Jodi Gilmour owns the rare and impressive title of achieving back-to-back Century rides which she earned during the Washington Island Ultra Relay last July. However, that staggering achievement will not appear surprising once you learn about her connection to triathlon, family, friendship, health, and the joy that she brings to all of it, and to everyone around her. Personally, I have never witnessed a more generous and sports(wo)manly act than what Jodi did for our amazing teammate, Heidi Videto at the Washington Ultra; she is truly the heartbeat of TeamSFQ and a wonderful person whom I can't wait for you to learn more about now.
What first drew you to triathlon?
Ha! Well, in 1998 I was going through a divorce and my brother invited me to do a sprint tri with him. I swam in Lake Michigan, rode a borrowed mountain bike and smiled huge the whole time! I loved it and felt so accomplished when I finished, but I had life stuff going on and didn’t do another for about 10 years. By then I had remarried and was looking to get some fitness back in my life. Once I got “back” into the sport I never left! Seven years ago I joined a Facebook group that matches athletes with kids and adults that have challenges that keep them from participating in competitive sports. I was matched with Toby, an amazing seven year old who has Cerebral Palsy. All of my workouts and race miles are for him. He keeps me motivated to keep going when I want to quit. Toby and I have never met in real life, he lives in England, but I keep him up to date on my workouts through Facebook and send him all my race medals.
You have raced in many events competing alongside your Mom; how does it feel sharing the race course with her? And how has she influenced your journey in endurance sports?
My mom is amazing! She was spectating in 1998 when my brother and I raced. I remember her saying she would love to do a triathlon, but she couldn’t run. At some point she secretly started running. Lol! She didn’t start her triathlon life until her 60s. She’s now 78 and going strong! She loves the sprint distance and trains all year long. When I came back to triathlon it was because of her. My favorite thing is to be at a race and overhear people talking about the lady who passed them with a 77 on their leg. My mom is one of the strongest people I know. She likes to find new challenges. In July I joined the Trek Century challenge on Strava. When my mom heard about it, she decided to do it on her own. She is not on Strava, so she just used a marker to record her bike miles on a calendar. She ended up with 500 miles! She always says that she keeps signing up for races because she’s afraid that she will become old if she stops. I want to be just like her when I grow up.
A little less than a year ago, you underwent a substantial knee surgery that prevented you from running for over six months; what were some of the challenges you endured during that experience? How does it feel to be able to run now that you made it on the other side of a long recovery?
Last October I had MACI surgery (Matrix-induced autologous chondrocyte implantation). Basically they used some of my own healthy cartilage to fill several defects in the cartilage in my knee. Because it take a long time for the implant to fully harden, you have to avoid any high impact activity for at least eight months. I knew this was going to be a challenging surgery and that the recovery would be long. To put myself in the best position to recover successfully I spent months doing PT getting strong before the surgery. I think this really helped me slay my recovery. It wasn’t always easy being patient, but I followed the recovery protocol to a T. My SFQ bestie Kristin Orr Winstead made sure to remind me to be patient when I got frustrated with the slow progress (random delivery of The Karate Kid video... “patience grasshopper” Lol!!). When I was given the okay to start running in June, I was limited to 30 seconds of running. I’ve (very) slowly increased my run time and the number of intervals I do. I’m currently up to three minutes of running! The great thing is that I now have zero pain in my knee. Before the surgery I couldn’t walk without pain, so this is huge. This surgery was big and the recovery has been long, but it has been so worth it.
Throughout the COVID-19 Quarantine your health took a surprising turn for the better; what changes did you make that helped you achieve healthier habits?
Let me start by saying that I’ve always raced as an Athena. This is a category you can register for if you weigh more than 165 pounds. I’m proud to race Athena and register for that division even though many times I’d finish higher in my age group. There are some FAST Athenas out there and it’s a very competitive division. In mid March my husband lost his job due to COVID-19. In an effort to save money, we stopped eating out/ordering in and I started cooking all of our meals at home. My intent at the start was just to watch our finances. After about a month I noticed that my clothes were looser. Yay! At that point I did actually start paying a little more attention to the quality of food that I was consuming and tracking what I was eating. I knew that dropping weight would be good for my health and for my new knee! It’s been about six months now and so far the changes I’ve made seem to have stuck. I feel great and have not been this light in over 20 years. Because I’m 5’10” there is little chance that I’ll ever not be able to race Athena and I’m all good with that. The big negative has been the fact that most of my Smashfest Queen gear no longer fits me. Anyone looking to get rid of Large bottoms, drop me a line!
You are a massive supporter of your TeamSFQ Smash sisters both in person at events, and online; what is it that you value most about being a supportive teammate?
This is what I love so much about this team! I have developed incredible friendships with women throughout the US and the world.The women on this team are so different and smart and of all athletic abilities. I love that everyone on the team is supported whether they are doing a sprint tri or an Ironman. All successes are cheered and disappointments are met with encouragement. I message Hillary and Michele often thanking them for creating this incredible sisterhood. It’s always so fun to get to meet up at races with teammates you’ve only known online. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet and cheer on so many of our teammates. I’ve made some incredibly close friendships on this team. Kristin and I met the first year of the team and I’m pretty sure there’s only a handful of days we haven’t talked in the last four years.
In July you took part in one of the only events held in 2020, The Washington Island Relay where you rode your first century ride during the first leg of the relay, an incredible accomplishment, but wait there's more, because you then followed up that harrowing feat by riding alongside your TeamSFQ teammate, Heidi Videto, for the remaining twelve hours of her taxing thirty-six hour bike event, why did you decide to help Heidi?
I love this race! This was my second time doing it. Last year I did the 24 hour tri as part of a relay team with SFQ teammate Deanna Doohaluk. We had so much fun this year our whole SFQ Mermaid Squad (Deanna, Kristin Orr Winstead and Sherri Guba) signed up to take on the 36 hour tri. With no races this year I set a goal to do my first century ride. My team agreed to let me take the first two three hour shifts of the race so I could get this done. I love riding at night! All of my training rides in July were done in the middle of the night. After finishing my 100 miles, I let the rest of my team race and I got some food and sleep. When I came back to the race site later in the day to get ready for my last three hour shift, Heidi had just come in after a tough loop. Since my next shift was really just a victory lap for me, I reached out to Heidi’s crew and let them know I’d be happy to ride with her during my shift. We took off just before 10pm and that first loop was a little scary. Heidi was pretty tired at this point and I spent a lot of time just making sure she was still on the road. When my team shift was done, Heidi was still not in a good place and I didn’t feel she would be safe riding by herself. After mentioning this to Taryn and Mary, (her crew), they asked if I would continue riding with her. Soooo because I don’t always make good decisions, I said yes! Lol! Also, I knew Heidi would feel indebted to me and would send me lots of Javelina pictures. I have a bit of an obsession with these cute creatures only found in the Southwest. Haha!!
How did you feel during those additional twelve hours/120 miles?
The first 5-6 loops were not too bad since I was concentrating on Heidi and making sure she was still awake and on the road. Heidi and I have been friends for a few years and talk frequently. The last several loops we were both pretty silly and had some hilarious conversations. I can’t wait to remind her of some of her statements during those dark hours. I do have to say, one of the things I’m most proud of happened around 3am out on the course. Heidi’s chain got royally jammed. We were on the side of the road, in the dark trying to fix this with only our bike lights to see by. We had worked on it for a while with no success. I was just about to ride back and get help, when I tried one more time and I FIXED A BIKE MECHANICAL ISSUE! Anyone who knows me knows what a big deal this is. Just don’t ask me how I did it, because I have no idea. :) With that crisis averted, Heidi powered on and just kept riding. It was an honor to ride 12 hours with her and help her to reach such an epic goal.
How was your recovery the next week after completing such a massive, and novel, back to back cycling weekend?
We stayed on Washington Island for another couple days, just enjoying the island and time with friends I don’t see often enough. Overall my legs felt surprisingly good. My body was generally tired for about a week and I just moved as I felt like it with no real structured workouts. I resumed regular training after about a week, but could still feel I was recovering for about two weeks after the race.
What are your future goals in triathlon? These goals can run the gamut of racing, training, and any and all "outside the lines" adventures?
Well I still have two races this year! A friend and I are putting on our own 70.3. We have about 10 people who are joining us, so it should be a fun day. I’m also signed up to race with my mom at the end of September. I will be back at Washington Island next year but going solo. I will be taking on the 24 hour tri with the goal of finishing my first Ironman distance. The mermaid in me would love to tackle more marathon swims at some point and if my running keeps coming back, maybe a swim run. Who knows, if my mom is any indication, I have years of racing ahead of me!
We look forward to following Jodi's journey back to full running health by living vicariously through her gorgeous training photos, and cheering her toward her first ironman distance finish at the Washington Island Relay in 2021.