Athlete-Mom Interview: Richelle Love

Meet Richelle Love! As her name suggests Richelle exudes a love for life, family, and fitness that is contagious. And she blends and balances these loves in her work as the General Manager/Part Owner of Tri-It Multisport, a store for all the latest and coolest swim-bike-run products located in Calgary, Alberta. Richelle and I have put on two women’s mountain bike clinics together in the last few years and it was mainly thanks to her amazing organizational skills! Richelle lives in Cochrane, Alberta with her husband, Jeff and 15-month old son, Rowan. Read on for a yet another unique perspective for my first athlete-mom interview of 2014! As you can also see from the photos below there is rarely a moment Richelle is not smiling when out enjoying her favourite activities!

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What was you life as an athlete (or otherwise) before having Rowan? I have always been athletic. Running, mountain biking and triathlon have been my main activities for the past 20 years. Right before getting pregnant I came off a great season of mountain bike racing and my second Ironman.

 What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and racing again after one child? Doing something for me that I love. My runs (and especially my long runs) are much needed “me” time. Being able to keep up with my little guy also pushes me to stay fit. I want to be that mom who is able to ride her bike with her son and play all day at the park.

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 Did you “train” during your pregnancy? What has your training been like post-childbirth? I was really active until around 6 months – teaching cycling classes, running, swimming, coaching a mountain bike camp for women, and I even did a sprint triathlon when I was 5 months pregnant. I then had a lot of fluid build up and got very uncomfortable which led to me not doing as much physically. I wish I had made the effort to walk more at that point as I know it would have helped my fitness and made me feel better.

I had a hard labor that ended up having an unplanned c-section, so I didn’t work out until 8 weeks after my son was born. That was hard, but I started easy on the bike and walking. I then slowly progressed to short runs and built from there. I took my time getting back to it to ensure I didn’t get injured. I built up and ran a marathon when Rowan was 10 months old and ran an off road ultra marathon where I raised money for MitoCanada just before Rowan’s first birthday. It was fun to have those goals.

I have noticed though fitting training in can be trickier as a mom – most moms can relate to this. You just have to be adaptable and flexible. Sometimes you can be all ready for a run and your little one can get sick or childcare is suddenly unavailable. Shorter, harder workouts become a necessity or doing workouts with your kids involved. My new one is “look at mommy make a funny face and do a squat. Oh, it makes you laugh…I am going to do that 25 more times!”

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 What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2014? My 2014 goals are the Calgary Marathon 50th Anniversary 50km run and the Lost Soul 50km Off Road Ultra. I also want to get back to Xterra racing with Xterra Canmore.

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How do you balance family/work with your athletic goals? I am so lucky to be part owner of Tri It Multisport where as a team we work to ensure we put emphasis on health and wellness. It flows into all aspects of my life. I am constantly juggling things to make sure I am giving my attention to each facet as it is very easy to focus on one or two of these things as the third one suffers.

The reality is you do need more hours in a day so you have to make it happen. Getting up early to get a workout in and staying up late so you can spend some time with your partner – as work and your little one often dominate the day. The extra effort goes a long way to your success. It is hard work and you have to choose to make it happen so no one looses out, including yourself.

 Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape or even competing again after having children? Make sure you don’t rush or push to hard as you get back at it. I have seen a lot of new moms try to get back at it too early and most commonly run into hip or pelvic floor issues. When you are ready get out there and do what you like – it has to be something you are excited to get back to.

Pick a goal. It can be hard to get started if you don’t have a goal. It will also help motivate you to get your workouts in. Moms can have a lot of guilt feeling like they need to spend 100% of their attention on their kids and not on themselves. I know I can fall into that thinking very easily. Let your spouse know your goals so you can work together to make sure you get out and are active.

Be flexible. Sometimes a workout is cut short due to the naps or a sick baby. These things happen. Don’t get frustrated and do what you can. Squats while holding you little one or push-ups while playing can be an excellent workout – you choose to make it work.

If you can, buy a Chariot. They can really help you stay active with your little one. Take them along on your adventures. My little guy loves riding in the Chariot. I will take a peek when I am running and can see him looking around at all of the sights. It is good for them to get out and get the fresh air too; the Chariot makes it possible to do that in all types of weather and conditions.

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Athlete-Mom Interview: Emma Garrard

Let me introduce you to Emma Garrard from Park City, Utah, where she lives and enjoys the outdoors year round with her boyfriend, Ian, border collie, Kip, and son, Torin (born December, 2012) . I have had the pleasure of racing Xterra’s with Emma over the last seven years, and as Emma has improved every year from U.S. National amateur champion in 2007 and since turning Pro in 2008.  After giving birth to her son, Torin in December, Emma, 32 years young, got back to training and racing by the spring. She improved and got fitter every race and by the end of the season was 4th at the U.S. Xterra Championships and 5th at the Xterra World Championships at the end of October in Maui. Read on to learn about Emma’s athletic journey into motherhood….
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1. What was you life as an athletically (or otherwise) before having Torin?
Since 2009, when I lost my job as a newspaper photographer and moved to Park City it’s been focusing on XTERRA triathlon in the summer while also working at a bike shop and doing dryland coaching for a junior Nordic program. In the winter I also coach and work at a Nordic Center, White Pine Touring instructing, and teach Computrainer classes for Max Testa Training. I also competed in Nordic ski races and winter triathlons. In 2011, my last full season before becoming a mom, I traveled a lot, to Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Spain, Brazil and all over the US for races. I was trying to ‘make it’ as a triathlete but wasn’t really planning ahead too much.
2. I know your pregnancy with Torin was a surprise right at the start of  the 2012 race season – what was that like emotionally for you? 
I’m glad I waited until my 30s to have an unplanned pregnancy! It was a shock and really tough emotionally, I was coming off a good start to the season, placing 3rd at the XTERRA West Championships and felt like I was hitting my stride. I was really happy with my lifestyle and really excited for the season and the freedom to travel to races on a budget. I knew my life would not be the same again but knew racing could be an option as there are so many successful athlete-moms out there. I felt really stressed out financially because if I could not race I could not get a large portion of my annual income. Pregnancy in the US is incredibly expensive and my health insurance plan did not cover pregnancy. On top of that I was worrying about funding my racing when I returned from pregnancy. That being said I’ve always wanted to have kids and was planning on having them while being an athlete but I’d hoped to establish myself better as an athlete first to have a bit more stability. It was really stressful making the call to sponsors but they were all very understanding.
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3. What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and racing again after Torin was born?
I really love the process and getting out everyday and training, especially when it’s outdoors. But mostly I felt I still had something to prove and had not achieved my goals. It was also important for me to prove women can do whatever they were doing before they had kids whether it’s racing or any other kind of profession of passion. I shouldn’t have to, because there are so many moms who have proved it before me but I still hear doubt and I was still asked a lot if I was going to keep racing after having a child. Initially my goal was to finish an XTERRA and not be last in the pro women, and hopefully score some points for the overall series. Ten months later I was hoping to win worlds, it didn’t happen but I came a long way!
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4. Did you “train” during your pregnancy?
Yes. I kept racing until about 10 weeks. Most of the racing I did not know I was pregnant but some I did. I initially did a lot of research and talking to doctors to figure out if it was safe to keep competing and whether or not I could still be competitive and for how long. I made it a goal to finish the ITU World Championships in Pelham, Alabama. I’d slowed down already but it was a very fast decline after that even though most people couldn’t tell I was pregnant (besides the giant boobs!) I’m glad I competed in the race but wouldn’t do that again, I’d probably stop when I knew I was pregnant because I didn’t feel good in that last race. After calling my season quits I made it my goal to exercise during pregnancy, again after doing a lot of research, including reading all the athlete-mom interviews 🙂 and believed it would help my pregnancy, labor and child. Not to mention make me stronger for when I returned to racing. I did not have a coach or training plan but generally exercised once a day for about an hour, a lot of jogging, hiking, swimming, mountain biking and some rollerskiing I was doing for coaching. But it was very unstructured and if I really didn’t want to I didn’t workout, that being said, I rarely felt like doing anything in the 1st trimester but always felt better and less tired and nauseous when I worked out. The heat also bothered me a lot more when I was pregnant and seemed to do a lot better once it cooled off. I tried to make sure it was a break from my training in the past and I stopped and turned around when I’d had enough rather than trying to make it to the top. I tried to do one longer ride a week anywhere from 2-4 hours. We had a late winter but I got out on skate skis a few times when I was pretty big and that was not fun because it felt like I was holding a medicine ball! Classic skiing was a lot better and the day before I went into labor I remember classic skiing and feeling pretty good and making it up all the hills, having poles took a lot of the weight off. I went into labor right after swimming.
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5. How has your training progressed post-childbirth?
It felt great to get out again after having Torin and didn’t worry much about times or pace before 4 months. I did a lactate test a couple of months after and I think I was about 20 watts off my threshold pace which wasn’t bad, I know it’s a lot higher now than it was before I had Torin. I certainly underestimated how much nursing would control my life and impact my training so I really had to remember to eat and drink a lot. My workouts are still scheduled around feeding but so much more so early on. When you are nursing every couple of hours that 2 hours goes by so fast. It takes 45 minutes to nurse you only have 1:15 and that doesn’t include getting things ready etc so making it to the pool is pretty challenging. After 4 months I started to feel a lot better and improved a lot between 4-6 months and continued to improve until the end of my season. Any major differences from pre-Torin days? I’ve trained a lot less now and my training is a lot more specific. The biggest thing was logistically finding time to train, for the first 7 months it was mostly Ian and I taking turns working and taking care of  Torin so I found ways to train with Torin whether it was with the Chariot, or riding the trainer inside while he napped or setting him on  the pool deck in his car seat while I swam. I was grateful if I could get out and do anything. After 7 months I had a lot more time to train but still had a lot less volume so I could do all the other mom stuff! It seemed like initially it took me so much longer to get out the door, whether it would be feeding the baby, pumping, bringing Torin over to his aunt’s house along with all his stuff and then getting my stuff ready and remembering to eat. But I rarely think, ‘it was so easy to train before I had a child’ because I always felt like I was juggling a lot and was never just a triathlete. I certainly feel stronger now but it could be because of a lot of things.
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5. How do you balance family/work with your training/competition schedule? Doing less of everything else besides being a mom; working, racing, training and spending time together. Taking turns working, riding, and watching Torin. Focusing on a few key races a year and having a low volume training plan. Having someone come to races with me whether it be Ian or my mom was essential. Investing in daycare helped a lot too, that way you can also have more quality time together rather than always trying to do other things while watching your child.
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6. Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting  back in shape or even competing again after having children?
Be patient and enjoy being a new mom as the races will always be there. But having a race as a goal is great motivation and a break and alone time from being mom. If you don’t have that goal it’s hard to get out the door. A big realization for me was not stressing out about following a training plan exactly, you will have to skip some workouts, but instead being more concerned with how I felt, if I felt fit and fast despite how much training I’d done I believed I could do well in a race and usually I did.
Thanks for sharing Emma! Please check out Emma’s insightful and entertaining blog posts and photography on her website: www.emmagarrard.com. You can also follow her on twitter:@emma_garrard

Athlete-Mom Interview: Susie Mitchell

Let me introduce you to Susie Mitchell who I met through the magic of this thing called the World Wide Web :). Susie hails from Dublin, Ireland, where she works as a Fish Vet and lives with her husband, Cormac and their 11-month old daughter, Tori. Remarkably just 4 months after giving birth to Tori, Susie won the World Masters Track Championships in Cycling in the Individual Pursuit event! What I love about this interview is the passion and energy that exudes from Susie as she writes and tells us about her athletic journey, which she enjoyed all through pregnancy and straight into the life-changing transition of motherhood. I loved hearing about how her coach creatively adapted her training through pregnancy as well. Read on and be inspired by Susie’s story!

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1. What was your life like athletically (or otherwise) before having your
daughter?

I played a bit of hockey and soccer in school and college but not seriously. I was always into running to keep fit and some mountain biking for fun, but I really only got into competitive sport in the last 6-7 years. It all started when my husband persuaded me to get involved in adventure racing. Adventure races are multisport events; they usually involve navigating around a course by mountain biking, hill running and kayaking. They can have all sorts of stuff mixed in depending on the race, such as abseiling, shooting, archery and swimming. The events I participated in usually lasted anything from 4 – 36 hours, some individual but mostly team events (mixed teams of two-four people). I used to race with my hubby and our team name was “Grounds for Divorce” – for obvious reasons! While I was on my multi-sport buzz I also did a few Xterra triathlons – I really loved them but there were very few of these organised in Ireland at the time and I think even less now. So in summary I really was a bit of a jack of all trades, relatively competent at everything but not particularly strong at anything. I did manage to podium in some of the races however, to be honest the standard in Ireland isn’t that high. Small pond and all that.

2.How did you get into cycling? How and when did you decide you would compete in Track Worlds at 4 months postpartum?

As I said I started out doing a bit of mountain biking. That was about 10 years ago. We went camping in Wales for a holiday and rented mountain bikes and I loved it. In fact I bought my first mountain bike on the way home! When I got involved in the adventure racing, I started to take the mountain biking a bit more seriously and put in a bit more time in the saddle. It was the only kind of biking I had done up to that point, but in January 2011 while on holidays visiting relations in New Zealand, I got the opportunity to try riding on an indoor velodrome. It was something I had always wanted to do since watching the track racing the Beijing Olympics in 2008. It was such a buzz I was immediately hooked! I discovered when I returned to Ireland the following summer we actually had an outdoor track in Dublin and started to go to the training sessions. I seemed to be relatively good at it from the start so I shelved the adventure racing to concentrate on track cycling. I went to the World Masters in Manchester that same autumn after just a few months of riding on the track to compete. It was my first time competing on an indoor track. I was actually about 7 weeks pregnant at the time but was in denial about it partly because I wanted to compete in the masters so much. I didn’t win any prizes but didn’t shame myself either and probably more importantly didn’t fall off the bike! It was fabulous just to be there and try competing in some of the different events.

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Masters sport is fantastic as it opens up the door to serious competition for everyone no matter what the age. Even though part of me was sorry I hadn’t started track racing when I was younger so I could have had a right crack at it, masters sport gives you the opportunity to compete on an international stage at any age. It was a super experience and I made up my mind there and then I was coming back with a vengeance the following year to make my mark. I wasn’t sure what I’d be able to do as I knew it would only be a few months after giving birth but the Masters became my goal for October 2013. I told everyone I was planning to go back, and most people looked at me like I was mad, knowing it would be pretty soon after having the baby. This of course just spurred me on and made me more determined. Having a goal like that really motivated me to train right throughout my pregnancy and to get back to training very soon after having my little girl Tori too.

My coach (Hugh Byrne) could see I was serious about continuing to train right through pregnancy so he resigned to support me, even though he had never coached a pregnant athlete before. Firstly he helped me devise some guidelines to enable me to cycle safely right through the pregnancy. He reckoned it was also a good opportunity to focus on improving some of the technical aspects of my biking. For instance he devised some sessions for me to do on the stationary bike in the gym to improve my leg speed / cadence which is really important for the track. He also sent me to get a proper bike fit and on a course on visualisation which gave me something else to work on. All these little things kept me focused. Aside from that I was also in the gym once or twice a week cross training and doing weights and core work. I had never done any weights before and actually just started lifting when I was pregnant. When I look back now I really think all the core work and weights I did throughout stood to me and enabled me to make a speedy recovery post birth.

3. What was your training like post-childbirth?

Despite all my plans for a natural childbirth I ended up having an emergency caesarean section which was a bit of a shock to say the least. I felt OK physically within a few days but I was floored mentally after having the baby – partly the shock of the responsibility and I’m sure my hormones were all over the place. Having a section hadn’t been part of my plan for getting back training but I quickly decided to focus on the positives (easy to sit back up on the bike) and was back on the track 2 ½ weeks after having the baby. The first day I got out on my bike again was a turning point for me mentally and I started to cope with being a new mom a lot better. I suppose it was the longest I had ever gone without exercise in my life which had also been taking its toll on me mentally. Getting out doing my own thing was also a bit of a relief from the intensity of minding a new-born and gave me extra energy. In training, I took it pretty easy for the first few weeks, always listening to my body and letting it be the guide of how much to push myself. Then after three weeks on the bike I felt a significant change, suddenly I felt stronger and more up for it. Trying a few sprints on the track, I could actually feel the strength coming back. I knuckled down to some more intense efforts then and about 6 weeks after giving birth won my first ever National Medal on the Track, a bronze in the Olympic Omnium. My fitness of course was still lacking but I did pretty well in the short timed events which would be my strengths (the 500 time trial, the 3km pursuit and the flying 250m) then was able to use my brain to do OK in the bunch races – the Omnium allows you the chance to play other people off against each other which worked well for me and much to my complete and utter shock left me with a bronze medal!

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As the summer went on, to enable me to get in training sessions during the day while I was on maternity leave, I started to take Tori to the track with me. I was really reluctant at first as I felt it wouldn’t work. But with a little encouragement from my coach I tried it out. The track was an ideal place to bring a baby, as it is a pretty secure environment and I was always able to keep an eye on her. I bought a pop-up tent to put her in if it was windy or cold or she wanted to sleep which worked really well. To my surprise I nearly always managed to get a pretty decent session in, with her either sitting in her chair watching me and my teammates whizz by or asleep in the tent!

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4.How did it feel to win the masters title so soon after having Tori?

Winning the individual pursuit in the masters was a real shock. I knew I was starting to go well as had just won bronze in the nationals in the pursuit. However, based on my times during the summer, I was hoping at best to scrape into the bronze medal ride off but realistically felt I had no chance of a medal. The hardest part was trusting my coach and putting in a serious taper but it paid off, everything came together on the day and I had the performance of my life. I actually think I would never had done it had it not been for the pregnancy and becoming a mum. I don’t know if it’s the post pregnancy hormones, the fact I had limited time to train and had to train smart or if it just gave me a new way of looking at things but I rode my heart out that night to win the title, shaving a further 2 seconds off my PB that I had set that morning in the qualifying rounds. It of course was one of the best personal achievements of my life, but it was made all the sweeter because I had done it with Tori on board!Podium Masters 2012

5.What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2013?

I’m trying to get in as much training as I can but obviously between being back at work part time and minding a baby it’s not possible to do all you want. Such is the lot of many athlete moms out there! I’m trying to focus on quality rather than quantity and do targeted sessions where I can. I really worked hard over the winter on trying to build a better aerobic base and improve my lactate threshold, I was definitely lacking in that at this stage last year. I have just started doing some racing on the road for the first time in the last few weeks and it’s a steep learning curve. Coming from the track where it’s more about pure power, you really have to learn to mind your energy when switching to the road, not to mention use your brain a lot more. I prefer the criterium racing, it’s a bit more like the track I suppose, short, intense and less brain power required!  I’m really still very much focussed on the track however and am just using the road to sharpen myself up. The track racing season is starting up again now that the weather has improved so it will be back to more specific training in the next few weeks.

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My ambitions for 2013 are to significantly improve my person best times particularly in the individual pursuit and the 500 time trial. I will compete in the Nationals here in September but my main focus will be the World Masters in Manchester in October so I will be building towards that. I just want to train hard and see how fast I can go, to get the best from myself, and if that’s good enough to win another rainbow jersey and retain my title all the better.

The other thing that’s keeping me busy at the moment is I’m writing a book. I found that when I got pregnant I really struggled to find good advice on what I could and couldn’t do. Opinions are varied and much of the advice is over conservative. I found a way in the end and I’m writing about my experiences now. Basically I’m writing the book I would have loved to have read when I was pregnant. Of course every woman is different but it’s a story about my experience and I want to get it out there to show women what is possible. It wasn’t part of the plan but he world masters is making a nice chapter at the end!

6.How do you balance family/work/training/competing?

Hmm – Without a doubt this is really the hardest question to answer. Can I pass?!  I’m not sure my hubby would say I’m the best person to ask! It’s a constant challenge to try balance everything and is occasionally a bone of contention with us. My husband is into sport too and needs to get out training so sometimes it feels like were living in a revolving door, as he comes in I go out and we don’t spend as much quality time together as we used to before Tori came along. It’s important to be aware of this and try make time for doing stuff together to. I don’t know if it would be easier to have a partner who wasn’t into sport – yea it might make the scheduling of training sessions easier, but I think there is an understanding there when both love competing and we do cut each other some slack! As for competing we usually go alone as it’s just easier at the moment. Also Cormac is into adventure racing which is not a spectator sport. Hopefully when Tori gets a little bigger she will enjoy coming to the track to watch me race! Poor thing, she probably won’t have a choice!

7. Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape or even competing again after having children?

The first thing is know you can do it, it is possible. Sometimes it takes a bit more planning and time management (and an understanding spouse). You just have to be a little ruthless about it occasionally!

If you’ve just had a baby, it’s good to get back into doing some training as soon as you feel able for it. The best advice I got when training either during pregnancy or post-partum was “listen to your body”. If you feel up for it you probably are. You definitely do get an aerobic boost after pregnancy for a few months and you can get your fitness back a lot quicker than you would expect by taking advantage of this time.

Another thing is get help wherever you can. My mom for instance was great, mining the baby for an hour or two and letting me out for a spin. I know everyone won’t have that luxury but anyone who offers to help – don’t turn them down (as long as you know them!).

It’s really important when time is limited to train smart. You don’t need to put in massive numbers of hours to get really fit. Even short sessions can be really beneficial, especially if you work at a higher intensity, and it all adds up. Don’t ever think, I won’t bother going for a spin I only have 45 minutes. Get out there, warm up and do 4 hard 5 minute intervals. They will probably benefit you more than 2 hours easy on the bike. Also consider cross training as it might be easier to fit it in. For instance go to the gym when it’s dark and do half hour on the rowing machine and a half hour of weights.

I found my rollers (stationary bike trainer) absolutely essential in the first few months after having Tori. Many afternoons while she slept I would crank out a session. You have to prioritise this for it to work. Have gear and bike at the ready, just ignore the housework and get spinning the minute the baby falls asleep!

If you want to get back competing it’s essential to set some goals to focus on, be this targeting certain races or setting new PBs, it really does help your motivation to have something to work towards. I think it must work on a subconscious level. The most important thing though of course is to enjoy the training while getting there!

Thanks for sharing Susie. Please check out Susie’s personal website: www.pregnancytopodium.com

Tori on 1st Bike

Athlete-Mom Interview: Kelley Cullen

Let me introduce you to Kelley Cullen from New Castle, Colorado. She is a mom of two, and races for the HoneyStinger Bontrager Offoad Team. A super skilled mountain biker and ex-competitive swimmer means Kelley is always a threat on the Xterra circuit, one highlight being a 4th place finish at U.S. Xterra Nationals in 2011.
Below she talks about her athletic evolution through mom-hood so far. My highlights from this interview are her take on “training” versus “exercise”, not comparing yourself to other athletes (or even athlete moms), finding the balance to do what’s best for you and your family, and going with the flow, or rather unstructured life of being an athlete with a family!
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Read on and ride on….
1. What was your life as an athletically (or otherwise) before having your children? 
I grew up with 8 siblings in a very diversely active home in Spokane, Washington.  One of my brothers tried out for the Green Bay Packers NFL draft, my twin sister is a professional enduro motorcycle rider, another brother is on his way to  the University of Oregon on a full-ride football scholarship, and my youngest sister (who still has two years of high school left) hopes to play softball in college.  I was a competitive swimmer growing up, but burnt out from swimming too much around age 16.  My mom encouraged me to try something new so I started running.  My last two years of high school I ran cross-country and track while still swimming half-heartedly.  I loved the new change and ended up choosing to run cross-country, indoor track, and outdoor track for Montana State University in Bozeman, MT.  Upon graduating college my identical twin sister and I decided to move to the Roaring Fork Valley in Colorado and that’s when I discovered mountain biking.  That was the beginning of a whole new kind of adventure that I have not stopped enjoying trail riding/running!
As far as triathlons go, I started out doing the kid’s triathlon in Coeur d’ Alene, ID.  In high school I decided to try some longer races in and around the Spokane area including Troika 70.3 on a crappy 30 year old borrowed ten speed road bike with cracked tires and no back brake.  In college I continued to do triathlons in the summers.  The summer of 2002 I qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.  After that race, though, I realized how much I despised road riding.  I sold my road bike and never bought another one.
I am married and have two kids now; a 3.5 year-old girl and an 8 month old boy who was born on Labor Day.  Obviously things are quite different then when I first began riding mountain bikes and running trails ten years ago. Ninety percent of my training now happens on a spin bike in our living room during a nap time or pushing/pulling the Chariot on paved paths and county roads.
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2. What motivated (or continues to inspires you) to get training and racing again after one child? And then two? How does life with one versus two compare?
As any pregnant lady would agree to I wanted to lose the extra baby weight, fit back into my clothes, and feel somewhat normal again!  Being a stay-at-home mom exercise is an outlet for me and I look forward to it every day.  I have always been a highly competitive person who enjoys challenges.  Competing just adds a whole other level of challenge, fun, adrenalin, focus, and motivation.
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3. Did you train during your pregnancies? What was/has your training been like post-childbirth? 
 Yes.  However, I strongly discourage using the word “train” when you’re pregnant.  It’s easy to become obsessively worried about losing endurance fitness, muscle strength, gaining too much weight, and feeling like you’re not getting enough training time in.  I preferred to use the term “exercise” instead.  My only objectives for exercising were to maintain some level of endurance fitness, maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, promote the healthy growth of my baby (if you’ve read Dr. James Clapp’s book Exercising During Pregnancy you know what I’m talking about), and most importantly to help me feel better emotionally and physically. Before I had my second baby I trained about 10 hours/week on average very consistently with a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but that has changed.  I only put in about 6-8 hours/week now and most of that takes place on a spin bike, pulling the Chariot, or running with the Chariot.  Having a three-year old daughter I often find myself bagging my training to spend a little one-on-one with her.  Each day is full of so many unpredictable variables such as kids waking up early, disrupted naps, cranky kids, kids needing attention, unplanned outings with friends, etc.  Therefore, I do not train with a coach anymore and do not follow a structured training plan.  I just make the most out of the time I have when I have it and rest when I’m tired.
KelleyKids
4. What are your current training/racing ambitions for 2013?
I had big ambitions such as winning the TEVA Mountain Games UMC, finishing top 7 at as many XTERRA regional races possible, and top 8 at XTERRA nationals. The reality of family life with another little one has changed things a bit.  Due to our family lifestyle, chosen commitments, work obligations, and financial limitations, racing full-time seriously is not logistical nor realistic for us anymore.  So, I have decided to finish out this year’s 2013 season with a few races but without a serious outlook.  That means no pre-riding, no special periodization to my training, and choosing races that allow us to make family camping trips out of them such as XTERRA Moab and the HoneyStinger mountain bike race in which my husband and I will race as a duo together.
5. How do you balance family/work/training/competing?
I used to teach kindergarten but am currently a stay-at-home mom.  Family always comes first.  I have two kids and a great husband whom I devote my attention to first.  Training and racing are scheduled around that.  Most of my training happens sometime during the day to allow my husband time when he gets home from work to get a bit of exercise in too. Oftentimes my training rides/runs with the Chariot take place after I have taken the kids swimming at the Glenwood Hot Springs pool where we have a family pass.  While my legs usually feel like crap after being in the hot water I find that my kids are content to sit in the Chariot, eat snacks, take naps, and simply hang out.  Obviously it’s not the most effective way to train, but when you have kids you’re training with it works pretty darn well.
6. Any tips or advice you would have for other moms with goals of getting back in shape or even competing again after having children?
 First, I would encourage all new moms to read Dr. James Clapp’s book Exercising During pregnancy.  Also, take out the word “training” and replace it with “exercising” when you are pregnant.  Make sure that you keep a healthy balance of your time devoted to family, work, training, and racing.  I would sometimes find myself comparing myself with other professional mom athletes and wanting to race and do as much as them.  But, I had to be mindful of the fact that our family lifestyle was not the same as their’s.  So, plan to be mindful of your family’s lifestyle and your time.  Also, plan to be flexible with your structured training plan if you have one.  And, don’t run too much with a double Chariot!  I have Plantar Fasciitis tendonitis in my foot due to the 70 pound stress load from when I started running hills and intervals with our Chariot late last winter.  In fact, I have only ran two times since late December and that included XTERRA West Championships this past April.  That probably explains my terrible run split at the race!
Thanks Kelley! You can follow her adventures on her blog here!

Athlete-Mom Interview: Wendy Simms

Let me introduce you to Wendy Simms, a professional cyclist on the Kona Factory Team. Wendy is a six-time Canadian National Cyclocross Champion, and has way too many podium finishes in cyclocross and mountain biking nationally and internationally too count over her long career on the bike! After just missing out on the Beijing Olympics for mountain biking, Wendy went on to win the mixed category in the Transrockies Challenge with her husband, Norm Thibeault, as well as winning the B.C. Bike Race. She is an amazing technical rider, and lives in one of the best places to ride in the world to ride in Nanaimo, B.C. on Vancouver Island. Wendy and Norm have a 3-year old son, Tycho, and a 1.5 year old daughter. While Wendy works full-time as a Biology Lab Technician at Vancouver Island University, Norm is busy running one of my favourite running shoe stores back home, Frontrunners. After recently competing in the World Cyclocross Championships a few weeks ago, Wendy generously took the time to share how traning and competing still fits in her busy schedule. Read on for yet another refreshing perspective and some excellent advice….
Wendy and Tessa

Wendy and Tessa

1. Can you describe how your athletic/competitive  life has evolved before and since becoming a mom of one and now  two?
Before kids I trained a lot more, I raced a lot more, I traveled a lot  more, I slept a lot more, I ate healthier, I trained with other people, I  recovered faster, I stretched and did core exercises regularly, and I was sick a  lot less. But if you are reading this, you have probably  already experienced this yourself!
After having Tycho (my first) I left the door open to walk away from  racing. I didn’t commit to any events at all, just focussed on being a  mom and getting back into shape. I did the baby boot camp and went to  coffee with the other moms but it didn’t take long for me to  realize that I still wanted a physical challenge. I started skiing with  Tycho in the Chariot to get some fitness back. Eventually I cracked and  called KONA to set up a race season at the last second. Once I committed to a few  races I became pretty determined to prove (to myself? to others?) that I could  still race at the elite level.
After having Tessa (my second) things became a LOT harder in every aspect  of life. I had substantially less time, I barely slept and had no time to  think about my own health. The “training” became my sanity break. I had  daycare 2 mornings a week (we don’t have family in town) and even though the  logistics of getting everyone organized and out the door was mind-boggling,  I went for a ride even if the conditions were horrendous. Anything else I  could squeeze in during the week was a bonus. This time around I wasn’t  trying to prove anything to anyone, I just wanted to be outside doing something  for myself and my own health. I was pleasantly surprised and had some great  results.
But after returning to full-time work with both kids in daycare there  is even less time, less sleep and the worst part is that we have been sick  for the majority of the last 6 months. Colds, belly bugs, pink eye, strep  throat, more colds, repeat. Every time you start to feel good and get out  training again, everyone gets sick. It has been extremely frustrating so I have  had to back off quite a bit. Every little nugget of exercise I get in these  days is considered a victory. (As you can see below, Wendy and Norm have also enjoyed training with a Chariot Carrier)
A training day with the Chariot on Hornby Island!

A training day with the Chariot on Hornby Island!

2. Has your motivation and perspective on training and racing changed since  becoming a mom? And how?
My motivation has definitely changed since having kids. I used to put a lot of pressure on myself to get results. Now, I have no expectations  when I race. There are so many factors working against me now that if I had expectations I would just get disappointed or frustrated. Don’t get me  wrong, I am still extremely competitive but now I find I have a lot  less motivation to actually train. Since I went back to work I see the kids  a lot less and I find some days I just don’t want to spend my time training. I want to play with the kids. So I use local events to “race into  shape” these days. They are loads of fun, I get a great workout, it’s a  good example for the kids and I get to be social. It might not be exactly what a coach would prescribe but its close enough.
Wendy with Tycho and Tessa at the BMX track

Wendy with Tycho and Tessa at the BMX track

2. How do you balance your family, work, and training/racing?
I have a very supportive husband (Norm Thibault) who also loves to  race and train so we try to help each other get out the door (the hardest part). We work together to find the gaps in the day  and squeeze in the appropriate activity. It’s almost like a flow chart or choose  your own adventure:
Question #1 – Am I healthy (go to #2), feeling like I am coming  down with something (=easy day) or sick (=rest day)?
Question #2 – Did I get <4 hours sleep (=rest day)? 5-6 hours sleep  (easy day)? or more than 6 hours sleep (go to #3)?
Question #3 – Do I work (go to #4) or do I have a baby sitter (go  to#5)?
Question #4 – Can I ride to work with the kids in the Chariot (do it!)?  or Can I run at lunch (do it!)?
Question #5- Do I have less than an hour (=run)? Less than 2 hours (=speed  workout)? 2 hours or more (=hill workout)?
WendyNorm
4. Any big challenges and competition goals for 2013?
I just got back from cyclocross world championships so I am just taking a breather and re-assessing what the goals are for 2013. KONA has been a great  sponsor and his given me full flexibility. Norm has mapped out a season’s  worth of possibilities for us so now we just need to sit down and figure out  what works for our family.
BC Bike Race Podium

BC Bike Race Podium

5. Any advice you have for other mom’s trying to balance it  all, while training and competing?

I would say the biggest things that I have learned are:
a) Listen to your body! If you are sick, exhausted, run-down, overwhelmed etc just have an easy day with no structure or rest completely.
b) You do not have to train as much as you think you do. Just make sure you have some quality, key workouts that your body responds to.
c) Do not feel guilty! I am always a happier, more patient and overall better mom after I come back from a run or a ride.
d) Be creative and flexible! If you aren’t, well you probably won’t get out nearly as much as you could. Those minutes add up!
e) Dont be afraid to cross train if it is more time efficient
f) Have a few workout routes close to home to minimize wasted transit time. I have a run workout that doesn’t get more than 500m from my house and a bike workout that doesn’t get more than 2km from my house
g) Be proud of yourself. It IS extremely hard to have kids & train/race. If you are even attempting it you should be proud and know there   are many women in awe of you
h) You CAN do it all, but maybe not all at once. There will be cycles of training that might correlate to life more than the physiological   requirements of racing but that is part of the deal when you are juggling it all.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Jamie Whitmore

Jamie “J-Dawg” Whitmore was the female Pro to beat when I started racing Xterra, and I would say she is still one of the biggest triple threat’s Xterra racing has ever seen with a fast swim, mad bike handling skills, and super fast feet on the run. Jamie started racing Xterra’s in 2002 and over the next six years she won 37 championships in a dozen  different countries, including the XTERRA World Championship in 2004 (pictured below).  She is still today the most successful female  pro the sport has ever known and was recently inducted into the Xterra Hall of Fame at the 2012 World Championships. MXT2004_winner
Jamie was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and began the fight of her life. She fought hard through unrelenting pain, several setbacks and rehab and is now cancer free. And due to her radiation therapy, Jamie was told she’d never have children. But she proved that prognosis wrong too and gave birth to twins boys – Christian and Ryder, in January, 2010!

She was told she would never ride or run again either – let  alone compete in triathlon. With the same determination, Jamie proved that wrong.  Swimming  was part of her rehab.  And, with the aid  of a brace she is biking and adds crutches for running.  She returned to XTERRA racing last year at  the Pacific Championship in Santa Cruz and Nationals in Utah (pictured below on the run).  In 2012 she also competed at the XTERRA Guam  Championship, the legendary Leadville 100 MTB race, and reignited her Olympic  dream by winning the National Championship Time Trial for C-3 category  Paracyclists. Read below to learn more about how Jamie has continued her athletic and return to competition as a mom!

Jamile_W

1. Can you describe your athletic/competitive life has evolved before and since becoming a mom? And any special challenges/benefits with twins?

I used to think it would be no big deal to pop out a kid and then return to racing! Oh how naive I was! Being a Mom is hard when you work and want to train! You are on call 24hrs a day. If they are sick, they want you not daddy or papa . . . always Mom!! I used to train when I felt like it. Raced whenever. I could just hop on a plane and go to Maui or whatever I wanted. Now it requires planning all the time. Just to go ride I have to make sure the boys have lunch made so my dad doesn’t have to do it. If I go on a trip I have to plan meals and pack all clothes for them even if I am just leaving them with my dad! And if I take them with me . . . now that is even more work because now I have to figure things out on the road! Twins make it even more difficult because there are two that go in different directions. No older sibling to help corral them! Then throw in my disability . . . . both boys know they can outrun me so I constantly have to think ahead.

Everything used to be about my racing and what I wanted to do . . . as much as I drag them everywhere and have taught them to be flexible I often put them first before making decisions! They even dictate when I train. Always when they nap or before they wake up! On easy days I spin on the trainer while we all watch a movie like Cars or Toy Story!! I try to get quality time in with them as much as possible!

Jamie pictured with her father, sons Ryder and Christiand and husband Courtney in Maui where she was recently inducted in the Xterra Hall of Fame

Jamie pictured with her father, sons Ryder and Christian and husband Courtney in Maui where she was recently inducted in the Xterra Hall of Fame

 2. What is your biggest motivation to stay active/competitive at this stage of your life?

This has a lot to do with my cancer and disability! I stay competitive because I want to show my boys that they can do anything they put their minds to. It might not be how they pictured it or achieved in a different way but they can still do it! On paper I should not be able to bend my knee which means I shouldn’t be able to ride a bike but I am . . . that alone pushes me to keep pushing the limits! You don’t know unless you try! And when you have been unable to do something for 3 years it is all the motivation to not take it for granted when you can do it again!

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3. How do you balance your family, work, and training/racing?

Extended family is a huge blessing! My dad is amazing. He watches the kids all the time for us so that I can train and work. If it weren’t for him I would be riding the trainer all the time or getting up at 5am just to get a ride in! And who wants to do that??? I try to train when the kids are napping so that I don’t miss out on spending time with them. When I am coaching (work) I sometimes take them with me so they can hang out and run around!

4. What do your boys think of their athletic mom?

I hope they think I am pretty cool! Not sure yet since they just turned 3 years old. But every time they see a race picture of me they get pretty excited and say “That’s mommy!”

5. What are your 2013 training/competition goals?

This year I hope to scope out my competition. I am new to the para cycling world (cyclists with physical disabilities) I would love to make the National A Team and travel to World Cup races and the World Championships. My long term goal is The Paralympics in Rio in 2016!!

 6. Any advice you have for other mom’s trying to balance it all, while following a consistent training program every week?

Don’t let training become more important than family! It is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing . . . but you can’t get time back. Kids will only stay young for a little while! When you do train keep it quality and not quantity. It is better to be 15% under trained than 1% over trained. I went into The Leadville 100 race only having done a 55-60 mile ride as my longest ride! I made sure they were quality miles!

In order to get all that I get in I do rely a lot on family but if you don’t have family find a friend that also has kids (if you have little ones) and trade off on watching each others kids. I have several friends with no extended family that do this so that they can run errands or clean the house! I would use it for training! As they get older you can use training time to spend with them. Take the kids out when you have an easy spin . . .they can ride their bikes too! Or let them hop in the pool with you.

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I love your advice Jamie and good luck as you shoot for the Paralympics in 2016!!

Athlete-Mom Interview: Heather Gollnick

Heather Gollnick is a five-time Ironman Champion, mother of three, and a triathlon coach (check out her website here). Heather won her first race as a Pro in 2002, the inaugural Ironman Wisconsin in a time of 9h54 minutes and hasn’t looked back since. At 43 years old she has over 100 podium finishes as a Pro, and she shows no sign of slowing down! Below she tells us a bit about how she does it…
Describe your athletic background before and since having kids?
When I first started in triathlon it was easy to schedule training and workouts because it was only my husband and I. I absolutely loved the sport and wanted to take it to the next level. Once I had young kids starting out with girl/boy twins I was so busy that I did not believe that I could do both and do both well, compete as a professional triathlete and be a great mom/wife. How would I possibly fit it all in? We lived in Wisconsin and after a few years of debating the move from age group to professional I made the jump when they announced Ironman Wisconsin would happen in the fall of 2002. I wanted to do that race as a Pro! After coming in as an unknown for the inaugural Ironman WI, and watching the press conference alone from the back, I went on to win the race after inspiration from my daughter Jordan. A few years later we had a third child and ever since it has been complete madness with my husband and I being out numbered. Training is not the number one thing but I can still get out there and mix it up and love it!
What inspires you to keep competing?
Many of the athletes I first started competing with such as Paula Newby Fraser, Heather Fuhr, and Lisa Bentley have all retired. I will be turning 43 and many ask how long I will still keep racing. I have always said when it is not fun any more or I don’t have that competitive drive I will stop. Well, I’m still going so I guess I still have both!! Natasha Badmann is my triathlon idol, she still rocks it at 45!
How has your 2012 season gone so far?
I had some early season injuries after my 3rd place  in January at Ironman 70.3 Pucon in Chile and had to take some time off. Later in the season I did Ironman New York and a few weeks later was fourth at Ironman Louisville. Then I did my first ultra triathlon, The Leadman in Bend Oregon. Now I am enjoying some much-needed recovery and off-season and hope to start of 2013 with Pucon again.

Heather on the bike at Ironman Louisville 2012 in which she finished 4th

What is your advice to other moms?
Be nice to yourself, we tend to be so hard on ourselves. If we miss a workout or are just too plain tired to do it we beat ourselves up.  Every once in a while I like to treat myself to a hot bath or a mani with my daughter. Also remember training will always be there, your little ones get so big so fast. I can’t believe I have two teenagers and a seventh grader!!!! This year I cut down to just coaching and being a Visalus distributor as far as work and I am so happy to be home. And I have the flexibility to go to every xc meet, every cheer competition etc.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Ginny Sellars

I met Ginny, and her husband Andrew a few years ago when we stayed together at the Xterra Mountain Championship. I enjoyed their company right away and every time we have run into each other since. They truly embrace the athletic lifestyle with tons of passion and infectious positivity as a family with their now six-year-old daughter Maddi. Home base for this family is in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in Vernon, British Columbia. Ginny has competed in many triathlons including Ironmans, bike races, and ultrarunning. Her next event is Ironman Wisconsin coming up on September 9th. Read on to hear more about how for Ginny family life, work, training and racing can all fit together synergistically, keeping everyone happy and fit! Ginny also has a blog where you can read about her adventures here.

Ginny with husband, Andrew and six year old daughter Maddi

1. Can you describe your athletic/competitive background before and after becoming a mom?

My involvement in sport has truly not changed pre and post bringing a child into this world. If anything, I’ve branched out a little more, and beyond Ironman, have taken a stab at bike racing and ultra-running. This is massively due to my husband’s encouragement. We had not planned to have a child. I felt somewhat fragile with my mood, and was terrified that I would fall in my mother’s footsteps, and experience post-partum depression. Given my work as a Speech-Language Pathologist, I’m highly aware of how that can affect the emotional development of a child. When I got pregnant, my husband immediately booked us for a bike tour through the Rocky Mountains, which would happen 6 months after she was born. He also signed me up for an Ironman 7.5 months after her birth. I fumed at him, thinking he had no idea what having a baby would entail. He knew me better than I knew myself, and it kept me active during the pregnancy, and the future events gave me the excitement and regime of exercise to balance my mood. As it turns out, the IM race when my baby was 7.5 months old was a PB. I completed it in 10hr29, and it gave me confidence that as a family we could do great things.

Ginny getting in some IM training

2. Since you and your husband both work, train/compete and coach how do you balance your family, work, and training/racing?

The way that we fit in exercise and training is constantly changing as our little girl grows up and work demands change. In general, we find a mix of being active together, and finding time to ourselves. In the early days, it was a matter of getting everything set up, so that the minute the baby was asleep I could jump on the trainer and spin. Our baby got used to feeding from a sweaty Mama. I would walk or run pushing the baby stroller. As she got older, I found a great daycare, and had to get over the baseless guilt of sneaking in a workout after work before picking her up. She’s now in school, which gives time for training. She’s finally strong enough on the paddle board that I can swim in the lake without a babysitter, and she can keep up on the her bike for my short jogs. My husband has also been very flexible, and we find ways to include our daughter instead of doing it all while she’s absent. It’s not uncommon for one of us to set off for a workout in the park, while the other one brings a picnic and hikes with our daughter to a meeting spot. Most of the time it requires tag-teaming though, and it’s easier when both parents are seeking training time, so it’s more balanced in the marriage.

3. What does Maddi think of her athletic mom?

Until this year, I don’t think it ever crossed her mind. Our active life is all she has known. Just this year she has made some comments about being excited for me at an event, or sometimes being scared for me when she knows I’m nervous. At times when I’m injured, she has written me cards “I hope you get better soon Mama. I’m proud of you.” She has her own first triathlon this coming weekend, and it will be such a pleasure to watch her experiencing the joy of participating herself.

Maddi catching the triathlon bug?

4. What have been/are your 2012 training/competition goals?

After an exceptionally busy year in 2011, with a 7 day bike stage race in Europe, some local bike racing, and two Ironman events, I was ready for a year with fewer planned events. I decided to go with the flow, and join in events as they emerged. This year began with an ultra-run in Mallorca Spain. I ran 64km over stunning mountainous terrain. My initial goal was completion of something new and exciting. I got the competitive bug out there, and ran myself into second place in the women.  I then got the Ironman bug again, and registered for Ironman Wisconsin that will take place in two weeks. To get my feet wet, I did two 1/2 Iron events this summer. The first one was done on very little training, and my only goal was to be in the moment and enjoy it. The second had the same goal, but I had an additional 5 weeks of training. I ran myself into 3rd place woman, and loved every minute of it. I’m now 10 days out from Ironman, and recovering from an injury. At this point my goal is completion, soaking up the joys of the event, and making good decisions along the way to bow out if I’m getting hurt. I will then cheer on my husband in his race.

5. Any advice you have for other mom’s trying to balance it all, while following a consistent training program every week?

I had a motto after my daughter was born…”any exercise is good exercise. 20 minutes is worth it.” After doing longer distances, I had gotten into the mindset that it wasn’t really worth training for less than an hour. This is virtually impossible with children at times, so I realized that a hard 20 minute run gets you strong. I also tried to just move where ever I was. At the playground I would pull myself up on the bars, or do split squats, or play a hard game of chase. Being flexible with your thinking around how and when you will exercise is critical. Sometimes consistency is important too, such as team sessions, so you’ll need a support system organized. I did some ‘trading’ of babysitting to alternate swim mornings with a friend. I’ve certainly had a few 5am mornings on the trainer just to squeak it in. I think the biggest hurdle for me was getting over the guilt that exercise was selfishly taking time from my daughter. Someone shared with me the wisdom that allowing your child to spend time with others, learn from others, and feel confident without you is a gift to them. The demands of parenthood are constantly changing, and sleep and social time are as important as exercise. Hopefully a balance can be found.

Athlete-Mom Interview: Lesley Tozer

I’m overdue for an another athlete-mom interview, so check out this interview with an amazing mom of seven kids, yes seven!! If you think its tough to get and stay fit with just one or two children, read on to see how Lesley has done it with in her words, “seven wonderful children ranging in age from 7 to 21.” Read on to hear about her life as a stay at home mom, to a single and super fit working mom, now in training for her second Ironman!

What are the ages and names of your children?

My first three are boys. Andrew 21, Craig 19, Benjamin 17. Then came the three girls. Shayanne 15, and twins Emily and Katie 13. Then the youngest little guy Eli who is 7.

How active were you prior to having your children?

The amount of physical activity that I did before having children was none! I was busy studying for my Social Work Degree. Shortly after graduating University I had my first baby, and they tumbled forth in rapid succession!

As a stay at home mom, my workouts were composed of running up and down stairs to change diapers, weight lifting was the laundry (which I liken to the eighth wonder of the world) and carrying car seats everywhere, running up and down the sidelines at the kid’s soccer games cheering them on and carrying them into the house when they were exhausted after their big game! I was fully immersed in raising my children. When the twins were born I had six kids aged seven and under. I also had a marriage where I was alone 80% of the year as my now “Wasband” travelled overseas most of the time. As time passed I was becoming increasingly lonely and frustrated as I knew I was losing myself, and wondered if I would ever find myself again.

How did you find the time to find physical activity (and yourself :)) again?

My fitness journey began one day when I happened upon a kickboxing studio where my oldest son was competing in soccer. I gave it a try one night, and from that day on I went everyday for 6 years (one of those years I was pregnant with my last child and actually trained intensely right up until the day I had him….EASY BIRTH/ EASY RECOVERY!!!) until I earned my black belt in Muay Thai and Kickboxing. I entered the ring and won a Canadian Championship bout in Vancouver.  I started training for my bouts at the Talisman Centre where I began another chapter, teaching the Get Ripped Program (Lesley is currently in 9 of the Get Ripped DVDs). The creator of the program had seen me at Talisman and begged me to teach it. I was incredibly reluctant to do so as I still hadn’t found myself and had NO confidence at all. Upon her insistence I started to teach the program. Right around this time my “wasband” came home from his travels one day and decided that our marriage was over. At that moment my days as a stay at home Mom were over. I hadn’t worked for 14 years. I was now single-handedly raising 7 children 99% of the year! Teaching fitness became my profession and my passion. What I didn’t know at that time was that it was something I was becoming really good at and my children and a wonderful group of highly supportive women who were participating in my classes were being so incredibly supportive that I started to find out where and who I was! I somehow gathered up a huge following who continue to encourage and support me every day. I have found that having that positive support system to be integral to anyone who is trying to juggle family and a fitness goal.

How did you get into triathlon?

Three years ago I was approached by a triathlon coach who expressed that I would be a great triathlete and would I consider trying out the sport. I have always had the philosophy that people should try things once….Well here I am three years later training for my second Ironman!

How do you balance your training with work and family?

My training schedule for this incredible undertaking is somewhat hectic and sometimes exhausting. I choose to swim early in the morning way before my kids are up, and run while they are in school. My long bike rides happen while they are with their dad on the weekends, and thankfully when they are not with him they are so supportive that they almost push me out the door!!

What do your kids think of their active mom?

My children have shown incredible support of my goal to compete in Ironman and all of the races I compete in. They understand it’s importance to me, and have joined me in my sport by competing in a few races of their own. I know they are proud and inspired by my tenacity, and my overwhelming desire to constantly get back up and keep going when times are rough.

I am blessed that they continue to allow me to fulfill my goal this year of improving my time at Ironman Canada. It is also my goal to be the very best single working parent that I can possibly be, however it is a very fine balance of  hard training, work, family and a lot of encouragement and determination.

Any advice you would give to other moms while trying to stay active while raising a family?

As a mom I think it is so important to keep yourself close to the top of the totem pole in life. Remember in addition to being a mom, a wife, an employee or employer, you are also a woman who should forever be challenging herself to personal goals and personal time to achieve those goals. My experience has allowed my children to understand the importance of goal setting, the long-term benefits of fitness and proper nutrition, the ability to create and maintain balance in their lives and the life long lesson that when life hands you a challenge, you are the only factor that can hold you back. There is ALWAYS a way, and there is no such phrase as “I can’t”. I’m proof of that.

As a side note, I now have a wonderful man in my life now who is also training for Ironman and supports me every day and allows me to do the same for him. To every challenge in life there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Think positive and surround yourself with positive people and you will accomplish everything!

What kind of work keeps you busy these days?

I am now what I call a Life Coach. I teach mostly women how to pick up the broken pieces and make themselves whole again through proper fitness and nutrition. My goal is to teach them to become whole for the rest of their lives, not just for the moment. I create individual fitness programs on line for those women who have children and just can’t get away from home, or if they can get away just for a while a program that will suit their needs at a fitness facility. I also teach Fitness classes at Talisman Centre and Heaven’s Fitness, and am a personal trainer who will come to people’s homes to train them there or if weather permitting, in the great outdoors.

To all you ladies who are striving to reach a goal and have children in your lives… I am well-known for this saying….YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

Athlete-Mom Interview: Rosario Malpica

Rosario and I met through triathlon training with Critical Speed Racing in Calgary and she always has a smile on her face! She is also my very favorite person to go see the odd time I can fit in a massage. She goes deep and knows what an athlete’s muscles need! If you are in Calgary, you can find her at Therapeutic Hands. After having her first son, Sebastien in June of 2009, Rosario competed in the Honolulu marathon six months later and continued on to compete in Ironman Canada when her son was 14 months old. Her second son, Jonathon was born in June, 2011 and Rosario is back on track for her next Ironman. Her husband, Andrew has also managed to fit in some half and full Ironman races in the past few years as well. Rosario was one of those amazing pregnant moms who was able to run almost to the end of each pregnancy! Below she talks about how she has been managing to balance it all!

1. Can you tell me a little about your athletic/competitive background before becoming a mom?
I was born in Mexico and I started swimming at the age of four. I got into competitions when I was 8 years old and competed at our National Championships. I stopped swimming competitively when I was 15 years old. In 1998 I got into triathlons looking for a more dynamic way to exercise. I raced professionally in 2001 for a few months, then I started an internship at university and had to stop. I did my first marathon in 2003 and after that I just loved the long distance races, so I did a few half-marathons and half Ironmans. I did my first Ironman in 2005 and I just fell in love with it. After my second Ironman I had my first son, then I got pregnant the following year and had my second son. Presently, my sons are 8 months old and 2 years and 8 months old.

 2. What has motivated you to keep setting athletic and/or competitive goals since becoming a mother? Is it different from pre-children?
I think I just don’t want to forget about taking care of myself, plus is an amazing feeling to see your kids when you are finishing a race. It just takes you to a different level. I also think it’s very important to show to your kids this athletic world, and I am hoping in the  future that they will find a sport that they like as much as I do mine.

3. How do you balance training and/or racing with your family and work?
It’s hard to do everything. But I think you really have to organize your life if you really want it…and I keep my agenda close by. I usually do my workouts in the mornings, sometimes I have to wake up at 5am when everybody is asleep at home. Then I take my boys to the gym where I drop them off at the babysitting centre at the gym.
I am a Registered Massage Therapist and I work part-time one or two times a week during the day, some late afternoons and evenings when my husband gets home as well as full days on Saturdays. Usually my longest workouts are Saturday and Sunday mornings when my husband is home and he can help me out. Sometimes I miss having dinner with my family, but I don’t want to give up the ability to spend time and take care of my kids during the day. I will probably change my schedule once my kids are in school, that way I will be able to work more during the day and work less evenings. I do not want to stop working either because it’s a break from the busy life at home with kids, is good to talk to adults for a change. For now, I have to think that what I am doing is for everybody’s well-being. I try to keep housework up to date, so I do small amounts cleaning here and there all the time. I also cook every two days, that way the day that I don’t cook I clean or vice versa.

4. Did you train during your pregnancies? What was your approach?
I trained up until two weeks before I had my boys. I was running, doing stairs, yoga and swimming most of the time. I would alternate these activities so I was doing something at least three times per week. I always listened to my body, and if I felt like sleeping in I would do it. During my first pregnancy, I did only one activity three times a week. With my second pregnancy, I was more at ease and some days I did two activities in one day. Of course, it got harder as time went by, but I felt very good during both pregnancies.

5. What were the biggest challenges getting back into shape after your first child? And now, again after having two? Has the challenge of getting fit again been the same, different, or even easier the second time?
The first time wasn’t too bad, I just felt that I needed to strengthen my core a lot more than the rest of my body since I was able to train up until the end of my pregnancies. I gave myself 6 weeks before I did anything else after childbirth. Unfortunately after my second pregnancy my hip was out of alignment since all the ligaments where loose, after running again for a week and in combination with my work (standing for long periods of time), I developed plantar fascitis. I am still recovering from it, but getting back on track. I didn’t give up of course during this time of injury. I’ve done a lot of non weight-bearing activities like water running, crosstrainer and stairmaster. I found that after both pregnancies pilates has been very effective at getting my core stronger again. It’s amazing how sore your abdominal area can feel after long runs!! I didn’t I was due to breastfeeding, the hardest part for me was getting used to the lack of sleep. Which happens a lot with my kids. I think it’s easy to get fit again as long as you want it.

6. Any advice you would give to other moms trying to stay active and/or competitive while balancing life with children?
Organize your life, everything is possible. Remember if mommy is happy everybody is happy.

7. What is your favourite part about racing Ironmans?
I love the mental challenge more than the physical, but of course for these types of races you must have both. So you have to be ready for it, with all the hours of training.  But is your body going to give up when you start feeling all the miles on race day? It’s a lot of hours of commitment to train, but when you cross the finish line you just realize how much it means to you and the people who love you.

8. How does someone from Mexico adjust to Canadian winters? 🙂
There is not even a comparison with weather!! Ha ha ha…I think that is the hard part. But you just have to adapt and it’s the same with having a family, you need to adapt to the changes and challenges that you will face. And of course you have to do a lot of indoor training, you have to learn to love a treadmill and windtrainer, but in the end just means you will do anything for your favorite sport. I just want to say, if a Mexican girl can run on a -20 C temperature with cross winds that means any Canadian person can do it!! Good luck training and see you out there!!