At the age of 8, I joined my first swim team and was instantly hooked on swimming and racing. I swam competitively through High School and in college at The University of Vermont. I also ran track and Cross-Country in High School. When my swimming career ended after I graduated at UVM, I ran to stay in shape. That evolved into racing short road races and marathons as well. In 1994 I raced my first marathon and qualified for and raced The Boston Marathon. I have raced 15 marathons since that time. In 2005, I was a young mother of 3 sons ( ages 6, 4 and 1) and my hunger for racing returned. My brother had entered a few triathlons and I decided I would give it a try as well. In the summer of 2006, I raced my first Olympic distance triathlon and had a blast! That was just the beginning.
I struggle to answer questions like this because I don't have a firm answer for myself. I love to race. I love to train. I am now a mother of three teenage boys, and while they are all bigger than I am now, I am still able to "keep up" with them if we go running, hiking, or skiing or swimming! I feel strong, I feel healthy and I have plenty of energy. Other than limited time, I continue to enjoy myself and my body is strong and healthy enough to keep going, so I really see no need to stop.
I have 3 sons. They are 17, 15 and 12 years old.
What tips/tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family?
I feel the trick is to plan ahead, get up early before the house rises and also, allow flexibility and changes in the plan to occur as needed all in order to keep things well-running for the family. If you are scheduled to run for 60 minutes on a Tuesday but can really only fit in 40 minutes, that is OK! Forty is better than zero and those 20 minutes are not going to change things in the big picture. Keep it all in perspective.
I have been married to my husband (Mark) for 18 years. We met about 4 days before my first marathon and thus, being active and involved with competitive racing was something that was part of our lives since our first years together. Mark is 100% supportive of all my goals. We live a life of compromise for each other. That being said, I work very hard to do the bulk of my training hours during the work week so that our weekends are more family oriented. Since I work out of my house, I am able to do this. I work very hard but I also have tons of fun doing other activities on the weekends. It's all about balance for me and not letting one thing overwhelm the other. I am 100% present for my husband and family when I am not training and but during my workouts, that is my focus. Unless it's the final week before an Ironman, I admit to being very self-focused!! :)
After a lifetime involved with competitive sports, I have learned many things. If I had to narrow it down to five I would say this.
- I believe in maintaining balance in order to be happy. Allow yourself time for things that you love to do AND time with people you love outside of the sport.
- Set goals that are meaningful to YOU and nobody else. That will drive you day after day. Meaningful and realistic goals.
- Work hard and work consistently. If you are patient and follow a smart plan towards your goals, it will pay off. There will be many hard and bad days along the way when finding the greatness and successful outcomes that are within you. It's part of the process. Be patient and keep working.
- Make an effort to work on mental toughness and keeping a positive attitude while you are training. The body must be physically ready for the challenges you put it through but the mind must be fit and ready to have full success. On race day, I believe it is 95% a mental game.
- Be kind to yourself. Enjoy the journey and process of taking care of yourself through sport. It's a gift to have the ability to be active and engaged with life in this way. Embrace the challenges but if things don't go well, learn from it and move on to what's next.
My answer to this has changed over the years. Along the way, one definition of success for me as a triathlete was qualifying for the Ironman World Championships. I have now raced there four times and I've also placed in the top 10 AG in Kona two times. And of course, when I was younger, athletic success was achieving certain times in swimming and places at our Championships meets. However, my kids are now athletes. Now, I gauge success as an athlete in a different way. I strive to guide them through the challenges they are facing by sharing my similar experiences. I believe in showing by example with my own training and racing and talking them through the highs and lows of being an athlete. Now, a personal goal of mine is to be their role model and through example, show them that daily hard work and dedication to training despite challenges with time or logistics, will pay off. They are watching me as their mother and I feel success if I can help them through these years as they grow into adults.
I definitely do not have a go-to meal that I have every time. Chocolate milk often appeals to me and occasionally, a piece of pizza. After Ironman racing, I find it hard to eat for several hours.
I plan to race the Patriot Half Iron Distance and the White Mountain Half Iron Distance race. In August, I will race in an Adventure race with my brother as my partner. It is called the Casco-Bay Swim Run Challenge. The race is a total of 6 miles of open water ocean swimming and 16 miles of running across rocks around the islands of Casco Bay in Portland, Maine. We will be tethered together and must finish the race carrying and wearing everything we started with. It will be a new challenge for sure!
At this point, my biggest goal is to stay fit and strong. I am not sure where racing will take me. My two oldest sons are currently in their Junior and Freshman years of high school and my youngest is in 7th grade. Over the next 5 years, I will be sending two of them to college!! Life is changing and evolving every year so I will take it day by day and see where it all takes me.
Thank you, Marni!!!! I reached out to Marni in 2006 for my very first sport nutrition consult. She was SO knowledgeable and helpful as I started my triathlon journey! Since that time, Marni has become a dear friend that I am lucky to see at races around the world! We have met up in Canada, Clearwater, FL, Lake Placid and Hawaii! Truly across the globe. I continue to learn from Marni and her husband, Karel, both of whom are incredible athletes and such amazing people. I am grateful to have her in my life.