Friday, January 31, 2014

Tri-Friend: Liz Mcternan (Paratriathlete/Cyclist from England)

"Met" Liz via twitter and am excited to feature her on the blog. Liz is a para-triathlete/cyclist from England who has hopes to be in the 2016 Rio Olympics for para-cycling.  I wanted to share her journey to have others follow her journey along with providing some resources for those who are interested in learning more.  I also have attached some resources I have found. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself in a few sentences.
I discovered my competitive side in my mid forties after raising a family and having two careers-one as a Graphic Designer in London and then as a Teacher in Further Education. I've always been sporty, horse riding, skiing and scuba diving before my spinal cord injury 8 years ago.

2. Can you tell us how you got into triathlons.
I started swimming as physical therapy after my SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) and progressed to swimming a mile three times a week with a pull buoy strapped between my legs. A lifeguard at the pool suggested I try triathlon which I'd never heard of. I looked into it and contacted the National Federation in the UK. My very first competiion was the British National Championships in 2011 where I came second in my category.

3. What is one misconception about para-triathletes and/or one thing most of us would be surprised to find out?

The race format for para-triathletes is exactly the same as for AG events. The swim portion is, however, shortened if the water/air temperature is too low as some athletes have neurological impairments which affect their thermo-regulation. Modified equipment e.g. leg splints, gear levers on one side of the bike, orthotics etc. have to be formally approved by ITU before racing, but apart from aids, everything about the race is the same as Age Groupers.

4. What online resources are available for those interested in getting involved in para-triathlon 
Unfortunately, there is very little information available on-line, at least in the UK. The information on the US Triathlon and Australian National Federations is however, quite informative. There are a couple of Facebook pages: ITU Paratriathlon Athletes/Paratraithlon/Paratri Athletes Australia, where athletes and beginners can discuss classification, races, equipment etc.

Drafting during hand cycle race
5. what are your future goals
I've actually switched sports to para-cycling after not gaining a place on the UK Sport funded squad for GB last year. I'm currently ranked 6th in the world in my category H3 for hand cycling and am hopeful of improving my performances enough that I am included in the British Cycling Squad for Rio in 2016.
Virgin London Marathon

Tell us a little about your gear and how sponsors have helped your journey:
I own a Top End Force R recumbent hand bike which I've had for two years and hanker after a new Carbon bike, but this is not possible without funding or sponsors.  When I competed in paratriathlon, I was lucky to be sponsored for a wetsuit from Huub as these specialist suits costs over £400 each. I relied entirely on charitable donations and prize money to afford to train and compete and used my savings to purchase my adaptive equipment. This year I've been awarded a grant from The Women's Sports Trust to help with some competition costs, but am currently actively looking for sponsors to enable me to pay for a specialist cycling coach, PT, Physio, Massage and travel and competition costs this year, as I have self coached and managed up until now, but feel I need to take a more professional approach if I am to succeed in my goal of making it to Rio.

Wishing Liz (and her guns) the best in her journey to Rio!

Follow Liz at:

Also, here are some resources I found on the internet for Chicago and US groups: (Chicago)
Our group is made up of amputees of all levels who were either born without a limb or have lost limbs due to trauma, disease or military service. We also have athletes with spinal cord injuries that compete in racing wheelchairs.  (Chicago/National)
Dare2tri Paratriathlon club was launched in January 2011. The club serves youth, adults and injured service members who have a physical disability such as amputation, spinal cord injury, stroke, Spina Bifida, Cerebral Palsy as well as those with visual impairments or blindness. We serve athletes of all ability levels from beginner to elite.

Established in 1997, the Challenged Athletes Foundation recognizes the athletic greatness inherent in all people with physical challenges and supports their athletic endeavors by providing unparalleled sports opportunities that lead to success in sports — and in life.

Winner Winner! (Factor 75 giveaway)

Name: Lauren Wong Facebook
Option: Like Factor75 on Facebook

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tri-Life: Youth Participation in Triathlon (With Coach Tracy )

I met Tracy through the Rev3 AG Team and knew i wanted to feature her when i found out she coaches young triathletes.  With the approval of NCAA acknowledging Triathlon as an emerging sport for Women, youth involvement will increase and wanted to interview Tracy to find out more.  

Also, anyone in the DC area that knows of a child that might want to get involved with triathlon, Tracy is having a parent/youth information meeting on Wednesday, January 29th at 4:30 pm.(Location: Hefler Performance Cycling, located inside Green Lizard Cycling at 718 Lynn Street, Herndon, VA.20170)  Check TriTeamXcel's FB page for more details!

1. Tell us a little about your background and how you became a coach
I grew up in Kentucky and was never extremely athletic, although I was momentarily on the track team in high school, I was relegated to the shot put and discus rather than the actual running.
I graduated college with a degree in Biology and began working as an Environmental Biologist right away. However, found that working as Photographer allowed me to work and educate my children (through homeschooling) at the same time.

In 2002, I started running for the first time as a way to manage my weight. Like many other non-runners, I always thought that I would get bad knee problems from running. I had a friend encourage me on the right way to run, but my goal was only to run a 5k. Matter of fact, I even wrote an article titled “The word marathon isn’t in my dictionary.”

Well, that was a big joke because, in 2004 I ran the first of (currently) 7 marathons (counting one at the end of an full triathlon)! In 2008, I made the jump into the world of triathlon where I has become an age group winner on several occasions. My biggest accomplishments include 1st place in my age group at the Outer Banks 70.3 Triathlon and 2nd place in the Athena group at Eagleman 70.3.

Although I enjoy getting on the podium, my biggest accomplishments come from breaking my own personal records. Over the course of 10 years, I have dropped over an hour of time off my marathon pace, almost 30 minutes off my half marathon pace, and almost 5 minutes off my 5k pace. I love to help others try to reach similar goals.  In 2010, after taking a coaching course, I started coaching adult runners. I had such a passion for being a coach, that I decided it was time to become a triathlon coach. In 2012, I started a coaching business which then budded into the youth triathlon team it is today.

2. What was your motivation for starting your multisport/coaching company geared to the youth?
I have two children. My son is 15 and my daughter is 8. Although my son has moved his focus from triathlon to basketball, my daughter is still very active and loves triathlon so I really wanted to encourage her in the sport as my initial motivation. What I found was that I just love teaching kids about a sport that I truly love.

3. What are the most common obstacles that children have to overcome while training for their first triathlon? 1) Transitions can be difficult for kids for various reasons. If they aren't being coached by someone that knows about triathlon, they may spend too much time there. I've joked with my daughter before that she shouldn't be casually "putting on her makeup and primping" in transition! With my youth, we practice FAST transitions and what is/isn't necessary to do there! 2) Not knowing what to pack for race day is another thing I see new triathletes struggling with. We talk to our youth about what are "needs" and "wants" for race day and we help them build a list of race-day items for themselves. 3) Going out too fast. I don't think this is something that is specific to youth but pacing is something we teach early on with our youth so they understand that going out too fast might be a disadvantage for them. But, the most common obstacle I see in youth triathlon is 4) They haven't been coached to have good form! If a youth is going to stay involved in triathlon for years to come and make triathlon a lifestyle, they need to have good form. Without good form injury is bound to happen and being sidelined is not where we want to see these kids years down the road. 

4. Any advice for parents wanting to get their children involved in triathlons? Just this month (Jan 2014), the NCAA voted triathlon into the Women's Emerging Sport program. Triathlon for youth is getting ready to EXPLODE because now there will be opportunities for college scholarship programs that hadn't been available until now. As a parent who is a triathlete, I understand many parents decision to coach their own child. And, if you just want your child to go out and race once or twice for fun and never go further with triathlon then that is perfectly okay. But, if you want your child to succeed in triathlon, make triathlon a lifestyle, get college scholarships, go to the Olympics, etc. then you need a coach that knows what they are doing with youth. There are less than 200 USA Triathlon Youth & Juniors coaches worldwide. These folks are trained how to specifically work with youth in the sport of triathlon. When I took the certification course, I was kinda blown away by the wealth of information the course provided. There are so many things that can go wrong when coaching youth triathletes but one of the biggest things is treating our children as "little adults" when it comes to our coaching philosophy.