What's your background and how did you get into triathlon?
I'm a lifelong runner. My last few years of college, I struggled with some injuries (editor's note: Leah ran collegiate track as runner & pole vaulter!) and I took some time off to let my body heal. A few years and a few added pounds later I realized that I missed the daily routine of training and the camaraderie of sport. I was worried that daily running would take its toll and looked toward multisport to fill the gap.
I know you dealt with a shoulder injury last season... how has the recovery process been?
The recovery has been slower than expected. I’m not exactly the best patient when it comes to rehab. I’ve had a few setbacks since I’m not a person to ask for help and wind up over doing it. Most recently lugging 3 large bags + a bike box thru the Frankfurt airport. However, I’ll say it’s amazing how much stuff can fit into a little Opel hatchback. I’ve been pretty diligent about doing my rehab since then and I’m getting much closer to 100%.
How has your experience been so far in Germany, and how long will you be there? What city are you based in?
Germany has been great. I’m here until the end of June, so about 2.5 months. I have an apartment in Rodelheim, a district of Frankfurt. Even speaking no German, I have yet to find a place where I haven’t been able to communicate. While this isn’t my first time here, it is my longest stay, which is why I brought my bike and wetsuit with me.
Due in part to reigning Ironman World Champion Sebastian Kienle, as well as many other famous pros (Jan Frodeno, Raelert brothers, etc.) I know triathlon is huge in Germany. Have you been able to meet/train with any locals? How is training there in general, have you found good places to swim, bike, run?
Triathlon and cycling are huge over here. There are millions of cycling commuters here so their infrastructure is very bike accommodating. Children ride to school in the morning and adults ride to work. There are bike lanes nearly everywhere and bike paths following several of the rivers and scenic routes in the area. Within 30 sec of leaving my apartment, I can be on the Nidda Route, which stretches nearly 84km. It is a multi-use path, but people are so used to cyclists that they stay to the right and are very aware of them.
Run training has been absolutely gorgeous. What a great way to get out and explore the area. Morning and night the river routes are beautiful. There are also several large tri teams in the area, the Eintracht team has nearly 800 members and on any given ride or run, you come across a few wearing their kits out on training runs or rides. There are several people at the office that are involved in the sport so we have some training sessions planned. But for the immediate, I’m still trying to settle into a day to day routine which has made group training a little difficult.
I haven’t been in the pool yet since I’ve been here, but I have been doing a lot of cord training as a substitute. There is an outdoor pool within a quarter mile of my apartment that should be opening in the next week or so. I have plans to get over there as soon as it does.
What are your goals for 2015? Will you be able to race while overseas?
My goals for 2015 are to maintain consistent training and aim for a late season half iron distance “A” race. I’m hoping to at least participate in a few 5ks and maybe even a tri or two while over here.
You used some derivation of the word "compete" 7 times in your application. Were you the kid who goes ballistic when losing birthday party games, or was your competitive nature cultivated over time through sports?
Yeah, about that, I am fiercely competitive, although in the last several years I’ve learned to slow down and enjoy the view. I grew up racing sailboats, and running track so pushing myself has been something I have done ever since I was young. I sometimes struggle with consistent training, but I love the rush of competition.
At the same time you mentioned your love of helping others and seeing people succeed, while also bringing some family members into the sport. In what ways do you try to be an ambassador of the sport in your state?
It's great watching someone smile as they come out of the water their first time with that big grin on their face making their way to up transition. Or helping a newcomer setup their transition area for the first time. Or even just talking shop with the guy on the treadmill wearing a shirt from one of the local tris. That’s the great thing about the tri community. Everyone is welcome regardless of their ability. I love bringing people into the sport. I brought my dad over to the dark side not long after I caught the tri bug. He’d recently retired and needed something to focus his extra time on.
I’ve convinced a few people at work to take up the sport and am always willing to setup a group run or ride if they’d like a training partner. We’ve got a pretty decent multisport base here in Michigan that regularly trains at one of the local state parks. I try to be the cheerleader of the group, making sure everyone is having a good time.
Tell us a bit about your day job, and what hobbies do you have outside of work and triathlon?
I am an engineering supervisor at Continental Automotive; we are responsible for Anti Lock Brake systems in my group. It keeps me pretty busy, but I love my job and love the company. They are really shifting their focus to wellness and work life balance. For the last several years we’ve entered 300+ runners at the Detroit Free Press Marathon via relay teams, standalone half or full marathoners.
Beside triathlons, I ride motorcycles, both on the street and on the track. Again fueling my competitive spirit, it’s an addiction for sure.
You're on the auto side, but from your point of view why does Continental make such popular bike tires as well?
Continental was initially founded as a German rubber manufacturer. Their original bread and butter was tires. They take constant feedback from the professionals and everyday warriors that use their product and put that back into their design. They also take pride in being able to say their tires are handmade in Germany.
What are the pros and cons of being a triathlete in the great state of Michigan?
Michigan is a great state for any type of outdoor sport, especially triathlon. The Great Lakes State has over 100 state parks and hundreds of county and city parks. This makes cycling, running, and swimming accessible nearly anywhere in the state. While some would say our winters are a con for training in Michigan, that can be a great time to get some cross training in. Bundle up and you can enjoy cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and even running.