XTERRA moms embracing the challenges of balancing family life with pro sports

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 17 2013 5:45 p.m. MDT

“If anything, I feel like before I over-trained,” Heisterman said. “I had time to over-train. Now I don’t have time to ever over-train. It’s quality and only quality. I get in, train, get out. I try to do a workout while everyone is sleeping also.”

A schoolteacher, Heisterman also sets up fun activities with baby sitters, and her children often get to stay with their grandparents when she travels.

“I try to make it fun for them while I am away,” she said. “But if I have to miss a workout for my kids, I miss a workout. … I try really hard not to make life all about me."

She admits the fact that her children are young is helpful, as she controls everything in their lives right now. Still, she struggles with moments of “mom guilt.” “I sometimes feel guilt that I’m being selfish,” Heisterman said. “Am I being too selfish in continuing with this sport, even though I absolutely love it? That’s my hardest issue.”

Garrard said being a mom is now just another aspect of her identity.

“It’s been rewarding but challenging returning to triathlon on a professional level,” she said. “It was pretty intimidating at first, but having other moms out there helped a lot. It took a lot of patience at the beginning, then I got to the point where I had to tell myself to stop using having a baby as an excuse.”

Garrard, who is also a ski instructor, believes her athletic career can only enhance her parenting.

“I think I’m a better mother if I get out and run,” she said. “If I was running 10 hours a day, that might be different, but I’m running for an hour or two, and I feel like I leave him in good hands.”

Both women are grateful for the support of friends and family, especially their spouses, as that’s key to their ability to succeed. It also helps ease that guilt to see other mothers successfully navigating the same course.

“When I do XTERRA, I see all of these moms and I don’t feel so selfish,” Heisterman said. “I feel more connected in that way, and it’s just a great group of people. There are a lot of moms and dads, and there are so many of us now, you don’t feel like you’re that one person, that woman who left her kids.” Gerrard said knowing other women were able to continue their professional racing careers after having children was a comfort to her.

“It was so helpful, especially initially when I found out I was pregnant to know that they got back into it, that they were doing really well at it,” Garrard said. “Some even had their best results after they had kids. They were able to juggle training, working, racing and traveling to races.” Ultimately, both women believe finding success at home and in their professional racing endeavors has a lot to do with finding balance.

“I love being a mom and enjoy raising my son and seeing (him) grow more than I ever thought I would,” said Garrard.

Heisterman hopes her children have the endless possibilities of life in their mom’s successes.

“I hope I am a role model for them,” she said. “They love riding their bikes, and I put them in little races. … I just want them to have a love for sport, to be active, to feel good about themselves.”

Twitter: adonsports

Email: adonaldson@deseretnews.com

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