Athlete-Mom Interview: Carrie Atwood

Carrie and I met through the LUNA team. As well as the Pro team, there are 26 Local Luna teams (run, cycling, mountain bike or triathlon focused) all over the United States (and yes, I’m hoping we can get some in Canada soon). You can read more about each local team on the Luna Chix website. Carrie is a member of the Team LUNA Chix Triathlon team in Seattle (which you can read more about below). She lives just outside of Seattle in Sammamish with her husband Eric, her 7 year old daughter Seamus, and 6 year old son, Sirus. I think I’ll need to go visit this area as it sounds like an Xterra triathlete’s dream training place – Carrie can run to work, there are 4 lakes within a few minutes drive, and 5hrs of mountain biking right out their doorstep, which are well maintained trails that have had over 100hrs of volunteer work done on them each year! Read on to hear about how Carrie’s modern family balances work, family, and play…

Carrie and son, Sirus

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?
I did my first road century when I was 15 but never raced or road bikes competitively. I was on the crew team my freshman year in college but was always sick and full of injuries, so I didn’t continue. After that I didn’t do much except the occasional rec league softball or soccer team. After some encouragement from an old boss, I decided to try mountain bike racing and was hooked. It’s how I met my husband! I raced a few years at the sport level, but when work became unbearable and racing was no longer fun, I stopped. It wasn’t until after I had my kids that I switched to triathlons and got my athletic groove back!

2. What has motivated you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different than pre-kids?
Pre-kids it was about trying to get in shape, having fun, hanging out with friends and meeting new people. I didn’t care about goals or winning or any of that. It really was just a way to pass the time and stay out of trouble. Since having kids, I am actually competitive for the first time in my life! I set goals and I want to exceed those goals. I am more focused all around and while I still do it to stay in shape, I hope I am also setting good examples for my kids.

Out for a beautiful NW training ride!

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family?
I try to get my workouts done in the morning so that when I come home in the evening I can concentrate on my family. If I do my work out in the evening, I spend that morning time with them, eating breakfast together and planning for the day. I also try to make sure I spend some one-on-one time with each of them every day, even if it is only a few minutes at bed time. There have been times when I have left the house before the kids wake up and gotten home after they are asleep. Sometimes I feel sad about not seeing them, and wonder if I am being selfish, especially when they hang on me asking me to please not go out for another bike ride. But I know I am a better mom because of my training and racing. I’m calmer, more patient and more confident. If the sadness gets too bad, which sometimes it does, I’ll skip a workout and spend extra time with them. I am also very lucky because I have a great husband who is also athletic so he understands. As a bonus, he is a stay at home dad and manages everything at home. It really allows me to spend my at home time with the family.

Racing as a LUNA Chix

4. Can you tell me more about how you made the decision to have Eric stay home and how that has worked for your family?
We joke that being a stay at home dad was one of the negotiating tactics I used in order to have a baby- I told him he’d have all kinds of time to train, etc. Ha! He was his fastest the year Seamus was born, but only this year with Seamus in 2nd grade and Sirus in Kindergarten does he consistently have a regular schedule. I want him to stay home at least another year, so Sirus will be in full day 1st grade, but really, I wouldn’t mind him staying home for much much longer. I like things the way they are. One of the other girls on our Seattle team has a stay at home dad, too. I swim with one and work with one, too. I don’t think it is for everyone, but it works for us. It was hard at first, I really had to let go, but he does a great job. Since the kids started going to school, I have learned to not mess with the morning routine at all, and its a bit weird at school functions because all the moms crowd around Eric and hardly acknowledge me, but whatever! He has also said it has been hard to crack the mom cliques too. Sometimes it’s sad because when the kids are sick or hurt, they tend to go to him first, and I get called Daddy a lot, but I think what they get from him is way worth it.

Eric and Seamus

5. Did you train during pregnancy?No. What was your approach? Lots of rest. 🙂 My first pregnancy I tried to stay sort of active but by the 5th month all I wanted to do was lay around and get huge. The 2nd pregnancy I didn’t even try to do anything because I got huge almost instantly.

6. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active (or even competitive) while balancing kids?
For new moms, I’d suggest putting that baby in a BabyBjorn or some sort of carrier and walk all over the place. Hills and more hills! There is nothing wrong with sweating a little even, just don’t run. Babies love being in those carriers, they are content and will nap, and you’ll be able to ease into getting back in shape. We have a Chariot so to make family runs or bike rides more fun for the kids, we would stop at a park or two along the way. Now that my kids are older, I can go out to the garage on the weekends and spend a few hours on the trainer while they play in the house. And again I am lucky because I actually like the trainer and treadmill, so my advice would be to learn to love them. My husband and I have gym dates, where we swim or lift weights together while the kids are in the gym’s kids club (which luckily they love!), and most of my social activities with my friends are spent running or biking. This serves double duty: I’m getting in my girl time, I am getting in a workout, and an added bonus of that I’m not out spending my kid’s future college tuition on drinks or restaurant food. There is of course a time and a place for all of that, but if I can kill a few of those birds with one workout, then that leaves more time to be with my kids.

7. And of course can you tell me about the local Luna Triathlon team you’re are a member of? What are you favourite group workouts to do in and around Seattle? 
I am headed into my 5th season with Team LUNA Chix in Seattle and for 2012, I am going to be one of the team co-leaders! I love being part of Team LUNA Chix and meeting women who are interested in triathlon. One of my favorite things is hearing the stories from the newer ladies who are just beginning to realize what they can actually accomplish. Some of our most inspiring workouts are the mini-tris that we have a few times each summer. It gives the ladies a chance to swim, bike and run, practice transition and test their race strategy in a super short distance, low key, low pressure environment before their big day! I love the LUNA Chix and encourage all women interested in triathlons to check us out at our website and come to one of our workouts.

Team Luna Chix Tri Team in Seattle

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