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2009 was a strong year for Multisport Mastery athletes. From Ironman finishers to world championship qualifiers to completing the local sprint triathlon, our athletes were busy around the world.

Each athlete has their own special memory of 2009. Here’s what a few of our athletes have to say about their season highlights:

Dan, Illinois: Finishing Ironman Florida, setting a new personal best at the 2 mile open water swim, pushing myself farther than I ever thought would have been possible

Elizabeth, Virginia: I wanted to say that even though I’d only been working with you for about a month at the time, my race at the Patriot’s International was already a huge improvement over my earlier races. I was able to run the best 10K off the bike I’ve ever run because I had a real plan for cadence and nutrition on the bike. Before working with you I was pushing harder gears on the bike that effectively ruined many of my runs before I even got my feet on the ground. I can’t wait to see what 2010 will bring by working with Coach Liz!

Sarah, Illinois: My 2009 season highlight would have to be the Steelhead run. I just kept thinking I couldn’t believe how good I felt compared to the year before (I felt shot after about mile 6 in ’08). I was keeping a decent pace and didn’t have to walk nearly as much. I ended up dropping a little over 10 minutes from my run time and almost 1 minute off my min/mile pace. I ended the race feeling pretty good, and not like I was about to die like in ’08 (maybe I should have pushed harder

Rachelle, Iowa: I’d have to say that my favorite moment from 2009 was when I placed in my age group for the first time ever. It was a culmination of so much hard work and following the plan – trusting in my coach and letting her find the inner speed demon in me. 3 seconds separated me from the 3rd place girl that followed me. But because it was a time-trial start, I didn’t know where I was. I just raced – truly raced – and put it all out there. I crossed the finish line with a PR (for a sprint tri and for a 5k run) but it wasn’t until I stopped by the timing tent to get a printout of my times did I find out that I was 2nd in my age group! I was in shock – such disbelief – that I handed it to my friend to confirm that I was reading that little paper right. It is the only time I’ve ever had tears at a race – not even at Ironman! That moment, at that little race in the middle of Iowa, showed me that with hard work and diligence, I can become the triathlete that I want to be.

Cat, California: There are a few memories that stand out for me in 2009. First was having a lot of tings go wrong on the race course at Napa Valley Half Ironman, but never losing my cool. I was clear on what I needed to do there that day and with that in mind i was able to combat any negative thoughts. I flatted and had brake mechanicals, things that might have otherwise effected my attitude and thus my performance, but my goals were clear and my ability to asess what I could control and what I could not. Second was my “A” race, SOS. I was 100% in the moment throughout the entire race. I was smiling the whole time. Sure, I always want to go faster, but if I can be happy with my time while enjoying the whole experience, then I’ve gotten what I truly want.

Erich, California: My 2009 season highlight was competing at the Wildflower Collegiate Championship – my last opportunity to race collegiate. That race stands out in particular because it meant nothing on the calendar being that I was in an Ironman build. I missed the front group on the swim and rode without urgency for most of the bike because I forgot how short the race was. Luckily, I snapped out of my long-course pacing, I put forth everything I had coming in. Coming into T2, I was in 8th position and had a very tough run ahead of me. I had my best run to date and pulled away for a 5th place finish (amongst collegians who were specifically trained for that distance) in the last half mile.

Christy, Illinois: My favorite breakthrough was my half ironman in Racine. I was able to drop the most time I have from one year to the next. I had completed 4 half Ironman’s before I started training with you and they were all within a few minutes of each other (around 6 hours). My biggest hold up in racing has always been the running part, which unfortunatetly is the last event. Your motivation and encouragement made me realize that I can run and push past my fear. I dropped just over 2 minutes on the swim from 08 to 09. I dropped just over 6 minutes on my bike split, and the best part on my run i dropped 17 minutes. It was the best feeling in the world when I knew going out on the second loop how much better prepared I was for Racine. I ran most of the second half with a smile on my face. I will never forget that race.

Andrea, Missouri: My 2009 highlight was the Downers Grove Criterium National Championship, it may have been super hard, but I am so glad I had that experience! I also set a awim PR at Redman/Long Course Nationals. And, racing Cyclocross for the first time, I had so much fun doing it!

Tom, Missouri: My favorite memory was the New Town sprint triathlon. I was coming off major surgery and at age 59 I was not sure how I would fare. In fact, the morning of the event I was so filled with doubt I announced to my wife that I was not going to race. She looked at me and said: “you need to do this.” I was more nervous before the start of this race than I was before either of the two Ironman triathlons I have done. We started the swim individually, one after another. When it was my turn to go to the dock I was petrified but once the official said “GO”, I was in the water. After about six strokes, I knew that I was back and if anybody could have seen my face then would have seen the biggest smile in the state of Missouri .

Jewell, Missouri: The highlight of my season was crossing the finish line at Redman with my daughter running beside me, just two months after separating my shoulder in a bike accident. While it was scheduled to be a step in the road to Ironman Arizona, it became the highlight of a challenging season.

Molly, California: Finishing Ironman Arizona! It was the happiest most joyful culmination of tons of hard work I’ve ever known! I’m still smiling about it 5+ weeks later. It was everything I had hoped it would be and more, and I can’t wait to do one again.

Vince, Illinois: I remember waking up to slushy snow the morning of the Shamrock Shuffle on a cold day in March and thinking I should bag it but I didn’t want to have to tell you that I didn’t run. It ended up being one of my most memorable races and I set a PR. It was also a highlight for me to complete my first half ironman after working with you for only six months, having never done a triathlon at any distance before. During races when my body tells me it’s time to quit, I ask myself what would Coach do, and then I push even harder.

Wendy, Tennessee: My 2009 highlight would be completing my first 70.3. I only started running in August 2005 and my first official triathlon season was 2008 so to be able to complete a long distance event was very significant to me. I have never had formal training in swimming, biking or running and I had never competed in any sports so for me to finish that race was such a great accomplishment for me! I’ve never been prouder of myself! And I definitely could not have done it without you! I wouldn’t have even known where to start with my training! While I don’t always do all of my workouts and sometimes I have a difficult time getting through them, I know that I am doing things that I, and most of my family and friends, never thought possible! So thank you to you for believing in me and pushing me!

Danni, North Carolina: Finishing Ironman and knowing right after I got out of the water; that I was going to finish the race. You prepared me SO well, not just physically, but mentally; that I never had any doubt I could do it. The race never felt hard; and almost felt “natural” to me. My breakthrough race at Augusta 70.3. I could not believe I put together a sub 6 hour half ironman. I just “let go” of the clock and let it happen. One of the best races of my triathlon “career”. Hitting a 7:32 per mile during my run test; I remember when all I could run was an 11:30 mile and end up exhausted.

Tommy, Missouri: My first race at Memphis in May I ran 10 minute miles and this year I ran 7 minute miles, thanks to you Coach Liz.

Mike, Missouri: This year I have had consistently better swim times in all triathlon distance races. Liz, your personal critique and coaching of my swim stroke has gotten me to focus on my technique during the swim workouts. I have worked to put in “quality” swim miles and believe this has resulted in better swim times during my racing.

Meredith, Ohio: I had a lot of highlights in 2009; smashing my previous PR in the half marathon by 3 minutes; breaking through the wall and finally breaking 3:30 in the marathon, especially doing it in the Boston Marathon, my favorite; winning my first race; placing in my age group in the only two triathlons I entered; and finally having the courage to sign up for Ironman. I’m really looking forward to 2010.

Tina, California: Frankly, all of 2009 is a highlight. I’m not sure there’s one defining moment, but when I think that back in 2006 I couldn’t run around the block. To 2007 when I did my first sprint tri and backstroked the entire 400 yards in about 20 minutes. To 2009, doing an Ironman and not being last! For me, learning about me was the huge highlight. Along the way (of training for Ironman), I had a huge ah-ha moment of “Anyone can do this! It’s just the will and the want that drives people.” You laid the work for me, and I just did it. I knew you’d never set me up to fail, so I never really feared the work, things just happened. I learned there’s nothing special about an Ironman. If you work, it will come. Which completely inspired me to leave the corporate world and start my own business. I’m applying the same learning; if I work, it will come.