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2018 Keys to Recovery

Teamwork MAKES the DREAM work.

We learn from an early age the advantage of working together as a team. Quite often, athletics is the avenue by which we are given many lessons on teamwork. From work to recreation, teamwork can be a difference maker!

Project Athena Foundation is a non-profit organization that is built upon a concept of teamwork. Project Athena's mission is to help women who have survived medical or other traumatic challenges reach new athletic goals and achieve their adventurous dreams. In 2013, I was the fortunate recipient of a grant (an Athena) that enabled me to participate in my first 120ish mile trek from Key Largo to Key West (biking and kayaking across the Keys). I returned as a goddess (someone who fund raises for the benefit of an Athena) in 2016 and 2018.

A week ago -- we met as strangers, former participants, crew, and coaches. Over the course of three days, we became Project Athena Family!

I do not think I'm the only one amazed at what the body can achieve in spite of medical setbacks.

We were inspired by four Athenas -- Katey (Cerebral Palsy), Karen (Breast Cancer Survivor), Lisa (Breast Cancer Survivor), and Tamie (Amputee). In a matter of three days, it's so awesome to witness how fear subsides to confidence over this trek, which consists of 90 miles on the bike and 30 miles ocean kayak!

Smiles at the 120ish mile finish from our Athenas

Heading into my third adventure, I was definitely feeling better about my training leading up to the trip. But, I was still nervous about it. I was diagnosed a few weeks ago with a herniated disc in my back. I didn't know if the three day adventure would bring discomfort or not.

In 2016, I struggled on the bike and kayak. I learned the benefit of asking for help (and learned just how humbling it can be). So, while I prepared myself for the physical and mental challenge of 2018, I did so methodically. I rode the bike for every cardio session at Orangetheory Fitness. I spent the last couple of months ensuring that I was lifting weights and building muscle. Last but not least, I mentally prepared myself for the challenge to complete 120 miles.

How did I prepare myself mentally? I just DROWNED out the doubts and replaced those thoughts with I HAVE. I CAN. I WILL. I went for it! In my heart I knew that I would not be alone. I would not be left behind. And, that the efforts of the TEAM would be what would be able to see me through and over the finish line.

I was excited to do this year's Keys 2 Recovery adventure with two Atlanta friends and friends from 2016 and 2018 K2R. It was definitely a PAF reunion!

Overall, I was surprised how strong I felt on the bike. I was not surprised how challenging the kayak was for me. Tandem kayaking is always enjoyable because you have a partner with whom to chat (and help try to pass the time ....sometimes a shared moan and groan, too).

No matter the strength or weakness of the individual - it's the team that gets us through the tough times! We did it ~ as a team!

In 2015, my theme of that trip was "Strength". I was stronger than I'd ever imagined.

In 2016, my theme was "Helping Hand". It's not always as easy to accept help; however, it is not a sign of weakness to do so.

In 2018, my theme was "Gratefulness". I am so appreciative of everything!

Hugs and High 5s, Carletta

Beautiful Sunset w/my PAF Fam

My 2015 Crossing Finish line as an Athena

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