Ed. Note—we couldn't be happier to announce that Jen Annett, Canadian Professional Triathlete, will be joining the ranks of the Wattie Ink. professionals in 2018. Jen is a hugely decorated athlete, with wins at all distances, including the 2016 Canadian National Championships in Penticton, B.C., where she held off Liz Lyles for a hometown win, and 2nd place last year at Ironman Canada. Other than Daniela Ryf, Annett is the only woman to ride under 4:40 for an Ironman-distance bike split, and we are lucky to have her in our stable of pros. Welcome, Jen!
What did you eat for breakfast this morning?
F2C pharmagreens, then oatmeal with half a Bannana and honey, and coffee (probably way too much.....lol)
Is that a typical breakfast? Do you tend to eat the same thing every day, or does it change each day?
It's what I eat every day. Even Nixon, my 5 year old could tell you "That's all mom ever eats for breakfast!"
Your backstory is amazing, with your epilepsy, but it's not something that too many people know about, I think. How does epilepsy show up in your everyday life, and what have you learned from it? How has dealing with it made you a stronger person and athlete?
InnerVoice did an excellent article/profile on this. I started having undiagnosed seizures in 2008 after being hit by a car while riding my bike. It wasn't until I had a Grand Mal in 2010 when I was diagnosed. I went through 4 years of uncontrolled, unpredictable seizures. My seizures have been controlled for 4 years now, both from a newer medication and training. As crazy as it sounds, I was only having seizures during those four years in my off season (which at that time was major off season). I never seemed to have any seizures when I was training hard/bigger volume. Compared to may others with epilepsy, I am very lucky that I have my condition controlled. Unfortunately because we have not been able to find a specific "trigger," my condition is in fact quite unpredictable, meaning I could have a seizure at any time. This is why I never swim by myself, and I always have a different colored swim cap in races. This is my way of being safe so I can still do what I love to do. Unfortunately with biking and running, there isn't much I can do to prevent injury if I have a seizure. This is a risk I have chosen to take. I hate to say this, and this should not be the case, but I probably have a better chance of being hit by a car than having a seizure. My BIGGEST struggle in everyday life is not the stress/fear of possibly having a seizure, but the memory loss that I have because if the intensity/accumulation of major seizures I have had. This has affected previous jobs, and also affects my time management and everyday tasks...like forgetting little things here and there (more than most people). This is why I have chosen triathlon. This sport has not only made me a healthier person physically, but mentally as well. I have learned to flip the situation around and be positive. There is nothing I can do to "cure" this, so I have to live with it. I love this sport, and I love even more how many people I have been able to touch and inspire through triathlon. So yes, dealing with this hurdle has definitely made me a stronger, happier person. I still have my "dark moments," but then I remind myself about all the amazing things I have in my life.
What's your proudest moment on the race course and why?
Oh boy—crossing the finish line? All joking aside, I have no DNF's yet to my name. I have had some pretty horrible races, where it probably would have been smarter to throw the towel in, but I am stubborn and have always made it to that finish line.
What's your background as a triathlete? You obviously have a KILLER bike leg. Were you a cyclist before becoming a triathlete, or is your bike ability something you discovered after picking up the sport?
I was always active as a kid. Soccer, basketball, XC running. I did some mountain biking as well, but nothing crazy. It wasn't really until I moved to Penticton and watched Ironman 2006 for the first time that I was so inspired I decided I wanted to be out there. I bought a road bike and rode almost 80km my first time out—no biking shorts, cycling shoes, or nutrition! I worked 20km away at the time, so I started biking back and forth to work every day (there is a pretty solid hill on the way). When I started training for Ironman, I was thrown in the mix with a few strong local cyclists. It was do or die, so I did! I think there might have been some natural ability there, but I have put in some solid training, and have really suprised myself! So I think it's safe to say that it was something that I picked up after starting triathlon.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Crazy Busy—down to the minute! I have been trying to work on getting more sleep, so my days are more crammed. So typically it's: wake up, breakfast and coffee while getting lunches made and Nixon ready for school. Drop off at school, go to the pool for 1.5hours. Then a couple errands on the ways home. Then it's usually a bike and/or run. This will pretty much take me to school pick-up time. So I try to cram in a quick lunch here. Then we usually take the dog for a walk, go to the park, bike ride, etc. Sometimes we have swimming lessons or soccer. We like to try to keep our son active and do these activities together :). Then its usually supper time: prep and eat. Family time, and then bed time. We try to relax and watch TV or a movie after Nixon goes to bed, but I usually end up falling asleep on the couch!
What is an aspect of your racing that you are working on this year and why are you working on it?
As Dory would say, "Just keep on swimming." Swimming is my biggest weakness next to running. This is where I lost all my races last year. Mostly in the swim segment. It has been very frustrating, but I have put in some solid time in the pool over the winter, so I hope to see some good results. My running has shown improvement over the last year, so I am hopeful that improvement will continue :).
You have four Ironman races on your calendar for 2018—that seems like a lot! Are you naturally suited to longer races? Do you recover well from them?
Honestly everything is going to depend on how Texas goes. I REALLY want to go to Kona this year, so if I can do well enough there, I will just do a couple 70.3's before Kona. If it doesn't go very well, then I will go to Lake Placid to try to pick up those points. I would love to do Arizona again, so if I'm not in Kona, I will be there. If I go to Kona, it will be a post Kona decision. Hope that all made sense? I am definitely suited to the longer courses, and have found that I have been recovering quite well from them if the spacing is right. 70.3's I can usually bounce right back into training.
Do you have something you say to yourself during races and tough moments that helps you weather those moments?
Haha! If I could record a "brain dialouge", you would be rolling around on the floor in tears. The conversations I have with myself during a race are crazy, and I try not to yell at myself out loud!! In my dark moments, I just keep reminding myself of all the hard work I put in to get there, and all the support my family and friends have given me to get to that point. I tell myself I'm not giving up—that's not a choice, so hurry the F&#k up. The quicker you can get to the finish, the quicker it's over.