Siri Lindley is known by today’s triathlon fans for her myriad coaching success. Bright, experienced and irrepressible, the American has only known success, best known for leading Mirinda Carfrae to three Hawaii ironman World Championship titles, and guiding Susan Williams to an Olympic bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. Lindley made a career of taking a small cadre of elite men and women to success, and producing results in short-course and long-course races world over.
That success went supernova when Lindley decided to share her knowledge with the everyday multisport athlete by setting out a proper coaching awning with Sirius. That expanded into Team Sirius Tri Club, where Lindley, her wife Rebekah Keat, and a handful of other coaches have taken on age groupers to deliver successes with her coaching prowess and speaking engagements. Siri has become one of the most successful coaches in the last decade in the IRONMAN arena.
And it will be the most ardent triathlon fans who recall her 2001 ITU World Championship title, earned in Edmonton, and an ITU Aquathon world title the same year. She rattled off six World Cup wins that year, making her the fastest short-course triathlete in the world. A USA Triathlon Hall of Fame member since 2014, her place in the history of multisport is set.
Add to that balance; she and wife Keat began Believe Ranch & Rescue, a program finding homes for horses to save them from slaughter.
Lindley’s world turned upside-down last spring, after going to the doctor for a pre-op assessment in advance of hip replacement. “My blood came back very abnormal, so they called off the surgery and investigated further, this is when they discovered Acute Myeloid Leukemia,” she said.
With that news, everything went out the window. Training, her Tony Robbins speaking engagements, heck, her future with her wife all suddenly hung in the balance. The pandemic was kicking into high gear, and Lindley’s life changed.
She went right to work on attacking her diagnosis by joining a clinical trial at UCHealth Anschutz Denver Hospital. The plan: carpet bomb the leukemia with chemotherapy, then once cancerous cells were pushed into remission, a bone marrow transplant. Before that, she got herself set, putting her mind and body in the best possible position to win. Because like everything she’s achieved in her life, preparation is key. And as is part for course with Lindley, positivity was washed over the entire process.
“I did whatever I could with the energy I had,” Lindley said. “I found absolutely everything I could do to heal and to go into my treatment as strong as possible. I did electrical charging (healing through voltage). I did grounding. I did meditation, priming, and lots of soul searching. I wanted to make sure I swept out my soul to make room for healing to move through me. I forgave those that may have hurt me, and I forgave myself for anything I wasn't proud of. I worked out anything and everything that had previously given me stress. I wanted to heal my emotions and my body. This was so key for me.”
From there, it was keeping her body strong, even when the medicine saw her drop 20 pounds.
“I worked out every day, even if that meant just a lap around the hallway in the hospital. Just like an athlete that is injured, you do whatever you can do. I wanted to make sure I left no stone unturned. I worked harder to survive than I ever had to work to become a world champion.”
And it was by no means easy; the chemo did its worst. Lucky for her, her family was by her side.
“I know the statistics were not good for my survival, but I am not a statistic, I am Siri Lindley. I have proved that the impossible is really possibly before, and I would prove that again. I was going to triumph” Lindley said. “Bek was my rock. so supportive and she never stopped believing in me. Bek and my mom had to care for me when I was too sick to do much for myself. They did it with great joy and never made me feel like a burden. I have never felt so loved and supported in my entire life. My wife, I call her my superhero—brave and strong and so incredibly positive. She was my calming force. She kept our business afloat, and also kept our non-profit running while I was unable to do any of that. She truly is my superhero."
"Bek and my mom believed that I would triumph with all their hearts as well,” Lindley added. “As did my sister Lisa, who was one of my donors along with the umbilical cord, and my dad. Everyone knew I would make it. That is so important to have that kind of belief surrounding you.”
Lindley’s month in hospital consisted of walking the halls of UCHealth Anschutz Denver Hospital. “After my bone marrow transplant, the day after, I walked an hour on the hospital treadmill and covered exactly one mile,” she said. “Being in hospital for a month or more was extremely hard. I was so deeply grateful for the doctors and nurses and staff. My mom slept on the couch beside me every single night, and Bek came to visit every day.
Lindley’s optimism shone through as well, with a level of belief she had long instilled in her athletes now being focused inward.
“I had vision boards covering every inch of my hospital room, reminding me of the life that awaited me. I would close my eyes and picture myself running up my favorite trail, strong, healthy and alive with Bek beside me,” she said. “I would feel it so deeply, it felt real. I was trying to manifest healing, and getting strong and healthy once again. I also had a poster of me winning world championships up on the wall. That was my proof that I had everything I needed inside of me to triumph. That was my proof that I was capable of making the impossible, possible. Gratitude was the key. When I was feeling so weak, every machine attached to me, sick and exhausted, I would say to myself focusing on how bad I feel is not going to help me heal. So I would focus on all that I was grateful for. The amazing care I was getting. My amazing mom beside me, my incredible wife. Gratitude was the bridge from despair to hope. Gratitude gave me the energy I needed to heal and to triumph.”
On February 21, with chemotherapy wiping out the leukemia cells in her bloodstream, she underwent a bone marrow transplant. In March, she was able to return home to Boulder, CO. a bit of normalcy… while still accessible to doctors a 40-minute drive away in Denver. With time, she was able to move more than just up and down hospital halls.
“It took a while to be back to all that—there was no swimming as pools were closed and I was too vulnerable to be in local spots like that—but walking was my therapy and total joy,” she said. “Breathing in the fresh air, in awe of this miraculous gift of life that I was blessed with. I soon started biking. Barely being able to turn the machine on, as I wasn't putting enough power into the pedals. I was just so weak. All I wanted was to just move again, move my body, feel the fresh air in my lungs and celebrate the gift of being alive. Eventually I started adding one minute jogs to my walks.”
Exactly a year from her bone marrow transplant, Lindley completed a huge goal: running a 10k with her wife Rebekah, with her mother documenting the day while following in her car. Her goal? Complete the six-mile run in one hour, 10 minutes.
“I was so inspired, crying part of the run, tears of joy and thankfulness. What I had envisioned in my mind every single day in hospital and while healing was coming true!” she said.
The result: a faster-than-planned 1:01. “The greatest triumph of my life,” she said. “[It was amazing] being alive and doing what I love again! I am in awe of the miracle.”
Being hit with the something that threatened to take her life helped her really find grounding in what’s important—not that she didn’t already have a pretty firm grasp.
"I have always been someone who is so grateful for life and for all that I have, all that I am, and my loved ones—the little things have always been the big things for me,” she said. “This, however, has made me even more aware of the preciousness of life. Every single moment is one I want to cherish. One that I want to celebrate. I want to tell my loved ones what they mean to me, every single day. I want to be the best me in every single moment and what that requires is truly taking care of my health, my loved ones, and this incredible life I live. I will only do things that are in total alignment with my values."
“I am forever grateful for this incredible body, mind and spirit of mine that got me through, surviving and thriving,” she adds. “I am so deeply blessed. I am here for a reason and I will make sure I live my purpose with all my heart and soul. And as a postscript: love heals. The power of prayer and the power of love played such a huge part in my victory. I’m so grateful to everyone who supported me, prayed for me and believed in me!”
With a new lease on life, Lindley is ready for… everything. Anything. She’s returned to speaking engagements across the country with Tony Robbins and with her own speaking agency. And while her success story was compelling enough when she beat the odds to become a triathlon world champion, nothing beats the power of her victory over leukemia.
“This is so fulfilling for me, as I can see the impact I am having on so many lives. I’m so grateful for this. I never stopped coaching, and that always fills my heart with so much joy. I’m watching my athletes shine brighter than ever before, it is so incredibly inspiring. I am determined to coach my athletes to achieving their ultimate dreams. I am looking forward to writing my second book. I am looking forward to continuing the great work Bek and I are doing with our horse rescue and banning horse slaughter for good. Most importantly, I am looking forward to every single moment, living it with total presence and deep joy and a gratitude that fills my heart.”
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