Athlete Spotlight: Courtney Lazar

Courtney Lazar is tackling Ironman Wisconsin this weekend! Take a minute to learn more about her journey, how she has gotten through some rough moments, and how she balances a crazy work life with Ironman training! Good luck Courtney – we know you’ll be great!


Primary events: Muncie 70.3 (aka “Muncie Super-Olympic 37.2”), Ironman Wisconsin


What is your athletic background: I’ve always been involved in some kind of sport for as long as I can remember.  I was a gymnast for 10 years, played volleyball in junior high and high school, and ran track in high school.  I hated distance running in school because it was always associated with punishment in sports…if I missed too many serves it was “go run a mile”!  After college, I watched one of my closest friends run the Columbus Marathon and decided that I wanted to run one too no matter how much I hated running distance.  I fell in love with running after those five months of training – since then I have run 5 half marathons, the Columbus Marathon and the Chicago Marathon.  I watched the NBC Ironman World Championships on TV for the first time in 2004 and decided that one of my life goals was to complete an Ironman one day.  I put the rest of my life on hold this year and set out to complete three “firsts” – an Olympic distance triathlon, half Ironman and full Ironman in 2012.  Two of those boxes are checked so far….check back with me in five days:)


Why did you choose BASE Tri Fitness as your training program provider:  Accidentally.  And it was the best thing that could have happened to me!  I contacted another coach about working together and, after talking with her more in depth, she referred me to Lauren because she thought we would match up better.  Lauren has been amazing at accommodating my business travel schedule, but she still makes sure I get in all the workouts I need to prepare for Ironman.  She can be tough when I need it (ie. telling me to pull it together when I have a breakdown in the middle of swimming in a quarry or walking alongside me while I swim in the pool and hitting me with a foam noodle when my hands cross over the center line) and compassionate when I need it (ie. telling me that it’s okay to listen to my body and walk away from a workout when it’s not going well due to exhaustion).


What has been the most challenging part of your training so far: Without a doubt, it’s been the open water swimming.  This year I started swimming with barely being able to swim 100 meters without stopping to gasp for air.  Thanks to Lauren, I have put some serious time in on my stroke, learned to spot in the open water, learned to deal with my back-end dropping, and a heart rate that tends to race out of control at the beginning of an OWS.  This is all still a work in progress, but I am feeling much more confident.  I now swim 3k-4k pool workouts without any trouble and it feels awesome!


What has been the most enjoyable part of your training: The most enjoyable part of this whole year is something that Coach LU has taught me – no one is BORN to do anything.  You WORK to get what you want.  I always thought things like “I’m not born to be a fast runner” or “I’m just born to swim”….wrong!  If you want to get faster or you want to learn a new sport, then it’s up to you to take the necessary steps to make it happen.  Hire a coach or mentor, put a plan in place and follow it – you would be surprised what you are capable of.  It’s just a matter of how bad you really want it!


What have you accomplished so far that you never dreamt you’d accomplish: Getting to the starting line of Ironman Wisconsin.  This is a dream 8 years in the making and it is something I wasn’t sure I could actually do.  I realize that the race is going to be extremely challenging, but the journey to earn my right to line up for this race is such a huge personal accomplishment.  Week after week, all of us athletes manage our everyday lives and still push ourselves to get in 20 hours of training in the peak season.  There were weeks where I encountered pure exhaustion, but I managed to pick myself up each day to go to work and still get my evening workouts in.  The weekend would roll around and that consisted of a Friday night swim, all day Saturday brick and long run Sunday to turn around and repeat it again.  There were a lot of sacrifices to get the last 9 months of training in, and I feel proud that I was able to stay disciplined enough to execute on my training plan.


What is your favorite music to train to: Anything I can shake my booty to!  I love all types of music, but when I workout I love anything with a good beat.  Jay Z, Drake, Ciara, Missy Elliott, Kanye, Linkin Park, Mary J Blige, Notorious BIG, 50 Cent, Black Eyed Peas, various 80s stuff.  My top 3 race prep songs are Eminem “Lose Yourself”, Van Halen “Right Now”, Linkin Park/Jay Z “Encore”.


Favorite workout: Believe it or not, my favorite workout this year was my solo 102 mile bike ride followed by a 40 minute run.  I was working out that Saturday for 8 hours, but it was one of the best days of my life.  It made me realize what my mind and body are capable of and I really starting thinking about how grateful I was for my life that day.  It was very mentally taxing, but those kind of workouts are where you find out what you’re really made of!


Least favorite workout:  TEMPO RUNS!!! Hands down.  An hour of all-out bursts of running where I can’t catch my breath give me terrible flash backs to gym in high school.  Hate them while I’m doing them, but love the results.  Never dreamed I could run a 8:45 pace for some of those splits!!  (Coach LU…I may have mumbled some things about you under my breath during those workouts and I didn’t mean them.  It was in the heat of the moment and I love you:)


Any embarrassing moments or stories?  Ohhhhhh…..where to begin?  1) My first training group ride I had my helmet on backwards the group leader had to whisper to me to turn it around.  2) One night at Lifetime Dublin I had my eyes closed as I was swimming my last 500 meter of the set and when I opened them I saw the feet of person standing at the end of my lane line and it scared the living crap out of me.  I popped out of the water facing the woman and started screaming. I think I scared her because she started screaming back at me.  We just stood there screaming at each other. WTH?! 3) I peed myself on the bike portion of my Olympic race (wasn’t so bad) and then again on the run portion (much worse experience and creates quite the noise from your shoes) to try and hit a target race goal.  Is that enough material?


What is your equipment line up: Trek 1000 Road Bike sans aero-bars, Specialized bike shoes, Asics Cumulus running shoes (8 years and going strong – if it ain’t broke, why fix it?), and of course my Base Tri-Fit jerseys!


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