Credit Shoemaker's mom, Mae, for her endurance genes: Mae has run every Boston Marathon for the past 20 years, including the 2007 race, a month after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. (Mae's doctor agreed to postpone surgery until after the race.) Shoemaker, 26, has long displayed that same tenacity in triathlon, and in the past few years of competition she's proven herself to be a force in a sport often dominated by competitors in their thirties. Her résumé includes second-place finishes at the 2009 USA Triathlon Elite National Championship, the 2009 Pan American Championships, and San Francisco's grueling Escape from Alcatraz race, this past May. Shoemaker, now based in Los Angeles, found her way to triathlon after her freshman year at Harvard—she competed on the swim team and majored in psychology—spurred on in part by older brother Jarrod's success as a runner. (Jarrod went on to make the 2008 U.S. Olympic triathlon squad.) "I was never trained in running, but because my brother was such a good runner, I knew that genetically I could be," she says. "Getting into triathlons was a natural progression." Shoemaker's life these days is pretty simple: Swim, bike, run, eat, rest; repeat. But in her limited downtime, she's taken small acting roles in indie films. "I told my mother when I was little that I wanted to be the first person to win an Oscar and a gold medal," she says. First step is making the 2012 Olympic team. "Everything I do in the next two years is focused on that," says Shoemaker.
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