By Carol Brzozowski
City & Shore PRIME
For many people over 50, it’s enough to take up cycling, running or swimming as individual endeavors. Triathletes do all three.
Oakland Park resident Mimi Reeves Helbein, 53, is a triathlete. She’s also the mother of a son and daughter in their 20s, a Florida Virtual School health and physical education teacher and a U.S. Masters Swimming coach.
Fitness “can help you stay organized in your life, encourages relationships with people engaged in healthy endeavors and can take you places you never would go otherwise – locally and globally,” Reeves Helbein says.
Indeed, since she taught herself to swim at age eight and then joined swimming, soccer, softball and field hockey teams, Reeves Helbein’s passion for fitness takes her all over the map.
But not without a few detours.
After taking an exercise hiatus during college, she took up whitewater kayaking, stopping after a frightening experience. Reeves Helbein’s left ankle has a plate and screws from a mountain biking accident.
Throughout her young adult life, Reeves Helbein added treadmill running, weightlifting and swimming for fitness. At 32, she pushed through her fears to run the Cleveland Marathon. She ran a Honolulu marathon in December 1999, five months after her daughter’s birth.
Excited to be able to “play outside year-round,” she says, Reeves Helbein added biking and then triathlons after her 2003 move to Florida.
She ran sprint and Olympic distance triathlons and did Ironman competitions. She quit triathlons in 2016 and resumed them in 2019. In local races, Reeves Helbein places in the top three.
She also has done a 12.4-mile swim around Key West. She’s completed two 50-mile ultra running races.
Of late, Reeves Helbein has taken up indoor and outdoor rock climbing, joining her husband and active climber Howard Helbein, who turns 50 in June. They were running buddies for years before they began to date.
Reeves Helbein also does yoga and High Intensity Tactical Training.
She draws motivation from and races with her 81-year-old uncle, Frank “Fra” Fahey,
a Vermont snowbird living part time in Oakland Park who two years ago ran a 50-K race eight months after meniscus surgery.
Reeves Helbein not only has a passion for fitness, but for charitable causes. She’s often raising money through her competitions.
She says as she ages, she can’t run as many miles, keep the same times and needs more recovery time. Sleep has become a greater priority. So has the need for life balance, as she endeavors to spend more time with family and friends.
“I shifted my goals from competition to completion,” she says. “This takes a lot of pressure off. It has helped me get from ‘I have to work out’ to ‘I get to’.”
PHOTO: Mimi Reeves Helbein (Courtesy).