RENO, Nev. (775 Times, NV Globe) – A local triathlete recently won the Ironman World Championship just 18 months after giving birth to her first child.
Chelsea Sodaro began running in high school and continued to race professionally after graduation. She turned to triathlon following a poor result in the Olympic Qualifiers in 2016.
“My husband and I were watching the triathlon that was taking place in Rio for the Summer Olympics from the comfort of our couch,” said Sodaro. “He looked over at me and said, “Chelsea, I think you’d be really good at that. You should try it!””
She then bought a bike and fell in love with the sport.
“I got totally obsessed with the idea and got a bike and fell in love with the sport and decided to join a professional squad.”
Sodaro raced in the Olympic circuit for a couple years, but made the switch to the Iron Man series, where she found some success.
“Had a breakout season in 2019 where I won a few 70.3 races,” said Sodaro. “I was fourth at the world championships.”
She thought 2020 would be her year, but Covid changed her mind.
“Instead of just focusing on my training without any race opportunities that year, I decided to start my family with my husband and gave birth to my daughter Skye.”
Sodaro was eager to return to racing after a year off as a new mother.
“I was very optimistic about my return to racing post baby, but I think it’s one of those things that you can’t quite wrap your head around until you go through it yourself. Much like new parenthood, you think your life will stay the same, but in reality everything changes.”
When she returned, she found a lot of success, including that major triumph in Kona, Hawaii.
“I felt like I was finding my groove and then I won the Iron Man World Championships when I was 18 months postpartum. So I had a little one and a half year old greeting me at the finish line.”
She is the first American woman to win the race since 1996, but she didn’t get there easily.
“I had fairly severe post-partum anxiety. You go through so many hormonal changes and my daughter struggled with a lot of feeding issues in the first couple months of her life. The combination of sleep deprivation and being really concerned about her health was a lot. And also I felt a lot of intrinsic pressure to return to my career.”
Because of these difficulties, she is advocating for greater support for new mothers.
“I think that we have a six month post partum checkup with our gyno or primary care physician and they give you the release that your all good and you can be on your way and that’s kind of the end of it. So I think there needs to be more mental health check ins. I think that lactation services should be available for every woman. We have a massive childcare crisis in this country, a massive mental health crisis in this country. On a holistic level, we just need more resources.”
Sodaro says she still suffers postpartum depression and doesn’t anticipate it to go away, but she thanks her family and other supports for helping her handle it. Her advise to new parents is to take use of the services that are currently available and to not be hesitant to ask for help.
More information about Chelsea Sodaro may be found here.
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