Saturday, September 2, 2023

Rookie on the Rise: Interview with Liz Licea!

Liz Licea has burst onto the local triathlon scene in this her first true season of racing. We caught up with her for a minute to get a recap of her season so far, goals for the future, and a report from her recent State Champs victory at East Canyon.

Thanks for the time, Liz!

What’s your athletic background and how did you get into triathlon? What/when was your first tri?

I’m a runner. I ran track in high school and have been running consistently ever since. I got into triathlon with the KOPFC indoor tri series pre-covid but I only did that series once and then stopped. Usually when I get injured running I default to biking and some swimming so last year I decided to go all in into triathlon.

Is this then truly your rookie triathlon season and what races have you done? Which have been your favorites so far and why?

This is my first full-fledged triathlon season. I did Icebreaker last year and really liked it so I decided to do more this year. I really liked the state champs in Mission Viejo, CA.

Fun course and it was at sea level! But Utah-specific, I liked Echo because it was mostly flat and fast.

Liz at Daybreak (photo credit @lettervphoto)

Are you a Utah native or did you move here at some point? If so, how long have you lived in UT?

I moved here from San Diego, CA in 2014

Are you signed up for any more races this season and/or what are your goals for the rest of 2023 and 2024?

I’m going back home and doing a sprint tri September 9th. I’m thinking of closing off the season by doing Kokopelli. My ultimate goal is to race professionally so I’ll be focusing on races that can get me there in 2024.

TriUtah usually has a deal around Christmas time for signing up for 3 races so I’m thinking of still doing potentially 3 in Utah.

Between running events, tris, etc, it seems you have no fear of standing on a start line, which is awesome! What do you enjoy most about racing and what would you say to encourage others to more fully support the local race scene?

I love the atmosphere. Being around fellow competitors gets me pumped up to do the best I can. I love the support and encouragement we all give each other along the way and seeing many of my friends and friendly faces compete.

Whether you're a beginner or an expert, TriUtah or US trisports has a race for you. I know there are other companies out there that organize triathlons but I haven't done one of their events personally so I can't speak much about them.

Whether you were aware of it going into the race or not, the East Canyon Olympic was designated last year as our 2023 State Champs race – excluding Sarah Crowley (one of the top pros in the world), you were the AG State Champ! How did that race play out for you and where on the run did you make that final pass to take the win (by just over a minute)?

I was aware and it is the reason I picked to race the Olympic distance. The race started late because of the shuttles getting there late. I, luckily, found Marco [the Macho Man Menchaca] at T2 and he gave me a ride to the start. Thank you Marco!

However, the fact that we started late messed up my nutrition timing. For the swim I decided to try no wetsuit. I had never swam a race with no wetsuit so why not? Well, it cost me. I've definitely done better on the swim with a wetsuit so I won't forgo that if allowed in the future.

When I got to transition and hopped on my bike, I knew I had a few hills to tackle. I got on a low gear and pushed but for some reason my legs weren't pushing as hard as I was telling them. Then, by mile 5 I started getting hungry. Not good. I had my nutrition in my bottle and that saved me but by mile 21 I was out and hungry again.

Liz at Daybreak (photo credit @lettervphoto)

So far I have dialed in my nutrition based off of 3 races, time to change things up I guess, or perhaps it was the late start. I love being on the bike. I always push as hard as I can because I know that I am a runner and when the run comes, I will be fine.

The run was mostly flat and it was out and back so I was watching closely for the women that were coming back from the Olympic turnaround. I did have a gel on the run that saved me again to push me to the finish. I was picking off runners in the first 3 miles.

By the time I got to the sprint turnaround I started looking to see if the people I was passing were from the sprint or Olympic distance. I spotted a lady after mile 4 with an O on her calf ahead of me. It was time to push. I caught up to her around mile 5 and just kept up the pace until the end.

I have to say, I had just come back from age group nationals, from near sea level, so I am very happy with how I did with this race. I think I felt the elevation for sure. Overall, great competitors and great course.

It appears you’re super strong on the bike and run, with swimming as a relative weakness – what has been your gameplan to improve in the water?

Lots of pool time and open water swims. I am working with Coach Adam Lee to improve. Gotta get that technique down!

Where do you typically swim/bike/run and do you prefer solo or group training?

Based on my training plan I have several groups I bike, swim and run with. I mostly ride with the South Jordan Cycle club on Thursdays and sometimes with their run club on Tuesdays.

Tuesdays are busy with lots of clubs meeting up but for a while I was meeting with a few people at the track on Tuesdays and I've heard nothing but good things from the Salt Lake Track club who I might start joining here soon.

Swimming is mostly at VASA or Steiner with or without a group. I also trail run so I participate at some of the group runs with Women of the Wasatch and Trail Sisters. There are definitely days where I want to go at it alone though so it just depends on how I'm feeling, who's available and what groups are doing what where.

We believe you’re part of the Salt Lake Tri Club – how has SLTC helped with your progress/development as well as camaraderie and fun so far?

I started with SLTC by joining their winter KICKR program last year. Even though I didn't join in on their Saturday indoor kickr rides, I still benefitted from the training plan go at it solo.

In April, when we went to St George to train on the 70.3 Ironman course, I met a lot of cool folks I still swim, ride and run with from time to time.

With SLTC I have made great connections and I feel like I am part of a great community of athletes. I can ask any questions pertaining to triathlon and I get quick responses, I can ask to train with someone and someone always responds, I can geek out over anything triathlon related with these guys and it's always fun!

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner or a pro, you can be a part of SLTC and find great value in doing so. Rory, and whoever he has worked with, has done a phenomenal job in building this club up.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I love being part of this sport, the people and the atmosphere are always very welcoming and encouraging. If you haven't tried triathlon and are looking for something different other than just biking, just running or just swimming, you should try triathlon!

I find that if I get injured from doing one sport, I can do the other 2 and continue on training. You also have the option to do any combination of 2 of the 3 sports. This greatly helped me when I sprained my ankle in June. I was able to do the Aquabike event at Jordanelle.

Then, there's relay, now that's something else I will have to try in the future. The versatility of this sport is immense and there's always something new to try which is why I love it! Happy triathloning everybody!

*****Below is the 2023 UTCS lineup! Check out this post if you need a refresher on how the UTCS works.*****

Show up at 3 or more UTCS races to qualify for 2023 season swag & awards!

Below are links to all 2023 Championship Series races:

Ice Breaker - Sprint
Sand Hollow - Olympic
Daybreak - Olympic
Jordanelle - Olympic
Echo - Olympic & Half!
Brineman - Olympic & Half!
Kokopelli - Olympic
Southern Utah - Olympic





Interview Archives (2016-23):

Thinking about Lasik or have other eye health needs?
Dr. Brice Williams is offering some incredible
deals for fellow Utah Tri Buzz readers

Local triathlete Steve Monson has a stellar reputation
as one of Utah's finest financial advisors

We started a Patreon account (link below) with the hope of raising a few bucks towards awards & swag for athletes of all abilities in our tri community. We've given out a lot over the past 3 years, but would like to continue to expand our offerings & the volume we can do.

If you enjoy Utah Tri Buzz and would like to pitch in, any amount would be greatly appreciated... (there may be something in it for you as well!)

We're also always grateful for talented people who contribute in terms of time... let us know if you'd like to be part of the Utah Tri Buzz team.

No comments:

Post a Comment