By Peggy Shinn | Sept. 16, 2015, 2:56 p.m. (ET)


As anyone who follows Gwen Jorgensen knows, the 29-year-old elite triathlete loves food. She frequently tweets photos of heaping plates of pasta and large bowls of ice cream drizzled in chocolate.

So when it comes to vacations, she and husband Patrick Lemieux plan their trips around eating.

“I am constantly trying to put on weight so I don’t count calories,” said Jorgensen on the eve of the 2015 ITU World Triathlon Grand Final Chicago, a series that she is currently leading. “I just try to eat as much as I can.”

The eat-cation idea began shortly after Jorgensen and Lemieux, a bicycle racer, began dating in 2011. They both enjoy trying new food. So every week, they would find a new restaurant that had good reviews on the business review app, Yelp.

Three years ago, after the London Olympic Games, Jorgensen thought it made a good vacation theme.

“When we were trying to figure out where to go on vacation, I said, ‘What do we want to do? We’re not going to be working out because I’m on a break. What can we do that’s not working out that we both enjoy?’ And it was eating,” she explained with a laugh.


Cheese with balsamic or ice cream with chocolate sauce?

Their first eat-cation was to three-day trip to San Francisco in 2012. On other eat-cations, they have sampled the cuisine in Vancouver and around one of their home bases in Minnesota’s Twin Cities (they also live in Wollongong, Australia, when Jorgensen is training).

“I didn’t think it would continue to be a thing,” said Lemieux, “but now we’re going into our fourth year of doing it.”

This past summer, after Jorgensen won the Rio test event in early August and qualified for her second U.S. Olympic team, they took a mini eat-cation to San Sebastian, a city in Spain renowned for its restaurants. Jorgensen tweeted a photo of a giant cheese board that she and Lemieux were sharing.

So what’s been their favorite food so far?

Jorgensen remembered sushi in Vancouver: “They blowtorched the top of it, so it was a little bit seared. It was so delicious. I’ve never had sushi that was that good.”

Lemieux remembered pasta for dessert, also in Vancouver.

Hmm, OK. Was it drizzled in chocolate? Or fine sprinkled with sugar?

“It was cheese, it was a dinner meal, but we had it for dessert, but that’s what we were supposed to do,” he said, laughing.

After the World Triathlon Series final this week, where will the couple take their next eat-cation?

Back in the Twin Cities. But eating out at home is not as easy as it sounds. The self-imposed eat-cation rules dictate that they eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“In between those meals, I just wanted a banana,” said Jorgensen. “And we’re like but we have to go out to eat. Everything we eat has to be out to eat. So we’d have to go somewhere and get a doughnut and pastry, when all I really wanted was a banana.”

And when do they plan to eat their way through Minneapolis and St. Paul? So area restaurants can stock their walk-ins…

“TBD,” said Lemieux. But probably sometime in October or November.

A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered three Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.