In The Spotlight – Meghan Fillnow

We have been following Kelly Fillnow’s twin sister Meghan for a few years. Meghan is quite an accomplished athlete and has been making herself widely known in the ironman competitions during 2019.

Meghan (NAFC, USAT, and RRCA certified) grew up as an active child competing in soccer, basketball, softball, tennis, and gymnastics. In high school, she was ranked #12 in the nation in tennis doubles. Her twin sister, Kelly, was her partner on the court. Meghan received a scholarship to play Division I college tennis at Davidson College. While at Davidson, she received All-Conference honors four consecutive years and was on the TIAA-CREF Academic Team.

Meghan went on to graduate school for elementary education, and running became her new passion.

In 2019, Meghan has amassed an amazing portfolio of successes, and we are honored to feature her.

2019 Race Results:

Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

  • 1st Overall Standard Duathlon National Championship
  • 2nd Overall Female Palmetto Bluff Half Marathon- 1:22:08
  • 1st AG/2nd Overall Sprint Duathlon National Championship
  • 1st Overall Amateur Chattanooga 70.3- 4:21:08 (shortened swim)
  • 2nd Overall Female Ohio 70.3- 4:36:22
  • 1st Overall Female IRONMAN Maryland- 9:37:23 (Kona Qualifier)
  • 1st Overall Female NC 70.3- 4:37:36

We had the chance to ask Meghan a few questions that we thought our followers might enjoy.

What motivated you to enter into triathlons and ironman competitions?

I was always involved in sports even as a child. I still had the competitive drive after playing college tennis, so I decided to pursue marathons. Eventually, I wanted a new challenge, so I jumped into triathlons.

I never thought I would do an IRONMAN since it seemed completely ridiculous at one time. I watched my sister thrive at the IRONMAN distance, so I wondered if I would be able to do it as well. My first one was in 2012, and I’ve done 11 total.

What would you say is the biggest contributing factor to your recent successes?

There’s definitely not a magic formula. It’s just been consistent training throughout my career mixing in lots of easy workouts with key intense workouts that get me out of my comfort zone. I’ve been able to stay mentally and physically healthy, and I’ve continued to make small gains each year.

How do you handle stress or disappointment?

I’ve learned over the years how to have a healthier approach to dealing with stress. I go for easy runs, listen to music with uplifting lyrics, read a good book, cook, or spend time with close friends and family who help me to keep a good perspective or just make me laugh.

I handle disappointment by journaling and relying on the Lord to refine me and heal my heartbreaks.

What excites you most about being an Ironman and the sport?

I love finding a way to be an overcomer and fight well no matter what the day brings. Each journey is unique, and I am challenged as a person. IRONMAN is just a piece of my life. It doesn’t define me, but it changes me for the better.

What advice would you offer someone who is a first timer at the sport?

I would say to embrace the journey. Find friends who are passionate about the sport who can keep it fun. I would say find three positives every week from your journey and something to improve upon for the next week. I would also say to have a proper perspective on the sport.

So do you prefer swimming, biking, or running and perhaps your views on each discipline?

My first love was the run. I revel in the simplicity of running and how a solid run feels to your mind and body.

Biking intimidated me for many years, especially on the mechanical side of things. But my awesome Quintana Roo disc brake bike has helped me feel safe and efficient and has given me a pure joy riding the last couple of years. Mountain rides with friends reinvigorate my passion for riding. I also enjoy getting in solid sessions on my trainer to maximize time.

Swimming has always been a big challenge for me since I didn’t grow up a swimmer. It’s hard to make gains in the water since it’s such a technical sport. But time spent in the water is worth it when I finally get a good feel of the water or can splash around with my sister and friends.

Tell us about your nutrition strategy for both races and training.

Day to day, I don’t follow a specific diet. I just do a good job balancing eating all the macronutrients with proper nutrient timing. For instance, I surround my workouts with high carbohydrates and lean protein such as whole wheat pancakes with banana and peanut butter. One of my daily staple snacks post-workout is Cocoa Elite’s Cocoa Peanut powder. I mix it with milk, PB2, frozen strawberries and bananas, and cauliflower rice. It’s delicious!

I enjoy eating healthy, but I don’t deprive myself either. During training, sometimes I will eat real foods on long rides such as dried mangoes or healthy homemade cookies. During races, I rely on Rocket Fuel, which is Base Performance Hydro, Aminos, and salt, and that’s been a game changer for me. I also use a variety of gels, waffles, and chomps depending on the distance of the race.

Being an Ironman is a unique lifestyle. What would you say is the biggest challenge? 

I would say the biggest challenge is the time aspect of the sport since you are training for three sports and they are long distances! My sister is my coach and does a great job helping me not to feel overwhelmed with the training as she wants me to be a well-rounded person. I work hard, but I also do my best to have triathlon fit well into my day-to-day life.

Having a twin who is a professional Ironman must be an advantage and disadvantage. Can you comment on both?

I am so proud of my twin sister and her hard work, dedication, positivity, resilience, and bravery stepping into the professional field a handful of years ago. I really don’t see any disadvantages. Maybe when I was younger and more immature, I would’ve had a hard time with my sister being a pro and I was just an age grouper. However, I don’t think like that anymore.

There are a lot of advantages of having a twin sister who is a go getter, and I’ve been fortunate to reap some benefits with sponsors. More importantly, I get to witness someone using her talents to the best of her ability. She completely shines in how she lives her life with grace, grit, and passion. But really, I don’t see my sister as a professional athlete – I see her as my sister and best friend.

What are your future goals and plans?

I am just coming off of a big season, so I haven’t thought about next year or my future quite yet. I will start reflecting on this year and then where to go from here. I just have needed some space not to think about triathlon the last few weeks. Hopefully I will be at my best for my fifth IRONMAN World Championships next October in Hawaii.

Other Career Highlights:

  • Qualified for Boston Marathon in every marathon completed with a career best of 2:58
  • Qualified for IRONMAN World Championships in debut IRONMAN (2012)
  • 1st Age Group Duathlon National Champion (2016)
  • 1st Overall Female Ohio 70.3 (2018)
  • 3rd Place AG IRONMAN World Championships (2018)

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