Over the years Lisa Bentley has won 11 Ironman titles and countless other triathlons. Before, during and after races she usually has an amazing smile on her face and we wanted to find out more about this amicable Canadian.
ST: Lisa, it is just about time for the race in Pucon, are you ready?
Lisa: For the first time in 6 years, I am not racing Pucon. Last year, I committed to be one of the run coaches and speakers for the Cruise to Run cruise (www.cruisetorun.com) and it happened to conflict with the Pucon 70.3. It is a shame to miss one of my favorite races but honestly, I need to take a longer off season and so I probably would have chosen not to race in Pucon this year.
ST: You have won 11 Ironman titles so far. Is there one you cherish the most?
Lisa: Each Ironman race, regardless of win, place or show, has been cherished because at some stage in the race, it is all about just getting across the finish line!!! In terms of my wins, winning Subaru Ironman Canada 2007 was huge. I was injured for all of 2007 and had to take 2.5 months completely off of running from April to mid June. I modified my cycling shoes and my running shoes in order to minimize the injury. I scaled back my running training but maximized the effect of each workout by doing everything off of the bike – intervals, long run and tempo. Instead of completing 3 hr long runs, my longest run was 2 hours. I went into Subaru IMC not knowing if I could run the whole marathon but the beauty of it was that I didn’t even care. I just wanted to race. I just wanted the reward of getting to be part of an Ironman race and everything else was a bonus. Of course, I am a competitor and I wanted to finish and I wanted to win but that was truly secondary to the mere joy of getting to swim, bike and run at one of my favorite races and surrounded by people I care about. Most people thought I should have waited for Kona, but my rationale was that if my heel caused me grief and I had to walk, no one would care – I would just be another pro walking in Kona – but here, at IMC, if I had to walk, I would have plenty of beautiful people to walk with and that would care about me and understand that I was just happy to be there. And so, as Lance, my coach says, we figured out a way to get the job done. I was able to swim and bike pretty hard and then I just ran and I was so happy when I was running. I was very sore during the marathon and my form was off but I had so much fun and I loved every minute of it. And crossing that finish line was a dream come true. The long hours of physiotherapy and acupuncture and injections and water running, the patience and love of friends, family and doctors – it all accumulated with a wonderful victory.
ST: You seem to be an energizer bunny without a true off-season. Do you ever take any time off?
Lisa: I love racing so much that I have only ever really taken about 6 weeks of down time. But this year, I am taking a full and proper off season in order to come back injury free in 2008. I am not planning to race until May and so I am not going to run until February. I have taken 2 months off of running so far and my heel is feeling the best it has felt since last January. I am enjoying not thinking about an upcoming race and I am just doing what I want to do. Granted, I love training so I am still training about 3-5 hours per day. I am in Florida and I am biking so much and just loving riding according to how I feel instead of with structure. The other day, I went out for a 2 hr ride and stayed out for 4 hrs because it was a beautiful day and I was having so much fun!!! Right now, the USA Triathlon team is down here in Clermont and I am swimming and biking with them. They are so awesome and I am loving it. I am really enjoying training with people and working hard and learning new things. I am even drafting and doing some pace line stuff – I am terrible at it and I am super cautious especially since I don’t want to cause any of the US Olympic hopefuls to crash – but it is a blast!! Cliff English is the US Team coach and he is terrific and very encouraging.
When I am training by myself, I just jump in the 50 meter pool and I just swim for the love of swimming. I bike for the love of biking. And I water run for the love of running!!! And I get to spend time working on the Muskoka 70.3 race and on our training camps and on a tiny bit of coaching. I was doing a strength circuit outside tonight on our pool patio here in Florida – under the stars – and just thinking about how lucky I am.
ST: Talking about training, can you describe what your training looks like in mid-season?
Lisa: My mid season training week is typically as follows. 5 runs, 5 bikes, 6 swims, strength circuit 3 times per week, regular physio (2 times per week), massage – 2 times per week, acupuncture and ART – 2 times per week.
Running used to be 2 transition short runs, one long run with tempo, one fartlek/interval session and the odd double run week (not any more though – in 2007, I ran 3 days per week – one long run up to 2 hrs but mainly 90 minutes off the bike, one set of tempo intervals – 8 x 1 mile off the bike and a short 30 min tempo bit off the bike. Biking consists of a long ride with tempo, a shorter but longer ride mid week, hard intervals twice per week – one on the Computrainer and one on some hills; plus a recovery ride.
Swimming - speed, long and steady, drills and whenever possible with the swim team. Strength circuit designed by physiotherapist, Steve Hill - plyometrics and other power drills to work on my weaknesses. Usually 25-30 hrs per week in my biggest week (not including therapies). In 2007, I rode more and swam more to allow for a lighter running schedule. I also water ran about 5-6 days per week when I was off from running – anywhere from 60-90 minutes.
ST: What is your athletic background?
Lisa: I ran cross country and track in University – mainly the 1500 meters. I started to do triathlons in 1989 because my friends were doing them. I was hooked.
ST: What is on your schedule for 2008?
Lisa: I will likely race a few 70.3 events early on – maybe St. Croix and Disney and then Muskoka Chase and then another 70.3 and then Subaru Ironman Canada. If everything is still functioning, I will do Hawaii and Clearwater. I am having such a blast right now in January that I would like to race sooner but I am going to be patient.
ST: What is going on in terms of sponsorship for you?
Lisa: I am so fortunate to be still involved with the same sponsors that I worked with since 2000. My major sponsors remain – Subaru, Saucony, Powerbar, Cervelo, 2XU, Zipp, FSA, Oakley, Fuelbelt, Computrainer, Dell, Hilton, TYR
ST: What is your favorite race anywhere and why?
Lisa: super tough question – I really don’t race anywhere unless I like the place!!! IM Frankfurt is the best race in terms of production – very professional, amazing venue, amazing fans – I loved my experience there. Subaru IMC – is home for me – beautiful – but I wish there was drug testing there (ok, I just got political!!!). Hawaii IM – what can I say – I love the course, I love the heat, I love the ocean – it is truly the perfect course for me – I just can't win it!
ST: Do you follow any other sports?
Lisa: I am married to the greatest sports fan alive – David Cracknell – and so I follow every sport!! We are big Raptor fans (Toronto's NBA team) and we often go to games. We went to the Capital One Bowl Game on January 1st – Florida vs Michigan – awesome game. I love following Tiger Woods and Federer. Dave and my dad are huge baseball fans but I really only go because in my wedding vows, I promised to "respect Dave's individuality" and so I have to support his love of baseball. I am not a real soccer fan even though my physiotherapist is a soccer nut. I am not a huge hockey fan. The funniest sport story I have for you is driving to Dunedin with my parents to the winter training camp of the Toronto Blue Jays – meanwhile, in the car, we have IM New Zealand playing on Ironmanlive on my computer (my Dell has broadband access via a cell phone signal) and on my other computer, we had the Raptors game playing live audio. Yes, I am married to a sport nut and so, by association, I have to be!!
ST: Can you tell us about the foods you like?
Lisa: I love fruit – grapes and apples – I eat way too much fruit. I love Millet Rice cereal to snack on all day long!!! I love sushi and sashimi – really, really love it – and I like most fish – grouper, Mahi Mahi, salmon, tuna, etc. My one indulgence is ice cream.
ST: What about music? What do you listen to?
Lisa: Anything with a beat – mainly 80's tunes. I love that song from Grey's Anatomy but I don't know the name and so I haven't downloaded it on my IPod – but when I hear it on the radio, I love it.
ST: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Lisa: I will be in sport forever. I will probably be doing more motivational speaking and more coaching and running more camps. I will be doing more cheering at races than racing but triathlon and sport is part of who I am. I hope I am running marathons in 5 years – Boston and New York would be fun.
I would love to be doing sport commentary for a sport network – I did it in 2006 for CBC sport for ITU triathlon. It was a blast.
ST: Is there anything else we should know about you?
Lisa: my biggest weakness is my dogs – Madison and Brunswick – I do not like to leave them – my favorite non training past time is a walking them with Dave on a nice trail. Today was the perfect day – I got to walk them with Dave this morning before swimming and this evening after biking. And now, we are going to watch 24 – with the Raptor's game in the background, of course!!!