Carrie Stevens is quite new to triathlon but her passion for this recent love is ultra strong. This New York City resident and Full Throttle Endurance team member was selected for a random age grouper interview on slowtwitch.
Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time Carrie.
Carrie Stevens: Thanks for having me! I’m always game for some tri chat.
ST: Do you feel random somehow?
Carrie: Random seems a little harsh, but maybe not totally normal.
ST: Well, what is totally normal?
Carrie: Good question! But I’m guessing it isn’t totally normal for a 23-year-old woman to do triathlons, right?
ST: Most start some time after college, I guess. Along those lines, you are relatively new to triathlon, but appear to be completely taken by this sport. Is that a fair description?
Carrie: You’ve got it! After graduating college in May, I decided to give swimming, biking, and running a try - pun unintended. And when I crossed the finish line of my first sprint triathlon in August, I became totally hooked—and never looked back.
ST: You played basketball and field-hockey growing up, all team sports, and now with triathlon it is all about you. Do you miss some of the team stuff?
Carrie: Playing team sports instilled important characteristics that are necessary for athletes—accountability, dedication, relentlessness, you name it. Having these qualities made it easier to transition from a team to individual atmosphere, but last summer, I did make an effort to link up with local training groups for open-water swims and bike rides. As a newbie, I wanted to train and learn from more experienced athletes. And today, I train with a team—Full Throttle Endurance out of New York City. I’m learning so much from my coaches and teammates; they push me more, and I wouldn’t be improving as quickly without their knowledge, guidance, and feedback.
ST: What would you say has been the toughest challenge in terms of improving, and which of the sports comes most naturally to you?
Carrie: I came into triathlon as a runner, and even though running off the bike is a totally different type of running, it’s the discipline that comes the most easily to me. Growing up, I took swimming lessons and learned how to ride a bike, but this background didn’t translate to instant success to say the least. Basically, since I’m so new to the sport, I’m looking to improve across the disciplines.
ST: Word has it that your cousin is to blame. Is she an active triathlete?
Carrie: She is indeed! I interviewed her for my Honors project in college, and she planted the initial triathlon seed; she said I’d love the sport and pick it up in no time because of my athletic background—and she was right! She’s been an invaluable mentor. When I first got started, she helped me get gear and develop a training plan, and she’s always willing to answer my newbie questions. She’s been to the world championships in Vegas and Kona (and Clearwater before the site changed to Vegas), so she knows the sport well, and anything she tells me I take to heart.
ST: Is your goal to eventually beat her, or are you just looking at her for inspiration? Or both?
Carrie: She’s the definition of an elite athlete, so I look to her for inspiration. She balances training with family, work, and other social commitments, so she proves it can be done.
ST: Your first sprint tri was in August of 2012, and you have done a few more sprints since. What exactly was it about that first experience that hooked you?
Carrie: I immediately fell in love with the varied training—and how humbling the sport can be. The first time I swam in open water, I wore my dad’s jet ski wetsuit and only lasted about ten strokes! But by the end of the summer, I could swim 60 minutes in the open water. The aspect of personal progress and redefining my limits definitely resonated with me. And on race day, I loved pushing myself and seeing my training pay off. Triathlon is a metaphor for life: there are tough, painful, and challenging parts, but being strong and pushing through makes you a stronger person.
ST: It is one thing to compete in a few local sprints, and quite another to travel far to do a bigger race in another state. Why Nautica South Beach and how did it all go?
Carrie: My triathlon team does the event every year, and plus, who wouldn’t want to kick off the racing season with a trip to Miami? For the first of the season, the race went pretty well. It was my first ocean swim, and the water was super choppy and definitely the toughest open water swim I’ve completed thus far. Overall, though, South Beach was a lot of fun, and I even took second place in my age group (F18-24)—and qualified for USAT Age Group Nationals, which was a complete surprise!
ST: Was it a big deal to deal with your bike and the whole setup so far from home?
Carrie: My team is lucky: we have a handful of bike trailers, so we loaded our bikes midweek, and they were waiting for us in Miami when we arrived on Saturday. And right after the awards ceremony, we headed back to the trailers to reload. Our team has it down to a science!
ST: Sounds like the team to be on.
Carrie: I absolutely love it! I feel so blessed that I wake up every morning and have the opportunity to train with my coaches and teammates. It takes a special group of people to make 5:45 a.m. workouts fun! Everyone is incredibly motivating and supportive, and I know my teammates always have my back; it’s like having a second family.
ST: How big of a group is Full Throttle?
Carrie: Rumor has it there are at least 200 Full Throttle Endurance triathletes. We have training groups at Chelsea Piers NYC and Chelsea Piers Stamford, Connecticut, plus athletes who train on their own and race for the team.
ST: Talk about your day job. What do you do and how much time does it leave you to train?
Carrie: I majored in Writing and Rhetoric in college, so I’m doing some freelancing now and working at JackRabbit Sports, a NYC running store. I absolutely love being around runners and triathletes all day and helping others on their paths to healthy living. In terms of training, I’ve fully embraced the early mornings and bedtimes triathletes know so well.
ST: How is training in NYC?
Carrie: I’m originally from Central New York, so training here is definitely different. Getting open-water swimming practice is tougher, and biking on quiet, scenic roads means leaving the city and riding to Connecticut or New Jersey. I’m still new to NYC from a triathlon standpoint, though.
ST: What about all the distractions and all the social opportunities in the big city? Do they not interfere with training and going to bed reasonably early?
Carrie: It can be tough sometimes, especially when there’s a weekend morning swim or ride scheduled. Finding a balance between training and socializing has been challenging, and luckily my friends understand. Sure, I do get called a grandma when I hit the wall at 11 p.m., but they get why I have to duck out of a party early.
ST: Have you inspired your boyfriend to swim, bike and run?
Carrie: That would be a great way to spend quality time together—and train of course!
ST: Any aspirations of going longer?
Carrie: One day! I want to go fast before I go far, but doing a 70.3 and a full Ironman isn’t a question of if but when.
ST: Any specific events that sound enticing to you, be it longer or shorter?
Carrie: Since I’m from Upstate New York, I’d love to do Syracuse 70.3 as my first half, and Lake Placid will be my first full. The Musselman in Geneva, NY would also be a lot of fun; that’s where I went to college, so it would be a nice homecoming race of sorts.
ST: What other interests and hobbies do you have?
Carrie: When I’m not swimming, biking, or running, I can usually be found blogging or cooking. I also enjoy reading and traveling, and I love spending quality time with Zelda, my family’s rescue greyhound.
ST: Is there anything else we should know?
Carrie: I live for March Madness and bleed Orange—for the Syracuse Orange.