Our August DC TRI-athletes of the month come from South America: Mariana "Audentia" Pargana from Brazil and Andrea "Torito" Vasquez from Colombia. These two ladies specialize in long-distance triathlons, competing in one or two Ironman-distance races a year. They recently returned from Ironman Roth where Mariana took 1st in her age group and 16th overall in the women's category with a time of 10:31.56. Andrea set a PR by almost an hour and a half with a time of 11:04.26, placing 8th in her age group and 42nd overall. You can find their race report here. Presently the two live in Capitol Hill, where Andrea works as an electrical engineer and Mariana is finishing her masters in nutrition and exercise science. After catching their breath from their racing and travels through Europe they offered up a peek into their triathlon lives.
How long have you lived in the U.S.? What were the biggest culture shocks you experienced?
Mariana: We both moved to the US over 11 years ago... it's been a great experience and we love it here! It's home for both of us. For me the biggest shock was coming from a 22 million people city (Sao Paulo) to a 1000 people little town in freezing Vermont! The winter I moved there it was -30F and it was one of the biggest blizzards in the Northeast... I was only used to nice 65-85F weather and lots of things going on in a big city... St. Johnsbury only had one cinema theater, a couple of diners, a school, one main street and LOTS of snow! I loved every bit of that experience... quite different. Since then I have lived in Boston and DC.
Andrea: I have been here also for a little over 11 years. I came here to study Electrical Engineering, then stayed to do my masters and now the US is my home. My first shock was that day when I arrived (March 8, 1996), and a friend had told me it was cold. I figured...how cold can it be? Ok I will wear a jacket (spring jacket). When I got out of the airport after a huge blizzard, everything was completely white, and I was wearing high heeled boots...when I got outside I almost fell on my butt. Then it took me a little time to learn how to dress appropriately for these conditions. BTW, it was my first time seeing snow, which was very beautiful!
Why the DC Triathlon Club?
M: When I moved to DC in early 2003 I heard about the club (back then much smaller!) and decided to go to a workout with them, so I could learn some routes as I was training for IM Florida and wanted company. I did some fun, massive, epic weekends with Olwen and got to meet some cool people. It's a very cool club with lots of supporting athletes from all different backgrounds and with a wide range of goals. You can find a newbie as well as a front of the back hard core athlete... and they are everywhere.
A: Why not? :) Kidding, truth is convenient (a lot of the members live in the Hill), and Mariana was already a part of it so I had no choice!
How has being a part of the DC Triathlon Club helped you along your way to each of your respective goals?
M&A: Mainly having great people of all levels to train with.
Are Ironmans something that you both had aspired to since you were younger? And if so, when can you remember your earliest desires to complete in one?
M: It's something I wanted to do since I was 18-19 years old, when I first heard about Hawaii... growing up my dream was to go to the Pan Am games and the Olympics in swimming.
A: Not really. I just have an obsessive personality and always look for bigger and better things to do. (this is only my opinion) When I started tris, I did the sprint distance, then I wanted to know what was the next distance...and so on, and so on.
Any words of advice for being in a relationship with another triathlete?
M: I think the hardest is when racing the same races and one or the other has a bad race and the other a good one... sometimes is hard to be there for your partner when you have to be worried about your own race. Somehow though, we seemed to be in synch most of the times since we generally have great races together and bad ones as well! :-) We always talk about planning races that just one of us does it and the other is the sherpa, but we haven't still actually done it! It's more expensive I guess since the other will always come along anyway... Ironman Canada will be the first one that I will be spectating and being Andrea's sherpa.
How is it living with another triathlete? Pros/Cons?
M: Hhmmm... the other person understands you and you get to spend most of the time together since we get to train together too! We push each other... although there are times one or the other can be a bad influence... like Andrea's love for sleep and making it VERY hard to wake her up early for training (especially when there is swimming involved!).
A: Or when indoor cycling is involved... :) especially in the winter when we have to spend time on the trainer. Which I don't mind and Mariana hates. I remember one time where I had to "guilt trip" Mariana about staying on the trainer for the whole 4 hours that was our workout. After 2 hours she started to give me bad looks saying she was sick of it and she was going to get off. I told her that if she got off the trainer before the 4h mark it was because she didn't love me. She was SO MAD! She stayed in the trainer and did the whole workout, even though she did not talk to me the whole time. But after we finished, she was all happy again and thanked me for motivating her to stay. Of course 2hr earlier she wasn't calling that "motivating".
What is your favorite meal to prepare and how do you make it?
A: Honey roasted lamb rack from New Zealand with risotto shitake mushrooms the way Mariana makes them. She loves to cook and I love to eat. Perfect balance! :)
Best dessert ever?!
M: Anything with chocolate!
A: Coconut cake with chocolate or pineapple sauce (One of Mariana's inventions)
You are on a desert island and you find a genie in a lamp who grants you each only one wish. Your wish is for only one piece of triathlon gear. What do you choose?
M: Bathing suit! And for sure for Andrea it will be at least two items and of course they have to MATCH :-)
A: Ok M keep giving me bad rep! I would say a good wetsuit that makes me faster and more efficient in the water! :) With a secret motor engine with be nice!
What is your advice for those attempting their first Ironman-distance race?
M: Train your nutrition... it's a long day and if you are not fueled well you won't be able to perform and get the results you put in all the hard work for! PATIENCE, patience, patience... it's a long day. Stay focused!
A: ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT! Of course before that, put the time and work so when race day comes you can enjoy it! :) Get advice/training plan from a coach or more experience triathlete.
Thanks Mariana and Andrea!