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January Athlete Spotlight - Meet Marina Douenat

Meet this month's Athlete Spotlight -- Marina Douenat! We are thrilled to feature Marina for our January Athlete Spotlight. She has been encouraging her Team Paragon teammates for over four years and bringing others into the sport for a lifetime. Marina exemplifies "pursuit of excellence" in so many ways: in triathlon, in her work as a Public Defender, and in her continuous effort to learn new things and connect with others who have different opinions and backgrounds. Glad to have you as part of the team, Marina!

Triathlon Training

Age: 52

Occupation: Assistant Federal Public Defender

How long have you been swimming, cycling, running, and/or doing triathlons?

Ah, let's see. I've been swimming since the time when rubber duckies were my only competition, cycling since the training wheels came off, and running since the ice cream truck jingles were my motivator to move. My love for swimming runs deep, my parents always claimed I swam before I could walk. I mean, with a name like Marina, it’s almost like destiny! In Venezuela I competed in breaststroke and butterfly. As a teenager and in college, cycling was a fundamental part of my experiences and adventures, as it was my primary mode of transportation. Eight years ago, as I began training for triathlons, I was introduced to a different aspect of cycling, emphasizing performance and endurance alongside the joy and freedom of exploration. As for running, it's a whole different ball game. My love-hate relationship with running is a complex mix of emotions. It's an everyday mental battle to convince myself to lace up and hit the pavement. Yet once I'm' out there, pushing through the discomfort and the fatigue, there's a sense of liberation and accomplishment that's hard to replicate.

What aspects of training and/or racing do you enjoy most?

The enduring friendships forged through endurance sports are like gold. There's something about sharing the road, the pool, or the trails that creates a bond unlike any other. It's a symphony of camaraderie, mutual support not only in sport but in life, and our shared experiences really help stand the test of time. And as for mental clarity, a rough day at work can feel like a forgotten memory after a good run, a solid ride, or swimming with your teammates at practice. It's like hitting the reset button for your mind, allowing you to return home with a lighter spirit and a brighter outlook. Who needs therapy when you have running shoes, a bike, a pair of goggles, or caring teammates, right?

Triathlon Training

What has been your favorite training or racing event, and why?

Ironman Arizona in 2021 was more than just a race—it was a journey that defined the depth of my mental strength and determination. Diagnosed with hemolytic anemia and enduring the effects of massive steroid treatments, every step, every stroke, and every pedal push became a testament to my resolve. Despite the weight gain and the other side effects of treatment, my coach, Mark Saroni, stood by his promise, that he could get me to the finish line, but it would take hard work. Coach Mark did just that! He guided me through the grueling training, ensuring I'd reach the finish line. 2021 was an uphill battle, health-wise, which made that moment of crossing that finish line all the more poignant and precious. It was also a team event that year and many of my teammates were out racing. Seeing their faces on the course and the support of others off the course, carried me through, propelling me across the finish line. And then, to hear Mike Reilly call out my name, was an affirmation to all the hard work, mental fortitude, and blind faith I had on my coach and on my body. This race wasn't just about conquering the course and becoming an Ironman; it was about conquering illness and overcoming adversity and embracing the sweet taste of victory. It was one of the most amazing (and dare I say, spiritual) experiences of my life.

What is your favorite post-workout or race meal?

Oh, let me tell you about my ultimate post-race feast! It's all about the tequenos, the empanadas, and those oh-so-amazing fried plantains. My guilty pleasure, my ultimate comfort food. The flavors, the crunch, the satisfaction - it's like a victory dance in my mouth after a grueling race. It's the kind of indulgence that makes all the sweat and effort totally worth it!

What is one recent accomplishment you are proud of?

It feels somewhat inadequate to label it as an accomplishment, but of late, I have been proud of my experience of connecting with someone with whom I initially perceived I had no common ground with. As we delved into our differences, engaging in open and honest dialogue, we discovered unexpected similarities and gained a deeper understanding of each other's perspectives. Our connection not only bridged gaps but also fostered personal growth for both of us. It was truly an enriching experience, one that broadened my horizons and left a lasting impact on how people perceive the world and interact with others.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

A Marine Biologist! As a child growing up in Venezuela, I was enamored with the vibrant marine life while snorkeling and scuba diving amidst the stunning reefs. Living near the Amazon, camping trips brought me close to exotic birds, parrots, monkeys, and even the majestic jaguars. These experiences ignited a passion within me, and as a child, I dreamt of becoming a marine biologist. My goal was to work on conservation efforts, particularly with whales, to help protect and preserve these magnificent creatures and their habitats.

Triathlon Training

What is something no one knows about you?

This one is deep. Despite being an open book in many aspects of my life, there's something that few people know about me. I carry this intense fear of not measuring up, whether it's as a lawyer, a friend, or a spouse. It's a fear that often feels crippling, one that gnaws at me despite my outward transparency. The thought of falling short in these roles, of not being able to support or guide those who rely on me, is a weight I carry quietly. It's a constant battle against self-doubt, despite my efforts to be open and present in every aspect of my life.

Why do you race/train?

I race and train for a multitude of reasons, but at the core of it all, it's about my wellbeing and sanity. Training isn't just about physical exertion; it's a lifeline that keeps me balanced, centered, and ready to tackle life's challenges. When I'm in tune with my training, I find that I'm a better spouse, friend, and even a more effective lawyer. It's like the endorphins from a good workout infuse my interactions with positivity, patience, and resilience. There's a spiritual element to it as well—whether it's the rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement, the flow of a swim, or the cadence of a ride, it's a form of meditation that connects me to something larger, something more profound. In essence, training isn't just something I do—it's a vital part of who I am, and it quite literally saves my life every day.

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