Thursday, August 29, 2019

Kona Profile #2: Liis "The Beast" Rametta

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") will be here before we know it, taking place Oct. 12th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. As we've done the last 3 years now, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them better as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!

Name:     Liis Rametta

Age Group:    F3539

Qualified:     Ironman Tallinn (Estonia)

Qualifying AG Place & Time:   1st   9:34:50

Splits:     Swim 1:09  Bike 5:09  Run 3:11

Standard question: What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon? Where and when was your first race?

My background is running track. I ran track through high school and continued in college specializing in the heptathlon. So I've always liked multi-sports. I also used to swim in middle school but I was never really good at it. After graduating from college I started running longer distances to stay in shape.

I did Salt Lake half marathon couple of times before signing up for my first triathlon in 2013, I believe. I had my first child in 2012 and I figured training for a sprint tri would be a great way to get back into shape. My first triathlon was a sprint in Sand Hollow, St.George. I think I won my AG and was second overall.

What first brought you to Utah and how long have you been here? Is it true you’re the fastest teacher in the state?

I came to Utah to go to college and run track. I ended up getting married after graduating. So I’ve lived in Utah for almost 18 years, last 8 in Park City. I teach elementary school in Park City. I am not sure if I am the fastest teacher in the state but I am pretty sure I can run faster than any of my current students :)

Why did you choose Ironman Estonia, and was that your first full IM?

I chose to do Ironman Estonia because it took place in Tallinn which is my home town. I basically ran on the streets I used to walk to school. I also knew I would have a lot of support on the course, and I did. It was amazing to have someone on each km of the run to cheer me on and to see my kids 8 times during the run (it was a 4 loop course).

Also, I was able to go to Estonia 4 weeks before the race and spend time with my family and train. My parents helped to watch my 3 kids while I did my workouts. An added bonus was the fact that it is a very flat and fast course on sea level. So I figured if I never do another Ironman, at least I got a fast time in the books :-)

And yes, it was my first full Ironman. I have never been to Kona, or anywhere in Hawaii, not even for a vacation.

You absolutely destroyed your age group to claim your Kona slot… was there really any pressure on you during the race or were you just out there chillin?

My goal was to podium in my AG and get as close to 10 hr as possible. I didn’t do any major research before the race to see how strong the other women were in my AG. From the previous year's results, I knew I had to get to close to 10 hr in order to podium. I obviously had no idea what place I was getting out of the water. My time was 1:09 and I was happy with it. I heard on the bike at one point that I was 4th in my AG. Then I remember passing a couple of women in my AG on the bike. I started the run 2nd in my AG.

I felt great on the run and just followed my HR. I passed the 1st place woman in my AG by the end of the first lap, so I knew I was leading but I still kept pushing, no chilling. Honestly, until I saw the finish line, I was never 100% sure I was going to finish. After watching pro triathlete Sarah True in Frankfurt, I was terrified of just completely breaking down. I had some cramps during the second part of my run in my calves and feet, so I had to stay very focused and make sure I was getting in the electrolytes and calories.

What other races have you done this year and how has your training gone overall?

I did Ice Breaker, St.George 70.3 and East Canyon Olympic. I was really happy with my 5th place AG finish in St.George. So not very busy season overall. My training went really well leading up to IM Tallinn. I hired a coach (Marko Albert – previous pro triathlete from Estonia) in October and he really helped me plan a great season. I started basically from zero since I had my 3rd baby in June 2018 and didn’t stay super active during my pregnancy. He helped me stay patient with my progress and build up the volume gradually. If I had done it alone, I would have probably ended up being in great shape in June but nothing left for August. In general, I don’t do super high volume (or at least compared to some others). My longest bike was 5 hr and longest run only 13 miles (separate from the bike) and highest training week 19 hr 59 minutes.

SG 70.3  F3539

However, right now it is really hard to balance life, work, and training. I work full time and coach Park City High School cross country team plus I have 3 kids. So I am back doing 5 am swims and 4:30 am trainer rides.

What are you most looking forward to and most terrified about thinking ahead to Kona?

I am terrified of the wind, heat, and ocean swim but looking forward to enjoying the whole experience of competing in the World Championships, seeing pro triathletes, and buying some awesome IM Kona gear. I am traveling alone from Utah but my sister from Estonia will join me there. So I am excited to see her again.

Do you feel pressure to perform at Kona, or will it be more about enjoying the experience? Any specific goals in mind?

I don’t feel any pressure actually. IM Tallinn was my A race for this season, Kona is a bonus. It is very hard (at least for an amateur athlete) to do 2 quality IM’s 10 weeks apart. I will be enjoying the experience while performing my best. My main goal is to survive the heat and race smart.

Also, I am curious to see how do I compare to the top women in my AG. I know I am not going to be racing for top spots this time but I think this race will give me a pretty good idea how good would I have to be to podium maybe one day.

Will you be gunning for Kona next year as well? If so, where will you look to qualify? We see you’ve done SG 70.3 a couple times… are you signed up for the 2020 full?

Definitely no SG IM for me next year. It’s too early in the season. I am looking forward to taking a little bit of a break from running and biking and enjoying cross-country skiing and lifting weights more, and my family. I think I will only do late-season IM’s because I don’t work during the summer and can find the time to train. I actually don’t think that I will do another full IM next year but definitely some new 70.3’s and local races.

Barring a late season surprise, it’s looking like you will be the new Utah Tri Buzz championship belt holder for the F3539 age group. What are some of your favorite local races and why?

I love and hate SG 70.3 at the same time. Love the atmosphere and the fact that it is close and I have friends who live there. Hate how hard the run is. This year was the first time (I’ve done it 4 times) I was able to run the whole course without walking. I also like East Canyon. This year we camped there with my family and it was really fun. I hope to do more local races next year as I don’t plan on traveling so much during the summer.

What's been your experience with the Intermountain Tri team and have you had the opportunity to mentor any athletes who are newer to the sport?

I have met some great people to train with thanks to Intermountain Tri. I love how friendly and helpful everyone is. Even though I just qualified for Kona, I am definitely not an expert in triathlon and benefit from all the wisdom from the mentors.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I have dual citizenship. Even though I live in the US , I always put down Estonia as my country when I race. My time, 9:34:50 is the second-fastest time ever by Estonian women. Not too many women in Estonia do triathlons but it’s getting more popular slowly. Fun fact, the woman who has the fastest time (9:28) was the 1st amateur in IM Tallinn and she is a good friend of mine. We have the same coach.





Below are links to all the races in the 2019 Championship Series:
Below are links to all Challenger Races:

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