Janice McDonald

Ambassador Spotlight: Janice McDonald

To stay on track, I need to have a scary new goal to tackle. That’s why Lake Placid is the perfect course for me. It’s in some ways scary because I live in the flatlands of Florida and that’s a hilly course. But I have faith that I’m going to do great.

Challenge accepted. 


Those are words Janice McDonald says often. 


A marathon? Sure! An IRONMAN? I think I can do that. Learning to swim? Yes, and I’ll become a scuba diver instructor too while I’m at it. 


There’s no shortage of challenges out there for Janice to explore, and that’s what keeps her moving forward in all areas of her life. 


Janice has been an ambassador for a couple of years now. She’s joined Team Athletic for the Athletic Brewing IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside race and will compete again in just a few short weeks. 


Throughout her journey, she’s developed an incredible love for sports of all kinds – most recently triathlon – and the need for tough competitions on the horizon to keep the momentum moving forward. 


“I really reinforced that at IRONMAN Cozumel,” says Janice. “Opportunities began springing up all over the place. I got so much more energized because of it instead of feeling worn out from training. It was win-win all around. To stay on track, I need to have a scary new goal to tackle.”


The next goal? Taking on those infamous hills at IRONMAN Lake Placid. 


Read more about Janice’s story, and come cheer on the team in Lake Placid on July 22! 



Tell me a little bit about yourself, and how fitness and sports came into your life. 

I started running because initially I had never run more than a mile, and I thought to myself: Hey, there are these people out there running marathons, why not give it a try? So I signed up for a marathon, and then in six months, I was running a 5K, then a 10K, then two half marathons, and finally a marathon! 

My sister suggested that I might like bodybuilding, too, so I picked up some weights, and then had my first bodybuilding show within 8 months as well. I fell in love with bodybuilding! I won first place in my first show, and I stayed in the sport for about 5 years. Bodybuilding is where I learned how to build community within the fitness realm. It was really neat for me to learn about how other athletes think, and it also helped me build my structure for training. 

After that I did rock climbing for a little bit. It was not something I'm natural at. Although I looked fit from bodybuilding, I didn't have the core or the grip strength for climbing, so I felt like I was back at the beginning. But one of the things rock climbing made me realize was that, for me, the sport was missing that frequent race or event element that keeps me interested in terms of progress. I didn’t quite realize yet that participating in events is one of the things I need to feel like I’m moving forward in sports. 

So I started looking into OCR (obstacle course racing). I had been invited occasionally by friends to do that. It was fun, and I wondered what would happen if I started training for this? How far could I go? I went crazy with OCR. I’ve done over 21 races, and it kept me interested and moving forward during COVID. I just kept signing up for events and training.

When I became an ambassador for Athletic Brewing, I became more interested in triathlon because at the time I couldn’t swim, I didn't have a bike, and I was running, but the endurance element was missing from my training. So I took up the challenge and went completely all-in on triathlon. 

I joined Team Athletic for the IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside race in 2022, and that race has one of the hardest ocean swims within IRONMAN. I managed to actually finish the swim component but not within the cutoff period. After that race, I wondered if I could do better if I just trained a little bit longer. 

My coach encouraged me to sign up for an olympic distance triathlon after Oceanside. I also signed up for IRONMAN 70.3 Augusta. Along the way, I raced in an intermediate distance and a sprint and won podiums in both. I realized that the extra training volume focused on bigger races helped. 

Naturally, up next was a full IRONMAN. I was finding myself a little unmotivated in training, so I needed something to get me back on track. I signed up for IRONMAN Cozumel and finished. When the opportunity came for Lake Placid, my coach encouraged me to try to get on the team, because it would make me a stronger athlete. 

So that's how I ended up on this journey so far. I've come a long way, but I still have a lot of room for improvement. It's a long process, but it's been fun. I picked up different skill sets with each race and joined different fitness communities, which is cool. 


What made you want to join Team Athletic for the IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside race? 

I’d never done an IRONMAN before, and I have the type of personality that likes to do things I've never done before. I was also really curious about triathlon. 

In OCR, I had potential to grow a lot more within the sport, but one of those improvement areas was to develop endurance. So what better way to do that than to sign up for the king of endurance: IRONMAN. I talked with some pro OCR athletes who said endurance really helps out in races. 

That, and I had personal goals that I wanted to tackle. I nearly drowned when I was 10. But when my family moved to Florida when I was 18, we had a pool and I didn't want to miss the fun everyone was having swimming, so I taught myself to swim. I even went a step further and became a certified scuba diver.

I was really curious about my development of mental strength as an athlete too. I was wondering how fast I could develop the skill set for triathlon and pair it with mental training. I kind of turned it into a game, which made it so much fun. I’m never really bothered by how much training volume I need to do. I know that I can do it. But how fast can I do it? 

I learned a lot through that journey. It presented a lot of different opportunities for growth. I had my first bike ride outside – 32 miles – and I learned how to clip in and out, and how to use my brakes and shifters. Running-wise, I’m more of a sprinter, so I had to learn how to do endurance running. 

I was seeing a lot of success in other parts of my life as well. Along with training, I was also working on completing my MBA program and working full time. I didn’t have the option to waste energy. I started experimenting with energy management, not just in sports but in different aspects of my life. I was doing a lot of experiments and turned myself into a human guinea pig of sorts. 

That’s the main reason why I wanted to do Oceanside: To solidify some of the things I already knew, but to also take in new experiences and learn from them so I can grow in all areas of my life.

I really reinforced that at IRONMAN Cozumel. Opportunities began springing up all over the place. I got so much more energized because of it instead of feeling worn out from training. I also got a mentor in my career. She correlated all the positives from the training and challenged me to take that into my career.

It was win-win all around. It increased my confidence. I feel aligned with myself; opportunities are flowing, and I’m going with the flow, being productive. I don’t have to worry about what my next steps are. My next steps will unfold. That helped me increase my faith: Believing that things will be all right without me actually seeing it. 

To stay on track, I need to have a scary new goal to tackle. That’s why Lake Placid is the perfect course for me. It’s in some ways scary because I live in the flatlands of Florida and that’s a hilly course. But I have faith that I’m going to do great.


Not finishing that swim at Oceanside became some strong fuel for the fire. What was difficult about that race, and how did you turn a disappointment into strength for moving forward?

I didn’t see it as a failure; I actually saw it as a success. When I first got started in triathlon, I could only swim half the pool length. I remember clutching on to the side of the pool, wondering how I was going to survive this. 

That was how I first started. So even though I didn’t finish Oceanside then, I was celebrating every little win that I’ve had along the way. In a lot of ways, I feel like I was winning throughout the journey. I didn’t attach it to the end result of that race because anything could happen in a race anyway. I focused more on how much effort I put in along the way. 

Not being able to ride and run that course did crush me a little bit, but that is one of the hardest swim courses IRONMAN has. It was so scary with the waves. I got so exhausted that I had to hold onto the boat for a minute to breathe and calm down. But I said to myself: I’m gonna fight so hard! And then I did. 

The entire battle of not giving up along the way has really helped me mentally. At the end when I gave myself a talk, I was like, you just finished 1.2 miles, and remember you couldn't swim 12 meters! You have to be darn proud about that. I’m here with a team. I can’t feel sorry for myself. If I can’t finish, I'm gonna see my team finish. So I ran to the end and cheered them on. 

That was so inspiring for me, to see everyone finishing. I wish I did too. I said to myself: One of these days, I’m going to do that. I made a promise to myself that I would go back the next year and tackle Oceanside again. 


And you did!

I did! It was a whole new course for me – even the swim was different, too (it was modified for the 2023 race). 

I really feel like I was meant to do triathlon. Things keep opening up for me in this sport. My coach gave me a bike that just so happened to be available, and I had never ridden a TT or road bike before starting the training for Oceanside. It’s almost like it was meant to be there at that time in my life. I had so many questions I was trying to answer in my own life, but somehow tri answered a lot of them. 

What are some of those things that tri has taught you?

Be happy with the cards we’re dealt, and through that, grow from it. So, some of the cards I was dealt: I’m an immigrant. I’m a female. How can I make the most out of that? 

I also have ADHD, and I’m trying to figure out the benefits and hone in on that. I tell people ADHD is my superpower. If anything, I’m really proud. I’m able to see things in a different perspective. It became a really cool adventure. 


What do you like about the sport of triathlon?

The community! I’ve met a lot of amazing people. It’s a very niche group. When I get to talk to someone who does tri, we get into huge conversations about races and some of the personal growth that we experience because of the sport. It’s really neat. Sometimes I end up connecting with people at my work over tri, too! 

Also, on the other hand, by just training and posting about it, I’ve had several people reach out to me with questions about how to get motivated or started in the sport. In a lot of ways, I just get to be myself, and somehow, that’s helping the community out. It helps other people want to get started with their fitness journey, or, I had a friend that heard my story about swimming and then started swimming lessons. That is so cool! Now they can swim with their kids. We live in Florida, we’re around water, and that’s something that has opened up doors for them. 


You attended a recent women’s Lake Placid training camp with fellow Athletic Brewing ambassador Hunter Ralston. Tell us about that and what you learned about the course! 

I signed up for the training immediately because everyone’s been telling me how scary Lake Placid is! I needed to see for myself. It was an amazing journey. I met a lot of women from all fitness backgrounds. They were surprised that I drove up from Florida. 

It really was a lot of mental strength training. My goal was to be on my bike for 5 to 6 hours and see how well I can train my brain to stay positive while staying seated for that long. We went through the course and did one loop for the bike and the run. Now I can figure out what it’s like for the entire course. 

For the swim, we swam as long as we wanted to. I went the furthest out because I was curious about the cable underneath the water, and I also wanted to see how cold the lake is. It’s warmer than Oceanside! 


What are your goals for the Lake Placid race?

My coach is challenging me to beat my IRONMAN Cozumel time. Cozumel was flat, but there were a lot of headwinds and crosswinds. I finished that one in 14 hours 38 minutes. I want to go for 13:30-14 hours this time around.

Congrats on finishing your MBA this year! What did you learn through the program, and what do you hope to do with it moving forward?

My company has an education benefit, and I really wanted to pursue an MBA as part of my career development. I figured 2 years is going to come and go anyway, might as well get a degree out of it. I got straight A’s and enjoyed my classes. 

The program presented a lot of case studies, and the material was incredibly useful in my field of digital marketing. The crazy part was, at the very end, I had the option to not take a class while I was doing the training for IRONMAN Cozumel, but I stuck to my goal of finishing my degree by 2022. I never back out from my word, so let’s just do it. Let’s finish! 

Oh my gosh, I feel like it’s because of my IRONMAN training that I did finish. The way you’re so disciplined when you do that … you have to be creative with your schedule. Now, I came out of that with this amazing skill set on how to juggle seven things all at once in the same day. It was a lot of work. But once you put down the tasks you want to tackle, focus on that task, you can do it four times as fast. 


How did you find Athletic Brewing and the ambassador program?

I met Mason [Gravley] at a Spartan race in Florida. I knew about Athletic because of Ryan Atkins and Lindsay Weber. At the time, I was looking for a way to enjoy alcoholic beverages without suffering the inflammatory effects of alcohol. I thought, wow, Athletic is a good product; it’s so, so tasty, I can keep training, so I was just like, oh heck yeah! I’ll be happy to be an ambassador for this awesome product!

What are some of your proudest achievements? 

My biggest achievement is the development of my knowledge, skills and personal brand. With ADHD, I tend to get really deeply interested in certain things. I do a lot of research on my own that usually people don’t see. For example, when I got into bodybuilding, I did a lot of research on nutrition and became certified as a personal trainer. I go really deep into anything I want to do, even if it’s maybe just for a few years. 

But looking back, at first I didn’t know how to even promote myself as a brand. I’m one of those people who loves so many things. How am I going to tell people who I am? I think that’s my proudest moment, is realizing that I am the journey, that is my story. When there’s an opportunity, I go for it. 


Do you have any bucket list races, events or achievements that you’d like to attain one day?

I’d like to travel to Europe, check out some of the IRONMAN races out there. I really like the idea of having a destination race. Next year, I’m going to New Zealand for an IRONMAN. Then I – for sure, somehow, maybe, I can dream about it –  hope to compete at Kona (IRONMAN championships). I train with some people who are going. It’ll be fun to see if I can do it as well. I also want to travel somewhere in South America and do a race there. 


What’s your favorite (recovery) food?


It depends on the time of day. I love tacos and all-you-can-eat sushi! I also like to make oatmeal and pour whey protein powder in it. It’s nothing fancy. But a lot of my workouts are in the morning. 


What do you like to do on rest days?

I’m just as fierce with recovery as I am with the physical stuff. I really love compression boots, and my gym also has these other boots that push ice-cold water through them so you get some cold therapy. I’ll put a heating pad on my back because it’s so cold! But it works so well. I do that twice a week. Foam rolling and massage guns are great. I do yoga quite a bit. Yoga also ties in with core strength and flexibility, so I don’t get hurt as much while training and racing. 

What gets you up and out of bed every day?

I want to see how the day will unfold, what kind of new adventures I'll get for that day and how I can start moving toward my goals for that day. Each day is a blank slate for me. It’s always interesting to see how each day is going to pan out. That’s why I start with meditation in the morning. I get aligned first, then tackle my day. 

What does Fit for All Times mean to you?

It means that I can do whatever I want anytime I want wherever I want. That makes me happy because it really correlates to my life philosophy. I train all the time so that when someone gives me an opportunity I can say yes. I don’t need to wonder whether I'm fit to be able to do it. I can always just say “yes” to so many more things. 

If you’re interested in joining the ambassador program, visit our Ambassador Community Page and sign up to be notified when applications open!
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