3/10/17

Athlete Spotlight: Lisa Comer - Putting the puzzle pieces together with family, sport and life.


Name: Lisa Comer

Age: 45 

City/State: Corning, NY

Primary sport: Triathlon

How many years in the sport: 9 years

What Trimarni services have you used: Nutrition consult, training plan, one-on-one coaching, group training camp

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Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

I grew up playing softball and swimming. When I graduated high school, I was a little burned out on sports. I took a long break from sports through college and several years beyond. After getting married and having my son, I started running in late 2006 as a way to get back in shape but, also to have a little quiet time. I started with a goal of wanting to run a whole 5K without walking any of it. I started training with 5 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking with my sister, sometimes encouraging and sometimes pushing me as needed. From there, I set my sights on and completed a half-marathon. After I had my daughter in 2008, I set another goal to complete the Wineglass Marathon. In early 2009, I found myself searching for a new challenge. Along with trying to qualify for the Boston Marathon, I decided to try a triathlon. I found a local sprint race, the Keuka Lake Triathlon, bought a bike and a book about training, and got to work. Three months later, I completed my 1st sprint race and was hooked on triathlon!



What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
When I started running, it was for the quiet time. I often joked that no one could ask anything of me unless they were willing to chase me. I quickly realized that I loved the challenge. Now, I keep training and racing because I have developed a passion for triathlon. I want to continue to challenge myself. I love that into my 40's, I continue to push my limits and still think I have more to gain and learn both as a person and as an athlete. I have also met some great friends along the way. They make the training and racing very fun. They push me to be a better athlete and person. Along the way, I hope I have done the same for them. Triathlon also allows me to be a good example for my children and my students because it is a way for me to be healthy and active. I hope they see that being active is something that is important and rewarding but also challenging and fun.



What do you do for work?
I am an elementary teacher, currently teaching 3rd grade.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
Teaching is both physically and emotionally demanding. It can sometimes be tough to gather the physical/mental energy for a workout after teaching all day. I know I will feel better once I'm done with the workout so I tell myself to just get started and to see how I feel. Once I get started, I can put the day aside and just focus on my workout. After I'm done, I always feel better. I balance work and training by planning out my week ahead of time. I can usually follow the schedule I've made but sometimes things come up, like something unexpected happens at work and that has to take precedence. When this happens, I first think about how I can rearrange my available time and if that can't happen, I think about how I can adjust my workout to make the most of a situation. If neither of those can happen, I just let the workout go and move on with my day.



Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

On Thursdays, I make sure my teaching plans for the next week are ready and everything is prepped. On Saturday or Sunday, I sit down with my family calendar and training schedule, and make a tentative plan for how everything will fit into the day. This way, I have an idea of how my training will fit best into each day but I can also minimize the impact on my family time. I like to think about it like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece has it's place on the calendar puzzle. Sometimes, I run while my son is at soccer or swim while my daughter is at dance. I know the purpose of each workout in advance and how each workout fits into the weekly schedule. This helps me so that if I need to adjust the workout in some way due to life, I can adjust without feeling overwhelmed. When this happens, I don't stress over what I can't accomplish. I do the work when I can do, always enjoy it while I'm doing it and move on.  
I also spend a few hours on Sunday meal planning. I plan the meals on a chalkboard in my kitchen and then I make my shopping list and shop accordingly. I prep as much as I can ahead of time, including snacks and lunches. I am very blessed to have a husband who is very supportive and helpful. With the meals laid out, he can make dinner when needed.



Do you have kids?
Yes. Grant is 10 yrs old and Jenna is a few weeks shy of 9 yrs old.



How does having kids affect your training? How do you balance a family and training? 

Having kids helps me keep everything in perspective. I am a wife and mom first. This means that, although I have personal goals for myself, I can't take them too seriously. Triathlon is a hobby and not my entire life - just a part of my life. Having this perspective helps me keep everything in balance.


What tips and tricks do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family? 

Getting organized is the biggest tip I can offer. Being intentional with my time is how I stay balanced with training and family. When needed though, I have learned that it''s also OK to ask for help. It isn't always easy to ask for help. I have to remind myself that I can't always do everything myself. And, asking for help doesn't make me a weak person. That help can come in the form of babysitting help from your sister, advice from a friend or help from a coach. There was once a time when I spent a lot of time setting up my racing schedule and subsequently, my training schedule each week. In order to do that, I also did a lot of research to know how to write my own training plan. Sometimes I got it right but, sometimes I got it wrong. When I got it wrong, I missed out on the opportunities to improve my skills and to take my fitness to the next level. Just as important, I also missed out on opportunities to stay healthy and present with my family as I unintentionally dug myself into a hole of fatigue once or twice. Having Marni and Karel as coaches has not only allowed me to grow and learn as an athlete but, has also given me back some valuable family time.


How do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?
My husband is amazingly supportive. I am so lucky to have him in my life. He always encourages me to shoot for my goals no matter how big or small. He believes in me, even when I start to doubt myself. He also helps me keep everything in perspective, especially during those times when I start to take things too seriously. I try to be very respectful of the time he needs to enjoy his hobbies as well. Thankfully, our hobbies happen in opposite seasons. When fall rolls around, my training and racing take a backseat to his needs. I love seeing him enjoy his hobbies and passions. A big tip is to communicate. When I make my tentative race schedule for the upcoming season, I talk it through with my husband. He offers a different perspective so his input is invaluable. He also looks at his schedule to be sure there are no conflicts at his work. Sometimes he and my kids come to my races but sometimes I go with friends so he has solo kid duty when I'm gone. This makes it extra important to coordinate with his schedule. Again, I couldn't do this sport without his support.


Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson
learned that you'd like to share?
I am very proud to be named as an All-American from USA Triathlon with my best score to date since I started triathlon. My best recent race result was a win at the New Jersey Devilman Half lite 50 last spring. Even in tough weather conditions, it was one of those dream days that don't come along very often.
  
What are your top tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  1. Consistency is king. Epic workouts have their place but it's the work you put in day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year that will keep you healthy, happy and performing better each year.
  2. Enjoy the journey and friendships that you make in your sport. The race is just the icing on the cake.
  3. When a disappointing result happens, allow yourself a little bit of time to be disappointed, mad, sad, whatever you need to feel. Then let it go and move on.
  4. Celebrate the small accomplishments along the way. If you're the only one to see it happen, do a little happy dance all by yourself. They're what will keep you training long before and after your race happens.
  5. Great joy comes from encouraging others to try something new, reach for a goal, or finish something when it gets hard. 

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

As long as I can continue to grow as an athlete and enjoy the journey, I consider it a success. I don't know how much longer I will continue to get better but I'm willing to find out. After that, I guess I'll find a different reason to keep making triathlon a part of my life because at this point, it's part of who I am.


What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?

Pizza or ice cream.
What key races do you have planned in 2017?
Rev3 Quassy half iron distance in June. Ironman Mont Tremblant in August.


What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
I would love to qualify for Kona. It may or may not happen but I love the idea of having a goal that is big and scary. It helps keep me stay motivated to train. My other goal is to enjoy this journey all along the way. It's so easy to get wrapped up in this sport. I never want to loose the joy of the journey and the progress that I have made.



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