ironmaidenLiz McQuinn’s path to athletic glory began at age four. “I wanted to keep up with my Dad and brothers,” she says. “I did whatever they did, just so I could spend time with them.” She definitely kept up, and then some. Last June, she completed her third Ironman triathlon, a competition involving a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike race, and a 26-mile marathon…all without a break!

Just thinking about that might seem like exercise enough, but for Liz it’s “an invitation to dig deep and define yourself as an endurance athlete who disciplines herself to train to the point of exhaustion and keep going…spurred on by the goal to give all she is—mentally and physically.”

“Discipline” is key. For each Ironman, Liz spends six months training 9-16 hours per week. And that’s on top of forty-plus hours a week as a Navy Officer, volunteer work for her church and community, and a busy social and family life. “The hardest part is that it requires me to be disciplined about going to bed around 9:15, so I can get up at 5:15.” How does she pull it all off? It’s just a matter of “putting one foot in front of the other. There’s no magic formula or special talent required. I found a sport that I enjoy and a group of people with whom I love training.”

Speaking of love, Liz plans to take a year off from Ironman training to focus on another workout: “I consider my ‘Ironman’ for 2010 to be successfully navigating the first year of marriage!” Of course, marital success seems guaranteed for someone who always tries to give her best, “using my gifts to serve others in love, and encouraging people to live a life of joy and purpose.”


Home: Austin, TX
Occupation: Navy Officer
Education: BS in Political Science from US Naval Academy; MA in Govt and Politics from University of MD
Partner: Chris Leonard, fiancé; getting married Oct 24th!!
Children: None
Age: 31
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 160 lbs
Sports, past and present: Everything. 🙂 Swimming, soccer, baseball as a kid; softball, basketball in junior high; volleyball, basketball, track in high school; track in college (thrower – discus, hammer, 20 lb weight); triathlon as an adult; recreational runner/swimmer my whole life.
Athletic accomplishments: Two-time VA AAA High School State Champion in volleyball; broke discus record at USNA as a freshman; three Ironman competitions.
What do you get out of your workout? Energy, clarity of thought, stress relief, strength to endure tough times, shared experiences with friends, goals to work toward and achieve.
Little known fact about you: I was a cheerleader in eighth grade—not what you’d expect out of a six-foot-tall tomboy. 🙂
Environmentally incorrect preference: American-made, gas guzzling, classic muscle cars.
Guilty pleasure: Spoonful of peanut butter from the stash in my desk drawer at work.
Most embarrassing moment: At age ten, forgetting the music I memorized in the middle of my piano recital; I had to make up the ending, and it was awful!
Greatest triumph: One of the sailors I worked with thanked me for believing in him, taking a chance on him, and encouraging him to strive for excellence. In two years, he went from troublemaker to the top sailor on the ship.
Favorite thing to do when not working or working out: Playing with my nieces and nephews.
Moment of Inspiration: Comprehending the strength it took for my grandmother to live as a widow for almost twenty years in the hill country of TX. During that time, she successfully beat cancer several times. The final time, it took her home to Jesus.
Favorite Quote: Sorry, it’s a long one by Theodore Roosevelt 🙂

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”


I have 2 schedules that I’ve alternated between the past three years; Ironman training lasts for 6 months prior to the race.
1)    Ironman: 9-16 hrs/wk (base, intensity build, taper, etc)
Mon – yoga 1hr in am; run 1 hr in pm
Tues – spin 1 hr in am; often short run immediately after spin (brick workout)
Wed – core strength training 1 hr in am; swim 1 hr in pm
Thur – spin 1 hr in am
Fri – swim 1 hr in am; sometimes run for .5-1 hr
Sat –3-7 hr ride depending on the schedule; sometimes run for 30-60 min immediately following ride (brick workout)
Sun – run 1.5 – 4 hrs depending on the schedule
2)    Non-Ironman: 7-9 hrs/wk
Mon – 1 hr swim at lunch or 1 hr run in pm
Tues – 1 hr spin in am; often short run immediately after spin (brick)
Wed – 1 hr core in am; 1 hr swim in pm or 1 hr run
Thurs – 1 hr spin in am if missed spin on Tues
Fri – 1 hr swim in am
Sat – 2-3 hr ride in am
Sun – 1-2 hr run