Athlete-Mom Interview: Tanis Banks-Tomlin

I first met Tanis while racing the Canada Cup circuit on the mountain bike about 8-9 years ago. She is a rocket descender on the mountain bike. Two kids later she has still found time to compete and has caught the Xterra racing bug as well. She was recently the 2nd female at Xterra Alberta. Tanis lives in Cranbrook, B.C. with her husband Shawn, 5 year old daughter and 3 year old son. Here is what she shared about balancing her “racing bug” with a family….
1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?
I think I was around 23 when I bought my first mountain bike, I remember feeling great out there biking, and from my first ride, I knew I wanted to race, and even though I wasn’t very good at first, it was fun, and I felt fast, and it gave me this confidence in myself that I had never felt before! Riding changed my life, the confidence I felt out riding carried over to every other aspect of the my life. It gave me confidence to try other things and get my life back on track :o)
I started mountain bike racing the following year, and loved it!! I was racing in the Pro-elite cateogory a short 2 years later! I would follow the BC Cup and Canada Cup series and placed within the top 10 at Nationals each year I competed (I think my placing was 7th at Nationals for 2 years)
2. What motivates you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different than pre-kids?
No matter what life brings, and what changes….I just can’t shake this racing bug!! After having my daughter Avery, now 5 years ago. I felt like myself again immediately! I was out racing (myself) 3 weeks later. I love the feeling of going hard, of going fast. I still wanted to be fast! Three years ago our son was born, life got busier, crazier, and I also owned a successful children’s store….and I still wanted to race!! I love the changes having children brought to my life, but I wanted to still race, to not have that part change. Looking back pre-kids, riding and racing was easy, now I go for a ride, and I just feel the need to be home….there always seems to be a rush to just get it done… kids still tend to have a hard time letting me go for a ride…more often than not, I leave crying children behind, and it breaks my heart.
My goals were a little bit vague during this time as well, but I knew there was something out there to train for. As there were not too many mtb races in the area during this time, I started some triathlon training. I was the cycling coach for the local tri-club and I loved the training groups and the added challenge of the swimming and running!
3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family?
For me, it’s all about the early mornings (except during the summer). I get all my workouts done before my husband goes to work. This assures that my workouts won’t get missed. I have to be organized and creative…running with babies, I used to sit Avery in her car seat while I did spin classes and ran on the treadmill at the gym! I don’t travel very far for races anymore. I stay close to home and bring the family along, camping and exposing them to beautiful areas and fun places! The family comes first…even though I am doing this for myself.
4. Did you train during pregnancy? What was your approach?
I thought I would have the pregnancy thing nailed, figured I would breeze through it, feeling awesome and still being active, but it was the opposite. I felt terrible during both my pregnancies, and didn’t exercise at all!!! I ate terribly and just wanted to sleep!! I had tons of work to do after…but I enjoyed the challenge of getting it back!
5. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing kids?
I think we have to be creative, use the small bits of time we have to get what we need done! Try to enjoy getting yourself back, and enjoy your “you” time!  Be easy on yourself sometimes too, often we are left feeling pulled and torn between two worlds.
Next up, Tanis will be racing at the Xterra Canada Championship in Whistler on September 4th….

1 thought on “Athlete-Mom Interview: Tanis Banks-Tomlin

  1. This is a great interview. Thank you for getting these words out there to women doing the balancing act and making it known that it is possible to love their children and their sports too!!!

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