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Athlete of the Month

Everyone has a story. These are yours.

At Tri360, we celebrate every athlete’s journey and achievement, whether they have just finished their first race or qualified for Kona, whether they are young or old, slow or a mid-packer. We all bring unique perspectives and unique experiences and all of us have great stories to tell.

This special section of the website serves as a collection of all of your stories, highlighting a different local athlete every month. Because it is by recording your stories that the story of Tri360 is written.  

August 2014

Jen Connor

Jen impresses us -- plain and simple. It wasn't too long after having her third child that she showed up at Tri360 wanting to get back on her bike. Shortly after that, she showed up for a run. Over the last year, taking one step at a time, Jen has transformed into an amazing triathlete. Seriously, she podiumed at her second race.

We can only imagine how hard it is to balance a full-time job, being an awesome wife and mom to three and a vigorous training schedule. But balance is exactly how she has gotten it done, providing those of us who junk up our lives with why we can't, no excuse when we see what Jen does. We're thrilled that Jen is a founding member of Team Tri360 because she provides us all with such inspiration between what she can do and through her amazingly positive attitude.

As a bit of an aside, but demonstrative of Jen's mastery of figuring out how to get things done, she taught us one of our favorite training/race hacks yet. Cut the package of ShotBlocks in the middle. That way they're open and easily dispensable, three handy ShotBlocks at a time.

For a bit of the inspiration we get regularly from her, make sure to check out Jen's blog. Now, Jen in her own words: 

  1. How did you get into triathlon?  I was looking for a fun way to exercise that motivated me more than a routine trip to a gym. I grew up swimming and fell in love with cycling as an adult, so incorporating running seemed like a way to have fun and challenge myself. I signed up for a super sprint in 2012 and was hooked immediately.
  2. Why do you do it?  Without a race to train for, I find it hard to stay motivated to workout. Triathlon provides me with a race schedule to work toward and allows me to improve in the two sports that I love (swim and bike) and challenge myself with the run which is far outside my comfort zone. Additionally, the other triathletes I have met are some of the most supportive and genuine people I have met in my lifetime. The comraderie and friendships make it so much more than the fitness program that I originally intended for triathlon to be.
  3. What is your favorite race?  I haven't completed enough to really have a favorite, but I raced two Set Up Events this year - Kinetic and Rock Hall - and both were fantastic experiences.
  4. What is the one triathlon related item you couldn't live without?  My bike trainer. As a working mom of three, its hard to find a consistent time to train. Without the trainer, my biking, in particular, would be nearly nonexistent. While I'd much rather be out on the road or trail, I spend a lot of time on the trainer either early before work or late at night after the kiddos are in bed.
  5. Do you have a mantra that helps you through a tough training session or race?  Zero Regrets inspired by the book of the same name by Apolo Ohno. I try to leave it all out on the course and finish without any regrets. When I think about walking during the run I ask myself if I have any run left in me (I do) and I know that I'll regret it later if I stop and walk. I don't want to regret a minute of it later and that helps me keep moving forward. Shut up Legs from Jens Voigt is another favorite.
  6. Your fave – swim, bike or run?  Bike. Hands down. I am happiest when I am flying on my bike. That feeling of freedom is unparalleled.
  7. What inspires you about the sport?  I love that anyone in any shape or size can participate, compete and be welcomed into the triathlon community with open arms. Watching the stragglers at any race cross that finish line at the end is a terrific inspiration. They didn't give up even though they weren't the speediest and they remind me never to give up. Crossing the finish line last is better than never crossing the start line in the first place.
  8. What was the best piece of advice you received when first starting out the sport?  To relax and enjoy the experience. It's a lot easier said than done because I'm competitive by nature and I want to have my best race every race. But this is a hobby afterall and what is the point if I'm not enjoying the experience?
  9. The worst?  I really haven't received any bad advice. I've been lucky to have had good support from the beginning.
  10. If you could do anything in triathlon, what would it be?  IIf I could do anything I guess it would have to be to race Kona because it is so iconic. But in terms of something more reachable, I'd have to say Ironman Lake Placid. I'm fascinated by that race and really hope to cross it off my bucket list in a few years. I will be a ball of tears if I get to hear them say "You are an Ironman."
  11. What’s on your mind when you’re racing?  I'm always evaluating whether I'm pushing too hard or hard enough. Still being a relative newbie to the sport I continue to gauge what effort will get me over the finish line in the fastest time without blowing up just short of it. I'm also obsessed with checking out the race markings of the other women on the course hoping that the others in my age group aren't passing me.
  12. Where is your favorite place to train in this area?  Lately I've gone back to the Mt. Vernon trail. I really do not like it for biking because, in my opinion, its too narrow to support the number of people on bikes, especially on weekends. But for running it gives me the scenery I need to take my mind off of the discipline I enjoy the least.
  13. You won the Ironman World Championships, what did you eat?  Mushroom pizza from Vace in Bethesda. Followed by a slice (or three) of the Ultimate White Cake from Wegman's.
  14. Tell us one silly or ridiculous thing that caused you to lose time in a race? Luckily I haven't made a big blunder yet but I'm sure I'm due. At Rock Hall I left my nutrition for the bike behind in transition and made myself go back for it. I figured a few seconds in transition was worth preventing a disaster in the long run.
  15. Any additional comments? Triathlon has completely changed my outlook on life and added to it in immeasurable ways. I'm proud to be part of this community and I am looking forward to many many years to come.



If you would like to be featured or you would like to nominate another athlete to be featured as a future athlete of the month, please e-mail or nominate someone here.

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