2010 winter triathlon world champion Rebecca Dussault captured her third USA Triathlon Winter Triathlon National Championship title in the last four years Jan. 29 with a victory at the Homestake Lodge outside Butte, Mont.
The busy mother of three stayed at the venue to train and relax with her family following Winter Nationals. Rebecca took time to chat with USA Triathlon about her latest victory, her family’s new business venture and how she balances her busy lifestyle.
USA Triathlon: Congratulations on your win last weekend Winter Nationals. How did the race play out from your perspective?
Rebecca Dussault: “It was bound to be good showdown because Emma (Garrard) was in the race as well, and, as you know, she was last year’s national champion and has also represented the U.S. overseas a couple of times. Both of us are pretty loaded with winter tri experience.
“I was really excited for it; I drove up with my whole family from Colorado and definitely came all the way up here to win. I went to the start line with that intention and nothing short of that. It was a great day — a warm day for racing, but [there were] firm trails from cold temps, so that was going to make for a pretty easy race. Sometimes winter triathlons can be so mushy and sloppy and long to get through.
“The run went well. That’s usually where Emma and I push each other, but neither one’s really able to get away. Shortly into the run I felt like I was slightly stronger, so I pulled ahead. For me, the race builds. I run pretty well, but I bike even better and I ski even better. As is typical, I just build on each discipline.
“I ran away from Emma a little bit and got a gap on the other gals, too. … I knew that once I got on the bike I could probably extend that. The bike was fun; it was not terribly technical … I was able to ride about 95 percent of the course [ahead of time] so that made the bike really exciting for me.
“The ski was harder than any ski I’ve ever finished a winter triathlon with. I hadn’t been able to pre-ski the course the day before due to a limited training window and not wanting to over do it. I just thought I’d go blindly into that 5k. It was shorter than I’d ever competed … but it was the hilliest 5k I’ve ever done. It was spectacular and high speed on some down hills and icy and quick. It was exciting from start to finish.”
USAT: Had you raced at Homestake Lodge before and what stood out about the venue?
RD: “I had never raced here before. They did an incredible job. Their course they put together was very appropriate. How they pulled off the whole event was well-planned and executed and very fun. I think that showed with the joy of all the racers competing …
“They’ve got incredible trails. They have amazing lodging for up to 30 people — and great food. It’s just a whole winter sport experience up here, and it feels like a sport family. It kind of brought everyone together and we all had such a great time. It was challenging for the best of athletes and appropriate for those who are just starting in the sport.”
USAT: How would you compare this win to your past victories at Winter Nationals?
RD: “This win I was probably a hair less confident of just because my form is not what it’s been in the past. In the past I’ve been training for actual high-level Nordic competitions during those seasons, and so I knew I had incredible fitness. For me in the past year I’ve had a new business and a new baby — our third son — so I just started being active again in October. Just doing a little bit during the week and having so much fun with it. I think I’m probably training about 40 percent as hard and getting about 80 percent of the fitness from that. I’m just going off years and years of being at it. I just love it and I’m not taking it too seriously, getting out here and getting my family out here and enjoying our love of sport together.”
USAT: How are you able to balance having a business, being a mother of three and your training?
RD: “I’m looking across the room here and seeing my two sons that I’m home schooling eagerly doing their math. I wonder myself how I fit it all in at times. I’d say first off I have an incredible husband who definitely pulls his weight for the team and it’s very much a team effort.
“The kids understand and respect that mom has to get her own mental space and have time to exercise and be a happy, healthy mom. The kids, too, are given that opportunity, as well as my husband. Everyone makes space for everyone to really do what makes us thrive. Whether that’s making a living at our new wood-fired pizza business or travelling with the kids, bringing them on the road with us, homeschooling them or getting to compete and exercise. It’s all something we value and are able to prioritize — I think in a healthy way. We’ve done it that way forever, so I think its pretty second nature to have that many arrows in the quiver at once. To most people I’m sure it’s a little crazy.”
USAT: Can you tell us about your pizza business?
RD: “We’re strictly mobile. It’s a wood-fired oven that burns at as much as 900 degrees and it we pull it behind our truck. We cater and we do farmers markets and festivals and things so it’s totally mobile. It’s fun; it’s new to us this year.”
USAT: What did winning the Winter World Championships in 2010 mean to you?
RD: “It was something that I conceived of from my very first triathlon experience, which also happened to be at a world championships. I’ve always been kind of a jack-of-all-trades — good at everything I do, but not the best at anything. Just to put it all together and have it be on a world stage was great. To add world champion behind my name was kind of the icing on the cake. I’ve had many goals over the years and to have a multisport title meant that I’d put in the right time doing the right stuff and brought it all to one race. It’s a collective effort of a lot of years enjoying a lot of different sports. I’d love to defend that title someday, and I do think I will. I just don’t know if this will be the year.”
USAT: Have you also participated in traditional triathlons?
RD: “I jumped into a season of XTERRA triathlons as a pro and did pretty well at that and did a couple international races as well and loved that. I just have a different rhythm than most pro athletes in that I take what I fondly call ‘baby breaks.’ I’ve taken time off three times to have three children and feel that’s a huge part of who I am at this stage in my life as well. I’d love to compete in traditional triathlons, mostly off-road, in the future. I’ll probably reintroduce that at some point.”