bike. I was starting to become competitive in all three disciplines.

By the summer of 2009, I was starting to make my way to the top of the junior field. I started breaking away from packs on the bike, and I continued to show my dominance in the open water swim. At 2009 Junior Elite Nationals, I won my first draft legal race. The race came together perfectly for me. I had an amazing swim, came out of the water with one other person, and kept gaining time on the chase pack on the bike. By the time the run hit, I knew I had a shot of winning. I gave it all I had, and I came out on top. The next year, I started racing internationally. This was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be.  I wasn’t at the top anymore, but I knew my perseverance would get me there with time. Again in 2010, I won nationals and was selected to race at Junior Elite worlds for team USA. I jumped at the opportunity and trained harder than ever in preparation for the race. Although I didn’t have a great swim that I was used to, I had an amazing bike and run. I ran my way to 7th place in the world. My potential was beginning to unveil itself. I knew I could compete with the top athletes in the world.

After taking a year off to strictly train for NCAA Division I cross country and track, I am now pursuing a professional triathlon career. The transition from junior elite racing has been tough, but I love the challenge. I can’t wait to keep improving and gaining experience in my first professional season. I want to thank USA Triathlon, and Des Moines Triathlon club, Hands on Sports Massage, Bike World, Giant, UR, and all my additional sponsors through z3 Elite Team. Finally, special thanks to my new sponsor! I am so appreciative for everything you all do!

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Beginning: Sarasota Pan American Cup

So this was my first race of the 2013 season. I came into the race so ready to compete! Because I had a solid winter training block, I felt strong and ready for this early season race.

I came into Sarasota two days before the race and went through my normal pre-race training in preparation for the event. I felt really good on the bike and run, but my swim felt a bit forced and sluggish. In the pre-race meeting, I looked around and saw so many great athletes. This made me a bit nervous, but I was really excited to test my fitness against everyone!

Along with being my first race of the season, it was also my first chance to qualify for a spot to compete in the Under 23 World Championship race in London in September. My goals for the season were to finish top 10 in at least two pan american cup races as well as qualify for U23 Worlds. I knew I had it in me to reach both of my goals at this race. In order to qualify, I had to be the first USA U23 finisher, finish within 5% of the winner's time, AND finish in the top 1/3 of the starting field. 

As the race started, I quickly dove into the water to find myself underneath two girls. I fought with both of them for about 20 strokes before I decided I was just losing more and more time. At that point I chose to forgo the battle and just go around. As I looked up, I saw the whole pack swimming out in front of me. I was crushed. I worked really hard the first half of the lap to get up to some feet. After the first lap, I looked up before I dove back in and saw two distinctly formed packs in front of me. I tried my hardest to reach that second pack, but I still felt flat and the gap was too much for me to bridge. 

Coming out of the water, I had two other girls with me. I had a super fast transition, and was excited to get on the bike to prepare for my run. Early into the bike, we bridged another racer, so we formed a pack of four. We managed to work well together, but not at a pace I was hoping for. That aside, I felt great! I was strong, confident, and relaxed the whole bike. I knew that if I was in a quicker pack, that I would have been able to keep up. My winter biking really paid off.

As I sped through T2, I was really excited to get out onto the run. I hit the first turn around and saw that I easily dropped the girls in my pack, and was starting to reel in a few more runners. This was a huge confidence booster for me. I started in 12th and ran my way to 10th (got into the money!!). I was really pleased with my run time. I went 37:31 which is a great start to the season. I know I can make huge strides from there, and I am excited to prove myself throughout the season! 

In the end, I was the first USA U23 to finish, and I made the 5% threshold of the winner's time. Unfortunately, I was not in the top 1/3 of the field (I would have had to place 8th), so I did not earn a spot for U23 worlds at this race. Regardless, I am super happy with my first race of the season, and am excited to keep gaining experience in the elite ranks.

A special thanks to all my sponsors through z3 triathlon triathlon team! I also want to thank God for all my talents. Without his gracious love and gifts, none of this would be possible.

Next up: St. Anthony's 5150