Mauren Solano is a Costa Rican triathlete who has completed three Ironman, in which she has learned not to give up thanks to her resilience built on discipline, perseverance, and effort.
Mauren Solano Acuña was born in Pavas, San José. She is a physical educator and has a postgraduate degree in personal training. She works for the Multi Spa gym chain and her own company M.S. Endurance, dedicated to training endurance athletes: swimmers, cyclists, and runners. She is 28 years old and has an extraordinary determination that has led her to complete three full Ironman, a competition in which she must swim 3.86 km in the open sea, in addition to doing 180 kilometers on a road bike and a marathon run (42.195 kilometers). Yes, all in the same competition.
Mauren has a philosophy well-grounded in her deepest values, both in life and sports. She does not negotiate with anyone the effort and discipline because she believes that only in this way can you achieve the big dreams outlined. “One always has a purpose. You come into this world with a purpose in life. I have been discovering what my purpose is and every obstacle is to learn from that. I always have a positive attitude and I believe that we always must take something good out of the bad,” She says.
Who is Mauren Solano from a personal point of view?
I am a nice, disciplined, constant, and hard-working person. One of the virtues that characterize me is that whenever I set my mind to something I always achieve it. Since I was a child, I have always liked everything related to physical activity. At the age of 14, I focused on triathlon, and I have always been a hard worker thanks to my mother’s example.
We know how challenging it is to complete an Ironman, how would you define this experience?
Phew. I have done three complete Ironman: two in the world in Kona Hawaii and one in Cozumel, Mexico. If I were to define it in one word it would be resilience, because it involves being resilient throughout the competition. Long distances have taught me that, and I have applied it in my competitions and life. I always finish because I finish… I have never withdrawn from a competition.
So, for you, does living life have any similarity with Ironman?
Yes, totally, because Ironman is a competition as imperfect as life. In life, one can plot many things, but for one reason or another something can happen, be it positive or negative. In Ironman and life, I always assume the things that are under my control and the things that are not under my control. The ones I can control are great, but the ones I cannot control are many and can change the course.
You were talking about resilience; how would you define it in the field of sport?
Everything comes at the perfect time. After difficult things, you have moments of pause and ask yourself “Why is this happening?”. Then you realize why and what things are happening.
Your competitions involve swimming, almost 4 kilometers cycling 180 kilometers, and then putting on your tennis shoes and running the 42.195 km marathon, how could you describe that experience?
It is something inexplicable, really (she laughs a lot) … What I do is – and I always recommend to triathletes – that when they are swimming, they only think that they are swimming, not thinking about the 180 kilometers of cycling and then the marathon. It is also good to understand that the human body is made to adapt to everything. If one is well prepared, everything is given to go excellent. And the same thing happens in life because if we think about what is next, we miss the present moment and we stagnate. We must learn to live in the present moment, day by day.
And in some of those moments… at the start of the competition in one of the Ironman’s, did you thought, what am I doing here?
Of course, I did, in all three (he laughs aloud). I will give you a specific example. It turns out that in the Cozumel Ironman, five kilometers before getting off the bike to run, I felt bad, so bad I had to abandon the competition and my mind played a dirty trick on me. I said to myself: “No, no, Mauren, come on, come on, you are doing very well”. I was winning the category; I was already qualifying for the world championship. I only needed the minute details of running the marathon.
I got off the bike, and as there are always angels in this life, I met these angels in that transition zone. They were little Mexican boys who said to me: “It’s ok, right?” I am sure they saw my face, and I told them that it was not ok. They said, “Yes you can, yes you can”. They gave me water, a banana, moisturizer, some salt pills to bring up sodium, and gels. I thanked them a lot and told them: “Well guys thank you very much, I’m going to put on my sneakers because I have to do a marathon”. In the end, I got first place in my category and the qualification. In that Ironman I did 10 hours and 30 minutes, and in the marathon, I did 3 hours and 40 minutes.
Being a high-performance athlete must be challenging. How many hours per week do you train in each discipline: swimming, cycling, and athletics?
Right now, I am in a specific block because I am going to the half Ironman in Ecuador in July. The load increases progressively. This week I must train 14 hours in total with all disciplines, then it will increase from 15 to 18 hours a week. When it is a full Ironman, it goes from 18 to 22 hours a week of training.
What things do you have to give up being a better athlete?
One of the things I have given up a bit is time with my family – and a lot of it – because I live in Tres Rios and my family lives in Pavas. I have always valued sharing and being at the table with them, although nowadays we see less of each other, but the warmth with my family always remains. Also, in this, we must give up a lot of social activities, such as parties.
It is important to exercise the mind as well as the body for a competition, tell us what you base your mental training on.
This subject is worked on daily. From the moment you get out of bed mental training begins, because it may be raining and I think “How nice to stay in the blankets”, but then comes the “I have a competition, so get up and let’s go”. I train the mental part all day long because sometimes you want to procrastinate things, but sometimes that later does not exist or does not come. The comfort zone should not exist so often and that is trained.
Do you consider yourself better as an athlete or as a coach?
What a good question! Both. I think the vocation of being a coach is incredible and I love it. I enjoy dealing with people, I like to see other people’s achievements, and I do not just mean sporting achievements, but all aspects of life that are achieved thanks to and through sport. The athletic part I do not leave aside either, because I consider myself fairly good…
So, does sport make people fear-proof?
Yes, because fear is always something to overcome. When you are at the starting line you are afraid, but when the competition starts, everything goes away. So it happens with life, fear of a project, of a personal goal, of whatever; once you start, the fear goes away little by little.
Would you give any advice to those people who are afraid to go for their big dreams and goals in life, whatever they are?
Whatever it is, let them do it, let them start. And if they are afraid, then do it with fear, that is my biggest piece of advice. I can give you my example: When I was 14, I was afraid of water and did it with fear, learning to swim with fear. But the fear goes away when you do it. So always do it and if you are afraid, do it with fear.
What is your reference in the world of sport?
I admire Lucy Charles-Barclay, she has won so many competitions. And in the men’s category, I love Jan Frodeno, who is German. They have excellent profiles and trajectories.
What is the role of women in the 21st century?
We are more leaders; we make ourselves better known. We want to be considered much more. We consider ourselves stronger physically and mentally. Now we believe it more.
Interviewed by: Alexander Aguilar
Who is Mauren?
Full name: Mauren Vanessa Solano Acuña
Position: Trainer and director of her own company, and trainer at Multi Spa.
Company: M.S. Endurance and Multi Spa.
Profession: Physical educator.
Nationality: Costa Rican.
Lives in: Tres Rios.
Age: 28 years old.
Family: My mom Elizabeth, and my brothers Mauricio and Roberto.
Pets: I have two dogs, Sol, and Luna, they have been rescued.
Favorite food: Sushi.
Sport: Triathlon. Of the three disciplines, my favorite is cycling.
Hobbies: I like going to the movies and the theater. I like to get together with my friends and laugh aloud, even cry from laughter. I like the beach.
Favorite clothing Item: Sportswear.
What is your favorite place? Kona, Hawaii.
One word that describes yourself: resilient.
Beach or mountain? Beach.
Your favorite musical group or singer is Queen.
What superpower would you like to have? To fly, I would love to fly.
What is your contribution to a better world? With my example, people see that moving and having good habits can help us achieve wonderful things.
Who do you admire? My mom, Elizabeth Acuña Rodríguez.
Her main strength is: Never give up.
A weakness: Being extremely hard on myself.
An unforgettable day: Kona, Hawaii, October 2014.
Who is your favorite person in the world? my mom.
A fear: Falling on a motorcycle or having a serious accident.