Photos by Allison Raber and Courtesy of LaVonne Rembert
Running and swimming have been a part of LaVonne Rembert’s life since she was a child. Although she may have gotten away from exercising for a time, she is back to competing and doing better than ever! With seven Ironman races under her belt, LaVonne knows that with a little hard work, there is nothing she can’t accomplish.
Tell us about your family life.
Pretty simple. My kids are everything to me. We are the three musketeers. We work hard but we also play hard. We love spending time together. We have a strong relationship. Our hearts are full of love and we are thankful each day for all that we have. We are always working out, going to yoga, the movies, the beach, you name it. We are always having fun. We also have one Havanese, Marley, one golden retriever, Sophie, a rescue kitty, Juliet, a bearded dragon, Hank, and some fish.
How do you live a 360life?
I do a pretty darn good job of juggling work, being a full-time single mama, training for Ironman races and spending time with friends and family. I think balancing life can be tricky at times, so I often remind myself that I can do anything, but I cannot do everything. I definitely am a happier person when I am living a 360life. My life is not perfect, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I am thankful for all that I have.
What is your wellness mantra?
Never give up!
How long have you been active/competing?
I grew up in Gainesville, so I was actively involved with the local running races. At 6 years old I started swimming competitively with Florida Aquatic Swim Team, now known as Gator Swim Club. I competed in my first sprint triathlon at the age of 10 in Cypress Gardens. When I got out of high school I wasn’t as active because of work, so it wasn’t until 1996 that I started training and ran my first Disney Marathon. Not long after that, I trained for my first Half Ironman and then decided to go for it and train for my first Ironman Triathlon. Finishing an Ironman was on my bucket list. I never dreamed that I would compete in more than one, but crossing that finish line is a game changer. That feeling was incredible, and I wanted to do it again. I loved it so much that I continued training, and I just completed my seventh Ironman in Texas. I owe much of my recent personal records to Elyse Gallegos. She started coaching me a year ago, and her knowledge, enthusiasm and love for the sport have made a huge impact on me. She has been able to tailor my workouts to fit my career and home life. I am also a member of G3, the Gainesville Triathlon Club. The people I have met and been able to train with in this group are hands down the best around. We train hard, but we also have tons of fun. I hope to continue racing and one day make it to the big island. I hope that one day my kids will fall in love with the sport and possibly do one with me. That would be awesome!
Please share your favorite competition/event, in detail and what it meant to you.
Oh gosh, this is tough. I have so many favorite moments. Honestly, I’d probably have to say my first Ironman. To start with, I had never biked more than 10 miles when I started training, so building up to 112 was no easy feat. Race day was perfect — well mostly perfect. They sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the 2,200 athletes were standing on the beach waiting for the gun to go off. As I was putting on my goggles the band broke. I panicked! I immediately started running through the crowd asking if anyone had any extra goggles. Normally I would just swim without, but we were in the Gulf and I didn’t think that would be the best option. I found a pair at one of the tables and the lady said I could have them. They leaked the entire time, and I may as well have swum without them because I could barely see where I was going. Either way, I made it through the 2.4-mile swim and ran toward transition to change clothes and hop on my bike. Six hours and 20 minutes later I completed the 112-mile bike ride and was left with just a quick 26.2-mile run. You’ll know I was doing my first ironman when I tell you this next part. I like to eat, but during an Ironman it is not like you can just go to the fridge and grab a snack. You eat GU energy gels and drink Gatorade for the most part. Well, being a newbie I decided to stash a $10 bill in my jog bra on the off chance I passed a store and could grab some food. Lucky for me, I passed an aide station at about mile 12 right as they were handing out pizza to the volunteers. Being the social butterfly I am, I asked the man if I could buy a slice for $10. He graciously accepted. Finally, as I was on the last 6 miles of the run course, I realized I was about two hours ahead of my “planned finish,” so I borrowed a phone from a spectator to let my family know I was actually going to be finishing in the next hour. Turning the last corner, seeing the red carpet and hearing the crowd yell gave me goosebumps, but rounding that last turn before the finish line and seeing my kiddos was so special. My kids were 2 and 4 at the time and they were able to run through and cross the finish line with me. This is not allowed anymore, so I treasure the finisher picture from this race. It still gives me goosebumps thinking about it today.
What keeps you motivated?
Living healthy is super important to me and is a part of my everyday life. I am motivated by the loved ones I have lost to heart disease, but I also believe I am setting an example for my children and others on how to have fun while staying healthy and motivated. Eating healthy and exercising are huge parts of our everyday lives. I am also a little competitive with myself; I know training hard is something that I need to do if I want to be better.
Do you have races/ competition/events that you would like to complete on your bucket list?
Kona and Boston!
What are you training for right now?
I am currently training with Team Florida Track Club and Coach Enoch to race in the California International Marathon this December to qualify for Boston.
What is your go-to diet?
I don’t ever diet. I live by the 80/20 rule. I love fruit, sushi, peanut butter, chicken, salmon and salads, but I also love pizza, french fries and doughnuts. If you balance exercise and a healthy diet, you won’t feel guilty when you eat the pizza and french fries.
How would you encourage others to start living a 360life?
I love getting people excited about eating healthy and/or working out. I have people ask me questions all the time and I could literally sit for hours talking with them. I truly believe we each inspire others in some way to follow our dreams. In the end, we only regret the chances we don’t take, so sign up for the race, eat healthy, indulge in dessert or take the trip. Whatever it is, just do it!
What is your daily workout routine?
This depends on if I am “in training” or not. I do something every day. Right now, I am focusing on my running, but cross-training with biking and swimming, as well as strength training.
What is the most important lesson being active has taught you?
Honestly, I think a lot of people don’t try new things because they are scared to fail. When I step up to the starting line of a run or triathlon I am scared to death. That is totally normal. If we are competitive by nature, of course we want to win. Being active has taught me that if we try our best, we never fail.
What is one thing you wouldn’t compete without?
Favorite way to wind down from a busy week:
I love the beach! If I could go every weekend, I would be the happiest girl ever. Something about the ocean is so peaceful. It is my happy place for sure!
“Age is Just a Number” by Dara Torres. Having grown up as a swimmer, I can relate to this book, and her journey is super inspiring, especially as I creep into my 40s. Right now I am also reading a hodgepodge of books — “7” by Jen Hatmaker, “A Life Without Limits” by Chrissie Wellington, “17 Hours to Glory” by Mathias Muller, “Roar” by Selene Yeager and Stacy Sims — as well as a continuous staple book, “The Endurance Training Diet & Cookbook.” This book is awesome for promoting better nutrition during racing season.
Favorite ways to relax:
The beach, hot yoga and watching Netflix.
Go-to meal/restaurant in Gainesville:
Do I have to pick just one? I like Dragonfly for sushi and Satchel’s for pizza. I also love Leonardo’s 706 and 3 Natives. I used to go to Burrito Brothers weekly. I’m so sad it closed!