It took a long time for Anne to consider herself an athlete….
2009: Anne was 27, newly married…and miserable. No, she didn’t marry the wrong guy. She knew Sean was right for her shortly after meeting him. She didn’t know exactly what was behind her constant dissatisfaction, but she knew something had to change.
Things on the outside were pretty good. Anne knew she needed to make a personal change.
She wasn’t making great decisions with her health: drinking too much, eating badly, and not sleeping well. As a shy kid, she had never gotten into sports or found an activity that really kept her interest. During college, Anne attempted to take up running. However, running did not keep her interest for long. She found herself just content with being inactive.
To motivate herself to exercise, Anne signed up for a triathlon.
Anne didn’t know why this sport appealed to her, but her excitement was peaked. She quickly found several hurdles to overcome. She didn’t have a bike or even know how to swim! Anne and Sean drove around looking at used road bikes. Anne also signed up for beginner swim classes at the local YMCA.
She muddled her way through training for that first triathlon mainly by reading magazines and triathlon materials. She also made sure she could swim, bike, and run the race distances. Soon, she was enjoying the thrill of completing her first race…and she was hooked.
After a few years involved in the sport, the dream of becoming a coach was on her mind constantly. At the encouragement of her family and a dear friend/mentor, Anne jumped at the opportunity to get certified with USA Triathlon.
Soon afterwards she started her business, Tri It Your Way Coaching.
Now, as a coach and member of the triathlon community, Anne’s goal is to help others experience the same joy from competing and obtaining their personal athletic goals. Her knowledge provides them with a solid foundation to reach their performance potential in the sport of triathlon. She is busy training athletes from all over the country.
Today, Anne lives on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. The views of the ocean are extremely enjoyable as Anne trains on the coast. This makes the many hours and miles drift easily by. She loves training and racing herself and is looking forward to a strong 2019 racing season.
We asked Anne a few questions about her life: coaching, competing, and advocating for the sport of triathlon…
Talk to us about that first triathlon. What was that like for you?
It was a great experience overall, but I was stressed and extremely nervous leading up to it. I distinctly remember having severe anxiety and nerves the week beforehand. I even remember picking a fight with my poor husband the day before the race. Thankfully, he was able help me calm down, get to the start line, and have an amazing experience.
It was a women’s sprint tri, and I quickly got caught up in the energy and enthusiasm of the race. Sean and some family members were there cheering me on. To my surprise, I remember finishing the run faster than I had expected. I was totally hooked!
Ultimately, my love for the sport and my desire to help others navigate all of the aspects of training became so strong I had to find a way to make it my job!
What do you love most about coaching?
I love seeing the breakthroughs that my athletes have. It may be a small breakthrough, like having a jump in fitness throughout the training cycle. Or it may be a big breakthrough, like overcoming a mental hurdle that was really holding them back. These moments are results of the hard work they put in, and I love being a part of that! Seeing someone succeed is tremendously gratifying.
That must be so rewarding. Do you have any favorite breakthrough moments you’d like to share?
One of my favorite moments was when an athlete I had been working with for a while overcame her fear of the Olympic distance swim (1500m).
She had done many sprint tris, but after a bad early season race, her confidence was rocked and she was having panic attacks when trying to do her first Olympic triathlon. She had done open water swims of that distance a number of times and had no issues with swimming the distance. However, doing the actual race, with the crowds and adrenaline pumping, it was overwhelming for her. She couldn’t get herself to get in the water and start the race.
After a few attempts, it was clear that we needed to go deep and figure out how to get over that hurdle.
We tackled it from a few different angles: I had her go to group training swims, rather than just swimming with a buddy she was comfortable with. We talked through some mental strategies and found some mantras that helped her. She kept doing sprint tris to keep getting more comfortable with the race environment. We also found a coach who specialized in mental training, who gave her additional strategies and wisdom.
She could have given up, but she was determined to conquer this. I looked at it as building steps up to the perceived huge hurdle. This way she could climb over it, rather than trying to jump from the ground over a hurdle that was too high.
And her determination paid off! She was able to go on to complete the Olympic distance. Currently, she is training for her first Half Ironman this year.
That must have been a powerful experience!
It’s why I love coaching so much.
Every athlete has strengths they should take advantage of, and things they should work on. As a coach, it’s my job to help them through this, whatever it takes. I think the confidence boost and sense of achievement from something like that are so powerful. They strengthen you to face the next challenge that comes.
I tear up just thinking about these kinds of stories.
We all have mental and physical hurdles to overcome. Sometimes it’s a matter of figuring out what support and strategies you need to get there. It is so worth it when you do overcome the hurdle. It truly affects you as a whole person, and it can change your life. I’ve seen this time and again. Both in myself and in my athletes and friends.
You’re a mom of 2 young kids, a wife, a business owner, and an athlete. How do you balance and prioritize your work, family, and athletic pursuits?
I think you just find a way to make it happen if it’s important to you.
It means making choices sometimes. Some people would call them sacrifices. And it can feel like that from time to time. But because I love to coach and I love to train and race, these are choices I’m happy and excited to make. Not everyone is going to understand why I want to get out of bed at 5 to swim. Or why I’m rarely available to do anything social outside of a group workout. However, to me, there’s no question.
My priorities are my family, my coaching, and my racing.
If I can fit in other things, I’m happy about that. But if I can’t, I still feel fulfilled. Because I know how lucky I am to be able to make these choices and how much better my life is because of these opportunities. And I’m lucky to be in an amazing community. Many of my good friends also happen to be athletes. We train together and support each other.
It helps a lot that my husband is a cyclist, so he gets how important this is to me. We have a pretty structured schedule. Mainly to make sure that we can both work, train, and spend quality time as a family and as a couple. Our kids are young. So it take a lot of teamwork to make sure it can all happen.
I’m not going to say that’s always easy.
It has become easier because this is our way of life now. But it has taken some adjustment, especially when we started a family. We have to be flexible when life happens! Life is very busy, and we have days that we feel totally overwhelmed and everything just feels like too much. We are always in search of better balance because we tend to take on too much. Especially since we are two Type A athletes!
But life is full of wonderful things, and it’s hard to complain about that!
What keeps you motivated?
I’m very internally motivated. I love pushing myself and seeing how far I can go. And that motivation has gotten stronger over the years. I have a strong competitive drive, which helps get me through tough sessions I don’t feel like doing.
Mostly, I just LOVE to train.
It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. Even when I have a “bad” training session, I’ve learned to look at that as an opportunity that makes me stronger mentally and physically.
I definitely go through days or periods where I struggle to maintain that motivation. This year I’m working with Chad Holderbaum. Chad is a coach for Durata Training and is a professional Ironman. Having him as a coach has been so helpful with motivation and taking the mental load off of my own training. So yes, it’s important for a coach to also have a coach.
My athletes and training buddies are also incredibly motivating as well. Seeing them out there working hard to reach their goals is so inspiring. We all encourage and support each other. Many times we are training together. I have made so many good friends through the sport, and that community is a huge part of why I love triathlon so much.
I never want to stop learning and growing, both as a coach and an athlete. This year, I’m continuing to grow my coaching business and focusing on more education to support my athletes and their goals. I have big plans for my own 2019 racing season after a couple of seasons off due to injury. I hope to reach the podium in my A races. There’s always more to learn and more ways to push yourself in sport, and that’s probably the most exciting thing to me.
What is the one thing you’d change about the sport of triathlon?
I want to make it more accessible to people. It can be an intimidating sport, and it can get very expensive with all the gear. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
I remember that feeling myself as new triathlete. Things are changing, and USA Triathlon is creating programs to help people enter the sport. However, I still hear a lot of people say they would never be able to do one. Many times it’s because of the swim – many people feel like they can handle the bike and run, but they don’t like to swim or don’t think they can.
I get it! I was there 10 years ago. But I also know that you can do almost anything you put your mind to. I want people to feel welcomed into the sport and to know there are resources to help them.
It’s a life changing sport, and if you want to tri, you can!