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Athlete of the Week – Lucille O’Neil

Lucille O'Neil

Lucille O’Neil is our Athlete of the Week!

Lucille began her early life suffering from severe and mysterious migraines stemming from an unknown cause. These migraines followed her into her adulthood, especially after the birth of her second child when the migraines increased to daily. Working, getting out of bed, going to work, and taking care of 2 young children was taking a toll on Lucille as she struggled with severe pain and the various medications and treatments that came with it.

After several years of this, it was finally determined Lucille had a Chairi Malformation, and brain surgery was recommended. This absolutely terrified Lucille, so at age 49, she delayed the surgery and made several life changes.

She changed her eating habits, removed the majority of preservatives, sugars, and artificial sugars from her life. Whole foods took over after that. She got back on the bike, lost 35 pounds, and noticed the migraines were subsiding and so were the medications. There was one defining moment in Lucille’s struggle, where she realized if she kept her eating clean, weight under a certain point, and “low normal” hydration, there would be NO headaches. She was able to keep the CSF (fluid surrounding the brain/spinal cord) pressure down without having that brain surgery. Lucille knew that this experience was something worth maintaining.

By continuing cycling, she increased her mileage and found a great group to ride with. She completed the MS 150 with VCU Rams That Ride, although she realized she needed to put in work to keep her cycling fitness up. She wanted to be IN the pack, not chasing it. After that, Lucille reached out to Michael, Kyle, and the rest of EF who took her under their week. After just one winter of training, she was leading the pack, not just following! This experience increased her joy of riding and truly unveiled a passion she thought was gone. With the great coaches  Surrounded by great coaches and EF athletes,  I began to challenge my self more, and “tinkered” in some racing. That year I completed  5,800 miles of riding, 9 centuries, and put 2 more states in my Bucket.  

Lucille O’Neil joined Endorphin Fitness after speaking with Michael about what “winter” training options were offered, knowing Endorphin’s focus was triathlon. She met Coach Kyle and he was excited to take on the challenge of a cyclist.

Lucille has completed numerous cycling races, including some Grand Fondo’s (100 miles), KOMs, many centuries, shorter road races, time trials, and criteriums. Mainly, Lucille focuses on event/charity rides such as MS 150, bike VA, community ride, but also races to keep herself focused on improvements

When asked about how Endorphin Fitness has taught her to “Be More”, Lucille had this to say,

“By challenging myself and discovering what I am capable of, EF has allowed me to rekindle a joy and passion for both cycling and life, and has gotten me through some really tough times. I have learned to forgive myself, challenge myself, push myself, and find joy in so many aspects of life. I have learned to be flexible and resilient-  and working with so many coaches ( Kyle, Parker, Jake, Sally and Erin) has made me learn to communicate better to make the collaboration the best it can be (and I appreciate the coaches commitment to making my plan work for me, when I often make last minute changes to my plans / abandon the plan to add unplanned events at the last minute… )  I have learned to be more scientific in my training, adding “power” to my metrics, and have also learned that sometimes you have to trash a workout and just go out and have fun (and not feel guilty about it). I enjoy challenging Erin with my physiology questions, and have enjoyed learning of her master’s research.   I can say, while I know I will benefit from longer term / consistent coaching with Erin, I have learned something very valuable from each EF coach I have worked with, and they all have contributed to my personal growth in a variety of ways.”

Keep reading as Lucille explains her favorite and least favorite race experiences…

By far, my favorite race experience is 2 years at the Huntsman Games. Racing with over 300 cyclists (the youngest of which are 50) and seeing what I may be capable of in another 40+  years is amazing. Being a part of an event with over 11,000 athletes in 30 different sports is as close as I will ever get to the Olympics, and is inspiring. My least favorite race was the Virginia State Sr. Games- where the 5 K TT had  ~17 U-turns. I really poorly thought out course, and for one not good at sprinting out of corners, tough, and was complicated by wet road conditions.   While the race course was not fun,  the event was. My favorite ride is a toss up between  a Bryce and Zion Tour, and Cycle Greater Yellowstone. I think my favorite may be the ones I haven’t done yet-  the anticipation of exploring a new place is always exciting.” 

Lucille’s favorite part about cycling is exploring long distance courses in new places that gain her more than fitness. Cycling gives her the intimate knowledge of the culture and people of different regions. It’s more than just being a “tourist” in a new place. You are truly experiencing an area in an entirely different way. Locals are curious and will open themselves up in ways they would not if you were stopped by someone in a car.

Lucille has some epic advice to beginner athletes:

  1. Never worry about winning, just focus on beating your yesterday; by doing that, you will always be a winner.
  2. Always find joy in what you do; finding joy is the meaning of everything

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