Dawn is an absolutely amazing person. Not only is she a truly gifted and talented triathlete, she is one of the kindest and most genuine people we know. Her passion for the sport and to improve the sport comes through in everything she does, whether it's as a leader on Ignite Endurance or as a multisport coach on Codeon Coaching, the coaching business she founded with her husband and another Ignite team member.
It's hard to believe that Dawn has only been racing triathlon since 2010 considering how much she has accomplished in such a short amount of time. During her debut race at Luray in 2010, she raced her way onto the podium and has continued growing and improving in the sport since then, taking the top spot at this year's Rock Hall Sprint, moving on to second overall at Culpeper Oly and most recently capturing a FIFTH age group finish at her debut iron-distance race, Ironman Mont Tremblant! (And did we mention that she got married in the middle of all this training and racing this summer?)
Dawn mentions in her interview below that she dreams of making it to Kona one day. We're sure that she will be toeing the line there very soon. Now Dawn in her own words:
How did you get into triathlon? My college hosted a sprint triathlon every year; I was consumed with rowing but volunteered at the event and caught the bug. Three years later a new friend signed up for Nation's Tri with me. Realizing how little I knew, I joined Team Z and did Luray sprint with the team first. It was so challenging and fun I was completely hooked.
Why do you do it?I love racing, but I also love the triathlon lifestyle. Since switching from rowing and running to triathlon I'm stronger, faster and less prone to injury. The people I meet training and racing are strong, driven, generous and so much fun. Besides that, I've finally found a sport I'm good at and it's fun to podium!
What is your favorite race? Ironman Mont Tremblant, because I'm still on a post-race high (and it's truly fantastic). And Savageman is a must-do!
What is the one triathlon related item you couldn't live without?Skratch Labs exercise mix! It's just the right electrolyte load, natural and easy on my stomach. I'm so grateful they sponsor my team (Ignite Endurance) and that Tri360 carries it.
Do you have a mantra that helps you through a tough training session or race?I'm a strong athlete, I trust my training plan, I'm lucky to race; the pain is temporary; leave nothing on the course.
Your fave – swim, bike or run? The run! I started running freshman year of college just for "me" time and still do most of my runs solo, without music. It's simple, meditative, and requires the least equipment. I've learned to embrace long rides as I've gotten stronger, and do love how there's always 20 things to improve on my stroke--like with rowing.
What inspires you about the sport? The challenges every triathlete overcomes--extreme time constraints from work or family (or both), injuries, an unhealthy lifestyle they're trying to change, fear of open water, awful blisters, etc. etc. There are so many TOUGH and driven triathletes just in the D.C. area, at all speeds. Besides that, so many people volunteer their time, and athletes and race directors raise money for fantastic organizations like MMRF. It's a generous community.
What was the best piece of advice you received when first starting out the sport? Keep it fun; always remember how lucky I am to be able to train and what a thrill it is to race. Embrace the pain!
The worst? I've been surrounded by pretty knowledgeable triathletes and fortunately not led too far astray.
If you could do anything in triathlon, what would it be?Race the Ironman World Championships in Kona, of course!
What’s on your mind when you’re racing? In the water I'm constantly thinking of my stroke and efficiency; on the bike, my mind is mostly blank; on the run it's all positive thoughts about my strong body and how much I love to run, and I focus on reeling people in ahead of me. I also think about the many supporters I'm blessed with. At Ironman Mont-Tremblant last weekend I wore my grandma's ring and gave thanks all day she was recovering from a hospital scare. My family's love gives me strength.
Where is your favorite place to train in this area? Warrenton is a beautiful place to ride and within an hour's drive from Arlington. I've grown to love the W&OD after so many long runs along it, but for a change of pace I LOVE trail running anywhere there's an EX2 Backyard Burn (Wakefield, Lake Fairfax, Prince William).
You won the Ironman World Championships, what did you eat?Pizza, and then a brownie sundae--but the day after once my stomach was more ready for it.
Tell us one silly or ridiculous thing that caused you to lose time in a race? Everything went very smoothly at my first race, Luray sprint--except as I was running out of T2 a fellow Team Zer yelled that my helmet was still on. At Rev3 Quassy in 2012 it took me 2 or 3 minutes to tie my shoes because my hands were numb from the cold rain. The next week I bought my first pair of Xtenex laces.
Any additional comments? I have the coolest group of supporters--Ignite Endurance, Tri360 and our other sponsors, my husband and fellow Codeon coach Mike Stevenson (who I met on Team Z!), Arlington Masters...they've made this sport so fulfilling. I hope the Arlington area keeps growing and improving as a triathlon hub!