Always smiling, Fiona Maurer may have been with the club for only nine months but many people already know her for her up-beat outlook and have-a-go attitude.
Like most people, she juggles many commitments at home, work and in training. Yet there are even greater pressures for Fiona and her husband Gary (also a club member) with two special needs children (an eight-year-old son and a daughter aged six) to care for.
Fiona is a full-time mum and a self-employed part-time personal trainer. Poignantly, she says: “Training is my ‘respite’ and gives me personal strength and the opportunity to meet like-minded people.
“Living with disability reminds me of how precious life can be and how grateful I am to be able to train or compete at any level.
“It is easy to find reasons to back out tough sessions or races, however I remind myself that I do it for fun, to live a healthy lifestyle, influence others and make new friendships. Having a training goal to aim for builds resilience and gives me focus.”
Fiona has been competing in triathlons for a couple of years and she has enjoyed triathlons from sprint distance to middle distance.
She says she has always loved sports, adding: “I grew up in a family of competitive sports fanatics so sport has long been a part of my life.
“I particularly love cycling and got my first road bike about 14 years ago.
“Having our first born in 2009, we realised early that our son had a severe neurological disability so I opted for a pair of running shoes to help analyse, process and accept my grief.
“I have since been a member of a local running club and I have run distances from 5km to ultra-marathons.
“In 2012, after the dramatic birth of our daughter, I gave up my 10 years of corporate banking and started the exciting journey of a self- employed personal trainer to complement my work-life balance.”
The new challenge of triathlon
Triathlon appealed to Fiona because she had been picking up injuries through endurance running events. She says: “Getting back on my bike has been a delight. Having the multi-disciplines has added a bit of variety to my training – not to mention the new challenge of learning to swim competitively.”
She also enjoys the chance to meet new people in the club. She says: “I completed Aberfeldy middle distance triathlon recently and I was honoured – and slightly emotional – to be part of the GTC team for the first time with lots of support and friendly faces cheering me on.”
Fiona reports that she has seen the biggest improvement in her swimming since joining GTC.
She says: “I came to the club with very little swimming experience and confidence. The two triathlons I did last year before joining the club, I had to break into breaststroke for some of the swim.
“Since joining the club, I swam the whole middle distance triathlon doing freestyle, even after being punched and kicked in the face at the start.”
Still, cycling is Fiona’s favoured triathlon sport, closely followed by running. She says: “It’s a tight call between the run and the cycle but I think the bike wins as I find it more enjoyable. In both disciplines, it is nice to have the option to switch off and enjoy the scenery or get my head down and make it hurt like hell.”
Fiona prefers to do longer races. She says: “So far, middle distance has been my favourite and most rewarding. The training is hard to fit in, however not impossible even with my hectic schedule.
“I find that being organised, dedicated to the sport and planning ahead enables me to achieve long distances.
“But things are not always straightforward. This year was particularly hard for Gary and I as our daughter underwent six months of scans, chemotherapy and then extensive facial surgery to remove a tumour.
“Training inevitably didn’t go to plan – when does it?! After months of juggling family, work, training and endless hospital stays, I never made it to the start line of the Kintyre Way Ultra because our daughter had surgery that week.
“But I completed Aberfeldy two months after that and I loved it.”
Fiona’s birthday year goals
Fiona has a few goals as she approaches a “big birthday” next year. She says: “The silver lining of turning 40 will be that I won’t be racing younger athletes any more because I move into the vets age category.
“I have a bucket list of races planned in celebration of my birthday year. I did mention to Gary about adding an Ironman to my list but I wont repeat what he said!
“One of my races will be the ‘Superhero Tri’ in Dorney Lake I hope. I’ll do this with my son before he gets too big. In the swim and bike, I will pull my son and then in the run I will push him. I currently bike and run with him, but I still need to get my head round the swim.
“And my other goals? To be happy, healthy and grateful.”
Fiona’s 3 triathlon tips
Perseverance and practice. Success is doing your best.
Don’t compare yourself to others, instead reach your own potential.
Take a risk, smile and have some fun.