The former spin instructor and current mom on daily life, Ironman, and why she’s dangerous in Kona.
Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in our Jan/Feb 2018 issue. Lyles has since announced her retirement.
Liz Lyles may fly under the radar, but fellow pros should be wary of writing her off. In her five years as a pro, she’s racked up some impressive palmares including five Ironman wins with her most recent victory at Ironman Chattanooga in September. Only three weeks later, she defied the odds and took eighth at the most competitive and arguably most physically draining event in our sport, the Ironman World Championship. In case there was any question of her grit, Lyles is also a two-time (and reigning) Wildflower Long Course champion. Lyles tells us about what makes her one of the toughest mothers in the sport.
“I went to UCLA to play soccer, but got cut on the last day of tryouts. I was pretty devastated because all of my friends and life were revolved around that. Later, I transferred to the University of Arizona and had my party experience.”
“I met Koz (former race director of the San Diego Triathlon for 33 years, Rick Kozlowski) at a spin class, and he got me into the sport. I qualified for Kona in a 70.3, but I didn’t even know what Kona was.”
“I know I chose to do this, and I love it, but it’s hard to see my competition on social media resting and recovering all day.”
“I prefer riding indoors and even running inside more than running outside because I’m always worried that I’m not going to be available when something happens with the kids.” (Lyles’ kids are 7 and 9.)
“The toughest part of being a mom and Ironman pro is being tired at night, driving the kids around, making dinner. I don’t get to sit down.”
“Going into IMWC this year, I didn’t have huge expectations because of the race three weeks prior. The result felt like a dream come true.”
“I’m planning on racing Wildflower next year. I’m hoping to have that rematch with (2014 Wildflower winner) Heather Jackson.”
“I’ve been doing two to three Ironman events per year for the last few years. Because I’m already qualified (her victory at IM Chattanooga guaranteed that), I have no plans for any Ironmans before next year’s IMWC.”
Liz’s Loves and Loathes
Toughest pro race: Hawaii Ironman 3 weeks post IM Chattanooga
Guilty food pleasure: Shrimp burrito and fish tacos with chips and salsa, cookie dough
Favorite spin class songs: “Thunder” – Imagine Dragons, “Glorious” – Macklemore
Worst child-related stain to clean: Spilled milk on the floor of car (smell you can never get rid of)
More exhausting: A day at Disneyland with the kids or an Ironman? Disneyland when kids were under five
Best thing about living in Reno: Four seasons with a variety of outdoor sports and activities
Worst thing about Reno: Closest Olympic-sized pool is a 35-min drive