Liles Named Gulf Winds Triathlete of the Year!
Each year, members of the Gulf Winds Track Club pay tribute to members who have set themselves apart from other runners and triathletes. The annual awards ceremony not only honors the fastest among its' members, it also recognizes those who have contributed to the club via their enthusiasm and involvement.
The 2008 Triathlete of the Year recipient, Stephanie Liles, needs little introduction to those familiar with running and triathlon not only in Tallahassee, but throughout the state. She wins almost every triathlon she enters and was the Gulf Winds Grand Prix winner in 2006 and 2008. Liles admits being caught off guard by the Triathlete of the Year honor. She was hoping they would name her boyfriend, Mike Weyant, who has been a triathlete for over twenty years. As Bonnie Wright delivered her speech describing this year's honoree, however, Liles soon realized it was her accomplishments they were describing.
Highlights of Liles' 2008 triathlon season include wining Red Hills and doing well at Gulf Coast. Her proudest moment came when she won Santa Rosa Island at the end of the season. Liles is not immune to lackluster races, however. Her lowest point came at the Hammerhead Triathlon. She states, "You have some races where you feel strong and fast and this wasn't one of them. I could not find my speed or my will to do well at that race."
After several years of racing primarily in sprint and Olympic distance races, Liles is transitioning to the Ironman distance and plans to compete in November's Ironman Florida. She readily admits being frightened by the distance. "I try to picture myself swimming over 2 miles, biking112 miles, and then running a stinking marathon after that. It just doesn't seem possible," she says. Always a strong runner, Liles is hoping her cycling as well as her swimming will improve in 2009.
To help boost her confidence and ensure she is properly prepared on race day, Liles recently hired Dan Smith and Paul Regensburg of LifeSport Coaching. She has already noticed improvements in her swim and bike and likes the comfort of knowing what each day's training plan is when she wakes up in the morning.
Liles has had to make a few compromises due to her new coaching arrangement, however. She is accustomed to racing as much as she likes, as shorter distance are easier on the body. However, with Ironman training, she has had to tone down her racing schedule for the year. To most triathletes, her 2009 schedule still looks pretty lofty; she plans to compete at Red Hills, St. Anthony's, Dunedin, Gulf Coast, Morton Plant Mease, Age Group Nationals, Augusta 70.3, Santa Rosa Island, and, of course, Ironman Florida.
Liles owes a great deal of gratitude to her sponsors and supporters. She is currently sponsored by Higher Ground, Crank Sports, Team StayPut, Spira, Hawk Racing, Carbo Pro, SLSTRI3, Jaggad, and Salt Stick. Her biggest supporter is Weyant, whom she credits for making her the triathlete she is today.
In her few moments of free time, Liles enjoys spending time with her three children. She coaches her daughter's and middle son's soccer teams and runs with her oldest son's cross country team. She says, "I try to be a good example to my children, by living a healthy, active life. I encourage them to be active in things that they love to do." Liles has come up with creative ways to balance family time and training hours, sometimes riding her bike trainer during her son's baseball games. She feels it is not much of a sacrifice, as she is "so passionate about triathlons. I make time for it. If there's a will, there's a way."