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Triathlete Story: All About the Magnificent Mari!

By YWCA Minneapolis
February 28, 2023
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Mari Ruddy is a Minneapolis local who has worn many career hats throughout the years, from an educational leader to internship coordinator at the University of Minnesota. Mari loves LinkedIn and has turned that passion into a side gig, helping people master the platform for maximum success. On top of her professional career advancements, Mari works to organize an annual event in Minneapolis for survivors of breast cancer to get tattoos over their mastectomy scars for no cost to the survivor.

Mari is an amateur recreational triathlete, cyclist and runner. She has participated in more than 43 triathlons, including a Half Ironman; has ridden in countless long bicycling events, many at least 100 miles; and has competed in running events, including one marathon!

In this Q&A, Mari shares her story about how she started competing in triathlons, overcoming her health concerns, ways to stay motivated, the best advice she has for others and why she loves YWCA Minneapolis!

What led you to participate in YWCA Minneapolis sports/events?

When I was in my early 30s, I had a health scare. This pushed me to further my fitness journey, and I discovered my love for long-distance biking.

I found a cycling coach who encouraged me to try doing a 400-mile bike ride across Colorado. I did that ride with great success and decided to give triathlon a try. Combining cycling with running and swimming turned out to be one of the best ways to spend time with good people!

How many years have you done YWCA Women’s Tri, and why is it special to you?

In 2014, I completed my first YWCA Women’s Triathlon when my endocrinologist had a group of women with endocrine issues join together to make a team.  I had completed a Half Ironman Tri back in 2009 but had not done any between 2009 and 2014, and I missed the fun. When my endocrinologist invited me to join Team Endo in 2014 and do YWCA Women’s Triathlon, I was excited beyond belief.

I loved the YWCA Minneapolis community, the friendliness of all the volunteers and the women doing the race. It’s one of the most inclusive, welcoming, best organized races I’ve ever done! Since 2014, I’ve completed YWCA Women’s Triathlon every year! In the year there wasn’t a tri due to COVID-19, my friends and I made up our own triathlon using the same route. I will keep returning as long as the race is offered and I am physically able! Everyone ought to give it a try!

What is your advice to people who want to train for an event and face obstacles?

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for 42 years, as I was diagnosed at 16. To help me keep my blood sugars in a normal range as much as possible, I wear a continuous glucose monitor and use an insulin pump. I have also survived two rounds of breast cancer. During the second go-around, I had to undergo a unilateral breast amputation. After that, I did not have reconstruction because I had previously undergone radiation treatment the first time and the skin across my chest was too flimsy for reconstruction. Thus, I am now a uni-boob woman. Me and Sage from the Simpsons are in the uni-boob club!

One key to successfully managing diabetes and cancer prevention is consistent, regular cardiovascular exercise. For me, this meant training for and completing an annual triathlon to stay motivated and keep up in all three sports. Every one of us regularly faces obstacles.

My biggest bit of guidance is to encourage anyone who wants to give this triathlon a try is first start telling yourself you are an athlete. Before you know it, you might start acting like an athlete. Focus on making sure you find a good coach and training plan. I went with YWCA Minneapolis (learn more about Triathalon Training here). On top of training, work in some good sports nutrition, rest, make sure you have confidence to go the various distances and find some supportive friends to do the training with that makes everything more fun. After all, fun is very motivating!

What YWCA activities do you regularly participate in? What keeps you coming back?

I love YWCA Minneapolis! I run year-round every Thursday at 7:00 am with my Endurance Sports group, coached by Laurie Goudreault. I also love swimming laps, doing various fitness/weight-lifting classes and occasionally, I attend a spin class. Over the years, I’ve also gotten many wonderful massages from YWCA Minneapolis.

What keeps me coming back to YWCA is the welcoming environment and how everyone I met seems to care about their health and wellness, making it a lot more enjoyable if you are trying to achieve your own goals, not the goals of the person racing next to you.

Register for YWCA Women’s Triathlon

Learn More about Triathlon Training

Connect with Mari