Over the course of a storied athletic career, mother, mentor and Ironman Champion Meredith Kessler has earned 11 Ironman titles and 21 Ironman 70.3 titles. She started competing in 2000 and continues to dominate year after year. But more than all of those accomplishments, for Meredith it is more important “..to be known as Meredith, the person, rather than Meredith, the athlete.”
WRITING Letters to Mak
When Meredith and her husband welcomed their son Mak into the world in late 2017, she began writing letters to him. “Writing letters to Mak is my cathartic outlet... when my race afterglow fades away, there is a sort of emptiness that sets in because what we worked so hard for is over. I needed a way to express the lessons learned and the emotions of the day, so my creative juices latched onto synthesizing a journal for Mak of rawness that he can learn from when he is older. Hopefully? HA! We'll see! Mak, this is your mom in her most vulnerable state, reflecting on what just transpired in her life.”"
That’s life though isn’t it? Constant effort and build up to something... and then it’s over. Maybe it’s a life goal, career achievement, or our own athletic pursuits, but we are all constantly striving towards that next thing. To learn and grow however, is work. To share that with a child so they can learn from you, that is exemplary.
The training required for this consistent level of success means Meredith will spend about 30 hours a week in training, usually spending time in all three sports on a given day. Then there is the strength training, PT, recovery, hydration, and eating to stay healthy and strong year after year. It would be easy to complain or use this level of day in and day out effort as an excuse not to be entirely present. Yet, Meredith doesn’t.
“One of my consistent mindsets is to always recognize the privilege of GETTING to do what we GET to do. There is no HAVE to in this equation. Whenever life is challenging, it is important to continually remind myself that ‘I get to spend time with my son’ or ‘I get to bike on the trainer for a couple of hours.’ This is a stark contradiction to when I hear someone say, ‘I HAVE to get this morning workout in’ or ‘I have to read to my child every night.’”
It is because of this mindset Meredith can be a present mom, wife, and friend. Remembering that our lives are filled with choices, shifts the attention away from “me” to joy and gratitude. It also allows for balance.
“People talk about that coveted ‘balance,’ yet it takes a lot of effort to attempt to balance your life and somewhat achieve the true nature of the word. Balance, to me, is not having something consume my life to the detriment of the essential things such as family and friends. I will never miss that important girl's dinner date or being there for a friend at the expense of training, business, or frivolous activities. I would never sacrifice those precious life luxuries to win. It's more important for me to win at life, than on the race courses.” Though she does win often, it’s clear Meredith places just as much regard and effort on her personal life as her professional life.
Yet even in those early days with a newborn and a drive to come back to her sport just as successfully, Meredith maintained a positive mindset that can help guide us today. “I distinctly remember Ironman Mount Tremblant in 2019, and Mak decided not to sleep from 2 am to 5 am the nights before the race, the most important nights of sleep for a triathlete. With blurry eyes, my husband and I took turns in the cramped hotel room to try to get Mak asleep to no avail...We realized that all lead-ins to race day would never be perfect, so we have to be good at taking the curveballs that life and raising a child throw out to you daily.” By the way she took 6th at that race.
This Mother’s Day, let’s breathe in a little deeper and remember so much of what we get to be and do in life is right now, and it is good. Take that breath, recharge, and let’s tackle it all by remembering we get to do it. As Meredith shared, “There will always be challenges, and you are the captain of your own ship, so take a deep breath and try to hit that curveball that life threw at you, out of the park; or at least get a single!”