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Finding New Frontiers Through Sport
Sophia Lattimore’s journey to becoming an athlete began in your average way: joining her local gym. Yet Lattimore is anything but average. Today, the 54-year-old mother and triathlete has her sights set on an IRONMAN 70.3 as well as improving representation in a sport that is traditionally dominated by white athletes.
Her response to those who have doubted her remarkable abilities along the way?
“Don't tell me what I can and cannot do, because I will prove you wrong.”
Sophia has the track record and experience to back up her confidence. After falling in love with spin class, overcoming a previous knee injury and purchasing a bike of her own, she decided to try her very first group ride for End Hunger in Calvert County, Maryland. Once they hit the hills on the arduous 27-mile route, Sophia fell off the pack. But she was hooked, and became driven to train.
“The more I rode, the more I loved to ride my bike,” she says. “It gave me this peace and serenity. When you have a stressful day, it shifts the mood. There’s something about having the ability to have that conversation within yourself and motivate yourself to say, ‘Hey, you know what, Sophia?
Regardless of the challenges of life, you've been through worse. You can do this.’”
Sophia discovered cycling at exactly the right moment. Around the time she started training, she was going through a difficult divorce and moved to a different state for a new job with her son. Finding and exploring routes from her new home on two wheels became a crucial release valve.
“To be honest, it really saved my life,” she says. “Because instead of harboring all that frustration and resentment from the divorce and relocation and from just getting my life back together, [cycling] was an outlet.”
She added running and swimming to the mix, and was soon lined up at her first triathlon in July. It was her first open-water swim, and she struggled at the midpoint and was pulled out of the water by race officials. Initially distraught, she made a quick gut decision: to finish the course no matter what.
“Without even really thinking about it, I went to the transition point, threw my gear on, got on my bike,” she says. “Growing up, I was always known as someone who started something, but I might never finish. I wanted to prove people wrong – that I can do it. My definition of failure is to quit and not attempt it again.”
Now, with the coaching and support of gold medalist Kikkan Randall, Lattimore plans to complete an IRONMAN 70.3 later this year.
“I’ve accomplished things I never thought I would accomplish,” she says. “I compete to show that anything’s possible.”