You Are One Feisty MotherMay 08, 2023
Stroller runs, zero-dark thirty wake-up calls, weight-vest training to optimize the limited time you have, training through divorce…These women refuse to let motherhood become a barrier to their personal goals.
By Carrie Barrett
Special thanks to Orca for helping us share stories of Feisty Mothers this Mother’s Day.
It takes a special kind of person to balance motherhood, career, and training. Perseverance, resilience, flexibility, and a lot of creativity are just a few of the traits these Feisty mothers possess in order to continue to chase finish lines, podiums, and PRs as a Mom.
Yes, personal fitness is high on the priority list for these Feisty mothers, but they also prioritize their physical and mental health in order to teach their own children the importance of self-care, discipline, and personal identity.
Let's meet some Feisty Mothers.
My daughter, Kay, was my baby jogger running buddy as a baby and toddler. As she moved into toddlerhood, Kay would sing as we ran. Kay grew to be an athlete, a competitive figure skater, and a gymnast, and as she moved into adulthood, she also started running. The California International Marathon was her second marathon. Since then, Kay has continued her athletic journey (mainly strength training and indoor cycling). My son has also started running on his own. As a parent, I am pleased that my children know the joy of movement. Through their behavior, I see that they understand that exercise can be the perfect tonic after a mentally challenging day. I like to think this knowledge was born while serenading me on a baby jogger run!
Last year (2022), was my comeback year in triathlon after having my daughter in December 2019. While it was important for me to do well in my first races back in the sport, it was even more important for me to be present with my daughter during our time together. I’m very fortunate that my coach, Alyssa Godesky, worked with me to find creative ways to get my training done. Once, I wore a weighted vest while pushing my two-year-old daughter in the stroller to the playground. Once we got there, I pushed her on the swings (still in my vest, of course) and then we walked home. Luckily, she is still too young to be embarrassed by my attire. 😂 Looking like a weirdo on the playground was worth it, as I went on to earn my first-ever Kona slot at Ironman Chattanooga later that year.
I've been a single mom since 2018, which is also when I discovered triathlon. When my marriage was falling apart, I started a couch-to-5k program as a means of distracting myself from the grief, and also as a way to do something just for me. I had two very young children at that time and was deeply uncertain about my future. Once I ran my first 5k, my colleague convinced me that if I could run a 5k, then I could complete a sprint triathlon. I very naively believed her. In 2018, I started divorce proceedings, joined my company's triathlon team, and finished my first triathlon in September 2018! It's been positive vibes and negative splits ever since!
It was rewarding to get into my body and out of my head and heart as I healed from my divorce. It was also inspiring to remain healthy for my two boys, so I could have the energy to play, grow, and learn with them. Triathlon has given me the discipline and endurance I need for my very demanding corporate role and it has transformed my life in more ways than I can count.
It’s not easy. I've worked out after bedtime, before they get up, at the office gym after school drop-off, and almost anywhere in between. I've pushed them in strollers, I've had them ride bikes while I run, and I've even had them sit in the bleachers while I swam laps. I'm lucky they are such great sports about it all. Do I make all of my workouts? No, but I've learned self-compassion along this journey as a single mom triathlete, and I'm quite happy where I am.
Jocelyn Wong Neill
I became a mother one week after my 39th birthday. Like many other high-achieving women with both athletic and career goals, I was a bit of a procrastinator checking off, "make a baby.”
I spent my late 20s as a pro triathlete specializing in the Ironman distance, then most of my 30s building my career as a certified prosthetist-orthotist (and paying off way too many student loans!)
I always thought I had to stop racing once I had a kid, but once I had my daughter, I quickly realized that I was prioritizing everybody else and had to have something I did just for me. I took my time getting back into it, but I did three sprint triathlons my first year postpartum, and have since done a half Ironman, the JFK 50-miler ultramarathon, and a marathon. My first triathlon back was seven months postpartum, and I was tickled to land on the third step of the overall master's podium, where we got our first baby on the podium shot! I was so proud to be a "geriatric" mom with a baby on the master's podium!
Training looks much different than it once did and I am thrilled to get in five to eight hours of swim/bike/run in a single week. If I can run on the treadmill or bike on the trainer for 45 minutes in the morning AND take a shower before my child wakes up on a work day, it's a huge win. I continue to race triathlons and marathons for my own mental health and wellness, but also to show my daughter that it's important for me to maintain my own identity and pursue goals outside of being her mother. As the first female pro triathlete of Asian-American descent back in 2009, I also acknowledge how important representation is and will continue to race for the girls and women that look like me.
From managing divorce, juggling full-time careers, and becoming masters of time management, these Feisty mothers show us all how to remain passionate about pursuits…even if we are wearing a weight vest, spinning on the trainer, or pushing a stroller at 5:00 am.
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