Amanda Lovato shared some of her thoughts about racing and training with us and reflected on a season she calls the worst year of racing in her Ironman career.
ST: Amanda, what sports did you take part when you grew up?
Amanda: My brother, Jarrod and my sister, Diana and I grew up on a 165 acre farm in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. My mom and dad were avid horsemen and we grew up riding, horse showing and racing our ponies. Once my mom and dad divorced, we kids switched schools, where I was not cool or popular at all. I tried a variety of sports to be more involved, including basketball, field hockey, tennis, and softball. However, the hand-eye coordination with the ball was hard for me. Through a very kind hearted and encouraging teacher, I found running. Our family didn't have much money and we couldn’t afford running shoes. In fact, my sister and I ran in Keds. This same teacher bought running shoes for us and even sent us to running camp at Bucknell University. As my running improved, my confidence soared and my dream then became to run. My sister and I ran on the cross-country and track team in high school. We were super competitive with each other and we drove each other every day to become better.
ST: How did you get involved in Triathlon?
Amanda: While in college, at the University of Tennessee, my boyfriend, Lars Jorgensen (heard of him??) had just finished with his swim eligibility. He had entered and placed well in a few triathlons. I thought at the time that he was CRAZY!!!! After I graduated, we broke up and we went our separate ways. I moved back to Maryland and I just partied hard for 2 years. One day, I woke up and took a hard look in the mirror. I gained a lot of weight and I just hated the way that I felt and looked. I gave Lars a call for advice as I thought triathlon might be a fun thing for me to do. My idea was sprint distances and Olympic distances. By this time, Lars was racing professional and had the swim record at Ironman Hawaii. He mentioned that his coach, Troy Jacobson, lived in Baltimore, and that I should give him a call about joining his masters group since I only lived about 10 minutes away from the club. I called Troy, and I showed up on deck 6am the next morning. Troy asked me how fast a swimmer I was. Knowing that Lars had swum 14 or 15 minutes at the Olympics, I thought that 19/20 minutes was a slow time. I had even mentioned to him that I thought that I had swum a mile in 19 minutes at La Jolla cove during my internship after college (I later found out that I had swum a half mile….not a mile). In any case, Troy told me to hop in the lane with Joanna Zeiger. I was doing my best doggie-paddle; however, it still wasn’t fast enough ;). I was quickly placed in the "beginners" lane where I was yelled at and beat up for a few weeks until I learned "lane etiquette."
I never had a full appreciation of how fast of a swimmer Lars was until I started racing triathlons.
ST: Tell us a bit about your 2007 season.
Amanda: It’s funny that you should ask me that. 2007 was by far my worst season of racing in my Ironman racing career. After Ironman Florida 2006, where I had a pretty good race, I had the bright idea that maybe I should try to race three Ironmans. Deciding to do this wasn’t that great of an idea for me as it limited my ability to race shorter races in 2007 which helps build my fitness. I could probably deal with one bad Ironman, but having three was extremely disappointing.
ST: What is on schedule for you or 2008?
Amanda: I plan on doing some shorter races in the beginning of the season instead of an early Ironman. I take my off time seriously and I realized that after trying to train for an April Ironman last year with the kind of weather we had in Boulder, that it was not only difficult, but it wasn’t much fun. I spent some time in San Diego training with Katja Schumacher, but I was stressed not being home for work-related stuff.
For me, triathlon has always been fun. In 2008, I plan on picking races that I enjoy. I hope to race one or two half marathons in January and February. I plan on racing St. Croix and the Columbia triathlon in May. After May, I’m not quite sure. It is important for me to have high confidence before deciding which Ironman I would like to do.
ST: Do you train with anybody on a regular basis?
Amanda: I sometimes train with Michael when he is riding easy. Last year I did a ride with him and Simon Lessing and that was the hardest ride that I have ever done in my life. Simon was really supportive. In fact, once they dropped me, Simon was the one who came back and encouraged me to hang in there.
I do not have a regular training partner. Last year, I trained with a variety of people, including Katja Schumacher, Karen Holloway, and Bryan Rhodes for 2-6 weeks at a time. I really enjoyed the training and the friendships that we developed. All three of these people are close friends and I really enjoyed our time together; and I hope to repeat some of the training we last year together.
ST: An Ironman is a long time to be racing, what do you think about?
AL: As an athlete, I go through a lot of thoughts and emotions. Personally, I have had a lot of highs and a lot of lows during one single race. Some things make me mad, some things make me happy. Sometimes I feel sick, sometimes I feel light as air. I try to make a lot of self-evaluations during the race. I try to stay focused on the good qualities during a race especially when things are going badly.
ST: Do you consider yourself a disciplined in terms of training and nutrition?
Amanda: Unfortunately, I have to be somewhat disciplined with what I eat, especially before races and during races. My stomach seems to be in turmoil more often that I would like. I always tell Michael and my sister, Diana, that I wish that I had their digestive systems. I love to eat, especially foods that are bad for me including pizza, a lot of steak, ice cream, peach pie….yummmm…. I could go on….
In terms of training, I like to be flexible. I sometimes have to switch workouts around depending on which weekend day I am showing homes. (Amongst my other talents, I am a real estate agent as well.)
ST: How do you typically spend the off-season?
Amanda: I spend a couple of weeks during my off season going back to Baltimore to visit my family and friends. I do lots of dog walks with my husband, Michael. When it starts to snow, we go snowshoeing.
ST: Do you have any heroes?
Amanda: My brother, Jarrod, is an Army Ranger. He was deployed to Iraq last March. Every time Michael and I received a phone call from him, I was so happy and relieved that he was safe. My brother and the rest of the troops that are over in Iraq are in my thoughts every day. They are all my heroes. I am my brother's biggest fan.
ST: What or who inspires you?
Amanda: Different things and different people inspire me every day. A bright, sunny, cool day inspires me to run fast. My sister, Diana, a steeplechase jockey (she races horses over four-and-half-foot timber fences at 40 miles per hour), inspires me to be fearless. Michael inspires me to take the good with the bad. People that swim in my lane during masters with bad pool etiquette inspire a few F-U’s. Most recently I was inspired by an article I read about Olympic swimmer, Dara Torres. I love the fact that she still has the passion to compete and to put herself out there and go for her fifth Olympics at forty years old.
ST: What is your favorite race and why?
Amanda: I love St. Croix. However, I don’t love it for the typical reason a triathlete likes races. I love the fact that Michael and I have developed a close relationship with our host family, the Isherwoods, for the past several years. We have watched their children grow up.
ST: Where would you add an Ironman event if you had a choice of locations?
Amanda: I would love to do one in my home state of Maryland. I think of Maryland as "little America". It has mountains and the ocean. I have often thought of how cool it would be to have an Ironman in St. Mary's County, Maryland (Solomons Island, St. Mary's City). The terrain is rolling and not too tough. The scenery is beautiful. There are great places to swim and I think the community would love to have an event like that. Maybe I’ll talk to Graham about it….. Eagleman is not a great example of how beautiful Maryland is.
ST: What is going on for you in terms of sponsorships?
Amanda: I am with SPLISH, SCOTT bikes, FSA (Vision), Oakley Sunglasses, First Endurance, Blue Seventy Wetsuits, Justin’s Nut Butter, Boulder Running Company, Challenge Tires, and Inside Out Sports. Some of these sponsors have been with me since the beginning of my professional career in 2003, and I hope to finish my triathlon career with them. I just signed with First Endurance, which Michael is excited about as I was always steeling his vitamins from him☺.
ST: How hard is it to get sponsors? Do you have an agent?
Amanda: Michael and I do not have an agent. Michael is a phenomenal communicator and we believe in having personal relationships with our sponsors.
Getting sponsorship is tough! Michael and I started with nothing. We believe in having sponsors that first and foremost have a great product. Second, we look for sponsors that believe in us. Obviously, money matters, however, that has never been our first priority. We eventually knew that the money would come if we showed our loyalty and our support. We have worked very hard to be with the sponsors that we have now.
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Amanda: Lately I do not, because all the drug scandals make me sick. I was especially disappointed over Marion Jones' admission of drug use. In the past, I have loved watching Swimming, Track and Field, and of course, the Tour de France.
ST: What about music, anything that you play the most on your i-pod?
Amanda: To my father’s horror, I love rap music.
ST: Where do you think you’ll be in 5 years?
Amanda: I’m not sure where I will be, however, I hope to be living somewhere warm with Michael, 2 kids, 2 dogs, and my cat. I will probably be supporting Michael on his bid to be the Mayor of Boulder.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Amanda: Michael and I met at Worlds in Montreal 1999. We had one wild night and have been together ever since….
To read more fun stories and keep up with Michael's and my adventures, go to my blog:
You won't find any fake sunshine or any fluff.