Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Introducing Jennifer Lentzke - Professional Triathlete

Endurance Sports Travel welcomes its first-ever female sponsored athlete. We plan to follow Jennifer as her 2013 professional campaign is underway. We will provide race day coverage, results, interviews, photos, videos and more insights into her up-and-coming pro season! Get to know Jennifer as we ask her some basics.

Jennifer, tell us about yourself and how you got into triathlon.

“I was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and spent my childhood living in Canada, Mexico and the United States. I spent my teen years dancing with a professional ballet company, which I would credit for helping me learn discipline, develop endurance, and create a work ethic that has shaped me into the athlete I am today. Once away at university, I decided to focus on becoming a registered dietitian and gave up dancing. I quickly turned my athletic pursuits to distance running and walked on the Baylor women’s cross country team. After a great learning experience on the team, I took up marathon running my senior year of university and quickly realized that I had a propensity for “going long.” As my marathon times dropped, I began to truly realize my potential as a long distance athlete.

During my first year of graduate school at the University of Florida, I met my husband, Jason Lentzke, and was introduced to triathlon. The swim/bike/run lifestyle came naturally for me. After the rigors of gradate school ended and I was better able to focus on training, I began to complete triathlons “just for fun.” On a whim, I signed up for IRONMAM Cozumel and, with very unstructured training, I completed the event in 11 hours and 9 minutes. Upon the urging of my husband and closest friends, I decided to see how good I could become with some formal training. I began to work with professional triathlete and coach, Hillary Biscay for the 2012 season. Within months I found myself winning my age group at long course events and had qualified for the 70.3 World Championship and the IRONMAN World Championship. Over the course of the 2012 triathlon season I began to realize that I wanted to pursue a second career as a professional triathlete.”

Jennifer currently splits her time between racing as a professional triathlete and working with athletes in her own private consulting company, Toro Performance Nutrition, LLC. She is a registered and licensed dietitian and a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. She attended Baylor University where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition Sciences. She then went on to obtain her Master’s degree in Dietetics with a minor in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology at the University of Florida.

Jennifer lives with her husband, Jason Lentzke, and weimeraner, George, in Austin, Texas. She enjoys cooking, traveling, blogging, drinking coffee and has an extreme infatuation with peanut butter.

When did you turn Pro and what was that “shining” moment that you decided to go from Age-Grouper to Pro?

Deciding to go pro was a culmination of many different and amazing moments in my 2012 season. The first time I began to realize that I even had the desire was after Ironman Canada when I placed high amongst the women’s field and the 70.3 World Championships where I realized I had what it took to begin the work towards racing some of the best young women in the sport. Winning an iron distance race last December sealed the deal for me. Now don’t get me rong. There are many amazing young women out there who are perhaps more prepared and more developed as triathletes in terms of being fit to race professionally. So I’m definitely not taking this opportunity for granted and I realize I’m starting at the bottom of the totem pole. The good news is, there’s only way to go from here...up!

2013 Race Schedule?

IRONMAN San Juan 70.3 - March 17th
IRONMAN South Africa - April 14
IRONMAN Texas - May 18th
IRONMAN Buffalo Springs 70.3 - June 30th
IRONMAN Calgary 70.3 - July 28th
IRONMAN Canada - August 25th
IRONMAN Lake Tahoe - September 22nd

What, in your opinion, is the most inspiring thing about IRONMAN?

What I find so inspiring about the IRONMAN is how it can push you to new levels mentally and physically. IRONMAN is so empowering in that it takes everyday people and turns them into athletes. Once you realize how special this event truly is, you look around and think “even if you’re a 14 hour ironman or the IRONMAN world champion, it takes guts, grit and determination to get to that finish line.” And this truth is what creates such a great community amongst triathletes.

How do you think IRONMAN has transformed you as a person?

It’s funny because not only has IRONMAN shaped me as a triathlete in terms of my physical strength, but it has created this fire, this passion and drive within me that compels me to continue to see just how much more I can ask of my body. In my head, in my mind, it’s this amazing world of possibility, risk, opportunity and adventure that I am starting to live out. It’s turning into quite the journey!

Thus far in your young career, if you had to pick one of your "IRONMAN moments" as your favorite or most powerful memory, what would it be and why?

You know it’s funny because I have so many powerful memories from IRONMAN, from the time I first crossed an IRONMAN finish line to the last few seconds of my race in Kona running down Ali’i Drive. But there is one memory that sticks out in my mind. It was mile 18 of Ironman Canada and I was in what I like to call the “hurt box.” I was digging deep into the depths of my soul to keep running the pace I needed to run to secure my spot to Kona. And wouldn’t you know that Ken (Glah, owner of Endurance Sports Travel) had found a way to get out to that point on the run course to cheer on his clients. As I approached him with practically no runners around me, he called out my name, “Jennifer!” And the most I could do with what strength I had left was to look him straight in the eyes and nod my head in acknowledgement. The look he gave back to me said it all. It said “I’ve been there, Jennifer. I know what that feels like. Push on. Be strong and push on.” It was just so awesome to have that unspoken connection with an amazing athlete who was winning races well before my time. This is the spirit of IRONMAN.