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Sitting In with Jason and Jennifer Lentzke – Talking Tri

November 9, 2012

For triathlon fans, the Ironman World Championship in Kona, HI is the ultimate race. It’s where the sports best go head-to-head and athletes at every level get to test their mettle against typically punishing waves, wind, and heat over 140.6 miles of swimming, riding, and running.

Going to Kona is a right of passage, for athlete and spectator alike. And we were lucky to have two folks there this year. Jason Lentzke, the Lamar store’s resident tri expert and the coach of our beginner tri clinic series, and his wife Jennifer Lentzke, the owner of Toro Nutrition and a Bicycle Sport Shop sponsored triathlete.

I sat down with Jason and Jennifer to get a feel for Kona and to find out a little about their tri-lives—and to see if there’s some healthy competition between the two.

So let’s start with the basics. How did each of you get into triathlon?

Jason:  I grew up in Wisconsin and played soccer through high school and a bit in college. To stay in shape when I hung up my cleats I started to run.  I was at a local footrace where I saw an ad for a sprint race.  At the time I was just a runner, but I knew that the distances were achievable with a bit of training. I did my first sprint race that summer in 2004. It wasn’t pretty, but after that I was hooked.

Jennifer:  Jason was actually the one who got me into triathlon! I was strictly a runner when we met, but his love for triathlon, and especially cycling, rubbed off on me. I think now looking back, he may be sorry he actually got me into this sport! I have a bit of an obsession.

Runners turned triathletes. That seems fairly common. Given the various race distances (sprint, Olympic, half and full ironman) what race distance do you compete in most often? Which is your favorite?

Jason:  I probably compete mostly in the half distance. I think it’s the perfect test of speed, endurance, and mental toughness. It’s long enough to test your endurance, but short enough to still push the pace and not completely wreck yourself for days.

Jennifer:  My absolute favorite distance is the full Ironman distance, which is comprised of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and a 26.2 mile run. The longer the better for this slowtwitch gal!

Jennifer gets it done on the run!

So you’re not too likely to go head-to-head, but there must be some household competition? Be honest!

Jason:  I think we thrive off one another’s training and racing. So, I’m not sure that there’s a “competition,” but we definitely push each other when it comes to triathlon. We also understand and appreciate each other’s goals and what it takes to achieve them. For the record, I’ve only been “chicked” by my wife once, okay?

Jennifer:  I think we keep each other honest when it comes to training. Jason and I thrive off of very different training methods so we actually don’t spend that much time training together. Now, racing, well…any time I can “chick” my husband is a good thing in my opinion! I will disclose that I have never been able to keep up with Jason on a bike. He’s a beast on his Shiv!

Swim, bike, run. What is your favorite discipline of the three?

Jason:  I love my Specialized Shiv, but the run is definitely my favorite discipline of the three.

Jennifer:  My heart will always lie with running. It’s my strongest discipline but I am becoming a much better cyclist. Swimming is my weakest discipline but I’m still competitive with my fellow female triathletes. It just takes quite a bit of time to get faster in the water.

Do you have a best transition secret that you’d care to share?

Jason:  I always run out of T2 with a water bottle. The first aid station is almost always congested, so being able to blow by it can give you an edge on your competition.

Jennifer:  Oh don’t ask me! I’m horrible at transitions. I’m always thinking “Oh boy, Jason would kill me if he saw how long I am taking right now.” I really need to work on them!

So you both went to 70.3 Worlds in Las Vegas earlier this year, and Jennifer you raced Kona.  How were the World Championship events?

JasonLas Vegas was very special. Racing 70.3 Worlds with your significant other is something not many people can say they have done. It was a hard, hot, challenging day and I was humbled. But that’s what world champs are supposed to be like.

Kona is the absolute pinnacle of our sport. I’ve been dreaming about competing in that race since I began triathlon in 2004. I’m still working to get there. My wife is the most driven person I’ve ever met. After her first Ironman last year she told me should we be in Kona. Less than a year later, she earned her slot and we found ourselves on the big island.

Jennifer:  Both the 70.3 and Ironman World Championships were amazing! To be in the presence of such talented athletes, both professional and age group was  a dream come true.

I have to say that competing in Kona gave me a good idea where my weakest links and strongest attributes are as a triathlete. The conditions, the competition, and the overall difficulty of this race really expose you as an athlete. I also had the time of my life racing against the best of the best! It was definitely an experience to remember.

Jason, how was it as a spectator at Kona, particularly as the spouse of a competitor?

Jason:  Ironman World Champs was everything I thought it would be and more. The depth of the field, epic conditions, and history of the race made for an unforgettable experience. As a spectator is doesn’t get much more fun. Kona is our sport’s Super Bowl. Being there, supporting Jennifer, and partaking in all of the traditional pre race festivities without the stress of racing was a blast.

We started every morning with an ocean swim with some of the fittest people on the planet. It doesn’t get much cooler than that. Jennifer had a very well balanced race and she closed with a great marathon. I’ll never forget the look on her face as she ran down Ali’i drive toward the finish chute.

Jason cruises on his Shiv!

What is your favorite part about being a triathlete in Austin?

Jason:  San Diego is our sport’s birthplace and still triathlon’s Mecca. That being said, Austin is the San Diego of central USA. There are some incredible places to swim, ride and run all within the city limit. There are also some incredible athletes to train with. My favorite open water swim venue will always be Barton Springs. My favorite cycling route is a Sunday ride through the hills of West Lake. And I love to run on Town Lake. It never gets old.

Jennifer:  The great places to train! You are never to far from a pool, open water swim venue, and great cycling and running routes.

Jen, you own and run Toro Nutrition and are a registered dietitian. What’s the best nutrition advice you can give aspiring endurance athletes? Oh, and what’s your favorite guilty pleasure food. Be honest!

Jennifer:  I would recommend any endurance athlete spend at least some time with a registered dietitian who specializes in sports nutrition. Nutrition is critical to success as an endurance athlete, and if you don’t have it “dialed in” for race day, all your hard training could go to waste! My favorite guilty pleasure is my post-race meal. It HAS to be a fully-loaded burger with cheese, bacon, avocado, and sautéed onions. Add a side of fries and soda, and I’m a happy girl. I have to earn that meal though!

What would you tell someone looking to get into triathlon?

Jason:  There is nothing to be intimidated about. Commit to training by signing up for a race and have fun!

Jennifer:  Do it because you really want to. If you don’t have a true passion for the sport, the rigors of training will wear you down.

Thanks so much for sitting down to talk guys! Anyone with any questions about triathlon, from gear to training, would be hard pressed to do better than to talk with Jason or Jennifer.  You can find Jennifer at Toro Nutrition, and Jason at the Lamar store.

See you on the bike…and the swim, and the run!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2012 5:16 pm

    Great Read! Congrats to the speediest couple around!

    • djcurtin permalink
      November 13, 2012 3:01 am

      Thanks, Jake! I’ll pass along your congratulations!

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