New book: Ironmom: Training and Racing with a Family of Seven, by Mette Harrison *95 (Familius)

The author: Harrison is a young-adult fiction author and a stay-at-home mother of five. She has competed in triathlons since 2004, when she won first place in her age group. Since 2006, when she finished her first Ironman, she has competed in three other Ironman competitions, six ultramarathons, the longest single-day bike race in the United States, and dozens of Olympic and sprint distance races. Her four oldest children have competed in sprint or Olympic distance triathlons or half-marathons.

The book: Following the stillborn delivery of her sixth child, Harrison decided to train for the Ironman triathlon as part of her recovery from grief. She does not describe herself as having been particularly athletic: As a teenager, she says, she always felt awkward, slow, and “not good enough” while running. This memoir shows how she became a nationally ranked triathlete — while raising five children. She shares her experience of training and racing with her family, explaining that when you think you’ve hit a wall, whether in parenthood or during a run, you can push through and succeed. 

Opening lines: “People who know me now imagine that I have always been athletic, always driven, always interested in racing. This isn’t true. When I was a child, my only interest in athletics was in having fun. I enjoyed walking around our big yard in central New Jersey. I enjoyed chasing after our dog and the chickens on the big two-acre lot that my parents had made into a farm. I remember our pony Romeo and how much I loved to ride him.”

Reviews: The Deseret News called Ironmom “refreshingly open and honest. … Harrison is straightforward about what people will need if they wish to become physically active, and she provides examples, guidance, and resources to help in beginning training.”