Maybe it was claiming the "Push-up Champion" title in fourth grade, or maybe it was riding a 10-speed bike with flat tires from Ames at age 16 in her first triathlon, or maybe it's because of what her classmates at Ogdensburg Free Academy named her in her senior year - "Class Crazy" - whatever it was that inspired Amy Farrell to be a badass, it worked.
Farrell, who lives in Tupper Lake with her husband Kevin, daughter Ruby, and "Faust Pack" of dogs (a team of four dogs who run all over Tupper Lake with her and got their team name from the motel in town that Farrell and her family own - the Faust Motel) recently claimed a title she has been after for many years - 2015 Ironman Lake Placid Women's Overall Winner.
In 10 hours, 13 minutes and 19 seconds, Farrell traversed 140.6 miles of unruly and unforgiving Adirondack terrain. Despite a nagging injury that caught up with her in the weeks before race day and receiving a five-minute penalty for "a messy pass," Farrell managed to beat her 2002 personal record on the Lake Placid course, a time that still keeps her in the course record books for the 20-24 age group, by ten seconds, and finish 26th overall.
"I still feel like I can go much faster on that course," said Farrell. "The whole second loop of the run was rough because my quads felt like cement blocks, but I remembered everyone feels crappy during a race this long and I just had to keep moving forward to make Ruby proud."
When asked what it felt like to break the tape at the finish line, she said, "It was a little unbelievable. I'm a little superstitious and don't like to tell the whole world my secret goals, but I definitely told the world my goal was to win - and I was nervous I was shooting myself in the foot. Ruby kept saying, 'It's okay if you don't win mom.' But I knew she really wanted to see me win, so the first thing I wanted to see when I crossed the finish line was her."
Farrell's athletic strength and stamina put her at elite badass status, however, her signature style is what makes her an Adirondack Badass Woman with flare. If you've spent enough time in and around town, you've seen her running or biking adorned in bright colors, mismatched patterns, and with "Ruby's Mom" printed across her chest. It's Farrell's ability to mix a fierce competitive spirit with joy, humor, and spunk that makes her stand out.
To Farrell, an Adirondack Badass Woman is a woman who "can do it all and doesn't give a rat's ass what the weather is doing. She's not afraid to try new things and she usually has a dog by her side. She has an all-wheel or 4-wheel drive car or truck, and she's not very worried whether or not her house is clean because she'd rather play outside. She's a little nicer and more welcoming than a regular ol' badass."
Farrell attributes being the youngest of six and always trying to keep up with her siblings as one of the main reasons physical fitness is an integral part of her life, but she also notes that raising a mini-Adirondack Badass Woman is a major source for her motivation.
In 2007 while training hard to hit the Olympic trials marathon time, Farrell decided the racing top she was going to wear during the Philadelphia Marathon needed a little something extra, so she grabbed a Sharpie and made her first "Ruby's Mom" jersey.
"I heard 'Go Ruby's Mom!' the whole race and it really pushed me through a rough race," Farell said. "I've been making them every since and now my clothing sponsor, Coeur Sports, puts Ruby's Mom on all my jerseys. Ruby is the most important person in my life and the one I want to make the most proud. She is wise and patient beyond her 11 years and I love being able to celebrate her with my racing. Now I am known as Ruby's Mom before I'm known as Amy Farrell."
When asked what advice she would give to young girls who are growing up in the Adirondacks today, she said, "If you have a dream, do your research and do whatever you can to reach it. Find an adult who will listen and help steer you in the right direction. I was lucky to have coaches and parents that took my goals seriously. We really try to do that for Ruby and she's become a confident, curious mini-badass."
In addition to being a mom, elite tri-athlete, and a business owner, Farrell is also a physical education teacher at the Tupper Lake Middle/High School, a position she's held since 2003.
"I love being able to influence kids by getting them moving," Farrell said of what she loves most about her job as an educator. "They see me out on the roads every day working hard as an adult and I think they respect that. When I see them out running, walking, riding bikes, and being active, I make sure to acknowledge it."
When asked what she hopes that her students learn from her, she said, "That our lives as athletes don't end when we leave high school. That there is so much more out there in the world to improve health and fitness and maximize their potential and that keeping active will only add to their quality of life."
Next on Farrell's list of goals to go after is to leave the Ironman World Championships on October 10 in Kona, Hawaii with a race she is proud of, and as she noted, "maybe the wind will be kind this year and I can also come home with a new PR."
She claimed the Women's 35-39 World Champion title in 2014, so she undoubtedly has her eyes on that prize again. While she is pushing herself beyond her limits thousands of miles away from home, her alma mater, St. Lawrence University, will be inducting her into its hall of fame.
When asked why she does it, why she puts herself through such grueling training and competition, she said, "I love trying to fit it all in. I'm coaching cross-country again in the fall and I'm sure that means even earlier mornings and longer weekend workouts. My coach and teammates inspire me so much to see what exactly I am capable of. I can't remember what I did before I got back into this. Maybe my house was a lot cleaner, but who cares about that!"