Meet Julia Polloreno: Editor in Chief of Triathlete Magazine, Triathlete, and Mom

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

I want to introduce you to some awesome Moms and Dads as I write these letters to you. I’m doing my best to balance being a husband to your mom, a good dad to you kids, and an athlete, but there are some amazing people in the world who are doing these things too. I think it’s important for you to meet them.

I remember seeing my first copy of Triathlete magazine about 11 years ago. A friend who was doing triathlons brought it to work. Macca was on the cover and the article was about the ITUs fastest short course triathlete making the move to Ironman. It was a big deal and I was taken by both Macca’s brashness and the magazine itself. I subscribed immediately.

Fast forward 11 years and through countless triathlons and I found myself in a position to interview the Magazine’s Editor in Chief. You never know where life is going to take you, kids.

As the Editor in Chief of Triathlete Magazine Julia Polloreno shapes what most triathletes know about their chosen sport. She introduces the world to the latest trends in training and racing, the biggest stars in the sport, and the newest gadgets on the market. It’s a big responsibility, communicating the latest news to the worlds fastest growing sport, but one that thousands would consider a dream job.

Being the Editor in Chief of the largest triathlon publication was a natural progression for the Stanford graduate (communications/history), as it combined two of her passions, multisport and the publishing business. Before taking the helm at Triathlete, Julia served for 5 years as a senior editor at San Diego magazine.

Julia is not only accomplished in the publishing world and on the race course, but she’s also a mother of two. And that’s why I’m introducing her to you. It’s important to meet people pursuing their passions while also being  great parents.

Enjoy my conversation with Julia Polloreno:

*****

You have what a lot of Triathletes would consider a dream job. What’s
it like?

Julia: It’s true: jobs don’t get much dreamier, especially if you like
triathlon. It’s a balancing act of interviewing, writing, editing,
planning, traveling for races and cover shoots and sitting in meetings
(lots of them). One aspect that I’ve really enjoyed is getting to know
some of the pros, who truly are the most gracious and grounded in all of
sport.

You have an interesting story about meeting  your husband, Lance. How did you meet?

Julia: in transition at the 2006 Ironman Arizona. That year bikes were racked
according to your city, and we were both living in Encinitas, just north
of San Diego, so our bikes were right next to one another. I remember
seeing his top of the line carbon Kuota with a disc wheel hanging next to
my bright orange Cannondale clunker with balding tires and thinking I was
way in over my head! We started chatting while getting into our wetsuits
and then said hello a couple times during the race. He finished, oh,
about 4 hours before I did, but he looked me up online when we both got
home and we started meeting up to do some workouts. We were both pretty
stoked on the triathlon lifestyle.

How long have you been married now?

Julia: We’ll be celebrating our five-year anniversary in November.

Julia, son Ethan, and husband Lance on the mtn. bike trail

What part does he play in your success as an athlete and a working
professional?

Julia: Lance has been instrumental and is my biggest supporter. He understands
that I need to balance different demands (being a mom, athlete, working
person) in order to be fulfilled, and he shares a similar ethic. He’s
definitely my loudest cheerleader on the race course and in life. With
him, there’s just an assumption that we can balance everything and make
it all work. It’s just a matter or forging ahead.

 The time commitment it takes to excel in triathlon is often a source
of stress for a lot of couples. How do you two deal with the time
commitment and discipline it requires to both compete?

Julia: You often hear about failed marriages being the casualty
of being a triathlete. But I think that as long as you set realistic
goals–we won’t both train for an Ironman at the same time–and you take
turns supporting the other’s racing/life goals, you’re less likely to
have conflict. Or if your partner isn’t a triathlete, not getting too
myopic and assuming they are happy being your race sherpa every weekend. It’s
dangerously easy to get so consumed in this sport, it’s good and healthy
to periodically stand back, look at your priorities and honestly evaluate
if you’re keeping things in check.

Lance and I both want to race well, but at the end of the day neither of
us is turning pro, so we try to just keep it all in perspective. For us,
training has always been an opportunity to ride our bikes together or
meet up for a trail run on our lunch break–it’s a social thing that
helps us stay connected.

Do the two of you find time for just the two of you?

Julia: Thankfully we have a fantastic babysitter and family nearby, so yeah we
have the periodic date night. And recently we rode our bikes down the CA
coastline for three days. We love training adventures like that.

Lance and Chloe in Maui after Xterra Worlds

Tell us about your kids.

 Julia: Ethan is 4, Chloe is 1. Four months after Ethan was born I was on the
startline of a half ironman. Ditto for my second child. Getting back into
shape was a priority, but my motivation was mostly driven by a desire to
reclaim an important part of my identity–the triathlete–that I had
shelved for the length of my pregnancy. I feel most connected with the
truest sense of myself when I’m pushing through a good SBR effort. Everything is kind of
stripped away, and it’s just you–the good, the bad and yes, sometimes
the ugly.

As for the kids in sports, the training wheels are about to come off
Ethan’s Specialized.

What measures do you take to keep family time your top priority amid
all of the training and travel?

Julia: We invested in good jog strollers and try to incorporate the kids in
training whenever possible. I also maximize early morning quiet time for
training. I’ll get in a trainer workout before the kids wake up and then
swim or run in the lunch hour.

 I’m sure you travel alot not only for races, but to cover races.
Does your family travel with you to races?

Julia: It depends on the race. For Kona, I’ll go solo because there’s not a lot
of downtime. But each year we all go to Maui for the Xterra World
Championships and I juggle work with family beach time and my husband
races. It definitely has its challenges, but we just roll with it and
make it work. It would be a lot easier to stay home every weekend but
that’s not really an option in a household with two triathletes prone to
wanderlust.

This is the travel life of a tri-parent

Is that stressful or has your family learned to enjoy the journey?

Julia: Philosophically I’d like to say we always enjoy the journey, but the
reality is that sometimes your kid throws a tantrum on an airplane. Or
the family is out sightseeing while you’re feverishly transcribing an
interview in the hotel room. But we realize our lifestyle–and me getting
to have a job so nicely aligned with that lifestyle–is a privilege and a
blessing. So no complaints here.

Whats the strangest/coolest thing you’ve experienced covering
triathlon across the globe?

Julia: One cool on-the-road memory will always be following Lance Armstrong’s
return to triathlon at his first race back at the XTERRA USA Championship
race in Ogden, Utah last year. I remember sitting on the back of an ATV
driven by Jimmy Riccitello as we bombed around the backside of a ski
resort waiting to get race splits and thinking, “This is my job?”

Julia in the Maui jungle waiting for Lance Armstrong and the pro men

 What’s your personal favorite location on the triathlon circuit?

Julia: It’s gotta be Maui, where we go each year for the XTERRA World
championship and family vacation.

 Away from triathlon what does your family do for fun?

Julia: You’ll find us at the beach most weekends, or just lazing around enjoying
the downtime we do have.

 What is your athletic background before triathlon?

Julia: I swam as a kid and was really into tennis in high school, then just a
recreational runner through college and after.

Julia on the race course herself

What life lessons do you hope your kids take away from your
experience as Editor in Chief of Triathlete?

Julia: Being a full-time working mom doesn’t come without it’s share of guilt,
which is something I still struggle with a little. But I hope that by
example my kids eventually understand the value of a strong work ethic. I
believe that having a rewarding professional life makes me a happier, more
gratified person and thus a better mom.

 What do you hope your kids will remember about their childhood?

Julia: Simple, everyday moments of just being together and feeling loved.

 Favorite “family movie?”

Julia: Right now, it’s Tin Tin.

Triathlete Magazine Editor at Large Holly Bennett, Chrissie Wellington, and Julia

 Your kids favorite race destination?

Julia: Maui…for obvious reasons.

What is your typical prerace meal? Junk food indulgence?

Julia: The go-to is oatmeal (which like most people I choke down race morning),
as much coffee as I can stomach, and toast with peanut butter.

If you weren’t Editor in Chief of Triathlete what would you be
doing?

Julia: A travel writer or entrepreneur. And as long as we’re daydreaming, a pro
triathlete.

Julia and Linsey Corbin

Favorite musical artist?

Julia: Ben Harper

 Favorite sports team?

Julia: Does my triathlon team, SOAS, count? They should–fast, dynamic and
accomplished  women on and off the course.

Julia and Mirinda Carfrae

Final word of advice for average age groupers with limited time who
are juggling family, triathlon, and a full time job…what’s the most
important thing that we do to progress as triathletes without taking away from our
families?

Julia: Invest in two things: a good coffee maker for early mornings so you can
squeeze in pre-work sessions and a jog stroller to incorporate the kids a
little in training. Pushing a jog stroller is actually a great way to
build run strength. Us working parents need all the secret weapons we can
get.

*****

I enjoyed talking with Julia and I hope you enjoyed reading about her here. You can follow her writing HERE and her twitter stream HERE.

I love you kids,

– Daddy