A new mom and age-group world champion shows how training and parenting can complement one another.
by Mackenzie Lobby Havey
For 27-year-old Jocelyn McCauley, being a mom and a triathlete go hand in hand. The fastest female amateur finisher at the 2014 IRONMAN World Championship, presented by GoPro, entered the sphere of competitive racing at the same time she stepped into motherhood. More precisely, she registered for her first IRONMAN 70.3 race in Muncie just before she received the news that she was pregnant with her first child.
Instead of abandoning training, the Cincinnati resident decided to continue her new triathlon routine through pregnancy. Running and riding indoors for safety, she logged a six-mile jog less than 24 hours before giving birth to her daughter, Emilyn. Just 12 weeks later she raced in Muncie at the 2013 event, finishing fourth in her division.
The former distance running star from Brigham Young University and the University of Cincinnati came to the world of triathlon through her older sister, Meredith Gardner. In fact, Gardner was the reason McCauley got involved in endurance sports in the first place. “During elementary school P.E. I would always beat all the boys and I thought that was super cool, but it wasn’t until Meredith started cross country and track in junior high that I wanted to join to try to beat her,” she recalls.
It came as no surprise, then, that years later, when Gardener began competing in triathlon, McCauley would follow. “We always have to one up each other and she went and took it to the level of doing an IRONMAN event,” laughs McCauley.
“My first words to my husband when I finished were, ‘I am never doing that again.'”
It wasn’t just sibling rivalry that lured her into the sport, however. Upon watching her sister complete at IRONMAN St. George in 2012, she was struck by the experience. “The IRONMAN race atmosphere was just so electrifying and exciting,” she says.
With her sister as her coach, McCauley signed up for this year’s Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas to try her hand at full-distance racing. While she ended up finishing first in her age group and qualifying for the world championship, she said that, at the time, Kona was the furthest thing from her mind.
“My first words to my husband when I finished were, ‘I am never doing that again.’ But similar to pregnancy and giving birth, later on you think, ‘that was awesome!'”
On her road to Kailua Bay, McCauley woke most days around 4:30 a.m. to head to her local YMCA and return home by 8 a.m. when her husband, Scott, left for work. Most of her Saturdays were consumed by either racing or long brick workouts. Putting in around 18 hours of training a week, she juggled working part-time as a nurse, teaching spin classes and being a mom. “A lot of days I run and then bike or bike and then swim, usually not in the right order!” says McCauley. “You do what you have to do to fit it all in.”
She credits her daughter and husband with keeping her going in the toughest moments of training and while racing on the Big Island. “My family made sacrifices to get me there, so that was definitely in my mind during those last hard four miles,” she says. “While Emilyn is only 18 months, I think it’s important for her to see me set goals and do hard things.”
In addition to her big win, this year McCauley managed to snag the win in her age group at IRONMAN 70.3 Muncie, as well as a fourth-place finish in the 25-29 division at USAT Age Group Nationals. Considering these accomplishments, she is left to contemplate whether she might make the jump to the professional ranks next season.