Kristen, a 40 year old living in Manilus, NY caught our eye as being another one of our heroine Mom’s who somehow combine the impossible to make anything possible. She is the Mother to two girls, aged 9 and 6, is a full-time pharmacist at Wegmens Grocery Store, and somehow manages to get in the training demands of this high-octane sport.
How do you balance the demands of being a single Mom with a full time job and manage to get your needed training in? Do you find most athletes are doing more than they need to do, or are you just chronically sleep deprived (or both?) :)
Coming late to triathlon as I have, I haven’t kept up with what other athletes are doing so I really have no comparison. Before I had my girls and was a runner, I read all about other elite athletes and what they were doing. Not so with triathlon. I don’t have the time to research what others are doing so I just follow my coach’s recommendations. She gives me the workouts about a month at a time and I plan my week out each Sunday as to when I will fit everything in.
I am fortunate to have good friends, responsible children, an incredible coach (who is a mom herself and understands the demands on my time) and a flexible ex-husband. They all make it possible for me to fit my training in…most times when my children are at school (or summer camp), with their dad or sleeping. I am probably a bit sleep deprived and my house is not nearly as clean as it could be but my secret is to make training a priority (right after my family and my work schedule, which obviously come first) and have a plan for when it will get done each day. My coach takes the amount of hours I tell her I can do and she creates my workouts based on that. She is invaluable to me.
How did you get involved in Triathlon?
I got a taste of triathlon back when I got injured training as a marathoner. I did some swimming and biking to cross train and stay in shape but did NOT fall in love with them. It wasn’t until after both of my daughters were born that I hooked up with my coach Karen Turner of Engineered Triathletes through a mutual friend. My first race was years ago in 1998 and my only goal was to finish. I got a flat tire 1 mile into the bike and didn’t know how to change it so rode the next 13miles on a flat tire. I can remember watching Kona and saying that if I were ever to do an Ironman it would be just to finish…I would never consider trying to “compete”!! Obviously now my goals are different. I still consider finishing an admirable goal and am always happy when I do! ANd of course, always giving it my best hasn’t changed. But now, I do try and finish in the money and am always hoping to PR either the whole race or at least one segment of it…
Which of the swim, bike or run is the most challening for you?
The biggest challenge for me is the swim. I never had swimming lessons as a child so missed out on learning good technique which really is the most important when it comes to the swim. To improve, I take advice from anyone that is willing to give it!! And swim lots of yards…
How does nutrition factor into your training? Do you have any special meals or things you eat to help keep you strong for your training sessions?
I would love to say that with my Bachelor’s in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell that I know exactly what I should eat and when and follow it to the letter…but unfortunately I don’t. I have a wicked sweet tooth and have not been able to convince myself that following a strict diet for ultimate performance is more important than enjoying the freedom to eat whatever food strikes my fancy at the time. It tends to drive my coach a bit nuts :-). I do drink chocolate milk after training as a protein replacement. And in general, I follow a healthy diet but I do have a little obsession with kettle potato chips right now!
What advice would you give to someone, say another single Mom, who (understandably so) says she doesn’t have the time to do a triathlon or train for it? What could be their first steps?
I truly believe that if something is important enough to you, you make time for it. For example, get up an hour earlier and go for a run. I have been known to run loops around my yard when the girls are sleeping if I didn’t have a sitter. That’s an extreme example but the point is, it can be done. Plus, depending on the distance, triathlon does not require a huge amount of time. Obviously, you need access to the right equipment but after that, first steps could be a 30 minute ride on the trainer while the baby is taking a nap. The next day a 30 minute run. The next a 30 minute swim while the baby is with a sitter. I think that a lot of mom’s (especially single mom’s) feel guilty taking a little time for themselves. I think, at least for me, I am a better mom when I take care of myself.
Bottom line, planning into your day ahead of time makes it seem more possible. Rather than saying I have to exercise at some point, plan that you will exercise as soon as the kids get on the bus, for example. That way, you do it then and get on with the rest of your day.
Do you have any race superstitions?
I always have a glass of wine the night before I race.
I hope my children are learning that exercise is a lifelong commitment. That it is as much a part of everyday life as brushing your teeth or going to work/school. I also hope they learn that winning and being #1 is a great goal to have but that ultimately trying your best and giving it your all is what’s ultimately the most important. And that really goes for all aspects of life.
To learn more about Kristin, visit her website at:
Written By: Carole Sharpless