TEWKSBURY – Matt and Diane Grove are both highly motivated athletes, who have dedicated themselves to training for and competing in triathlons, and are willing to put in the hard work and time necessary to become the best they can be. But, like anybody, there are some mornings when the 5:00 a.m. alarm clock is the last thing you want to hear, and the thought of waking up and going for a 25-mile bike ride or a five-mile run is about as appealing as watching Rick Porcello take the mound for the Red Sox.
Thankfully, those mornings are few and far between for the Tewksbury couple, who are two of the most self-motivated people you will come across, having competed in several triathlons over the past several years while raising a young family at the same time. But when they do occur, they are also thankful to have each other to give that little extra push needed to get out the door and get the training done before heading off to work for the day.
“We definitely keep each other motivated and keep each other honest,” Matt said. “It does mean that at least one of us has to be up by 5:00 each morning doing something. We definitely have days when one or both of us is not super motivated, but with the other one up and going out you feel like you may as well get up and get out yourself.”
While the couple, who recently celebrated their 15th wedding anniversary, does not always work out together due to the fact that they compete at different distances, they still rely heavily on each other during their training.
It is not always easy to find the time to train, but thanks to their understanding of what the other is trying to accomplish they manage to fit it into their already busy schedule. They are the proud parents of two children, ten-year old Caroline and 13-year-old Alex, and both hold down full time jobs, with Matt, 46, working at Wood Environmental Consulting in Chelmsford and Diane, 45, a school teacher at Innovation Academy in Tyngsboro.
“Now that the kids are older, we are able to train at the same time but in previous years we were always swapping off times,” Matt said. “We both work out typically early mornings before work although being teacher allows Diane more flexibility in the summer. We don’t really train together as I am faster and training for a longer event but we certainly talk about what we have to do each day.”
Another great form of support for the Groves has been their affiliation with the TriFury Triathlon Club. TriFury, which now has over 275 active members, supports amateur triathletes in Eastern Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire. While Matt has participated in one triathlon in 2013 prior to joining TriFury, it was TriFury who helped him take his training to another level the following year along with Diane, who had never done a triathlon prior to joining the group.
They got started by participating in the group’s weekly summer triathlon called “Try the Tri”, a sprint triathlon held every Wednesday in the summer consisting of a half mile swim, a ten-mile bike ride and a two-mile run.
Now of course they participate in much longer triathlons, generally the Olympic distance of a .09 mile swim, a 25 mile bike ride and a 10 kilometer run. Matt also competes at times in even longer distances, such as the upcoming Half-Ironman Pumpkinman Triathlon coming up on September 8 in South Berwick, Maine. That event includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 50-mile bike ride and a half marathon (13.1 mile) run.
But whatever the distance, and whatever their skill level, one thing has always remained the same, and that is the great support provided by TriFury.
“Trifury is a huge part of what we do. The weekly mini-triathlons get us ready for our bigger events,” Matt said. “Swapping stories about various events and getting tips from other triathletes is big. We also have found others to train with through Trifury. Diane swims open water at Stiles Pond or Silver Lake with other Trifurian’s and I cycle before work with a core group that I also met through Trifury.
“Being part of a team also helps at races as there are lots of friendly faces before, after, and out on the course. We psych each other up, encourage each other during the race, and celebrate accomplishments.”
Most recently, the duo competed in the Boston Olympic Triathlon, where Matt posted a time of 2:30 and Diane had a time of 2:50, and on the docket next is the popular Cranberry TriFest in Lakeville on August 24.
While their primary focus is the triathlons, each of the Groves also have their specialty, with Diane preferring to run half marathons, while Matt prefers biking. In fact, that was how he first got into this of competition, back when he was living in the Texas and the company he worked for started a ride for Multiple Sclerosis (MS).
Shortly after he moved to Tewksbury, he found another MS team to ride with, the Ring Warriors, and he and 20 other members of the group have worked tirelessly to raise money to fight MS. Most recently this past weekend, he competed in the Great Maine Getaway sponsored by Bike MS, in Biddeford Maine. The event includes a 100-mile bike ride on Saturday and a 75-mile ride on Sunday. This weekend marked the eighth time that he has competed in this race, and it was his 11th ride for MS overall.
Matt raised over $2,700 for this year’s race and the Ring Warriors raised over $30,000 as a team, the third highest total of any team. Training for the MS event in addition to training for triathlons obviously entails even more hard work and commitment, but it is something that Matt intends on continuing for as long as he can.
“It is one of those things where I always consider whether or not I want to do it, because it is a huge commitment,” Matt said. “But then you get out there this weekend and it is just great to be a part of. I realize I am lucky enough to be able to do it. People with severe MS can’t get out and do that, so I am grateful that I can, so if I can endure a little bit of pain and get out there and do something to help fight this terrible disease, then I am going to do it.”