Lisa Wourms never thought her passion for swimming, biking and running would take her around the world.
After finishing third in her age group at the Ironman 70.3 Lake Stevens Aug. 17, the 45-year-old from Camas accepted an invitation to compete in the Ironman World Championships Aug. 30, 2015, at Zell am See-Kaprun, Austria.
“I just do the little local races. I had no idea I would get to go to Europe,” Wourms said. “Anything is possible if you train hard enough.”
Wourms had “the race of her life” when she captured the Northwest Tri Long Distance Master’s Championship at the Pacific Crest Long Course Triathlon June 28, in Sunriver, Ore. Better times were on the horizon for her at Lake Stevens. She completed a 1.2-mile swim (36:01), a 56-mile bike ride (2:51:51) and a 13.1-mile run (1:52:37) in 5 hours, 24 minutes and 15 seconds.
“I took another 10 minutes off my best time at Pacific Crest. I don’t know how I did that on such a hilly course.” Wourms said. “There were lots of opportunities to see the spectators and the competitors. You didn’t have time to think about the pain you were in or your muscles cramping up. There was always something to keep you motivated.”
About 40 miles into the bike ride, Wourms told herself to hang back and conserve her energy. And then, somebody from her age group passed her by.
“All that talk went out the window,” Wourms said. “The race was on.”
Wourms and her rival, Megan Hoefer, traded leads for the next 15 miles, before Wourms left her in the dust. She didn’t see Hoefer again until the last three miles of the run.
“I recognized the name and I knew she was a good competitor. I realized I must be in a pretty good place,” Wourms said. “I always have to have a mantra going on in my head. At that moment, it was ‘I only have three miles to go and I want it more, I want it more and I want it more.’”
Wourms crossed the finish line with her fingers crossed. Once she found out that she finished in third place, Wourms was over the moon. But the best was still yet to come. After the top two placers in the 45- to 49-year-old age group declined entry into the Ironman World Championships, the invitation went to Wourms and she accepted.
“Something changed this year from not just hoping I finish to actually racing these races and trying to do them better,” Wourms said. “I never thought this was possible. It was so out of the realm. Why not give it my best shot?”
Wourms thanked her husband, Scott, and her children, Kelly, Lindsay, Jennifer and Adam, for their support. She also has a community of friends she trains with at LaCamas Swim & Sport. Several of them crossed the finish line at Lake Stevens including Tonia Albert, Terri Anderson, Anita Burkard, Mark and Sonja Chandaria, Denise Clegg, Bob and Denise Croucher, Chris Crowder, Renee Gaasch, Robby Halterman, Sean Henry, Matt LeGrand, Jeff Macey, James Powell, Derrick and Jessie Rubalcava, Tiffani Rule, Debbie Skalbeck, Alisa Wise and Tom Wortman.
“We spend a lot of time out here on the trails running and biking,” Wourms said. “We help solve life’s problems and accomplish our goals together.”
Standing on the beach before the start of another triathlon or Ironman competition, Wourms has just enough time to think it over.
“I wonder why am I doing this again? Then the gun goes off, and that’s when the fun starts,” she said. “When I’m done, I feel such a huge sense of accomplishment.”
Wourms panicked in Lake Stevens when she swam into a buoy, but she still went on to have the race of her life.
“You never stop learning, especially in a triathlon where there are so many moving parts to it,” Wourms said. “You might not have the perfect day out there, but you learn to roll with the punches.”