We caught up with Hive athlete and triathlete, Dana Robertson Halter, to learn what drives her to compete, how her attitude about racing has changed over the years, and how she puts her positive energy out into the world.
Dana Robertson Halter
Where is home?
What is your primary sport?
Triathlon…but I have early osteoarthritis in my knees, so I may be switching to Aquabike.
How did you get into it/start racing?
I started swimming competitively when I was six, and I went on to swim in college. I specialize in the events that are so long and boring that no one wants to watch them. After I graduated from college, I wanted to try a new challenge and did the Danskin Triathlon in 1999. After that race, I was hooked!
Why do you race/compete?
I’m a lifelong athlete, and I love the way training and racing makes me feel. I also want my daughters to grow up watching their triathlete mom (and ultra-runner dad) work hard for something.
Do you compete on a team or for a sponsor(s)?
What is your profession (if not your sport)?
I’m a communications officer for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I’ve been doing employee communications for over a decade now and I love it!
Greatest personal accomplishment, in your sport or in life?
I’m proud of qualifying for Boston in my first (and only!) marathon in 2010, and that I finished a half Ironman hand-in-hand with my daughters in 2015. I’m most proud that I launched an employee program (the LifeWise Ambassadors) to bring people together to share their stories and celebrate living active, healthy lifestyles. We told some powerful, inspiring stories over the program’s two-year run, and a number of the former LifeWise Ambassadors still train, race, and support each other as a result.
Goal(s) for the future?
Finishing an Ironman! And if that’s not possible, I want to keep improving my time trial. I see myself as a strong bike racer who’s an awful time trialist…and that’s not ideal for triathlon/aquabike. Time trialing is a mental game, and I want to learn to give it my all when it’s just me against the clock.
Memorable training or competition moments?
I ended up with mono after overtraining in 2008, and was time cut from a cycling stage race in Minnesota. Mortifying! I came back to Seattle with my proverbial tail between my legs and wondered what to do next. A cycling friend of mine gave me a pair of Wonder Women underwear, and I put them on over my kit at our next race and pranced around. This began a series of me wearing various costumes at races-the German beer wench outfit was a big hit-to keep it fun. When I quit racing in 2009 to have my first baby, people told me the women’s peloton was way less fun without me. I call that a success!
Pieces of advice you have learned over the years and would like to pass on?
Wisdom: Cheer on your competitors, and smile! I stopped doing triathlons in 2004 because I was taking it too seriously and having zero fun. Now, even if I’m having a bad race, I focus on encouraging every person I pass, smiling for race photographers, and thanking the volunteers. Putting that positive energy out in the world makes all the difference.
Training Tip: If something hurts, STOP! I’ve ended up with a number of preventable injuries because I resolved to “power through” when something started hurting.
Fueling tip: My Garmin laps every five miles on the bike, so when I’m racing, I use that as a reminder to eat a few chews and drink some water.
How do you stay calm leading up to a race?
I’m all about racing with friends, or dragging my dad with me so I have a distraction! If I’m left to my own devices my nerves can get the best of me, and I tend to get imposters syndrome when I look at all the muscles and fancy bikes. At Aquabike Nationals last weekend, I made friends with the other awesome women in my age group and we hung around together before and after the race. Making new friends always calms me down, and reminds me I’m doing this for fun.
Do you test your race day outfit and gear out ahead of time?
I’ve been proudly wearing my Honey Stinger kit for the last two years for every race, so that piece is easy. My main rule is never changing something in the week before a race. Whether it’s race-day fueling, the cleats on my shoes, or a new wetsuit, I make sure there’s nothing new and no unknowns going into a race.
Favorite Honey Stinger products and flavors?
Media/press links about you and your endeavors:
I’m a published author, and my website includes a number of my essays-including Learning to Tri and Tri Again, which focuses on my return to triathlon after a decade-long break.
Follow along with Dana’s adventures: