This is the second in a series of interview of EFRT members. Liz Baugher, 23, from College Station TX, had an incredible year with 17 races, 5 overall wins, and 8 top-10 finishes in just her second season of triathlon. And as if that wasn’t enough, she graduated with a master’s degree in Atmospheric Sciences from Texas A&M. (Thesis: "Comparison between Model Simulation and Measurements of Hyperspectral Far-Infrared Radiation from the RHUBC-II Campaign”) Below is my interview with Liz.
I did some shameless Internet stalking and found one of your blogs where your profile from a few years ago said you “would like to even try some triathlons because I was also a swimmer growing up.” Well, you tried some and THEN some. What prompted you to give it a go? Tell us about your very first race.
When I first joined the team at A&M I still wasnt quiet sure if I wanted to invest in a bike, but I knew I missed being apart of a team. After a couple practices with the team I finally bought a specialized dolce road bike and signed up for two races (a duathlon and a pool swim triathlon). I didn’t have clips or aero bars, but I did it! When I passed through the finish line, I couldn’t believe how proud of myself I was. It was so fun talking to everyone after the race about similar experiences and cheering for each other. The triathlon community is great- I was hooked! I decided I wanted to make my teams National team so I started training from then on. I didn’t make it the first year, but the second time around I made it!
What advice do you have for other students who wonder how they might race and train while being a full-time student? What have you given up and/or gained?
I teach a triathlon training program at A&M’s rec. The #1 thing I teach, is for them to never doubt themselves. It is amazing what the human body can do. I think anyone can do a triathlon if they just put their mind to it- the body will follow!
Your legs must be tired from climbing all those podiums. What was the most memorable race for you this year and why?
My most memorable race this year was Rivercities- One of the South's premier races, that is known for its “swag” and bringing in some good competition. I won by 16 seconds to some FAST athletes. It was the first race that I was literally pushing the whole time and saw the girls coming on me fast. I went home with some PRs, new friends, and prize of Oakleys!
What role do family, friends, and teammates have in your training and racing?
Teammates are of course essential. They are the ones that keep me going through workouts I don’t want to do, or make me go a little faster on each interval when I am ready to quit. My other friends and family are always so amazed by my accomplishments and they know how hard I work. The one person I do every race for though is my Dad. I know he is watching every race and sending me his strength. Knowing that my teammates, family, and friends are always supporting me is definitely a benefit.
You are originally from Maryland, you went to Penn State, and now you live in Texas. What are the best things and most challenging things about training in Texas? Where would you most like to live and train?
I Love Texas! I just got my Texas license, so I am official now. I absolutely hate being cold, so I love the heat (I think walking to class in snow everyday at Penn State did that to me)! However, sometimes the heat is a little too much (the humidity!) and the wind can get a little crazy! I would like to stay here in Texas for a few more years, but wouldn’t mind trying Colorado or the Carolinas for a few too!
I bet not too many people know you were the President of the Math Club in high school. You have always been a top student. Do you think that factors into your success in racing? Do you approach training analytically and if so, in what ways?
Success from racing definitely comes from my motivation and discipline. If you ask the people around me they know that I take my training very seriously, and hardly ever miss a session. Being a triathlete, we often times over analyze our workouts, particularly before races (Oh no I didn’t do that workout! Or I ran slow today, I am going to race terribly!). I can attest to “analyzing” my workouts, but in the end you just gotta believe in yourself and go out and get it.
You are doing some coaching and training, tell us a little bit about how that has evolved. What direction might you take that?
I have always been interested in group fitness. Cycle class, yoga, strength conditioning, I loved it all. I have also always never been one to just sit back and relax, I have been a leader in almost every sport I played (Soccer, Track, XC, Swim captains). Once I got to A&M I finally decided to take a step toward it. I tried out at the fitness instructor auditions and let them know of my endurance background as well. I began teaching the triathlon training program for them. I also got Schwinn Certified and my ACE personal trainer certifications. Coaching is so inspiring. Interacting with others, helping them meet goals, and motivating them is something I thrive off of. Oftentimes my training is motivated by their hard work and myself wanting to keep inspiring them! Even though I have a degree in Meteorology, I would love to take a side step for a few years and see the next level of coaching. Any takers!?
What are your plans and hopes for 2012 in terms of triathlon?
I just got a coach for the upcoming year (Michelle LeBlanc). I am excited to work with her and see what kind of things we can accomplish. Obviously I want to get faster in each of the 3 disciplines, and stay injury free. I want to race the best I possibly can and just have fun with it. I enjoy the triathlon community so much, I hope to do more with coaching as well, and really give back to what I love. Some races I have planned for next year are Collegiate Nationals, DC Triathlon, and the T3X series.
I have to confess that when I saw your EFRT nomination photo I thought you looked scary fierce, but meeting you in person (off the race course) you are this thoughtful, quiet, striking, petite young woman. Are there two sides to Liz Baugher?
That is really funny. I guess you could say there are two sides to me. I often say that a lot of people say I look mad or angry, but I am really not at all! I want the best out of people, so I hope to inspire others and lead by example. I think if anything, my “other” side, is just me being serious!
Read more from Liz here!