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This Is How We Do It!

Adult Amateur Series

Welcome to our new blog series we're calling "This Is How We Do It' featuring amateur riders who are giving it their all. I thought this would be an interesting perspective we could appreciate and learn from since you never know when someone else’s habits, ideas or perspectives can make a particular imprint on our lives. And, as an adult ammy myself, I know how challenging it can be to fit it all in, make it work and still maintain some semblance of health and sanity given our crazy schedules.

Our first adult ammy to be featured here is Mary Zoldak (@m.elizabethequine), of Albuquerque, New Mexico. She’s an attorney by day and pentathlete the rest of her free time. She’s no doubt a force of nature and I love how she manages to maintain her sense of humor given her intense schedule. She’s truly an example of persistence, passion and genuine love for horses. And, this just in from Mary...'I earned a discretionary spot on Team USA for the 2023 World Cup season!' Congratulations Mary!!

So, without further ado, here’s a glimpse into the life of Mary…

Schedule on Training Days

- 6:30/6:45am, wake up and try to do some of my rehab exercises for my shoulder. Otherwise, I’ll make a cup of coffee and get started at work. I’m an attorney and my current position has a generous WFH policy, which allows me to better balance work and training. Within an hour of waking up I try to eat something. Sometimes I have something small & carby and then have something later.

-10am-ish, time for second breakfast! I like to have a sunny side up egg, half an avocado, and some sort of toast or hash browns (more carbs!). Sometimes I’ll just do a fruit smoothie with protein powder.

-Lunch time, I’ll usually use my lunch break for riding, especially during the winter. Once I get back from the barn, I’ll whip together a quick lunch before getting back to work.

A few months ago, I started working with a PhD registered dietician and she has really helped me understand how I need to be fueling. Some of my lunch time favs include a chicken thigh sandwich with avocado and an ACV slaw, plus a side of applesauce; tacos with slaw, avocado, and a leftover protein; on other days, it’s classic PB&J sandwich on wheat bread with some sort of veggies and fruit.

- 4-6pm, is when I finish up with my day job. Typically, I have a small snack to prep me for my evening training once I’m done with work. In the evenings, I usually have one or two workouts. A lot of times I’ll do a run workout or a shooting workout and then go fence, or I’ll have a strength workout and a swim. I like to prep some sort of protein for dinner - in my sous vide – that I’ll eat once I’m finished.

- 8pm, is when I usually finish up my day. Time to finish making dinner, chocolate milk (my favorite!), and some recovery before bed (Epsom salt bath or Normatec compression boots).

- 10pm: time for bed! I really prioritize sleep, aiming for more than eight (8) hours a night, and try to keep my sleep schedule consistent.

All About Horses

Horses are my happy time. My mare Jewel is 19 this year and I’ve owned her for about 17 years. She is just so comfortable to ride at this point & we know each other so well. My coming 6-year-old, Scout, can be a handful, but he is such a goofy guy and full of joy. We had a struggle with some lameness with him this past year and he is finally getting back to full strength!

I’ve ridden most of my life and the real reason why I wanted to get involved in pentathlon. I’ve been taught that if you don’t like how something is being done, then the best way to effect change is to get involved. A lot of equestrians had such a gut reaction to riding at the Tokyo Olympics, for good reason, but simply complaining (from outsiders) is likely to not change anything.


I don’t know if I can say much about maintaining overall wellness! Most of the time I feel like my body is falling apart and I’m going a bit crazy. I do try to keep a good humor about it though, which helps. This is all voluntary after all! I am probably best about keeping my physical wellness up. I see my chiropractor frequently, get regular massages (just like my ponies), take time for recovery, eat nutritious foods, and sleep as much as I can. I also value working with the best professionals I can, all of whom make sure I’m staying on track to chase big goals.

Staying nourished is something that I’m still learning about. As I mentioned above, I started working with a registered dietician, who I’ve known since undergrad. She has really helped me understand the quantity of food that I need to be eating, along with a focus on eating “real” foods to meet my needs. While I still take a multi-vitamin and a few other supplements, the bulk of my fuel comes from actual food.

In a similar vein, my event day nutrition is still evolving, but in the past year, I’ve been starting to learn what works best. I try to eat a substantial breakfast with a good balance of protein and carbs. Throughout the competition, I tend to rely on various sports drinks and recovery drinks between events, though I’m working on “safe” foods that I can eat.

The Rest of It

Most of my sport is cross training across all the disciplines! I don’t really have a lot of time to do other activities however, I do enjoy cycling and hot yoga when I have a chance. Albuquerque has some excellent bike trails and I enjoy riding with my husband.

My family doesn’t ride much, but they’ve been very supportive of my riding. My mom did ride some growing up some and my brother actually did trick riding at Culver Military Academy. My brother and dad are more into riding “iron ponies” than real ponies.

I have a big sweet tooth, though I don’t like to think of it as a “guilty pleasure.” I try to eat intuitively, while still being mindful of my nutrition needs. I don’t like to deprive myself of what I might be craving. Lately, I’ve been loving dark chocolate and ice cream, but I’m also a big fan of chocolate milk post-workout. Really, any type of dessert is a favorite of mine.

In training, I try to remember a popular running quote by Steve Prefontaine: “To give less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Currently in my life, I’m lucky to have the opportunity to go after this sport and train like I am. I’m also lucky to have a certain amount of talent and tolerance to pain to be able to put in the training that I am. That quote reminds me to try and enjoy the process, and to put forth whatever my best is on a given day. I can try and do well in this sport, which is a pretty cool opportunity.

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