Mariana was one of the first age group athletes to join my private squad. We know her as SwissMex, not just for her heritage, but also for her journey. After six years of training in my squad, her passion for triathlon still burns bright. Thank you Mariana for sharing your story, to inspire others on how triathlon can improve their lives. We are proud to have you in our family.
Thai kickboxing was my passion, it set my soul on fire during practice but even more during matches. I didn’t mind having bruises all over my body and my tibia and knuckles always sore. I just loved to fight!
That all ended when the referee stopped my last fight after I lost control, hitting my opponent who was already down on the canvas. More than 20 years later I still feel ashamed of my behavior. That bad experience certainly changed my life. I went to psychotherapy and learned that my loss of control was a panic attack caused by fear of being hurt or by fear of failure.
My best friend who witnessed my last fight was a triathlete. He suggested I take a break from Thai kickboxing, and invited me to accompany him to a triathlon in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I accepted the invitation as I was feeling down and needed to do something to lift my spirits. I remember what attracted me the most to triathlon for the first time were the athletic bodies. However, during my friend’s race, I could perceive how tough triathlon was and I felt strongly attracted to the sport. My friend convinced me to do my first triathlon and live the experience.
I signed up for swimming lessons, indoor cycling classes and started running more consistently. I trained on my own, without following any specific training plan, just some tips and advice from my friend. In 2001, I did my first sprint triathlon in Acapulco, Mexico. I still remember I felt immensely happy and proud of myself when I crossed the finish line. From that event to date, triathlon and I are inseparable!
The spirit of continuous improvement motivates me each day to keep up with my training and to work hard to be the best I can be. So far I have participated in 9 age group world championships, Olympic and 70.3 distance, and during my triathlon journey I have achieved multiple podiums.
Moving to Switzerland
In 2002, I started working at Nestlé Mexico and it was in 2008 when, after being a victim of a violent attack in Mexico, I started actively seeking job opportunities in Nestlé's headquarters located in Vevey, Switzerland.
In fact, everything was going well in 2008. I had qualified for the world championships in Queensland, Australia. Unfortunately, my plans changed. During a training session in the mountains, two men wearing horror movie masks ambushed me to rob me and probably to rape me. One of them had a dagger in his hand and was on top of me. I feel chill to remember. Luckily my Thai kickboxing skills and all my sports skills saved my life! I was able to escape and ran like a cheetah. Unluckily, while running, I twisted my left ankle and ruptured a ligament.
My ankle was in a cast and immobilized for over 4 months. Those were difficult months with crutches, no sport and muscle wastage. Some doctors told me that I would not be able to run again because my ligament was completely torn, and that it would never fully recover. Sadly, I had to cancel my trip to Australia.
However, with perseverance and dedication I found a job in Nestlé’s headquarters, and in 2009 moved to Switzerland. It was a difficult change, in many occasions I felt very lonely. I had to adapt to the culture, the weather, the food, the shopping and laundry schedules, and to my new way of life. The only thing that didn't change was my passion for triathlon. In 2010, I started training again and participated in World Championships in Beijing, and in London. In 2015, I completed my first 70.3 in Cozumel and finished second place in my age group, qualifying for the World Championship in Australia.
It was also in 2015, that I had the pleasure to meet Brett, Susie and Robbie in a triathlon training camp for age groupers in St. Moritz, one of the first training camps Brett held for age groupers. Meeting Brett, I knew he could help me become the best version of myself, not only as a triathlete but also as a person. I feel so privileged to have him in my life. He has taught me to pursue excellence in everything I do, that means always doing my best!
In my job I have daily challenges, and I must work at least 45 hours a week. Thanks to triathlon, I can have a balance in my life. There are days when I finish very tired from work and there is little energy left to train, but I know that preparing myself will be the best way to arrive strong and with confidence in my races.
This year I have a big challenge and dream to cross the finish line of my first Ironman. Curiously, what is happening so far, is that I am more organized in my life and more productive at work because I want to have time to get all my training sessions done. So far, the Ironman training is going well and little by little I’m getting fit.
I can feel my best days are yet to come.