Palms sweating profusely, heart racing and eyes narrowing slightly, Savanna Liedy (12) waits anxiously at the starting line, the sun beating down harshly on her back. She takes several long, deep breaths before embarking on the 26.22 mile journey that she has been itching to complete since she was eight. The horn blares, and, at that instant, her legs have a mind of their own as Liedy, closely flanked by her dad, streaks toward the water. Ten steps down, only 140 miles left to go.
Liedy’s love for triathlons began when her dad competed in his first Ironman Triathlon, a 140.6-mile race in Oahu sponsored by World Triathlon Corporation.
“First I got into the little kid [triathlons],” Liedy said. “When [my dad] finished [the Ironman], that’s when I knew that I also wanted to complete it.”
Before she started training for triathlons at such a young age, Liedy was already active in various sports and activities. Liedy’s decision to become a triathlete was really difficult because she had to give up a sports team and teammates that she was really close with, according to Liedy.
Several hours have passed. Having successfully completed a 2.4 mile swim across Kailua Pier, she climbs onto her bike to start the second leg of the race.
Clearly, finishing a triathlon is no easy feat, as the event is composed of three individual sports: swimming, biking and running. To perfect the competition is to master each of the three sports individually.
“I train for all three sports equally,” Liedy said. “I do split workouts so I … get the feel of what it’s going to be like once you’re actually racing.”
Of all three segments, however, Liedy feels that she needs most work on biking.
“I do intervals and go out and just sprint really far on my bike and then slow down,” Liedy said. “Or I’ll go out for really long bike rides while maintaining the same pace during the entire time [to] keep my legs moving.”
As a triathlete, a great deal of meticulous planning and concentration is required in order to perfect each sport. Because of this, the importance of perseverance and consistency is something that Liedy knows all too well.
“I am very organized, so I have to plan out how my whole day is,” Liedy said. “Determination … has inspired me to work harder.”
Although Leidy agrees that practices can be physically taxing, training for triathlons is a way for her to momentarily forget some of the academic stress she deals with on a daily basis.
“It is good to go do something to take my mind off of [homework] and coming back and focusing every once in a while,” Liedy said. “Triathlons are my life.”
After the time has crawled by, Liedy and her dad have finally biked all 112 miles. Throwing a quick glance over her sun-baked shoulder, Savanna feels energized when she sees her dad smile at her. Then, without hesitation, she ignores her aching limbs and begins the long run to the finish line, which is just barely visible.
Liedy’s training took a dramatic turn on Aug. 2017, when she made the move from Colorado to San Diego.
“My dad had been working [in San Diego] for four years, so we finally decided that we didn’t want to be apart anymore as a family,” Liedy said. “We finally made the decision to make the move last May, and we moved out here in August.”
With such a significant transition, Liedy was not able to train for the Ironman as much as she had wanted to. With the triathlon just three months away, Liedy was worried that she would not be fully prepared or physically capable. The fact that she had recently broken her foot only deepened her concerns.
“At first, I was really scared going into [the Ironman], but … once you’re out on the course, your whole body takes over.” Liedy said. “Finishing [the Ironman] with my dad was extra special just because it was something that we always talked about, so actually doing it was really fun.”
During the triathlon, there were moments when she was feeling discouraged or ready for a break. Fortunately, she was able to push through such mental and physical obstacles.
“I push myself to a limit where I think I am going to give up, but I actually don’t give up,” Liedy said. “It’s important to keep pushing through the pain instead of just stopping. Keep running … until you have calmed yourself down.”
While Liedy’s plans for the future are uncertain, she knows that she will continue to actively compete as a triathlete, even as a freshman at Colorado Mesa University. In fact, Liedy is training for another event in March, which is “a smaller sprint race that is much easier than the Ironman,” according to Liedy.
Three. Finally, the finish line is right ahead of Liedy. Two. She is unstoppable. One. With one giant push, she seals the gap yawning between herself and the goal of her dreams.