In 2009 the27-year-old bulldozed through a 2.4mile swim, 112mile bike ride and 26.2mile run in the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii alongside professional triathletes and came 8th in her age group despite being relatively new to the sport.
This year, she has spent her time concentrating on racing shorter distances and ranks 3rd nationally as an age-grouper and is now beginning a new off-season training plan with hopes of returning to Hawaii and becoming a professional.
Raised in Germany, she chose to study physics at Sussex University having fallen for the charm of Brighton. “I came to Brighton for two days and just thought ‘I want to live here’. I’m not sure I ever want to leave. I went out cycling on Sunday and did all the little country lanes– I know everywhere like the back of my hand, and I love it.”
Though her PhD means she can work flexible hours, and fit long runs into extended lunch breaks she said: “My work takes up a lot of my time, there are a lot of hours to fit in. I guess it comes down to making sessions count. I now train 12 hours a week and I’m racing people who could afford to manage 30. I just want to know what I can do if I train more. I want to find if I can do well enough to justify sacrificing a career in Physics to race professionally.”
With the help of coach, Bill Black, the last season has seen huge acceleration in her progress and she hopes this will continue. “I was self coached till August this year. And I took to it quite intuitively. I made mistakes but none of them drastic. Having a coach means I don’t have to think about it so much, I can just go on auto pilot – I get my plan, and do it. And I’m not alone anymore; I have someone who can help me when it’s just not working.”
It seems that the guidance of a coach is working. The season’s crowning glory took place at Hever Castle, where she raced in the elite wave and was beaten only by semi-elite athlete Jill Parker. She said: “It gave me a glimpse of what I can achieve under Bill’s guidance, at that point I had been coached by him for two months and that short space of time was all it took to make things work much better already.”
Her competitive nature is a clear driving force. She said: “I wouldn’t be doing sport and racing if I wasn’t competitive. I want to win! Maybe if I was at the top of my game I might give up but at the moment there’s still so much room for improvement.”
Of Ironman champion Chrissie Wellington she said: “Chrissie is the best at what I’m doing, but I don’t really get star struck I don’t see the point in idols. Right now, Chrissie is a target!”
Lizzy began her sporting career in the swimming pool, where she trained five times a week from the age of seven. It wasn’t until she came to study at university that she chose to take up triathlon.
“When I started university the swimming club I joined had a go at a triathlon – so I did one. It was something different. I wasn’t swimming competitively and there was some frustration in that.”
In her first season it became clear she had quite a knack for the sport and managed to come first in the Steyning olympic distance triathlon, win her first prizes and see her face appear in a triathlon magazine. Her cycling and swimming were distinctive talents, but running has always been hard work and she hopes to improve over the winter.
It’s taken dedication and sacrifice for the self titled ‘busy Lizzy’ to get where she is today. It seems the work is paying off, and having got her national podium place Lizzy will be attending the British Triathlon Federation awards on 13th November.