Hailing from Ocean City, N.J., Renée Tomlin started racing triathlon in 2014 through the USAT Collegiate Recruitment Program, and recently won her second ITU World Cup title (Hungary). Tomlin grew up a swimmer then switched her focus to running in high school before running collegiately at Georgetown University, where she specialized in middle-distance events. She ran at an elite level after college, even qualifying for the 2012 Olympic Trials in the 1500 meters, but a meeting with Barb Lindquist in 2009 at the NCAA Track & Field Championships had planted the seed of triathlon in her mind. “My gut told me there was incredible potential in this sport,” she says. Currently based at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, Calif., she recently finished on the podium in two World Cups in Asia (Tongyeong and Miyazaki), and is excited to continue seeing where else in the world—and life—the sport takes her.
My favorite thing about racing triathlon is having the space and opportunity to express competitive edge and athleticism. Yes, you have to be a good swimmer, cyclist and runner. But more so you have to be a tough competitor who is able to deal with infinite unknowns. Take transitions, for example. You cannot “train” to be a professional “transitioner.” You just have to be desperate enough to get to your bike or to get off your bike before anyone else. It’s grit that gets you there, not necessarily skill.
I was in Chengdu, China, last year for a race and desperately needed to do laundry. Being the non-Chinese-speaking, slightly stubborn germaphobe that I am, I just gave the hotel all of my clothes without even trying to understand pricing or service protocol. Once my laundry was returned—all nicely ironed and packaged individually in plastic wrap or hung on individual hangers—I took a look at the bill: $436. I certainly wasn’t laughing at the time, but it did make my roommate Kirsten Kasper chuckle.
The 2015 Continental Cup in Havana, Cuba, was my first race of the 2015 season, coming off of a whirlwind of an introduction to ITU racing in the summer of 2014. I finally had completed the proper base training and was just itching to start putting the pieces together in competition. Likewise, the trip marked one of the first competitions American athletes were able to participate in after President Obama lifted the embargo. Not only was I entering unknown territory as a professional athlete, but also as an American citizen. I felt so fortunate to be able to represent my country in the beginning of new political ties.
Anywhere Australia, especially Torquay and Geelong
Post-race meal: Burger, beer and mac-and-cheese, if the stomach can handle it!
Non-triathlon sport: Competition-free body surfing
Song on her training playlist: “American Woman” by The Guess Who
Training partner: My mom—she rides her bike while I run, swims in the lane next to me, and always has a snack and positive remark to offer when I come in from a ride. I don’t get to train with her that often, but I sure do soak it up when I’m home.