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  • Writer's pictureDeirdre Maloney


There have been a few points in my marriage where Jon and I have sent out an S.O.S. We have been desperate at times to understand each other and accept our differences. After having Charlize and Jonathan, who are only 13 months apart, we were drowning in disconnection. I was swamped with 2 babies and a teenager that was running wild it left me no energy to put into our marriage. It was the summer of 2012, and I was unhappy with my fitness, as it was a struggle just to shower never mind exercise. Something needed to change drastically.

After multiple discussions on how we were growing apart, we finally came up with a plan. We would hire a running coach to meet weekly and train for a half marathon. This would have us spending more time together and help get me back in shape. I was very excited to embark on this new journey, a journey unbeknownst to us at the time that would start to shape our future.

Jon researched coaches in Toronto and came across Suzanne Zelazo. We met her at an outdoor track and she ran us through some different drills and timed us running at various distances. She suggested we start at a 10 k and work our way up to the half marathon. This was very good advice as we underestimated the time and long-term dedication that goes into endurance sport. During our first meeting with Suzanne, we learned that she was a triathlete. I barely understood this sport and was floored with the information she gave us. The amount of time spent on training, the amount of time it took to complete a race and being able to do 3 sports were amazing to me. We left that session in awe of this woman. She must be a little crazy and a little superpowered. I thought this triathlon she spoke of could not be for the average person. After a few more weekly sessions with Suzanne, she told us “you guys would love cycling and swimming, you should give it a try.” Really? I haven’t swum or ridden a bike since I was like 12, I can’t imagine this is a good idea. Jon was on board immediately and I hesitantly went out to buy my first speedo.

We started with swimming. We would meet Suzanne at the pool and she would run us through swimming drills and technique. I remember doing 25-yard laps at my gym pool and stopping between each one for 2 minutes to recover, I was hooked. I had so far to go but the challenge of it turned into a passion. After 2 years of committed training, I turned my 2 minute 100-meter laps into 1:30 minute laps and I was officially a swimmer. I bought my first bike in the winter of 2013 and started riding indoors, this was the easiest of the 3 sports for me to adapt to and I loved smashing intervals on the bike. Taking it outside was terrifying and a huge hurdle for me to overcome. Slowly, I broadened the distance I would go, and the cars became less scary as I honed my bike handling skills. Jon and I were back to our old selves again. Triathlon helped us put our marriage back on a healthy path.

We spent all of our extra time together training, attended the races together and even started going away on training camps together, without the kids. Suzanne is another one of those people that inspired me to accomplish something I never imagined was possible. She coached Jon and I for 2 years and took me from an absolute newb, placing in the last quarter of the race, to an Elite age grouper that won her category and placed in the top 10 at every race. Endurance sport taught me to have confidence in my capabilities and showed me strength and courage in physical form. I believe this made it easier for me to find that strength and courage in my own psyche later down the road. I often tell people that open up to me about struggles in their marriage, that they need to find something to do together. Whether it’s tennis, golf, running, hiking, or whatever lights you both up. It is a sure way to reignite any flame that has gone out. Now that we have the tools to create connection, it’s been a long while since Jon and I have felt desperation in our marriage.

Have you found connection with a loved one through sport?

Be Well Friends.

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