When I talk to my own kids about how to make sure they always have enough energy to keep going in an endurance event, I tell them they have to use SMILE POWER! Being positive can fuel you through almost any adversity in training or a race. Don’t ever forget the JOY of the pursuit. These are lessons I never have to worry about our next TS2 Athlete forgetting. This strong woman brings the joy with every step. Enjoy getting to know Amber Korte!
Favorite snack/food you eat while training:
I tend to eat payday bars on long bike rides. I’ve only done short races so I haven’t eaten in races yet.
Piece of training gear or clothing item you couldn’t live without:
I cannot run without compression socks and/or K tape. I still have achilles issues going back to my college days and these things are really helpful in giving my lower leg some extra support. Along the same lines, I love my foam roller and keep a lacrosse ball around to massage out aches and pains.
Strange routine, quirk, or mental game you do when racing or getting ready for one:
I almost always eat chocolate chip pancakes on race morning. I like to be alone before races so I can get my head in the right zone of tuned in but not over excited. Also, I get kind of mean while racing, which is totally opposite of my normal demeanor. The funniest story about this was when my husband told my brother in law to run with me for a bit during a 10K. He must have warned him about how I am. So Jay said nothing to me for the 3 or so miles he ran with me. Right as he was peeling off he yelled, “Watch your form.” It was like he was waiting until I couldn’t say/do anything back.
What was your entry into triathlon/endurance training?
I call this my racing life version 2! After running competitively in high school and college, I just slowly quit. I did do a decent half marathon in my mid 20’s, (I think it was 1:32), mainly off of the base I had built during those college years. But I was teaching full time and when I got married, I quickly became pregnant.
Michele’s story here is very similar to mine. When I was at work I felt guilty for not being with my son, I gave him every little bit of me and did nothing purely for myself. Three years later I had my daughter, and was able to take an opportunity to work part time. I was out of shape, overweight, and depressed. When I was huffing and puffing going up stairs I thought, “You are thirty years old! You are slowly going to rot away and die if you don’t do something!” I felt like this was my shot to turn things around. I did not let myself feel guilty and I slowly started working out. My goal at that time was that I would maybe have a chance to survive, if I was in the Hunger Games.
After a few month of this, my sister-in-law was hosting a 5K race. I decided I would run, and I would be happy if I could do 8 minute pace for the race. 25 minutes was my goal. I ended up running about a minute faster than that, but I couldn’t keep myself from being super upset. I ran hard, and I ran almost 6 minutes slower than my PR! I did not want to do any more running races. In the meantime, I found out about a mini triathlon at the YMCA. I was already doing spin classes and I figured swimming couldn’t be that hard. It’s pretty funny to think about. I think my longest bike was about 10 miles and I think I trained about 3 hours a week. The swim was last and I went all out on the run, so I had to do a weird side stroke with my head out of the water so I could breathe! Very awkward. It was a really small triathlon though and I ended up winning my age group, which was fun. And made me think, maybe this was something I could be decent at.
Why do you keep doing it?
In a nutshell, I love it, and it is good for me. I love racing, I never feel more alive than when I am pushing all out in that way only a race can bring out of you. It is painful, it is torture! And when you have pushed yourself to that level, you can really be proud of yourself. But more than that, you will be present in your own body. There are no intruding thoughts or distractions, only the moment that you are inhabiting.
I like training as well, it is my social time. I enjoy meeting and training with new friends, and being outside. I really feel that our bodies were made to
move. Healthy bodies are a blessing that we are given. I even enjoy training on my own, whether that means I’m on the treadmill listening to my music, running in the silence of the woods, or soaked with water during another swim workout that I’m not sure I can finish (But somehow I always finish them!) Again, for me it is about inhabiting a moment and getting out of my own mind. This may be more true for me than for others as I struggle with depression and anxiety.
I love and try to be aware of the example I am setting for my children. I can go overboard on many things, and I am working hard to lead a well-balanced life. My kids imitate everything I do! Kaylee even asked me to “pull on her leg” (traction) because it hurt. These little people are always watching, so I can ask myself, would I want them to do what I am doing? And that helps me keep things at a healthy and balanced level.
I’m pretty proud of how I race. I am confident in my abilities to get the best out of myself on a given day and generally have no post-race regrets or feelings that I could have gone harder.
What have you learned about yourself from endurance training and racing?
I have learned, through my racing life both versions 1 and 2, that I am a mentally tough person. I can race above my fitness level. I can push through pain and not back down. I have learned to have patience. I have learned not to be afraid to fail. Especially with triathlon, I have learned not to be afraid to do something you aren’t good at. I have learned that some of the best friends you will ever make are your training partners. It takes your relationship with someone to another level when you aren’t afraid to try and fail in front of them.
My goals right now are all “process” goals. Things like, stay patient with this body of mine as it recovers from hip surgery. Fuel this body well so it can heal. Rest this body so it can heal. View every workout as a gift and don’t get impatient, don’t rush it. Work on my swim technique and strength. Improve my core strength and control. I can’t say how successful I’m being with the patience goals, but I really appreciate Coach Nick’s patience with me! Eventually I would like to put together a long injury free training run and see what I can really do in a 70.3 race.
Outside of triathlon, what is most important to you?
My family is the most important thing in my life! I also really care about being a good teacher, who connects with my students and helps them grow into confident and successful adults.
Anything else you would want the group to know about you.
Not that I can think of. I’m pretty much an open book so if anyone has questions, just ask!
It is a great privilege to be a part of our athlete’s stories. It is a complete joy to support them, guide them, know them, and love them each step of the way. Be on the lookout on www.ts2coaching.com for more stories that will most certainly encourage, challenge, and inspire you to tell your own magnificent story in 2016 and beyond! Onward and upward!