TARPON SPRINGS — Balance. That's the cornerstone of Celia Dubey's triathlon training regimen.
"You have to keep it fun," said the 42-year-old multisport athlete. "It can be hard finding time for family, work and a social life, but you have to do it. It makes you better in the long run."
Dubey, a frequent visitor to the winner's stage on the sprint triathlon circuit, was the masters' champion at last weekend's Madeira Beach Triathlon. She hopes to be the overall women's winner at this weekend's Dunedin Triathlon on Honeymoon Island.
Like many triathletes, Dubey has thought about going longer, but she always loves the shorter distance races which usually contain a 750-meter (0.47 miles) swim, 20-kilometer (12 miles) bike and 5-kilometer (3.1 miles) run.
"That's my specialty," said Dubey, who owns a fitness club in Tarpon Springs. "I like to push myself hard, but I can't imagine doing it for an hour and a half."
Dubey has always been active. Growing up, she played basketball, volleyball, soccer and tennis. But it wasn't until 1995 in college that she ran her first 5K and discovered her passion for running.
In 1999, after a knee injury, Dubey's orthopedic surgeon recommended she take up triathlons. The doctor thought cross training would help with her recovery.
"I've been hooked ever since," she said. "I love the social aspect the most of training as I have made true lifelong friends in this sport."
The multisport approach to training worked. Dubey was named a USA Triathlon All-American Duathlete (run and bike) in 2003 — an honor she has earned every year since. In 2004, she was named a USAT All-American Triathlete. She has also made that team every year since.
In 2006, after many years of working in sales and management in the wireless communication industry, she left corporate America and used her entire 401K savings as a down payment to buy Total Fitness Health Club & Spa in Tarpon Springs.
"I'm living my dream," she said. "I do all the marketing, programming and manage the day-to-day operations of the club. I get to teach fun group exercise classes, I get to train clients privately — whether their goal is to lose weight, do their first triathlon or become a world champion triathlete."
Dubey typically trains about 16 hours a week. But she coaches other triathletes and duathletes, so sometimes lines can be blurred between coaching and training. "With some of my clients, it is easy to get a workout in," she said.
In 2013, Dubey won both the USAT National Championship and the ITU Duathlon World Championship. She credits the support of her husband, Joel, for much of her success.
"I won the husband lottery," she said. "He's my biggest supporter and is there for me every race cheering me on and helping me in any way he can. His advice to me before every race is, 'Go as fast as you can the entire race' and that is exactly what I try to do."
Dubey has advice that works for elite triathletes or weekend warriors running their first 5K.
"Keep it fun," she said. "You have to enjoy it. If you don't like what you are doing, find another sport. But do something."