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Athlete Spotlight: Helena Mares

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Name | Helena Mares

Tell us about your family/careers.

I am just a mom trying to keep up with three school aged boys. During the week, I work as an office manager in my family's engineering and manufacturing business.

What is your favorite sport/activity?

This is a tough one. I really enjoy riding my bike along the roads of Washington county or on the Gateway trail with my dad and the boys. During the winter, we ski (nordic and alpine), as much as the snow allows.

Outside of training with Tri Fitness, what are some of your favorite hobbies?

When I have some spare time (which is not often enough these days) I like to spend it outside just taking a walk, puttering around in the garden or taking pictures.

What is your favorite motivational quote?

There are so many, but one I keep in mind, especially on a long run is, "Don't stop when you are tired, stop when you are done."

Favorite gear for summer/winter racing?

My Brooks Bedlam 2 running shoes have really been good to me. They felt great right out of the box and still do today.

What keeps you going when you really don't want to?

A quote that I came across recently from Aly Raisman, the Olympic gymnast. "The hard days are what make you stronger." I like getting stronger.

What got you started with training/racing?

I started seriously training, as many people do, in an effort to lose some weight, but it has become so much more than that. At some point Vicki suggested I sign up for a race. That was never really my goal, but I agreed and here we are, I am hooked. There is just something so exhilarating about doing well in a race that you were well prepared for.

When you tell your friends/family about beginning you journey, what was their reaction?

My kids and family don't really like my training that keeps me away from home, but they always support me on race day.

How long have you been training/racing?

I've been seriously training since January 2020 and started working with Vicki in September of the same year. That turned out to be terrible timing, but I managed to keep going through COVID and it was my training that helped me keep my sanity during the past two years.

Were you involved in other competitive sports prior to your adult years?

In high school I was on the nordic ski team. In my twenties and early thirties I did several Turtleman Triathlons as the runner on my family's team. These were always very difficult because my coach (me) was terrible and made so many mistakes. Then I had kids and didn't do much exercising until my forties.

Best tip for a newbie?

I would have two. First, get a good coach. They are your best bet in making meaningful improvements and will be there to help you when you get into trouble. Second, be consistent in your training. Even if you don't feel great, just show up and do your best. That consistency really adds up over time.

What is your favorite pre/post workout snack/drink?

The Vasayo V3 drink gives me the kick I need before a workout. Afterward I like the chocolate Ka'Chava protein drink. If I can't get to a blender, I'll grab a Fairlife Core Protein Milkshake.

Who is your biggest inspiration?

I can't just pick one. It's all those amazing people in the TriFitness community, the dedicated athletes that keep coming to class (even at 5:30am), Jack and his fun but tough classes, Vicki and her expert coaching, and my dad, who at 81 years old keeps biking and staying active.

What is your biggest struggle?

Right now that is sleep. Slowly digging my way out of an ongoing sleep debt.

What is your pre-race routine?

I haven't really done enough racing to have a set routine, but getting to the race early, not eating anything except a Hammer Gel and V3, and a good solid warm-up have worked well so far.

Goals for the upcoming year (2022)?

To my great surprise I signed up for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon (Grandma's Half) up in Duluth. I've never run that far, so we'll see what happens.

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