Athlete of the Month, December 2016 - Tina Hepper

Triathlete crossing the finish line of an Ironman
December 15, 2016

D3 Staff



Congratulations to Tina Hepper for finishing your first Ironman! Coach Martina nominated Tina Hepper for our Athlete of the Month because she successfully finished Ironman Arizona this past November. As those who have crossed the finish line know, an Ironman is a significant achievement! Martina said that Tina had some setbacks during training with injuries, but that she persevered and never let sight of her goal. As her coach, Martina appreciated that Tina trusted her advice and coaching throughout the process, and Tina finished the race in just over 13 hours. Tina was able to balance her training with having a young child and working full-time. Martina summed it up with a reflection about Tina’s approach to training: Get-It-Done, No Excuses! That’s how you make things happen.

Congratulations to Tina Hepper, our December Athlete of the Month!

Enjoy the Q&A.

1. You are an Ironman! Those are exciting words to hear for the very first time. What gave you the inspiration to move up to this distance and why did you pick Ironman Arizona?

I never thought of my self as a long distance athlete. As a matter of fact, I never had the desire to spend more than 1 hr for a run or 2hrs for a ride. Short-but-hard used to be my world of racing and training. The idea was born out of frustration. I had gone through a couple of years of sprints and oly races and since I am very competitive, I needed to exceed my previous results every year. At that time I was self coached, in 2015 I decided to hire a coach to prepare me for the oly USAT championship in Chicago. I ended up getting injured and had to cancel the race along with a couple of following races. My spirit was broken and I felt that I needed a break from the high pressure of short distance racing. I tend to go to the extremes, so what would be more the opposite from sprint races? Of course a full Ironman. I needed this race to prove to myself that I can do whatever I put my mind to even if people are telling me that I should start with a half and see how it goes, but that’s just not me!

Another reason was that being a coach myself, I needed to be able to understand what people are feeling and how the training works for an Ironman and not only teaching from a book. I need to feel it myself, practice what you preach!

Lastly, I went to the Endurance Summit last year and listened to the lectures and realized that this is a big piece that is missing in my athletic life. I needed to close that gap as soon as possible. I met D3 Head Coach Mike Ricci at one of his lectures and inquired about his business and thought, I have train with those guys! Never regretted it, thanks Coach Martina!

2. During an Ironman, lots of things can happen … what is one thing that you are proud of and what is one thing that made you laugh/smile?

I am proud that I never gave up, even though I wanted to so badly during the run. Also, I kept disciplined and stuck to my strategy even when I saw my age group females passing me on the bike or run and I could have kept their pace, but just didn’t. This was a big challenge and would probably have to be paid back dearly.

One of things that made me laugh was when I had to go to the bathroom on the bike and knew it was going to cost time if I would stop or even had to stand in line. People say, the pros just go! So, I thought, I’d do that and made an effort to just let it go and finally found a way to relax, but then changed my mind because I imagined how this is going to feel like for the rest of my ride. I made it through the whole ride and waited until T2.

3. Coach Martina helped you navigate injuries and training. What was a workout that helped you feel like you could conquer the race despite being hurt?

I think it was not one workout, but the combination of run/bike doubles focusing on vo2 and then LT 2 days later and for the weekend, she still had the long runs and rides in store. By the weekend I was so tired, but somehow made it through plus I had to work 8 hours (mostly walking around) after the long run on top of it. I thought, this feels like an Ironman already! I even thought, the IM would be easier because I didn’t have to do the intense workouts on race day.

4. What is your favorite of the 3 Ds: Desire, Determination or Discipline?

I think my favorite is determination. It has always been the determination that got me to my goal. I decide to do something and I am getting there. The hard part is to convince myself to take on a challenge, because once I made that decision, my body does not want to disappoint my mind and I can visualize the goal in my mind. My desire sometimes is too strong and taking me too far ahead of myself and needs to be reined in! Discipline goes hand in hand with my determination, I feel really bad when I miss a workout or I have to shuffle things around. Training is sometimes my highest priority and I (and Martina) keep reminding myself that I am not a pro and have a day job and family too! That’s why I would pick determination because the other two sometimes create pitfalls to me that threaten my health and well being.

We are excited for all that Tina has achieved in 2016 and look forward to seeing where she takes her racing in 2017. Congratulations.

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