In April 2012 I decided to sign up with Team in Training (TNT) to do the Austin Half Ironman. My goals were simply to finish and lose some weight from my second pregnancy. At the time I had completed 19 Sprint Triathlons but nothing longer than that. I had 10 top 10 finishes but only one podium finish, and there were only 2 in my age group for that one. I felt like I had plateaued as a triathlete.
This was my second event with TNT, so I kind of knew what to expect. 11 years ago I had done a 56 mile mountain bike ride inMoab,Utahwith TNT. I just remember the long training days. It seemed like back then that all I did was train, sleep and eat. That is not something I could afford to do with two young kids and a husband. I didn’t want it to be that training got all my energy and my family none.
Liesel was my TNT coach for the Austin Half Ironman, and I didn’t quite know what to expect time wise or training wise. We got a schedule every two weeks and I would look at it and think, “Okay, this week is doable.” It seemed like every week was like that. I wonder if I would have said the same reaction if I had gotten the full schedule at one time. It seemed like Liesel was in my head and knew what to say to motivate me or how hard to push me. I remember we were getting some hill training in and I heard her say, “If you skip the hills, you’re only hurting yourself.” I can’t tell you how many times I would add a hill in on my ride as a result of this, even if others decided to take a flatter route. I felt accountable to Liesel and wanted her to be proud of my efforts.
So during training we did a couple of Sprint Triathlons to practice. The first one we did was 2 months into our training. I had done this triathlon 6 years prior, so before kids came along. I finished a full 19 minutes faster than I had 6 years earlier. I was floored. The second practice triathlon we did was in August. On the run portion, Liesel was close to the finish line when she started yelling at me to run faster because I had a girl on my heels. As a result I finished in 3rd place by 1 second. I was thrilled – a podium finish in a competitive race thanks to Liesel’s “encouragement.” I feel like Liesel just knew what would get me going. She seems to know what motivates people and knows that it is different for everyone. I did one more Sprint before the Half Ironman and finished in 7th place but only 2 minutes out of 1st place.
As the Austin Half Ironman approached, I changed my goal from just finishing to finishing in under 7 hours. The encouragement from Liesel on race morning and for that matter for the last 5 ½ months had been amazing. I didn’t feel nervous, I felt ready. I don’t remember seeing her until I got off the bike and as I ran past her the first time all I could say is “I am having a blast.” On my last lap I was struggling a little bit and I think she knew this. She ran along side me and just told me to relax, that I was running like I was on the soccer field. She knew I was a former soccer player and she knows what that looks like as well. When I passed Liesel the last time before running to the finish line, it was all I could do to keep from crying. Her training schedule, her encouragement, and her support had all gotten me not just to the finish line, but to the finish line in 6:55.04!
So as you can tell, Liesel wasn’t just my coach, she was/is my friend. And somehow she has convinced me to go run the Galveston Half Ironman.