interview by Tricia Louvar | photos courtesy of Chris Corbin
Sport: Professional Triathlete
Awards: 5-time Ironman Champion; 5-time 70.3 Champion; American Ironman record holder: 8:42:42 at Ironman Austria (2014); 9-time Ironman Hawaii competitor; Top American 70.3 Worlds (2013), Ironman Hawaii (2008)
When did you first realize you had the gift of endurance?
I went on a bike trip with my parents from Spokane to Seattle. Riding up a big mountain pass and depending on myself to get to the top felt empowering and liberating.
How do you go from being an endurance enthusiast to a professional triathlete?
After college, I entered a few races in the spring of 2006 and placed amongst the professional women. I decided a few weeks before an Ironman that I’d race it as a professional. I had no idea what to expect; it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Sometimes a partner to a triathlete has the moniker, “exercise widow.” Any truth to that?
Triathlon can be a very independent endeavor. If you get to the point where training takes over your life, and you are unable to maintain a life outside of triathlon, then you are probably doing too much! It’s all balance.
You’ve completed twenty-one Ironman races around the world and won five of them. What has your body and mind learned over those ten years?
Each year you are able to add on another layer of training and fitness. For each rough patch you hit, there’s an equally greater opportunity awaiting you.
What is more important on the last leg of an Ironman race—energy gel or a solid mindset?
Both go hand in hand. Fuel-wise, you have to nail your nutrition before entering the marathon. You can run well if you’re well hydrated and able to digest calories. The toughest part of the Ironman is during the marathon. You have to be mentally prepared to handle the rough patches you face during the run.
Health issues sidelined you in 2015. How do you differentiate between good pain and bad pain?
Sometimes you don’t know the difference between good pain and bad pain. All you can do is listen to your body. It takes a lot of courage and confidence to back down and take proper recovery.
What continues to draw you to stay in Bend as your training ground?
A strong athletic community, supportive family, good weather, competitive training crew, beautiful roads and endless trails for training purposes.