Joyce Donaldson was part of the early years of the triathlon boom.
An avid cyclist, she met her husband, Jim, in 1981 at a triathlon, and as she watched him transition from swimming to cycling and then to jogging, she had one thought.
"I thought, 'oh my God, I've got to do this,' " the Sylvania resident said.
Jim Donaldson eventually encouraged his wife to parlay her passion for competitive cycling into competing in the triathlon, a discipline made up of swimming, cycling and running. A confessed tomboy, Donaldson took to the triathlon immediately and made it into a lifestyle of sorts.
She and her husband co-own Elite Endeavors, a race-management company that organizes the annual Sylvania Triathlon, and in 1995, she got involved in officiating triathlons. She departed Monday for Great Britain to serve as an international technical official in the triathlon for the London Olympics.
"I've been an advocate for the sport in the United States," Donaldson said. "I work with international athletes because of my level of officiating. To be able to be with the athletes as they're preparing, that's pretty exciting. I'm proud and honored that an organization thinks I've got the abilities to manage this at an international level. It's humbling and it's exciting."
In 1985, as she trained on her bike, she was hit by a drunk driver. At first glance, it was an event that changed her life.
"Quite frankly," Donaldson said, "I didn't know if I was going to survive."
She added, "We don't dwell on things that can't be. We move forward. You can't dwell. You can't stay in one place. You have to move forward."
First, Donaldson had to recover, and she credits the fact that she was wearing a bike helmet when she was hit, which minimized her head injuries. To this day, she is an advocate for wearing bike helmets when riding.
She recovered, but admitted that structurally, she wasn't able to compete in triathlons any longer.
She was well enough not only to maintain her passion for the endeavor, but also to re-invent herself and continue to work in triathlons as an official. For the London Olympics, she was nominated for the position and selected by the International Triathlon Federation. The women's triathlon will be held Saturday and the men's triathlon Aug. 7.
"The sport has taken me to 19 different countries, and I've gone to the highest levels of international competition," said Donaldson, who also was a triathlon official at the 2008 Beijing Games and officiated at the 2007 and 2011 Pan American Games.
On Sunday, Donaldson tied up the final loose ends before she left for London, but she also had another event to tend to: the Women's Only Tri & Dry-Tri in Sylvania.
During the awards ceremony after the triathlon, Jim Donaldson stood up in front of the crowd of triathletes and announced that his wife would be heading to London as part of an Olympic officiating contingent. His announcement drew rousing cheers.
However, Jim Donaldson -- an accomplished triathlete who has competed in the Ironman Triathlon World Championship as well as in the United States National Triathlon Championships -- will not be going to Great Britain. He's in the final stages of preparing for the Sylvania Triathlon and Dualathon, scheduled for Aug. 12.
Joyce Donaldson made a promise to her husband, one that she expects to fulfill at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil.
"I told him, 'you know what? In four years, we'll go to Rio together,' " she said.
NOTE: Donaldson will keep a blog of her trip and her work at the London Olympics at joycedonaldson.tumblr.com.
Contact Rachel Lenzi at: email@example.com, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.