Name: Molly English-Bowers
Tell us about yourself. I am a mother and step-mother to five children. You’ve probably all seen my husband, Charlie Bowers, taking a ton of photos at all my races. His support is vital. For 13 years I was the editor of the Syracuse New Times. Last March I was hired to be the Communications Director at Service Employees International Union Local 200United, based here in Syracuse. I enjoy reading and watching movies, laughing at Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, and being outside as much as possible. I am currently seeking a seat on the Liverpool Library board of trustees, so if any of you live in the Liverpool School District and are registered to vote, please consider signing my petition!
How long have you been involved in triathlon and what made you take it up? My first triathlon was in 2009. After suffering a broken foot in 2007, and struggling to regain my marathon form, I decided to give multi-sport a tri (haha). Always a planner, and one to not rush things, I got into the pool in August 2008 for my June 2009 triathlon. I knew how to swim, just not well-I needed those 10 months to prepare. Marathoners tend to be macho, so I was dismayed when I barely made it a lap. Now I enjoy swimming almost as much as running, almost.
Who is your hero? I will mention three: Kathrine Switzer. She had the nerve to run the Boston Marathon in 1967 when women weren’t allowed. She broke through a huge barrier, and made it possible for women everywhere to compete in marathon. Joan Benoit Samuelson is another. She won the first Olympic marathon women were allowed to compete in (in 1984). And finally, Deena Kastor, U.S. record holder in the marathon and half-marathon. Girls who run today owe these three a boatload of respect.
What is your athletic background? I have a brother who is four years older than me, so I was a tomboy-jumping out of trees, playing baseball, trying to keep up. In high school (when it wasn’t that cool for girls) I tried basketball, volleyball and softball. Interestingly, I hated track, mostly because of the coach. I started running in college to lose 10 pounds and have been running ever since.
What are your triathlon strengths and weaknesses? I am mediocre on the bike. I don’t know if it’s me or the bike. It’s likely both. A lot of the problem is lack of time to ride for half a day on the weekend. I am saving for a new bike, which I hope to purchase at the end of the 2014 season. I am a strong runner (though not as fast as I used to be). I keep working on transitions, especially getting the wetsuit off faster in T-1. There is always something to work on in triathlon, which is a big reason I enjoy the sport so much-you never get bored.
What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? Keuka Sprint Triathlon, June 2009. I remember being scared shitless for the swim. But mostly I remember such a feeling of accomplishment crossing that finish line. I asked my husband, “When can I do one of these again?” I was hooked. A bonus was a surprise third-place age group finish because of a penalty to a fellow competitor.
What is your favorite race and why? This is a tough one. So as not to offend any of the local race directors, I will say Steelhead 70.3, in Benton Harbor, Mich., in 2012. The swim in Lake Michigan was surprisingly calm, and I didn’t really care much for the bike (bad roads) and run (ugly scenery). But, my sister was there, as were my aunt and uncle, along with my husband and one stepdaughter. Seeing a small portion of my large, scattered family at the finish line makes this race my fave.
What was your worst race and why? I honestly don’t believe in a “worst race:” they’re all good! I guess my worst race was the one I didn’t compete in. The night before the Delta Sprint in 2009, I had placed my ID in a pair of running shoes I wound up not taking. I realized it when we were at the Canastota Thruway exit, turned around and went back to bed. The race took place in a downpour, so I guess I didn’t miss much, but I learned a valuable lesson.
What races are on your race calendar for 2014? I like to mix things up geographically, and I like to stay realistic. In addition to running races scattered throughout 2014, my tri calendar looks like this: Du the Lakes Duathlon, Oswego Sprint, Delta Olympic, Cayuga Olympic and, my A race, Incredoubleman-a sprint on Saturday and a 70.3 on Sunday. That should be interesting!
What are this year’s goals? I hope to have saved enough money for a new bike. I also intend to finish the Harrisburg Marathon in a respectable time. The triathlons are just gravy for me, and while I work like crazy to do well, finishing is the real goal.
In five years you hope to … : Have completed my first (and likely last) 140.6. While my family is uber-supportive of the time training takes, in five years one child will be left at home (and she will be a teenager) and then I can really focus on the distance.
Something most people don’t know about you: I am a terrible public speaker, so don’t ask me to talk to a group. I always tell myself, “You have finished three 70.3 triathlons and four marathons; you can do this!” But I can’t.
What triathlon has taught you: Never, ever give up. No one cares if you walk some of the run portion. No one cares if you’re the last person to finish. Someone will be there at the chute to welcome you back.