Tri-Mom features seven extraordinary multi-sport moms. The firsthand experiences of these driven, accomplished, award-winning triathletes and coaches are easily relatable, often funny, and always thought-provoking, moving, and entertaining.
Their life experiences and personal journeys address the question: Can wives, mothers, and women everywhere who want to pursue fitness and sports goals, excel without sacrificing their humanity, their sanity, or their family life? The women of Tri-Mom make an all-out effort to do exactly that, with unexpected and often hilarious results. You will never forget these moms, whose journeys speak to the desire to have it all—and to the truth that having it all is always an extreme challenge.
One day, I was out running along the prairie path through the woods near my home when my mind started to wander. As I recalled experiences and stories from my years as a triathlete, I found myself smiling and then laughing. Being a mother and a triathlete— a “tri-mom,” if you will—the stories seem to come with the territory. But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
I wasn’t always a triathlete, but I was always athletic and have been a runner for many years. Although I had done my share of running, I never considered participating in a triathlon until after the birth of my second son. That was when Brenda (Reiter) Affinati, my friend of over thirty years, challenged me to a sprint distance triathlon in Manteno, Illinois, where I had attended high school.
A triathlon? Wasn’t that a little extreme? Participating in three sports all in the same day seemed flatout insane to me, but I’ve never been one to refuse a challenge. So, I said yes to Brenda and became hooked on the sport. Within two years of that first triathlon, I had hired Adam Zucco from TrainingBible Coaching, who remained my coach from 2003 to 2009.
During these years of training and racing, I have not been a single gal, free to put my entire focus on my sport. I have been a wife, a mother to my two active boys, a hospice volunteer, a volunteer Sunday-school coordinator, a fundraiser for my sons’ travel baseball teams, the social chair for a triathlon club—and that’s just a partial list!
Trying to develop the time management skills necessary to balance all aspects of my life has been a difficult challenge. I take great consolation in knowing I am not the only one. There are countless numbers of trimoms striving for that very same balance.
Since 2001, when there were only about fifty triathlon clubs nationwide, the sport of triathlon has been growing by leaps and bounds. According to USA Triathlon (USAT), in 2011, the number of official triathlon clubs in the U.S. surpassed 900, and boasted an annual membership for the organization of 150,000 athletes— a 600 percent jump since 2001.
In fact, according to a 2011 report by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, an estimated 2.3 million Americans completed a triathlon in 2010. About half of those increased numbers are female athletes, with the largest female age group in the sport being comprised of women in their early thirties through their late forties. I, personally, have probably met about 100 of those women, and I would call at least a quarter of them friends.
The majority are also mothers. Plenty of those trimoms are working moms, to boot!
When our kids are younger, they don’t mind playing at home—or being left with a babysitter for a little while so Mommy can get out of the house to run errands or train. As the kids start to get older, they have their own schedules and need to be physically transported to their various activities.
If I want to get in my training, errands, and volunteer activities, I have to fit in everything between the hours of 8:00 in the morning, after the kids have left on the school bus, and 2:30 p.m., when they get back home. That may seem like a big window of time, and there are days when it does seem that way—and days when it doesn’t.
Then there are those tri-moms who work outside the home. For them, training may mean jumping in the pool at 5:00 in the morning and/or working out in the evening when the children are settled in.
Everybody balances their lives differently. There are the “wing-its” and the “plan-its.” The plan-its have their lives scheduled down to the second. As a wing-it person, myself, I somehow seem to find ways to rise to the occasion—but after the fact, when I can relax again, I sometimes find myself in a state of disbelief, wondering, How did I ever get all that done? Motivation, that’s how!
Triathletes are motivated and inspired by different things. Most just love the challenge and the lifestyle of triathlon. Others—including me and some of my fellow contributors—started out that way, but went on to race for specific ranking and goals. We age-group triathletes may reap other rewards, as well, like prizes and gift certificates. And, professional triathletes may even win cash prizes.
In addition to our differing motivations, each of the contributors in this book has different perspectives and unique strategies for balancing their triathlete pursuits with their family obligations. But, there are two things we definitely have in common: We all agree that being a multisport athlete, mom and wife requires a great deal of sacrifice, hard work and discipline—and that it’s all worth it!
My coach, Adam, once said, “When it comes to triathlon, there are the completers and the competers.” The completers’ goals tend to be oriented towards the camaraderie and fitness offered by the sport, and the satisfaction of completing a race. If you were standing on the sidelines at a race, you would recognize them as the ones who are smiling from ear to ear and giving their family high-fives as they run past.
The competers, on the other hand, are those of us who are so laser-focused on our goals, that we may go racing right past our families with only an index finger wave and a nod, eyes focused on the finish line.
Whether you’re a completer, a competer or even a spectator, I hope that, as you run, bike, and swim alongside us in these pages, you’ll enjoy the journey and be transformed by it—as each of us have been.