Triathlete finishes 2nd despite injury
It was a year ago, while training for the Houston Marathon, that Leana Elliott's back issues once again plagued her, and she was forced to take a few months off from running. Her hopes of qualifying for the Boston Marathon came to an end.
Last year, she endured months of physical therapy and spinal steroid injections to deal with the pain.
Elliott also had to continue to change up her training and strengthening plan to accommodate her back issues.
Some may ask why she continues to train for triathlons, but as her coach and training partner and someone who also deals with a number of back issues, I completely understand her continued drive despite the pain.
Even though her ability to train hard in the running arena has been limited, she has managed to refocus her training to getting better on the bike and swim portions, which has more than made up for any diminished speed on the run.
"I worked harder on my swim and bike because it was less aggravating to my back," Elliott said. "I have put a lot more time on the bike and in the pool this past year."
All that biking and swimming paid off over the weekend as Elliott headed to the Burnet Tri Hard Extreme Triathlon.
As training partners, we had signed up to do it together, but unfortunately, I was sidelined with a respiratory infection and ended up cheering on the sidelines.
With a course billed as "extreme" with lots of elevation gain, climbing on the bike and a mountainous and technical trail run, Elliott didn't have too many expectations going into the race other than finishing with a respectable time.
She started strong in the open water swim in Inks Lake, finishing the 1,500-meter swim in a time of 25:11, averaging 1:40 per 100 meters.
Next up was her strongest discipline, the bike. Despite the hilly course and intermittent rain showers, she hammered the 36-mile course with a time of 1:41:33, averaging 21.3 mph.
Finally, it was time to run. Elliott hoped to maintain a decent pace, anticipating her legs going numb (which is typical).
She averaged 10:12 per mile - incredible considering the competitors ran to the summit of a small mountain. She came across the line strong, finishing as the second overall female and winning her age group in a time of 3:12:20, about 10 minutes behind the top female finisher, a professional triathlete from Austin.
Despite the constant nagging injuries of her back and the inability to fully run and train like she would like to be able to, Elliott has shown that she can still strive for her athletic pursuits and goals and be competitive.
"I would encourage others who deal with injury to stay as active as possible, watch your weight and keep your core strong," Elliott said.
She plans to pursue yet another lifetime athletic goal as she trains and competes in the Texas Ironman in May.
"My short-term goal is to finish the Ironman race and then re-evaluate and see how my body feels. I would love to continue this sport for another 30 years, but at this point, I have to just take it day by day," she said.
The Kerrville Triathlon Festival was held over the weekend of Sept. 28-29.
Three local athletes competed. In the half-Ironman distance (1.2-mile swim/56-mile bike/13.1-mile run) there were two from our area: John Luna, 7:40:23, 42nd in age group (3:20/100 meter swim; 16.0 mph bike; 13:47/mile run); and Tressa Story, 7:57:29, fifth in age group (3:20/100m swim; 14.5 mph bike; 13:33/mile run).
In the quarter distance (1,000-meter swim/29-mile bike/6.4-mile run), Kimberly Rollins finished in a time of 3:55:03, 12th in her age group (2:54/100m swim; 15.5 mph bike; 13:51/mile run).
Missy Janzow received her B.S. in dietetics from Southeast Missouri State University and owns Fit4U, a personalized coaching and nutrition business that serves to train the novice or sea soned triathlete or runner. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.