Heather grew up in Shanghai, China, then moved to San Diego for undergrad and got her post-graduate degree in School Psychology in Minnesota before settling in Colorado in August of 2019. She said that she “wanted to chase a different lifestyle” that involves the magic of the mountains and shared how much she “loves the endless opportunities to bike into the mountains and canyons”.
Her passion for triathlon began in 2017 in Minneapolis when she, after being talked into it by a casual triathlete friend, competed in the Lifetime Olympic Triathlon. Although she was a year-round athlete who, growing up, competed in volleyball, basketball, soccer, track/field, and ultimate frisbee; and, when she was in Minnesota ran with a local running club, she had no background in swimming or biking at all. Therefore, for her first triathlon, after borrowing a bike, her training, except for a couple open water swims, was scant. She “just sort of did it”. Being her first race, she wasn’t sure of what to expect, but after starting the swim, she felt very comfortable in the water and once “the competitive edge took over leading me to crush it” she ended up taking 3rd in her AG.
Afterwards, she thought to herself that if I train a little bit, I could get good at this. Her passion for triathlon is driven from the opportunity to train across the three disciplines which provides variety and a good balance to life. Her biggest hurdle was learning to ride a bike competitively, and, as luck would have it, her supervisor in grad school was a competitive cyclist and crit racer, and she taught her how to ride a bike. She also got very focused on minimizing time spent in transitions by treating it as a fourth discipline and worked to eliminate any potential time that could be lost due to poor planning. She joined the University of Minnesota Tri Club and had a great race season in 2018, taking 3rd in the Midwest Conference and was awarded Rookie of the Year by Minnesota TRI News.
She also shared one of her most memorable triathlon moments; i.e., taking first place overall in a local sprint race. Well, she thought she did. Only to find out that, as it was a rolling start, another woman who started all the way in the back of the line came across the finish line about 30 minutes after her and just eclipsing her win by a few seconds!
After moving to Colorado in August 2019, she immediately joined RMTC and began training with them by becoming a regular at the Track practices and winter rides. RMTC also introduced her to her favorite running route: the Highline Canal. That route, with the crushed gravel footfall and incredible views of horses and farms, has become her favorite place to go run. She was also able to take advantage of RMTC sponsor, CAMPUS CYCLES, who has been her go-to for gearing up.
She is currently readying for the Colorado Sprint Triathlon on June 5 with her big focus being her very first ultra-distance, which will be IronMan Wisconsin in September. Her last race was the Littlefoot Triathlon in September 2020, and since has found getting back into training to be challenging. Due to all the races being cancelled over the last year causing starts and stops in training and the bad weather we’ve had throughout March and April has left her unmotivated and she has been off to a slow start. Admittedly, she has been “struggling to get my mind around racing and staying on top of training. I am really hoping that Sprint Tri in June will relight the fire allowing me to get that mental shift I need to get into race mode”.
In closing, Heather shared a memorable experience which she feels really brings out the character of the triathlon community. She has learned over the years that even though it is an individual sport, everyone on the course is racing together. She has always been one to say something positive to folks on the course and hope her motivating statement will help someone who is having a bad day or entice someone to push a little harder to accomplish a goal. She shared how, in a Sprint race, she came out of Transition and after a bit was passed by some guy. She sped up a little to get on his feet and as she was thinking about how hard she was pushing to stay with him, she spat out, “don’t drop me”. She kept close to him and noticed that he must of heard her and wanted her to hang on as the guy kept looking over his shoulder to see if she was still there. That little motivation to keep pace and not let him down led to her holding pace and finishing with him. Although our goals are different, we are all teammates and are all racing together.