On the trail with Shannon Coates

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Slowtwitch: Thank you for your time.

Shannon: No, thank you. The pleasure is all mine!

ST: You just recently made the news big time, but not for the reason you wanted I would suspect.

Shannon: It was serendipitous actually. I got the chance to tell my story on the news and be an evangelical brand ambassador for Timex. It was a horrible experience to come back to my car after a beautiful bike ride only to discover my car was broken into and my Timex One GPS watch missing. Being on the news I explained that initially I had a mix of emotions. After I calmed down and thought about what had happened, I realized I could use the tracking technology within the watch that was just stolen to track down the criminal. To be able to act after reacting to such a horrible experience which most people would want to do, was something that, thanks to the Timex technology, gave me the ability to do.
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ST: What went through your mind when you noticed the damage and missing items?

Shannon: “I can’t believe this happened to me!” But after the realization set I immediately thought about the things that were likely stolen. I knew I had my watch in there and I panicked. Sure enough, everything was gone. I felt a whole array of emotions. From the vulnerable and the violated, to the fear and sadness, then the anger and wanting justice! I wanted to act immediately. I joke about how I don’t go down without a fight, but I truly felt this feeling of “there is no way they are getting away with this.” That is the exact moment it hit me that I could literally track them down.

ST: How come that GPS watch was not on your wrist during the ride?

Shannon: This is a great question and actually a question the news reporter asked me. When I am biking, I like to look at metrics such as power and cadence. These are features the One GPS does not have because the watch is meant to be a runner's watch. I had it waiting for me in my car next to my running shoes because on that day, my coach had brick workout on the schedule for me.
This is where immediately after I finished my ride, I would have gone on a training run. I can’t believe that robber made me miss my brick workout! How dare he!

ST: What display do you use to track power and cadence?

Shannon: I use the Timex Cycle Trainer 2.0 currently but it has been discontinued. The team picked up Cateye as a sponsor this year so I’m looking into their Stealth Evo+ for displaying my readings from the stages power meter.

ST: How long did it take you to track down the watch?

Shannon: It took me a couple hours. I was in the Columbia River Gorge area for my ride, which is about a 35 min drive from Beaverton where I live. My phone was dying, otherwise I would have logged onto onegps.timex.com right away. I got home, immediately logged in and hit the “find my watch” and bingo there was the exact location of the robber. My heart was racing. I grabbed my laptop and ran into my car and was pedal to the medal over there. Then I realized I should probably call the cops and have them come with me. I told them what was going on and they told me to park a few blocks away from that location and then call them back when I got there so they could meet up with me and we could go over together. I was so relieved to hear this! But I still drove like a mad woman across town to the location. It took me 40 minutes to drive to where they were, another 30 minutes for the cops to meet up with me. The whole time I was a block away from them and waiting on the cops my heart was racing. I kept refreshing my laptop screen afraid they would drive away. I watched this little GPS dot on my screen move around within the same location. Since it was just tiny movements, I smiled because I knew it had to be on his wrist. Finally the cops met up with me and we both drove up to this self-serve car wash place and there he was right next to his car. I can’t believe he stayed in that same location the whole time! He could have easily of driven away. It was very apparent to me that I had a window of time to ever get my watch back. If my watch had ran out of battery, which I could see and it was running low through the site I was logged into, the watch would have been gone forever and the robber would still be on the loose. The cops arrested him and since he stole a few other items of mine as well, he is on trial for grand theft.
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ST: When you called the police and told them that you tracked the thief, what was their reaction?

Shannon: They were super supportive and concerned for my safety. I truly felt like they were on board to track this guy down with me. Initially it must have sounded like I was taking them on a wild goose chase, but I explained that my watch has given me the exact location of the criminal and wanted him arrested.

ST: You have been in Portland, Oregon for 3 years now and that is a long way from Florida. Why that move?

Shannon: I grew up living next to the beach in South Florida. In high school during the summer, I went to running camp every year in Asheville North Carolina. It was when I ran through the smoky mountain running trails I truly felt alive. I am a green mountain, trail and forest kind of girl. I wanted that atmosphere and also the mix of an eclectic city. I immediately knew I needed to move to Portland. I love the beauty of a rainy day. In Portland we get plenty of that. I am quiet and serious most of the time but also crave silly and uniqueness as well. Portland is the perfect fit for me. I just feel it in my bones. I know I made the right decision. I am in paradise here.

ST: How long did it take you to feel reasonably at home?

Shannon: I actually felt right at home immediately. I moved officially in July of
2012. The April before the move, I flew out for a job interview at St. Vincent’s
Medical Center and was offered the position. That same weekend I thought it would be fun to randomly jump into a 15k and really experience Portland for the first time. I ended up winning overall. Both male and female! Talk about taking Portland by storm! But in all seriousness, I met a wonderful group of people at that race that introduced me to the local running club they were a part of. To this day, I run with this group for track workouts. I am a very proud Red Lizard. To move out to Portland with a new job and new friends waiting for me made my initial experience of Portland unforgettable.

ST: Were you connected through triathlon to folks who lived there?

Shannon: I wasn’t connected to anyone out here. It was a blind leap of faith! Best decision I have ever made in my life.

ST: What are you doing for a living?

Shannon: I left the medical field because sadly I discovered my heart was not in it. I am working as the operations manager at an extremely exciting start up in the city. I feel challenged constantly and feel like I am growing professionally in so many ways with this company. I think working at a startup will do that. It is all hands on deck all the time. I love a challenge and I love pushing myself so I feel like it is a great fit!
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ST: How is racing going?

Shannon: I’ve been racing really well lately. Moving to the west coast and being introduced to the killer bike terrain out here has tremendously strengthened my cycling. Last year I had a killer race at Ironman Whistler. The bike course was incredibly challenging and I just adored every moment of it. I was seconds away from running down 2nd place in my age group and earning a return trip to the Big Island. I must also say, that I have some wonderful people in my life that I wouldn’t be able to do this all without them. My coach Chuck Kemeny has been so patient with me and works with me so well. It amazes me that I am racing as well as I am these days with how crazy busy my life gets working full time. I am so thankful for such a wonderful coach.

ST: What is next for you?

Shannon: Ironman Mont Tremblant in August! I am beyond excited to pay homage to my mother's native land. I am a dual citizen so I always get super pumped to race in Canada. Mont Tremblant I am told is beyond gorgeous. One of the many reasons I love Ironman racing is that I get to experience some incredible places. I have high hopes of earning my spot back to the Big Island.
There is some unfinished business there for me.

ST: Talking about the Big Island, what are your thoughts on the TriEqual movement in general, and how many slots total should the pros have?

Shannon: I can see wanting to have 50 pro female triathletes on the start line in Kona would seem equal, which would be great for the female pro championship race, but statistically the female participation in triathlon is less than male participation both professionally and amateur alike. I believe there should be 100 professional slots at Kona and have 60 men and 40 women toeing the line. This is more in line with the percentage of pro field during the season. Having extra slots for both will always make a more competitive championship in October.

ST: Anything else we should know?

Shannon: Well first, I want to thank you again for speaking with me. It means so much to be able to share a piece of my life with a community I love. Being naturally quiet and introverted, I don’t share much of myself very often so again, thank you for this opportunity. I want to share why I love it so much training [for] and racing Ironman events. It is amazing to me what the human body is capable of on so many levels. Not just physically, but mentally. I have struggled so much in this sport mentally. I feel like I grow into a stronger person everyday. Because racing at an elite level in this sport demands a huge time commitment, I find myself often times overwhelmed as I juggle work and training and now adding in a search for my first home purchase! It is a lot for one person to handle. I always tell my coach, I can’t believe I miss workouts and complain. I don’t even have kids and it is this hard?? But at the end of the day, I deeply respect the challenge. When I am able to pull it all together I feel on top of the world and fulfilled. To tackle working full time and building my career to training fiercely day in and day out is no walk in the park. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love the challenge of it all and I love witnessing myself grow into the person I know I can be.
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