Liz Lyles and Sarah Crouch put up big days in Kona and Chicago

It was a big weekend for endurance pros from the Tahoe area. Maybe there’s luck in the air, or superhuman powers flowing through the watering hole athletes are filling their hydration systems with, because Liz Lyles (Reno) and Sarah Crouch (South Lake Tahoe) both put out stunning performances at Ironman World Championships and the Chicago Marathon, respectively.

Or maybe they’re just that good.

Placing seventh at Chicago with a 2:32.44, Crouch ran her way to third American and a new personal best by a monstrous 12 minutes. She told reporters afterwards that she “fell in love with the marathon,” and that we can expect to see more 26.2 showings from her down the road as she chases that illustrious sub 2:30 barrier.

Off shore in Kona, Lyles was also seventh female to cross the finish line, claiming the top American Ironman title in the process.

Despite that process being a little off-kilter.

Liz Lyles had been ready to race for a month. Tuned and tapered for Ironman Lake Tahoe on September 21st, she had to recalibrate when the race was unfortunately cancelled due to the nearby King fire. Disheartened to miss the opportunity to race her home course one last time (IM Tahoe will not be open to pros after 2014) but knowing the officials made the right call, she got her coach on the phone to rally a new plan and put the focus on Kona. Ramping back up for an extra dozen days of hard effort when rest had been on the schedule is no easy task, and made for the “most mentally challenging few days of [her] career,” she says. Fortunately a week prior everything clicked, she saw some of her best swim and bike numbers, and the confidence soared.

“I owe [my coach] all the credit in refocusing my plan and getting me prepared to be 100%.”

She went into the race knowing that if all the pieces came together – a solid swim, big effort on the bike, and her sub-3 hour marathon speed – that she could be queued up for a big day.

“I knew if I could put [that] together, I could crack the top ten.”

And that she did, running a 3:03.24 to hold off a surging Gina Crawford (8th), fellow American Mary Beth Ellis (9th), and Aussie Liz Blatchford (10th). She crossed in 9:18.11, besting her 2013 time by over 14 minutes.

“You can never count yourself in or out until you cross the finish line. Running down Palani [Road] I looked over my shoulder a few times just to make sure – I pushed hard the last three miles and am elated with the outcome.”

Traditionally an athletes’ mecca for altitude stints and vacation training, we wouldn’t be surprised if Liz and Sarah wind up with a few new neighbors looking for training partners around Tahoe.

Seventh in the world will do that.

-Sarah Boone