I’m always curious about the triathlete’s story: Why do triathlon? What makes you successful? How did you balance the training with everything else? What did you learn along the way? Etc.
I had the opportunity to interview Caitlin Harty. She’s a 25 year triathlete from Powell, OH who will be racing in ITU Worlds later this year.
Her accomplishments from the 2016 season include:
- Won her age group in a sprint triathlon in Muncie, IN and placed 5th female overall.
- Finished Ironman 70.3 Ohio (her home state) in a time of 5:25:03 and placing 2nd in her age group.
- Finished IRONMAN Louisville finishing in 11:44:09 to place 2nd her age group and winning gift card from ROKA for being the first out of the water in her age group.
Oh, and she just earned her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in May so did all of that while being in physical therapy school.
I’ve been a competitive swimmer since the age of 4. I went to the University of Evansville to swim for the Division I Purple Aces. I was also a member of the sorority Alpha Omicron Pi and was a member of the bike race team. Since I was swimming and biking year round, my sophomore year I decided to start running and train for my first sprint triathlon in the summer of 2012. Ever since then, I have fallen in love with the sport.
What advice would you give someone new to the sport?
Stick with it! There will be times when you think about quitting but you need to remember why you started in the first place. There will be ups and downs with your training and races but you should focus on the ups and the positives. It took me 4 years to build up to an Ironman. So patience and dedication is key.
What is the best or worst advice someone has given you for triathlons?
Honestly, I have received great advice from many individuals along the way. It was advice wrapped into their own personal Ironman journeys and for me to learn from their mistakes. One piece of advice that I really appreciated was taking Imodium before hopping into the water before my Ironman so that I wouldn’t have to stop to use the restroom during my race! Also, lots of Chamois Butter Cream!
What motivates or inspires you?
I race for those who can’t. I have been blessed with the ability to swim, bike, and run. Some people may never get to participate in those sports and I race for them. When I start to feel the aches and pains during a race, I think of people who experience pain every day of lives and it motivates me to finish strong because they are strong every day without complaints.
What’s the funniest (or most embarrassing) mistake you’ve ever made?
ALWAYS take your bike in for maintenance before a big race. My first Ironman 70.3 in Raleigh was rough. Going into the second portion of the bike, I went to shift my gear into the lowest gear possible and it just wouldn’t move. I wanted my gear in the lowest gear possible because the second half of the bike had a ton of hills. Needless to say, my chain was outstretched and therefore did not allow me to get into my lowest gear. My legs were shot for the run and I had built up so much lactic acid that I vomited multiple times during the run. I never gave up and finished the race, but a rookie mistake was made by not taking my bike to the shop.
What’s your typical day like?
I wake up at 4:30am for Master’s swim practice, went to class from 7am to 3pm, and then either ran or biked on the treadmill or trainer so that I could study. On the weekend I would do my long rides and runs with my local tri friends. Now that I have graduated, I still wake up at 4:30am for Master’s swim practice in the morning, go to work, and then either bike or run after work. Day by day varies and I try to follow my Training Peaks plan. But, sometimes you need to switch days that you do your workouts or switch your rest day and it will be completely fine. Life is about balance and being fully engaged in what you are doing at that moment. I try to live my life second by second and it truly helps me get through the busiest of days.
What’s your favorite workout?
Swimming! I went from a sprinter in college and swimming the 200 butterfly every single swim meet to swimming more long distance races. This transformation has been a fun process and I love going to Master’s! The people at practice definitely make the workouts more enjoyable!
You’re graduated from Doctor of Physical Therapy School and you’re a triathlete. How did you fit everything in?
I was able to effectively use my time throughout the day. I would wake up at 4:30am to swim across town before my classes. If I had an hour break in between classes I would go to the fitness center on campus and try to knock out a run or a bike workout. If I needed more time to finish the workout, I would do it after my classes later that day. I had to do a lot of stationary workouts on the treadmill and trainer so that I could get my workout in as well as study for my classes. I loved the weekends because I was able to do my long rides and runs outside with my teammates and friends. Another thing that helped me was getting enough sleep. I would try to be in bed before midnight and sometimes I would be in bed at 8pm. It just depended on if I had an exam or presentation the next day. I also had to support from my classmates, the UEDPT17 crew!
How has being a Doctor of Physical Therapy influenced your training?
Having a medical background has helped my training tremendously! As a Certified Athletic Trainer and now a Doctor of Physical Therapy, I was able to prevent any major injury from happening during my Ironman training. In 2016 I competed in 3 indoor triathlons, 2 sprint distance triathlons, 2 Olympic distance triathlons, 2 Ironman 70.3, 1 Ironman 140.6, and 2 marathons. In school we learned techniques to prevent overuse injuries from happening and you better believe I used them on myself. The main thing is prevention and listening to your body. The triathlon community was so impressed with my Ironman Louisville performance as well as my 2016 race season that they asked for me to do an Injury Prevention Clinic. For a class project, fellow classmates and myself but together a presentation for the Southern Indiana Triathlon Team with helpful stretches and exercises that could prevent an injury from occurring for their upcoming 2017 race season.
What’s next for you?
As a recent graduate from the University of Evansville with my Doctorate in Physical Therapy, I have accepted a job at Orthopedic ONE at the Sawmill location in Columbus, OH as a Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Athletic Trainer. I am currently training for Ironman 70.3 Muncie and Ironman 70.3 Ohio. With my performance at Nationals in 2016, I qualified to represent the United States of America on Team USA in the ITU Draft-Legal Sprint Triathlon World Championship in Rotterdam, Netherlands this coming September. You better believe that I’m using Training Peaks to train for all of these races this year!
Good luck, Caitlin, at the ITU Wold Championships this fall!