If there’s one thing that Dionne DeGourville, 48, misses in her life as a triathlete, it’s the ability to join group rides, swims, and runs. Good thing she’s self-motivated—getting the training in even if it means solo 100-mile rides.
That motivation has led her across the finish lines of seven Ironman races, despite working busy days as a Long Island-based police officer on the FBI gang task force. Her job, which involves working cases and making arrests for gang activity, drugs, and guns, sometimes requires around-the-clock attention—crime doesn’t stop when the banks close at five.
DeGourville often begins in the wee hours of the night and finishes 18 hours later. To get it all done, she’s adopted a “fit it in where I can” attitude.
“Triathlon is a lifestyle for me, so it’s a priority,” she said. “I believe that if it’s important to you, you can find a way to make it happen.”
That may look like working back-to-back shifts, while still getting workouts in—finishing at midnight and starting all over again the next morning. “In special operations, I sometimes have to work from 4 p.m. to midnight, and be back to work the next day at 8 a.m.,” DeGourville explained. “On my day off, I sometimes need a full day to recover.”
But sometimes, even following a double shift with arrests and stress, she doesn’t stop to rest. She’ll get up, get her workout finished, and then get back to work. “I try to fit training around my schedule no matter what.”
Fortunately, DeGourville lives in a convenient spot to make it all work. She’s surrounded by water and, when there’s bad weather, she heads to the aquatic center—then runs from there to the office, making the most of her commute time. The long rides can be the hardest, and she often has to drive an hour just to get in her 100-mile efforts. But she does it all because she loves triathlon and she loves her job.
Where she’s not so lucky is when it comes to finding the time or chance to share the roads and water with other triathletes, but she manages the FOMO. “It’s important not to focus on what any one else is doing,” she said. “If a friend can swim for an hour but I can only do 30 minutes, that’s OK. I focus on what I can do, not what I can’t.”
While DeGourville can’t talk about specific cases or crimes at work, certain moments stand out as especially challenging. One was in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “There were many long days and nights at work for many of us during the aftermath,” she said. “Helping to keep the village of Hempstead (New York) safe was worth it.”
For others who also juggle inconsistent schedules, life, and training, DeGrouville has some advice: “Following your passion isn’t selfish,” she said. “Fit in your training where you can and make your health a priority.”
A Day in the Life of Dionne DeGourville
There’s no such thing as a typical day for Dionne DeGourville, but she’s nailed down some semblance of normalcy with a very abnormal schedule. Suffice to say that while you’re sleeping, she’s up and at it.
|3:15 a.m.||Alarm goes off and after a few hits of the snooze button, DeGourville is up and eating breakfast.|
|4:30 a.m. – 7:15 a.m.||While her schedule will vary, she’s either running a group track workout, riding her trainer, or getting in the pool.|
|9 a.m. – 6 p.m.||Typically work hours: “I eat when I can, usually a smoothie, morning snack, a BIG lunch, and a midday snack,” she said.|
|7 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.||Strength training two days a week (usually Monday and Wednesday)|
|8:30 p.m.||Light dinner and chill time|
|9:30 p.m.||Lights out! “The only text I answer at this point is from my daughter or work,” she said.|