Active business woman. Wife and mom of 2 girls. Weight loss success story.
And now, Ironman finisher.
How does she do it all?
Keep reading to find out how Tatiana balances work, family, and triathlon.
Sara’s note: In case you are wondering if Tatiana is one of those super-humans and not like the rest of us mere mortals, I promise she is real. I first met her about 8 years ago when I joined Team CWW women’s triathlon team. Right away I knew she was a special person. She has a heart of gold and a fiery tenacity. When I read that she had completed an Ironman race, I knew I wanted to share her story with you. She is an inspiration.
Tatiana’s Before Photo
How Tatiana Balances Work, Family, and Triathlon
Sara: How do you balance work, family life, and training?
Tatiana: The first thing I did when I decided to tackle an Ironman was to talk to my husband to make sure he was up for the sacrifices he would need to make to help me with my journey. He knew that it would mean some days I would be gone all day training. He is a 4th degree black belt in Karate so he also has athletic commitments that were important to him.
We coordinated schedules and blocked out time for family. I made it clear to my coach that I needed a weekend day off (or mostly off with maybe an early morning session of less than 2 hours) for the duration of my training so that I could have some quality time with my family each week. I also talked to her about which weekends in my training I might be able to plan a family trip so that we could get out of town.
How have your daughters been influenced by your journey?
What would you say to someone who is is feeling totally overwhelmed (and is maybe overweight and out of shape)? What is the first step she should take?
Tell us about your Ironman race experience.
I’ve had three knee surgeries 20 years ago and have arthritis in my left knee. Two years ago I tore my Achilles and had surgeries. This past year I kept tearing my calf muscle. I started seeing a great sports chiro which helped immensely and my coach modified my workouts (no running hill repeats for me). I had been doing much better but struggled with severe knee pain in last month. I got a steroid shot and that helped immensely.
I also struggle with GI issues and cramps on long runs. I had never done an Ironman or a marathon before and given my knee and stomach issues, I figured it would take me about 15 hours to finish so that was my goal.
I started getting very nervous at athlete check in. The first time I saw the one loop swim took my breath away. I only learned to swim a few years ago and while open water swimming doesn’t scare me, the distance seemed so crazy. I couldn’t even see all the buoys from the shore. Holy moly!
I’m lucky enough to live in Colorado but still decided to get a hotel near the race so I wouldn’t have to drive over an hour there. My coach picked me up and we met another teammate to take the shuttle to the swim start. Right before the race, I got really nervous and felt faint. I had a horrible dry mouth due to nerves. It was a rolling start. I thought my swim would be about 1:35 – 1:45 so I got in the wave of 1:31 – 1:45. Once I got into the water, the nerves were gone and I just concentrated on trying to lengthen my stroke (difficult when you are 5’1″) and keep an even pace. I wasn’t in very long before I started feeling my swim cap inching up. I have really long, thick and curly hair and it’s hard to keep those caps on. I ended up having to adjust it 5 or 6 times. Ugh! I remember thinking it took forever to get to the turn buoy. Luckily it was a pretty tame swim. I started catching peoples’ feet and having to swim around but I really didn’t get beat up or swam over. I didn’t look at my Garmin but felt that my swim must be slow do to the number of times I had to fix my cap. I got to T1 and was shocked that the time was 1:30!
I was lucky enough to know one of the wetsuit strippers Heather Rodriguez who was one of the first people to teach me to swim. I think I made her proud. My tri club coach Erin Trail was there in T1 to help me. I took Hot Shot and drank a little water and off I went.
I felt a hungry on the bike pretty quickly which I thought was odd. I was glad I packed extra nutrition in addition to my Infinit. I was feeling a little tired at first but then started getting into my rhythm. I had gotten to a fast downhill section and saw my teammate Wendy Wyskiel which was really awesome. We slowed down all of a sudden and were told to ride around. I saw a rider on the ground in the road and she was surrounded by athletes who were asking if anyone was a doctor or a nurse. I’m neither so I had to ride past her but felt completely rattled and said a little prayer for her. I saw an ambulance coming about 5 – 10 minutes later. I didn’t learn until after I finished that she died.
The crash made me ride a bit more cautiously on the downhills and I also started feeling pretty tired early on. I tried to eat a bit more. I was able to get water at each aid station without stopping and refill my water bottle. My neck was a bit sore but I kept stretching it out and took a little ibuprofen. I definitely hydrated well because I kept having to pee and I made out like a pro and peed on my bike a few times (or like an incontinent 3 year old). Well I’m sure a pro would have avoided peeing on her seat. At one point a bee flew into my sport bra. I tried not to panic and flipped my top down. I apologize if I flashed anyone.
My bike time goal was to finish in 7 hours and I got off the bike at 6:44:50.
I was pretty over riding by the time I got to T2. I saw my coach Karen Weatherby there but she was already helping my teammate. I was really happy to put on fresh socks. I took another Hot Shot and some anti gas medicine and got going.I saw my husband and girls and friends right at the beginning of the run and felt really energized by that. The first couple of miles of the run felt pretty hard. I was employing a run 9 minute and walk 1 minute strategy with a goal. My goal was a 12 minute mile. I was keeping a good pace of about 11:15 – 11:30. Food didn’t sound good and I mostly stuck to water. I started taking some Gatorade and also Base Salt. I waited until mile 13 to take any caffeinated gels.
I was tired but I realized that I was actually feeling pretty good. The only issue was that I kept feeling like I had to go to the bathroom. Based on reading other race reports, I didn’t want to chance that so I kept ducking into the port o potties. I must have done that 5 times on the run but didn’t really end up having to go.
My knee wasn’t hurting and my stomach didn’t hurt. I realized at mile 20 that I could make my goal time even if I walked the last 6 miles. I started do a little more walking but then realized that if I kept running I could come in under 14 hours. I kept thinking “Glory awaits at the finish line!”
I came in for the last turn around and saw that my mom, sisters, nieces, nephews and step dad had joined my husband and daughters. I was so excited to realize how close I was to the finish. I took off my knee brace and sunglasses and gave it to my oldest. I wanted to look good in my finish photos!
Right as I was about to enter the finisher chute I heard my husband call my name. I ran over to him and gave him a huge hug and kiss. I gave everyone I passed a high five. I heard Mike Rielly say that I was a first timer and that everyone loved me.
Then I heard those magical words “Tatiana Morrell, you ARE an IRONMAN!”
My official time was 13:43:18. I had beat my goal by over an hour!