July Athlete of the Month: Lauren Middleton!

We are proud to announce our July Athlete of the Month, Lauren Middleton! Coach Dawn is currently coaching Lauren who has had a great year so far with both Texas 70.3 and IMTX. Here's a little bit more about Lauren.....

Tell us about yourself. 

I was born in North Dakota, grew up in The Woodlands, but have moved around a good bit – Nashville, San Francisco, and 3 years in South America (Colombia). I got my structural engineering degree from the UC Berkeley but now work in Finance/Mergers & Acquisitions for CB&I.  I’m in love with traveling, staying fit & champagne J

What is your athletic background? 

Although I was sporty as a teenager I have spent a good number of my adult years as a couch potato.  In 2009 I (happily) divorced and decided to stop with the excuses (I was about 30 lbs heavier than I am today) & get back in shape - I forced myself to start jogging. At first I couldn’t make it more than a minute without walking, but eventually I worked my way up to 3 miles.  At that point I was content – I had shed a lot of weight, felt better, and was convinced that 3 miles was my limit. One day a friend convinced me to run with her – distracted by good conversation we made it 5 miles.  In that moment I realized my 3 mile “limit” had been mental, not physical.  That day I fell in love with running & within 6 months ran my first marathon. 

When did you start triathlon and what got you into it?

I work for CB&I so a lot of my co-workers do the CBI Sprint Tri.  In 2010 they convinced me to sign up, but I chickened out last minute – I couldn’t do more than a sad little doggie paddle & besides that there was the cycling.  Their fancy gear, hand signals & unitards are… intimidating.  So instead I spent 2010 working on my running, getting myself within 12 mins of the Boston marathon QT for my age group. 

In 2011 they announced more stringent qualification standards – disappointed that I wouldn’t be prancing around Memorial Park like a peacock in a Boston Marathon jacket anytime soon, my mind turned back towards triathlon as I looked for a new goal.  I decided it was time to face my fear of swimming, cycling & spandex so I signed up again for the CBI Tri.  This time I showed up on race day.  It was far from pretty, but I made it across the finish line.

What’s your favorite: swim, bike, or run? Least favorite?

Growing up I learned to doggie paddle so I could jump off the diving board at the community pool, but that was the extent of my swimming lessons. It will always be my biggest struggle, but it’s also what I’m most proud of.  Running is where I have the most experience, but I’ve been nursing an IT band injury for years so I do a lot of water runs (boring… *yawn*).  Cycling is so fun, but I’m always anxious about cars on the road. So for me all 3 disciplines add something awesome to the equation, but each comes with its own set of challenges. 

What was your first triathlon and what do you remember most? 

My first triathlon (that I showed up to) was the CBI Tri in 2011.  The most memorable thing for me was the new dream that was born after I crossed the finish line – one day I wanted to become an Ironman.  In the moment I knew it was ridiculous; I was acutely aware that I had absolutely no real idea of what that meant or what it would take to get there, but I promised myself I’d figure it out.  Later that year my company sent me to work abroad so my IM dream was put on hold when it was only in its infancy stage. 

Three years later I was sitting in my office in South America & got the call that I would be moving back to Texas at Christmas time (2014).  I didn’t know how long I’d be back stateside but didn’t want to miss out on making that dream from years ago a reality.  Before I even got my plane ticket to go home I went onto the IM website to pick out a Fall 2015 race – Ironman Louisville.  I hadn’t swam or ridden a bike during my 3 years abroad and would only have 9 months to train, so I had my work cut out for me.    

What is your favorite race and why? 

Ironman Louisville takes the cake because of my journey to get there.  I started training as soon as I was settled back in the USA in January of 2015, and a few months later I signed up for ORR’s coaching service (shout out to Dawn, best coach ever!).  I did a few shorter distance races that spring and every time fell apart during the swim – stopping at every canoe, hyperventilating, panic attacks; I was a mess.  I’d go home after those races & even the majority of my swim workouts & just cry – I was so bad.  How could I possibly do an IM if I couldn’t keep it together over much shorter distances? So I made a deal with myself - I’d let myself cry to let go of the negativity, but at the same time I refused to let it defeat me.  I’d wake up & use that frustration as motivation to work harder.  And when that failed, I turned to Plan B – just show up.  Eventually this paid off, the panic attacks subsided, and then it just became a matter of making the swim cut off time.  It was because of how much I struggled with the swim (and the bike – I’m not a strong cyclist either) in the months leading up to it that made IML one of the best experiences of my life – I made the impossible possible.

What was your worst race and why? 

I can’t say I have a worst race.  All the races I’ve done & broken down in open water made IML the amazing life experience that it was, so I’ll forever be grateful for them.  This year’s IMTX came with plenty of curveballs.  Sleep deprivation, course changes, crazy weather & getting stopped for 40 minutes on the run.  But I wouldn’t have it any other way because when I crossed the finish line it was all that much more meaningful knowing I had kept it together & finished strong despite the challenges.

What’s on your race schedule for 2016?

I’m taking a break after doing IMTX 70.3 & 140.6.  I’ll do some shorter distance local races this summer & either Austin 70.3 or Oilman in the fall. I haven’t run a marathon in years & so I’ve signed up to run Houston in January to mix things up.

What are this year‘s goals? 

My goal for the year is to figure out the whole triathlon-life balance thing.  When I originally signed up for IML I thought I would do one & be done.  But I’ve fallen in love with triathlon.  This is a lifestyle I want to maintain & a culture I want to continue to be a part of for years to come.  So I want to figure out how to cross as many finish lines as I can while enjoying all the other beautiful things in life and maintaining strong relationships with the very special people that are in it.

What keeps you motivated to train, day in and day out?

Goals, goals, goals, I’m all about goals. 


 What has triathlon taught you?

Living a life without limits is a choice.  Constantly we all hear people say some form of “I can’t lose weight because…”, “I hate my job but can’t leave because…”, “I wish I could travel but can’t because…”, “I could never do a triathlon because…”.  I understand the mentality; I spent most of my life with it.  If you don’t want to do something, stop with the excuses & just own it!  If on the other hand you truly want to do something or make a change, recognize those thoughts for what they really are.  We create our own limiters because we don’t want to step outside our comfort zone or don’t want to put in the work.  If something is overwhelming, break it into smaller, more manageable pieces & just take it one step at a time.  And even though you might get thrown some curveballs along the way, working through those is part of the journey – once you come out the other end you’ll be grateful for the experience & that much stronger because of it.

CONGRATS Lauren, we are so proud of you!

Thanks a Lot!

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