Athlete of the Month, January 2014 - Liz Shumann

Smiling female triathlete after an Ironman
January 29, 2017

D3 Staff



What sparked your interest in triathlon?

I was speaking with a friend of a friend who had done triathlons, and it sounded like fun!   It was perfect timing, because I was starting a new job with less hours, and wanted to start having a healthier lifestyle.  I'd been career focused for many years, didn't get regular sleep, and exercise was inconsistent (I could barely run 2 miles.)  And my eating habits included sometimes having candy for meals and going days without vegetables (and, yes, this horrified my parents!).   So triathlon seemed like something that would encourage me to be healthier.

What sports came before triathlon?

I swam a lot as a kid, always really enjoyed it, and competed at the YMCA nationals several times (once qualifying for finals by one one-hundredth of a second in the 200 fly.)  My plan had been to swim in college, but senior year of high school came around, and all of a sudden I was simply tired of looking at the tiles on the bottom of the pool!  I then took a complete break from swimming for 16 years, or until I joined D3 in June 2012.   During those 16 years, I had some periods where I'd go to the gym, and there was a yoga phase in fellowship, but no other sports.

Tell us a little about yourself where do you live, work, family?

I live outside Boulder.  I moved here a couple years ago from Baltimore, and am really enjoying Colorado!  I'm a child psychiatrist, although I see adults too.  I work in a crisis clinic at a county mental health center, and absolutely love my job!  Some days though are very emotionally charged.  I'm the youngest of six kids, and my parents and siblings live on the east coast.

Focused and diligent are two words your coach used to describe you tell us how you are able to maintain those qualities with your training?

Liz Shumann runningI really like all three sports, so that helps a lot.  Also, I've found that focusing on triathlon lets me have more balance in my life.  My job can be very rewarding, but is also utterly sad at times, and some days I see things that make me angry.  Training is a great outlet for all that emotion, and it recharges me.  And that recharge both benefits my work, and also gives me more energy for my personal life.  So I'm very motivated to focus on triathlon because it helps the other areas of my life so much.

Who is your coach at D3 and how has your coach helped you with your goals?

Jim is my coach.   I was a complete beginner when I met him, and he's helped me in so many ways, I don't quite know where to begin!

He's given me a lot of technical advice, from how to train in general, how to get the most out of a power meter, race day nutrition, etc.  One of the first things he taught me though was extremely elementary: how to stop on the bike.  I'm definitely not the most coordinated person, and when I first clipped into a bike, I couldn't figure out how to quickly unclip, get off the seat, and put my foot on the ground.   Jim met with me to go over some basic skills, and I finally got the hang of it.

He's said many things that have helped me mentally.   One example is to go into workouts with the attitude of I'm going to do the best that I can do today, right now, as opposed to thinking about how well (or not) it went last week, or thinking what pace I absolutely must be at, or what I have to do tomorrow.  He also told me to think of the bike as a part of me (a very helpful concept especially in crosswinds.)

Overall though , he's been consistently supportive and encouraging, and that makes a tremendous difference.

Boulder 70.3, a favorite local-to-Boulder race why did you select that as your 2013 A race?  Describe your favorite part of the race.

Boulder was my A race because, for my first 70.3, I thought it would be nice to know the course in advance and not have to travel.  (And also honestly because it's relatively flat I'm not good at hills!)  My favorite part was the last half mile of the run.  I had been in a zone during the entire race, but at mile 12.65, I looked at my watch, and suddenly realized it was almost over!   I felt surprisingly good, and started to really see for the first time that all the training had paid off.

What's your race plan for 2014?

70.3 Raleigh (I have family in the area so it will be great to see them,) 70.3 Steelhead, and some local shorter races.

Do you have a workout or race mantra?

When things are tough, either in a workout or a race, I'll chant "this is who you are, deep inside." It's a reminder to myself that I want to be someone with a certain mental toughness, who doesn't let their mind get in the way of doing their best.  So my mantra stops me from giving up, and helps me quickly push aside any unhelpful thoughts like I can't I don't want or I could just STOP right now.

Describe some thing from your training that makes you proud? Liz Shumann Bike utah raceIf you could invite anyone to join you in a training workout, who would you bring along and why?

I would say Chelsea Handler, who is one of my favorite comedians.  I don't think she'd really participate, but she would make the workout very entertaining!

What else should we know about you?

Nothing comes to mind!

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