Athlete Interview

Interview: Tanya Fowler – Five Time Grand Rapids Triathlete Participant and Amway Employee

Tanya Fowler, 53 years old (real years, 54 in triathlon years), works as a Software Tester and has been employed at Amway for the past 25 years. She’s also one of approximately 150 athletes who have done every Grand Rapids Triathlon to date. As the GR Tri puts on its fifth annual event, we’re pleased to be the type of event that athletes enjoy enough to return year after year. Read more about what makes Tanya the kind of consistent triathlete that keeps her coming back for more.

Q: When/How did you get started in triathlons? Pretty much, all the cool kids were doing it….I hang out with a pretty active bunch, so when friends made the progression from short running races to marathons, to cross-training for injury prevention, to triathlons, I followed suit.

Q: What’s your favorite discipline and why? The Swim, definitely the swim. It’s such a great overall body workout, and a little goes a long way. The GR Triathlon swim is neat in that participants can judge their progress by the trees and houses passing by. The first year, fluffy white clouds against the blue sky captured my attention during the swim. Another year, it was so terribly hot and humid by the time the Olympic women started the last heat, there was no motivation to swim fast…the water was so lovely, I could have stayed there all day.

Q: What was your triathlon highlight moment? The Stripper Station is THE highlight of the Grand Rapids Triathlon. Comparing the pre-race struggle to stuff everything into the skin-tight wetsuit, vs. the split-second effort to strip it off, well, there is no comparison. Those Stripper Station volunteers are my heroes.

Q: What’s been your greatest challenge? Adjusting to new age brackets is a challenge for many. The first year of the GR Tri, I was 49 and had done triathlons before. However, this was the first time a Tri called for your age at the end of the year. I was a little unnerved with that big “50” on my calf. Another year I realized the Olympic tri distance equaled my age (1.5k + 40k + 10k = 51.5). Being older and wiser, it isn’t so much about PRs anymore, but about being happy to participate for the fun of it.

Q: What does your weekly training schedule look like? Working for Amway Corporation makes it easy. The wonderful Fitness Center offers weight and cardio rooms, as well as organized group runs and bike rides at lunchtime. We also have on-site group Cycling, Aerobics, Core, and Strength classes. I take advantage of as much as possible, while still getting my work done, of course.

Q: Any pre-race rituals? Overthink and rearrange my little piece of real estate in the transition area several dozen times.

Q: Who inspires you? My husband is pretty good at inspiring me while at the same time keeping me grounded. (He reminds me that I have yet to win prize money for my efforts. LOL!) We both try to stay focused on injury prevention, and not overdo it as far as training and competitions are concerned. We focus as a family on keeping an active lifestyle for the sake of our good health and are very mindful of a long-term goal of activity well into our retirement years.

Q: How do you reward yourself after hard training or tough races? I’m pretty content with a pub sandwich and a local brew, accompanied by my family, of course. Rest and recover is also a reward I take very seriously.

Q: What are your race goals for 2015? So far this year, we’ve done the Bigfoot Snowshoe Race and the Whitepine Stampede XC Ski race. Those are a blast and make the Michigan winters very enjoyable. Lord willing, I will have completed a couple of half-marathons by the time the GR Tri takes place. The summer will keep us active with kayak and fishing trips. In the fall, the Iceman Cometh Mountain Bike Challenge offers an 8-mile Slush Cup race that’s just right…nice wide dirt trails and not too many scary downhills. Beyond that, we’ll see what the race calendar brings.


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Grand Rapids Triathlon

Grand Rapids Triathlon

We are the largest independent triathlon and proud host of five USAT National Championships over the course of our nine-year history. While our event brings in some of the best athletes from across the country, we have also been named one of the Top 5 Best Triathlons for Beginners in the country according to Triathlon Business International. This triathlon event is a chance for athletes of all skill levels to compete on a scenic riverside course, perfect for the novice through the seasoned triathlete. Offering Sprint, Olympic, and Half distance Triathlons, Aquabike, Swim and Relay events, this USA Triathlon sanctioned event promises heart-pounding excitement from start to the finish.