Hello, my name is Mary Songster-Alpin. Many people know me via social media (Facebook) as Mary Suzanne. I have been a member of the BTC since I first joined April 7th, 2015. I am running for election to the BTC board directors because I can’t think of a better way to give back to a club that literally helped save my life and has helped me to become the person that I am today.
When I joined the BTC, I had started to embark on the greatest challenge of my life. Just 4 months before joining the BTC, I was a struggling, depressed, overweight mom, wife and veterinarian. I was in severe pain due to having ankle arthritis and struggling with the knowledge that my mother died in 2011 prematurely due, in part, to having severe arthritis, limited mobility and arthritis. I was terrified of ending up in the same situation and not being around for my beautiful daughter. I struggled with proper nutrition and with being able to stick with a physical activity that could help me lose weight and regain mobility. Swimming was my only forte but that activity alone didn’t help me lose weight and become physically fit – I needed something more. Fortunately I met some triathletes both in real life and on-line and their enthusiasm for the sport caused me to want to embark on this wonderful sport as well. I joined the BTC Facebook group in 2012 and immediately found an extremely supportive group of friends. I really wanted to become a triathlete so first I dabbled in indoor triathlons but still struggled with my weight and with trying to become active. I then tried to compete as the swimmer in a relay at the ECC Kat with wonderful BTC members Lisa Trapasso and Erin Sheehan in 2014 but the untimely death of my father-in-law waylaid that plan. I started sliding backward again and it wasn’t until the following January that I actually learned how to eat properly and started losing weight. Once the light bulb went on and I started losing weight, I started being able to be more and more active and, although my ankle continued to be painful, I found that I could actually run – even a mile or more!! After 4 months of slow gradual weight loss and increasing physical activity, I joined the BTC for real and successfully competed in the ECC Kat Sprint Tri – this time by myself! I was a triathlete!!
Through the love and support of my husband, daughter and my BTC family, I continued to lose weight and continued to compete in triathlons – building from sprints to Olympic aquabikes to Olympic triathlons to eventually half Iron-man distance triathlons. I lost a total of 75 pounds and even though my ankle continued to deteriorate, I could still work out regularly and remain active. I found that even though I was a slow triathlete, I had the endurance to compete in the long distance triathlons. I then made the absolutely insane goal of actually competing in a full Ironman. After a year of training and planning, I successfully completed Ironman Louisville on October 15th, 2017 with a time of 16 hours and 36 minutes. I was now an IRONMAN!!!
I couldn’t have succeeded in this journey without the help of my BTC club mates. Your help, advice, support and encouragement have meant the world to me and I can’t imagine competing in this sport without the help of such an awesome diverse yet united club. Now that I achieved my bucket-list dream of completing an IRONMAN, I want to give back to this awesome community.
I know that you want to know more about me than just my triathlon journey though. I am a WNY native having grown up in Frewsburg NY near Jamestown. I went to undergraduate college at Cortland (where I thought that I would become a physical education teacher until I learned that I couldn’t throw a ball to save my life and changed to a biology and chemistry major). I obtained my doctorate degree from NC State where I lived for 8 years in the mid to late 90’s. I now live in Machias (approximately 45 minutes south of Buffalo) with Jim, my husband of 25 years, and Kerianne, our almost 15 year old daughter. We have a small farm just outside of town that we share with our 3 horses (Kaine, Brave Heart and Tutt), 1 dog (Misty – a 5 year old yellow lab), 2 cats (Paws and Lindsay), gecko (Buddy) and rabbit (Gus). I own a veterinary clinic in Chaffee, NY called Pioneer Paws Veterinary Clinic – I am the solo full time veterinarian and my husband is my practice manager. I occasionally do relief work as well for the emergency hospital in Orchard Park. Our daughter is a sophomore at Pioneer Central School and is a skilled and talented equestrian, cross country and track runner and top-notch student – much of our time is focused on supporting her in her endeavors. Although most of my life for the past year has been consumed with training for my Ironman, I have been an active volunteer in the Cattaraugus and Allegany County 4-H activities. I have served as coach and mentor for Kerianne and other 4-Hers as they participated in horse knowledge based and show ring competitions at the county and state levels. I am also very active in my church (Hope Lutheran Church) in Arcade where I have volunteered as a Sunday School teacher, in the altar guild and on various committees.
I hope that you will consider me for election to the BTC board of directors and if elected, I will work hard to assist the club in any way possible to improve life for our members.