You know her as a U.S. Olympic softball player, but in the last few years, Jennie Finch has proven to be quite the well-rounded athlete. After hanging up her glove and settling into motherhood, Finch has taken the fitness world by storm, tackling major events like the New York City Marathon. This summer, she did it again and dominated a completely new-to-her sport: the triathlon. After swimming, biking and running in the New York City Triathlon - finishing in 2:51:15 - we caught up with the supermom to find out how she felt on race day, and whether we'll see her back in the Hudson River any time soon.
You conquered the New York City Marathon in 2011, and now the triathlon. What made you want to do it?
Actually, my coach and a girl who ran the marathon with me are both triathletes and they wanted me to do it. And then Aquaphor wanted to know if I was interested, and it’s a brand that’s been in my house since my [softball] playing days. Now that I’m a mom, I use it on my kiddos. It looked like a fun challenge, so I figured why not?
Did you have any kind of experience in swimming and biking before signing on?
Other than riding my beach cruiser in high school and playing marco polo in the pool, I didn’t do anything. I didn’t know how to breathe properly or even freestyle properly in the swim. It was all so new and I was just tapping into a new community. It’s been fun to get in and figure it out.
Which part of the tri was your favorite?
I thought running would be my favorite leg, but running after swimming and biking is a whole different ball game. I’ve grown to love swimming, which I was most nervous about. It’s less stress on your body. Biking just took a long time to get the training miles in, but swimming was never more than an hour, which was refreshing and a nice change-up.
Which leg was the toughest?
I think biking was the toughest because it takes the longest, and the hills kicked my butt. I was training in Louisiana, which is really flat, so the hills got me. I think my mental toughness that I developed from softball helped me tremendously. I knew I couldn't give in. My brain would tell me I wasn’t ready for this, or the hills were too terrible, but I had to keep pushing. And it paid off because in the end, I met my goal time of finishing under three hours.
Any mental tricks you used to keep moving forward?
I would pick someone out and tell myself to stay with her, just stay with her. On the bike, there was one person that would switch back and forth with me. So I just wanted to stay with them and not fall behind. Other times, random bible verses would pop in my head, or random songs. Whatever works.
I started with Aquaphor all over my legs, arms and neck so I could get my wetsuit on and off easily. For the bike, I put it on my waistline, shorts and around my sports bra to prevent chafing. I also put it all over my biking shoes because I didn’t wear socks - it saved me time in transition. I did the same for my running shoes - Aquaphor all over - because again, I didn't wear socks. And I didn't get one blister on race day or during my training.
So are you hooked now? Will there be another triathlon in your future?
I think I would do it again, for sure. I’m excited to see what’s next. I would love to do a half-Ironman. It’s just a matter of finding time to train for it with my kiddos. I want to make sure I can do it without sacrificing my time with them.
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