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Empire Spotlight- Liz West

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

Meet Empire athlete Liz West:

Liz is a longtime tennis junkie who’s played on many USTA tennis teams. At school, she was on the tennis team and ran track competing in the the 400m Sprint. When she’s not competing in triathlons or playing tennis she’s busy singing and playing acoustic guitar!

Liz had been intrigued by triathlons for some time. However, coupled with being intimidated by the swim and a lack of bike skills, there was nothing to fuel her desire to pursue the sport. Not until she gave cycling another shot on her hybrid bike.

“I had limited experience biking and had never ridden a road bike. Two years ago, I re-acquainted myself with my hybrid and did some cycling. When I picked up my friend’s road bike and felt how light it was, a light bulb went off: I can ride faster, and keep up with my friends with a road bike. I bought my road bike two weeks later!”

She then entered the lottery for the NYC Triathlon and that’s when her tri life began!

Just a few weeks ago, Liz competed in Ironman Lake Placid 70.3. Race morning, the temperature outside was 38 degrees Farenheit! Albeit the water was 20 degrees warmer, the swimmers would start their race in frosty air conditions. Although she never panicked during her swim, she had trouble getting her breathing under control due to the cold, which also affected her on the bike. When she arrived at transition to start her run, Liz was told that she missed the bike cut-off time and her race was over.

With her tenacity in check she refused to give up on something that she worked so hard to accomplish. While getting her chip cut off she asked if she could continue on to the run. The officials explained that if she continued her time on the course would no longer be recorded. She made peace with that statement and went off on her 13.1 mile run.

“Nothing, prepared me for being told I missed the bike cut-off time at mile 45, and that my race was “officially” over. I would have none of that, I completed the run anyway, and crossed that finish line!!! Technically I DNF’ed, but more importantly, I persevered and finished my race.”

Liz finished her first Ironman 70.3 with a smile! She looks forward to another Half Ironman next June and plans to improve her swim. This should put her in a better position to completing the race in regulation time.

We are so proud to have such an athlete be part of the Empire Tri Club family.


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#Track My Training “I’ve been riding my post-race high…and still can’t believe that I actually finished the race.”


They say you never forget your first – and boy will I never forget my first half Ironman!!!  I’ve been riding my post-race high for a few days now and still can’t believe that I actually finished the race.  I knew I was more than well trained to complete this race but there’s always that little thought deep in the back of my mind that always thinks “What if I can’t?” (Answer to that: Life goes on and there will be other races to do).

Before I get into my race recap, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to everyone reading this who toed the start line.  Lake Placid is no easy course and the weather conditions at the beginning made it challenging for sure, so big high fives for just getting out there.  I hope you all had as much fun as I did!!!

Ok now onto my race recap…


Having just gotten back from Portugal and needing to unpack, do laundry and repack, I honestly didn’t really have enough time to do very much in the way of workouts.  Which to be quite honest, I was totally fine with.  I had some great workouts the week before so I was fine with ending my training on that high note.

Drove up to Lake Placid on Friday morning – it was a long drive, but man is it gorgeous! Once we got off the highway and started weaving our way through the mountains I got really excited for the race.  I knew it was going to be a beautiful course, but I didn’t know it was going to be this gorgeous!

After we arrived and checked-in to our Airbnb, fellow Empire teammate Howard and I decided to go for a short shakeout swim in the lake.  We were only going to go to the second buoy, but ended up going to the third.  It took us a bit to find the famed cable, but once we did, it was great. The water wasn’t that cold, but after getting out and standing in the cool air was when we got chilly.  It was a good mental prep for what Sunday was going to be like.  My swim felt great and gave me a good boost of confidence for race day.

After our shakeout swim, we went to athlete check in and got all of our stuff – it was definitely getting more and more real by the second.  The rest of the day we just chilled out, went to dinner, and got to bed early to try and get one last good night of sleep (I knew I wouldn’t sleep much Saturday night).

Saturday morning we went for a short 20 minute ride on River Road to get a glimpse of the run course.  Again – beautiful. Even on a cloudy, dreary day.  Made sure all was in working order on my bike and everything felt good.  I had wanted to go for a short run as well, but with the weather cold and rainy, I didn’t want to risk anything and skipped it.  I wanted to run more so for a mental piece of mind – I came into triathlons as a runner so running always calms me down and that’s what I wanted before the day. To give me a little peace of mind.  But oh well, it wasn’t in the cards this time!

We did some more relaxing, checked in our bikes, met up with some friends who were there volunteering, went to an early dinner, got our stuff ready for the morning and then early to bed again.  I’m not going to say I got a great night of sleep, but I did sleep better than I had anticipated. Wooooo!

Race Day Morning

4:00 am alarm clocks are never fun – especially when it’s still dark and cold outside.  I peeled myself out of bed and started making coffee. Because, priorities! We didn’t need to leave our apartment until around 5:30, but I’m one of those people who can’t just get up and go, I need time in the morning to ease into the day, have breakfast (oatmeal with PB and banana in case you are wondering) and coffee and let it digest a bit.

Did one last check of my bag, and that I had everything I needed. We headed out the door at 5:40 all bundled up trying to stay as warm as possible for as long as possible.  As I peeled off my two layers of long sleeves to get my body marking done, I thought, “Oh, it’s not THAT cold out”. Spoiler alert: I will highly regret saying that in about an hour.

After getting my transition area all set up, pumping my tires, and getting into my wetsuit, we headed over to the start area.  Around 6:50 I finally took off all my extra layers and headed into the 45-55 minute swim group.  Standing there in the cold with bare feet felt like the longest 40 minutes of my life.  I was starting to get worried because my feet were so cold and starting to go numb.

Before I knew it the national anthem was being sung the gun went off.  The race had officially begun!!!


The swim was what I was most nervous about for this race – but I have to say I ROCKED IT (or at least in my mind I did)!!!  By the time I finally got to the water, I took my time getting in, found my lane, and started.  I knew I wanted to start a little slower to ease into it and get myself into a good rhythm.  Luckily, I got my rhythm and got into the zone right away – I really think it’s  because in swimming, you immediately put your head under water and can drown out everything else around you.

My hands and feet did start to go numb just before I reached the turnaround, so that made me a little nervous, but I dealt with it.  There were a few parts that felt a bit crowded, but I was able to maneuver around people and to my surprise was passing people pretty much the entire time.

Starting to see the bottom of the lake under me and running out of the water was the best feeling ever!!!  I knew the rest of the day would be a breeze (relatively speaking of course) now that the swim was over.  41:59 on the swim – not too shabby!!!

Transition 1

I thought keeping my wetsuit on while going from the swim to where our bikes would help keep me warm, and it did, but I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to take my wetsuit off with halfway numb fingers.  Should have had the wetsuit strippers help me – oh well – live and learn!

I made sure to dry myself off as much as possible to not be so cold on the bike.  Putting on multiple other layers also presents a challenge when your fingers are a bit numb and don’t have full dexterity in them.  Again, live and learn!  10 minutes later and I was finally heading out of transition, all bundled up.


This bike course is no joke – but man is it beautiful! Not going to lie there were definitely times where I COULD have been going faster, but I really wanted to just enjoy all the beautiful scenery around me and take it all in.

Also, major kudos to the people who do the full and do this TWICE!  For those of you unfamiliar with the course it’s hills on hills on hills – especially at the end.  You start off with a decent climb for about 6 or 7 miles, which felt great to help warm me up a bit – then it’s the famous Keene decent for the next 6 or 7 miles.  Holy moly – did I pick up some speed! I think I topped out at about 35 mph.  I don’t really remember too much about the middle except a pretty long out and back to Ausable Forks.  The shit gets real and those hills just start coming at ya – I may not have been the fastest but I was pretty consistently passing people on the uphills (I have a road bike, so the hills are easier).

Luckily by mile 40 I had finally regained feeling on my toes again and I was able to take my gloves and sleeves on my jacket off.  Once the sun finally came out it made a world of difference.  Getting back into town and knowing I was ⅔ of the way to becoming a half Ironman was an amazing feeling.  The energy of all the spectators in and around the oval was palpable and gave me a good boost of energy as I pulled into transition.

3:43:49 on the bike – again, I’ll take it!!!

Transition 2

Not much to say about this one – went much more smoothly than the first time around. Stripped off all my bike layers, put my sneakers, hat and bib on and I was out and running in about 3 minutes.


The run course is just as beautiful as the bike course.  Again, there were times when I could have been going faster but wanted to just enjoy the beautiful scenery around me.  My goal for the run was to start slow and stay strong – I didn’t really care how fast I was going – and stop at every aid station to make sure I was hydrating.  Much like the bike course, the hills get ya at the end – not going to lie I had to stop and walk a bit after one of the hills because I felt my heart rate skyrocketing and wanted to bring it back down a bit.  Once I did though, I was good to go.  The last out and back though, is just mean; it felt like it would never end.  I kept thinking “Where on earth is the turnaround point?!”  Before I knew it though I was turning the corner, the red carpet and finish line in sight, so I picked it up with everything I had left and crossed that finish line!  The sense of accomplishment I felt in that moment was overwhelming – I was so proud of myself!

2:05:03 on the run – not too shabby if I don’t say so myself!!!

Post Race & Final Thoughts

After getting my medal and picture taken, I headed to the athlete food tent and grabbed some water, oranges and of course a slice of pizza (which happens to be my favorite post-race food).  I found my boyfriend (well more like he found me) and we sat in the grass and hung out for a bit before heading back to transition to get my stuff and head out.

Overall, I absolutely loved this race and while I don’t necessarily want to come back in 2018, I would definitely do this course again! It’s a great town, the course is beautiful, and all the volunteers are so nice.

So, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m hooked on doing triathlons.  I told myself I would wait until December to start planning my 2018 race calendar, but I broke my own rule and already started looking at races for next year!

This has been an absolutely incredible journey – I’ve learned so much about myself not only as an athlete but also as a person.  I’ve also had such an incredible support system – from everyone on Empire Tri, friends, family and my boyfriend.  Without everyone, this would not be possible.

So for now, it’s not goodbye, it’s I’ll see you later – in 2018!!!!

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#Track My Training “I take a few deep breaths to center myself and visualize myself out on the course.”


Workouts for the week:

Monday: strength in the morning, swim in the evening

Tuesday: yoga in the morning, run in the evening

Wednesday: morning ride, yoga in the evening

Thursday: strength in the morning, run in the evening

Friday: long ride

Saturday: long run

Sunday: rest day

I usually try not to favor workouts, but I have to say, this week my favorite workout was definitely my long run.  I went home for the weekend and ended up doing my long run around a lake by my house and it was absolutely glorious!  I love being in nature, especially in and/or around bodies of water, so I was happy as a clam during my run. It was so quiet and peaceful, I just couldn’t resist to take a few moments to sit down and take it all in and meditate on training so far.  Anyway, a little more on that later…..

For anyone paying super close attention to my workouts of the week, this week was a little different and I had to shift some things around.  One *major (* – it’s really not actually that major, just feels that way) change was that I didn’t do a brick workout this week, just a long(er) ride.  I went home for the weekend for a baby shower and knew I needed to shift my longer workouts back a day, which meant doing long ride on Friday morning before work. Which meant if I wanted to get to work showered and on time, something needed to give – and in this case, it was my run off the bike.

Normally something like this, so close to race day, would give me a lot of anxiety, but in all honesty, I was one thousand percent okay with it.  Since I started training I’ve done a run off the bike after every single long ride, so I think it’s pretty safe to say that my body knows the feeling and what to do at this point.  In the next 2-weeks I might try and get one or two more shorter brick workouts in, just to make sure my body doesn’t forget too much, but if it doesn’t happen then so be it.

It’s weird to be in taper mode now – usually when I’m tapering for a marathon my body is so ready for a break by this point. Tapering for a triathlon feels so much different though – while I’ve had some long, intense workouts that have certainly kicked my butt, my body doesn’t feel like it’s beat up.  I’m guessing that’s because swimming and riding aren’t really high impact activities like running is.  So, it’s actually been hard to dial back the intensity in my workouts now because I still feel great – but, I know I need to save some up some energy reserves for race day!


What’s been the absolute hardest about being in taper mode though, is the mental aspect of it.  All season I felt super strong and completely capable of completing a half Ironman.  Now though, those pre-race nerves are setting in.  Over all, deep down I know I will finish, but I still have those moments of “Oh sh*t, can I really actually do this?”  This is where all my yoga and meditation comes into play – I just take a few deep breaths to center myself and take a moment or two to visualize myself out on the course.

I know it’s going to be hard, I know there are going to be moments when I’ll want to stop; but I also know all those moments will pass.  I have a yoga teacher who always says “The moment you want to get out of the pose, is the moment the true yoga starts.” What he means by that is it’s about being comfortable in the uncomfortable knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – some tunnels may be longer, some may be shorter, but they all eventually lead to another side.  It’s how you deal with being in the tunnel that makes getting to the other side better or worse.

So needless to say, I’ve been doing a lot of yoga and meditation this past week and will continue doing so up until race day.  So, if you need me and I’m not in the pool, on my bike, or out in Central Park, I’m most likely on my yoga mat calming my nerves 😉

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Empire Spotlight – Pete Lambousis

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

Meet Empire athlete Pete Lambousis:

Pete has been a long-distance runner for the past 10 years, running 18 marathons to date!  He finds long training runs therapeutic, but recently turned to triathlon as a way to “mix it up” and integrate the lower-impact sports swimming and biking into his training to reduce the risk of injury.  It took him a couple of triathlons before he found Empire, where he now trains with teammates and really enjoys it!

Last month Pete competed in IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio, finishing with a 22-minute Personal Record.  He started training for this race last winter by correcting his swim stroke and developing bike strength and endurance.  “That base paid huge dividends as the weather improved and tri season began.  Ohio 70.3 ended up being the culmination of the whole season for me, where all my training and lessons learned from previous races really came together.”

Pete was set to compete at IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid. However, when a visit from his Australian family on race weekend meant backing out of the race, he decided to compete in Ohio 70.3 instead.  We asked him how it was for him on race day:

“I always get butterflies on race day.  But a huge mental benefit was pulling on my Empire kit, which reminded me of my teammates back home and all the support I had from them.  And staying with Empire buddy Cam Smith was especially amazing; the support and encouragement from him and his family (the race was in his hometown) were truly incredible.”

“The Ohio course is known to be fast, but not without its challenges: a bit of a current, headwind, and some deceptive hills on the run.  I decided to just trust my training, race by feel, ignore all the data, and try to have fun on what was a beautiful summer day.  I hydrated and fueled smartly on the bike, hard lessons learned after doing both of those things poorly in previous races.”

Pete found this season to have been incredibly rewarding so far, especially with his new PR!  Although tri season is over for Pete, he will join some of his Empire Tri teammates at both the Chicago and NYC Marathons later this fall. Good luck Pete!

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#Track My Training “Challenging for sure, it gave me a really good confidence boost.”


Workouts for the week:

Monday: Swim in the evening

Tuesday: Strength in the morning, run in the evening

Wednesday: Ride in the morning, swim at night

Thursday: Strength in the morning, run in the evening

Friday: Rest day

Saturday: Brick workout

Sunday: Long run, open water swim (!!!)

Well, this past weekend’s training was my peak and longest weekend of training – wooooo!!!!  I needed to move things ahead one week based off of what our plan in Training Peaks said since I’m going to be going to Portugal for a wedding the week before Lake Placid.

For my brick workout, I rode to Rockland State Park with Howard and we did a loop in there before heading back – hooooo boy, it was challenging for sure, but in a good way.  Gave me a really good confidence boost that I can totally tackle those hills in Lake Placid on race day [insert muscle arm emoji ;-)].  My run off the bike felt a bit more challenging than usual because it was so hot out, but otherwise felt strong.  My long run on Sunday felt really good too.  Since I knew it was going to be my last long run, I used it to really hone in on my pacing and practice my hydration and nutrition – and all went well!  Another confidence boost for race day.  (Side note: the salted watermelon w/ 2x sodium Clif shot blocks are SO GOOD.  I normally like more citrus-y flavor nutrition, but these were great.)

I also had some really great breakthroughs in the pool this week.  Something in my stroke changed, without me really consciously changing it, and I feel like it made me so much more efficient so I didn’t tire as quickly and could push myself a little harder.  The first day it happened, I thought it was maybe just a fluke but then it happened again the second time I was in the pool.  I tried analyzing what it was that I was/wasn’t doing, but I couldn’t really think of anything so to heck with it, hopefully it wasn’t just a two-time fluke.  I’ll chalk it up to- all the training is paying off and showing.

I also went to Coney Island for a little open water swim on Sunday late afternoon.  Nothing too long as I didn’t really have a lot of time – it was more so just for me to get some open water practice in.  IT felt good and made me think back to the first open water swim clinic I attended with Empire and how much I’ve improved since then.  I’m not saying I’m the world’s greatest/fastest open water swimmer, but I’ve learned that for me, I need to start off slow and get in a good rhythm with my breath – and as long as I can do that I’m good!

So, I guess this means it’s officially taper time for me – which is crazy to think about.  It feels like when I started training way back in March, September seemed so far away; but here we are, just weeks out from race day.  So now all my workouts will start getting less intense and be a little bit shorter.  As they say, the hay is pretty much in the barn – now it’s all about keeping my mind as calm as possible and trusting all my training that it will get me to that finish line on September 10.

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#Track My Training “I got my first flat tire!”


Workouts for the week

Monday: Evening swim

Tuesday: Easy run & a shortened strength training workout in the morning

Wednesday: Bike in the morning, swim at night

Thursday: Strength training in the morning, run in the evening

Friday: REST DAY

Saturday: Brick workout

Sunday: Long run

Well, it finally happened.  That moment we all fear while on our bikes.  No, I wasn’t hit by anyone/thing (thank goodness – *knocks on wood*).  I got my first flat tire!  It was bound to happen sooner or later and I always try and look at the bright side of things, so I’m glad that it happened now, during a long training ride rather than during race day.

I was on my way to Nyack Beach and was under the Tapan Zee bridge when it happened – honestly, I don’t really remember hearing a loud pop or anything, but I do remember the road being super bumpy and full of potholes from the construction.  A few seconds later I hear what sounded like something was stuck in my breaks – so I pulled over to check it out and low and behold – flat tire.

My first thought? Sh*t.  My second thought?  I’ve never actually changed a tire before, I don’t know how to do this. My third thought (well, okay it was more like a little pep talk to myself)?  Lauren, you’ve had those bike maintenance clinics with Empire and you are a smart person, you can figure this out and get it done! I also told myself I was going to try and do as much of this as possible without having to use YouTube, haha.

I should also preface this by saying, I’m a morning person.  So much so, that if it was up to me I’d be out for my long ride at 5:00 am; but I’m at the mercy of the GWB gates only being opened at 6:00 am, so I’m on my bike and headed out for my long ride at 6:00 am.  Mainly because going over the GWB still scares me, so the earlier I can go and the less people on there, the better.  I also like going earlier so I can be done earlier and still have the rest of my day to get things done and spend time with my boyfriend.

Howard (Voletsky, fellow ETC teammate) usually joins me for my long rides but he was away this weekend, so I was riding solo.  So, here I was standing on the side of the road in Nyack at 7:30 in the morning with a flat tire on my bike, no other riders that I had passed and knew would be coming my way eventually, and only about 50% confidence that I knew what to do to change it. But you know what, sometimes you just need to be thrown into the fire to figure out what to do – and that’s exactly what I did.

I won’t give you all every single detail of my tire changing adventure, but I will say that about 5 minutes in, another rider, by the name of Al, came by, stopped and asked if I was ok and/or needed help.  I told him I was pretty sure I was okay, but that this was my first time doing this and, without hesitation, Al got off his bike and helped me finish up.

As we were changing my tire and chatting he asked what I did for a living, so I told him I was a yogi and worked for a company that manages yoga teachers business.  To which he said “No wonder you were so calm about everything when I came by”.  I admitted to him that I did have a few moments of panic and worry, but after a few deep breaths I knew there wasn’t anything I could do except be proactive about the circumstances I was in.  Sure enough, after a few minutes I was back in the saddle and continuing on my ride.  I know I would have been able to do it my own, but it probably would have taken me twice as long, so THANK YOU AL for stopping to help me.

So, moral of the story – Sh*t happens.  And most of the time being angry or panicking about it, isn’t going to help. Take a few deep breaths to calm you down, get your senses back in order and your thinking cap turned on, and trust you know what to do.  And go to bike maintenance/tire changing clinics!  I also now vow to ask every rider I see on the side of the road changing a tire if they are okay and/or need help – because you never know who might!

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#Track My Training “It was the hardest thing ever to take two days off”

August 4th, 2017

Each week I’ll let you all in on the workouts I did for the week. So, for last week my training looked like this:

Monday: swim in the morning @ Riverbank State Park; bike in Central Park

Tuesday: strength training in the morning, run in the evening

Wednesday: yoga in the morning, swim at night

Thursday: strength train in the morning, run in the evening

Friday: REST DAY! (which includes some light stretching and foam rolling)

Saturday: Brick workout

Sunday: Long run in the morning and yoga in the evening

I realize that for some people looking at the above, it probably seems like a lot of workouts and all this may not be possible for everyone. For me this is all possible for a few reasons: I’m a morning person, so when the alarm goes off at 5:00 am, I’m instantly out of bed; I have fairly flexible work hours; my body is used to being very active and moving a lot – having been a dancer for a good part of my life and having 8- 10 hour days of classes and rehearsals, I respond fine to this training load.

I try to follow our plan in Training Peaks as much as possible, but sometimes I do tweak it here and there. I also try to keep it as consistent as possible, but, hey, sometimes life just gets in the way; and as Type A as I am, I’ve learned to let it go because, I’m not a professional athlete out there winning races (one can dream though, right?!)

I’m also going to try as much as possible to not talk about or mention specific times for any workouts. Why? Because I used to be that person who saw other people’s times/paces and would compare myself to them.  Newsflash: I’m NOT them.  I’m my own athlete with my own strengths and weaknesses and my own life circumstances that affect my training.  What feels or looks slow for me one day, might be someone else’s fast, so it’s all relative.

So, speaking of paces, this past week’s training, I definitely kept up with what workouts I did, but as far as the intensity goes dialed it back a bit.  I was sick for a few days last week and actually ended up taking the weekend off from all workouts.  Getting over fatigue from being sick plus the horrendously hot temperatures – I do NOT do well in heat and humidity- I knew would be a recipe for disaster.  So, I made the decision to give myself some extra recovery days (ok, I may also have had some pressuring from my boyfriend to take off and rest).

Mentally it was the hardest thing ever to take two days off, let alone two days of pretty key workouts in my training; but let me tell you, physically it was the best thing I could have done for my body.  Once I got back into workouts, I literally felt like I had a whole new body and the freshest pair of legs ever!

I ended up having to do my speed work workout on Tuesday and that was where I really a noticed a difference.  Having fresh legs meant I could have a quicker leg turnover.  I also have to say that having come to triathlon-ing (I think I just made that word up) from being a marathoner, biking has also made such a huge difference in my running.  Again, it’s taught me how to have a much quicker leg turnover. My swims this week also felt so much better in the sense that I wasn’t gasping for air after what had previously been not a real problem for me to get through.

So, moral of the story – as much as my Type A brain thinks taking a few days off is going to completely derail and undue all the training I’ve done, it is not going to. It actually helped me a lot- not only physically but mentally as well.  Rather than push through tiredness and potentially just dig myself into a hole of over training, giving my body a break gave it the rest it needed to fully recover.  Mentally, because I felt so good during the week’s workouts it gave me an extra confidence boost and has me looking forward to getting back to my normal intensity levels for next week’s workouts.

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#Trackmytraining: “I knew I had to be a part of this.”


Meet Lauren.  Fresh out of our Beginner Program which trains for a sprint distance triathlon, she decided to instead compete in an Olympic distance race as her first triathlon!  We’re excited to have Lauren share her journey with us as she prepares to dominate the inaugural Lake Placid 70.3 on September 10th, which will be her first Half IRONAM distance.  Join us here and on social media to follow along as we #trackhertraining!

The question I get all the time when I tell people I’m training for a half IRONMAN is “Wow, how many have you done before?”  They are always a little shocked (but very supportive) when I say “This will be my first one.”  Even more surprising when I’m talking to fellow athletes is when I say that up until this year’s NYC Triathlon, which was only about a week ago, I’ve never even done a triathlon.  Yep, you read that correctly – I signed myself up for a half IRONMAN before I’d even done so much as a sprint triathlon.


So where did this come from and what makes me think I can do this you ask? Well, I’ll spare you the FULL backstory but I will say that it all really started when I volunteered at the Lake Placid full IRONMAN in 2016.  I had gone up with one of my coaches and knew two good friends (and awesome athletes) racing.  For anyone who wants to be inspired beyond belief at the ability of the human body and determination of the human spirit, go volunteer at an IRONMAN race.


The second I saw the first athletes come by the aid station I was at, I knew I had to be a part of this.  The yearning I had always had to do a triathlon was palpable.  I knew I needed to sign up for one while I still had this feeling of excitement before it faded. Now, I’m most certainly an optimistic person, but I’m also very realistic – so I knew a full IRONMAN was not quite something I was ready for; but a half IRONMAN seemed challenging enough of a goal.  Not completely out of reach but most certainly something that would push me out of comfort zone.


It just so happened that IRONMAN was going to be holding its first ever half IRONMAN in Lake Placid in 2017. Fast forward to about a week or so later and I was officially registered for the Lake Placid half IRONMAN.  I, somewhat surprisingly to myself, hit that “submit” button so fast – I immediately thought to myself “What did I just get myself into?” A moment of doubt crept in, but I assured myself that I was a good athlete and with proper training, I would be more than capable of doing this – I mean, it was over a year away.


After that I kind of put it on the back burner and told myself that in January I would start really looking into training plans, getting a bike, training for training…yada, yada, yada. January rolled around and I started the process.  I know myself as an athlete well enough to know that yes, while I would diligently follow a training plan on my own, I’m much more motivated in training with a team.  Even before I signed up for the race, I had been talking with friend and fellow Empire teammate Howard Voletsky (who also had a big part in convincing me I could do this), so he was the first person I went to, to chat about training.  He immediately recommended Empire – so after a few months of research, attending an info session, and a lot of emails with Ali and Claudina, I was officially signed up to be a part of Empire Tri Club!


I came into Empire having completed a few marathons, but had never really been on a bike before and I was a self-proclaimed decent swimmer.  Ali recommended I joined the Beginner Program and then from there, since Lake Placid was a race the team was doing as well, I could join the club and continue training with the team. That program is over and I’m now part of the team, but I’m so glad I did the Beginner Program instead of just jumping right into the club.  For anyone who even has the slightest inclination of wanting to do a triathlon but isn’t sure if they can – I highly recommend Empire’s Beginner Program. The whole program and training plan was perfect and the coaches are so helpful and so supportive.


I’m now happy to say that so far in my training with Empire I’ve successfully completed my first ever triathlon at the NYC Triathlon on July 16.  It’s such a great feeling to know that I have the first one under my belt – and NYC Tri couldn’t have been a better one to do!  Since it was local, it was nice to not have the added stress of worrying about travel/hotel logistics.  Because this was my first triathlon ever I was a little nervous that I was jumping right into an Olympic distance and not doing a Sprint distance first, so I went into it with absolutely no expectations whatsoever.  Literally my only goal was to cross the finish line, have fun, and feel strong the whole way – and that I did.  It was absolutely a great learning experience, there were some things that went even better than I expected and there were also most certainly some things that need some fine tuning and attention to over the next few weeks.


So, here we are – Lake Placid half IRONMAN is about 7 weeks away and I cannot believe how fast this training is going by.  I’ve been having the absolute best time in the process. I’m one of those people who loves having a race to build towards, but in all honesty, I actually love the training process way more than racing.  To me race day is one day in a training program – a day that could go perfectly as planned or a day that could go all wrong – but it does not define who you are as an athlete.  We all have good days and we all have bad days and race day is just another day where it’s luck of the draw.


I’m so excited to take you on my journey for the next few weeks as I keep building towards what I know is going to be a life changing day on September 10, 2017.  I’m a total nerd and love talking about training and hearing about other people’s experiences in training so feel free to reach out to me with questions, comments, concerns, anything really – let’s make this an open conversation!

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Empire Spotlight – Luis Arce

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

Meet Empire athlete Luis Arce

After college, Luis became interested in running long distance races and has completed various marathons to date.  He practices Krav Maga, the self-defense system, which combines techniques from different martial arts.  He finds it helps him focus while under stress.

One Sunday in July a few years back, he watched athletes compete in the NYC Triathlon and was impressed with their endurance.  “I thought, wow, all those racers already swam and biked before their run. That takes discipline! I have to do that.”  This past July at the 17th annual NYC Triathlon, Luis finished his second NYC Tri race and managed a 17 minutes personal record.

“I felt confident during race day as I knew I had been training for it.  I think my excitement about participating in the race overshadowed any nerves I might have had about it.  I just tried to focus on each leg at a time.  I found myself thinking back to my training whether it was how to complete my swim stroke or pedal on the bike hills.  I was thinking about my pacing, and how to sustain it.”

“Being part of Empire Tri Club made a significant difference in my training.  I really enjoy working out with my teammates.  Being part of a training group helped me to push harder and stick to a training schedule.  I look forward for the Saturday bike rides with my teammates and learn tricks from them.  It was motivating seeing some improvement each month.  For instance, the bike rides to Piermont and then to Nyack started to feel gradually easier.”

Luis will continue training for the IRONMAN Lake Placid 70.3 this September.  This will be his second 70.3 distance. His goal is a bit different than when he first raced a Half IRONMAN aiming to just finish.  This time around, his goal is to improve his time!

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Empire Spotlight – Sam Tergek

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

Meet Empire athlete Sam Tergek

Growing up in Europe where soccer is one of the main sports played in school, Sam did not have a lot of options for athletic participation.  “I was never very interested in soccer but I did play basketball for a few years.  It’s safe to say that no one ever thought of me as an athlete before now”.

Sam has come a long way from his school days.  He began cycling a few years ago but that wasn’t enough for him.  Needing a new challenge and talking to friends who were triathletes he decided to join Empire Tri Club’s 12-week Beginner Program.  After competing in the program’s Sprint distance triathlon, he caught the “tri-bug” and registered for his first Olympic distance triathlon, the NYC Tri the following year.

Sam’s training has certainly been paying off!  He has set new personal records at each race he’s competed in this year!  All of this hard work got him to the start line for IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman earlier this June.  This is the longest distance triathlon he’s competed in to date and has plans to continue racing longer distance tri’s.  He will be joining his fellow Empire Tri teammates at the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid this September.  He also plans to run both the Chicago and New York City marathons this year.

“Sam is an awesome training buddy and a perfect example of what makes being a member of Empire so great.  He is always friendly and disciplined in his training.  Knowing that I’d see his smiling face made our swim, bike, and run workouts fun and something to look forward to.  And I could always count on Sam for extra layers, waffles, spare tires, and CO2 cartridges – he’s a mobile bike shop!” – Pete Lambousis