See Jen Run

If Jen Swendseid decided tomorrow to skip the Hy-Vee Triathlon, you couldn’t blame her. She’d have about a half-dozen reasonable excuses.

In other words, you can count on her to be at the start line on June 13, because there is no room for excuses when your life is as fast-paced as Swendseid’s.

She is one of those people that many envy, most admire and some try to emulate — if they can catch her.

Wife, mother of two, business(es) owner, endurance athlete. Just reading her resume would wear out a normal person. Even her “official” title is a mouthful: JEN SWENDSEID: CPT-NASM, ACE, CHEK Exercise Coach, CMT (Nationally Certified Massage Therapist).

She and a friend in 2006 launched “Baby Boot Camp,” an exercise regimen for moms. She’s also CEO of heart&core Athletic Apparel, a  company she and her sister started to address the need for better, more comfortable sports bras.

Let’s see…what else? Oh yeah, she conducts free fitness classes for the elderly in her spare time.

“The biggest challenge for me is finding the time to get in a good, quality workout,” the 36-year-old Des Moines native and Minneapolis-area resident says. “I have two businesses, and I stay at home with the kids part-time, so time is not always on my side.”

Swendseid finished 24th in her age group at the 2007 Hy-Vee Triathlon.  A year later, her relay team came in 23rd. In 2009, she stayed home. (There was this little pregnancy thing that interrupted training and briefly slowed her down.)

But she and husband Travis will be back this year to compete in West Des Moines, where they will introduce their 5-year-old son to the sport.

“Emmett just learned how to ride without training wheels, so we are planning on signing him up for the kids' tri,” she says. 

The Swendseids competed in their first triathlon in 2003 and have finished hundreds since. Jen prefers sprint and Olympic-distance events, but has put the half-Ironman on her lengthy “to do” list.

“We knew we could handle anything after doing the Carlsbad (Calif.) Triathlon in 2004,” she says. “It included a 1,000-meter swim in the ocean: fun and a little scary, too.”

Simply taking care of life, work and family is a workout, and “staying in shape and training gets a little crazy,” she says. “But we make it work.”

Jen schedules a 5:30 a.m. swim workout twice a week. The rest of her training regimen requires a bit of ingenuity and creativity.

“I can easily run twice a week on my own, but sometimes I push my kids in the double-jogger, which makes it more of a strength-training workout,” she says. “The rides are probably the hardest for me to get in. During the winter, I have a bike on the trainer, and in the outdoor season I sometimes attach the (child trailer) to my bike, but the kids enjoy it. We also belong to the YMCA, which is nice for both indoor training and day care.”

Sound like a lot of work? It is.

Is it all worth it? Swendseid doesn’t hesitate.

“At the end of the day I know I am a better mom, wife, etcetera because I workout regularly and have goals, like competing in the Hy-Vee Triathlon, which keeps me focused and on track,” she says. “The Hy-Vee Triathlon is the best triathlon we have ever done, and we've done them in a lot of states. It is the best- run, best-supported, and it is a great course. It has put Des Moines on the map  internationally.”

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