Louisville Landsharks


Shared Member Journeys

Heidi Holtzman

I was your typical tomboy growing up and adopted the mentality “Anything you can do, I can do better!”  The twin boys across the street started to play soccer so I wanted to play soccer and fell in love with the sport.  I devoted the beginning part of my life to sport.  My hard work in the soccer realm paid off and I traveled the world playing the sport I loved and got a full athletic soccer scholarship to play at Illinois.  My love for soccer after college started to dwindle but my competitiveness remained and I shifted from a team sport mentality to more of an internally self-driven. 

I moved to Louisville for work (GE Appliances) in July of 2002 and in parallel to starting a new chapter of my life, I decided to start trying new athletic feats/adventures that were individual focused.  During college, I had a defeating/humbling experience with rock climbing and decided to take revenge on the sport and from 2002 – 2016 rock climbing has been my passion.  Most nice weekends I could be found climbing at the Red River Gorge testing my mental toughness, strength, and adventurous spirit.  My climbing partners are always looking for different ways to cross train.  Therefore, every couple of years I branched out and adopted a new training activity (to supplement climbing):  running (mini & full), Black Belt in TKD, Tough Mudders, Adventure Races, Crossfit, cycling, and some sprint tris. 

After 10+ years of climbing, I found my enthusiasm for the sport was declining.  I was going through the motions and doing it more for the social/camaraderie aspects vs. the fitness.  I was relying on muscle memory vs. pushing my body to new physical limits.  I decided to set a new goal for myself in 2017, Muncie Half Ironman, this is my focus for at least the first half of the year (we will see if afterwards I continue to train for the full Ironman in Louisville).  I have stopped climbing and now devote my focus and energy on training for Muncie.  On 4/26/17, I ran into a guardian angel (Danielle Barlow).  She happened to be at the right place at the right time and overheard a conversation about me training for Muncie (on my own) and jumped right in to brag about the value of the Landsharks.  She asked me, “Why are you doing this on your own?”  I had no good answer, other than I was stubborn and skeptical on Landshark organization.  I took the leap of faith, joined, and it has been a blessing.

On Day 1 of joining the Landsharks I was blown away w/ the organization, support, and camaraderie.  Organization:  Active Facebook page, Landshark website, Landshark gear, organized rides/runs, texts messaging on canceled events, GPS bike routes, social events, etc.  Support:  If you need it, this group has it and/or can point you in the right direction.  Camaraderie:  I just completed my first Olympic tri (Tri Louisville) and the cheering section from the Landsharks was strong and helped lifted my spirits.  Landsharks are welcoming, friendly, and always have encouraging words/advice to pass along.  I have the utmost respect for this group and those board members who help make it better each day and give their time, talents, and energy.  Todd Swartz said it best during a recent Facebook comment, Landsharks “will continue to focus on changing lives, having fun and promoting the sport.”  I’m happy I found this group and know in the short amount of time the value it has provided me, the friends I have created, and I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me with the Landshark’s at my side. 

Wes Keen

In 2013 I was 290 pounds when my wife’s friend convinced her to train for the Derby half marathon. My wife’s friend sustained an injury that took her out of running and my wife then recruited me. I reluctantly joined her until I discovered how quickly I shed the weight. 

By the fall of 2013 I was down to 240 pounds and ran the Urban Bourban half in two hours and forty five minutes. Then I stopped running and quickly gained all my weight back and then some. By the spring of 2015 I weighed in at 305 pounds. I was miserable, angry and disappointed in myself. My turning point was when my youngest son said “daddy your fat”. This is when I decided I needed to make some drastic changes in my life. 

My weight was too much for me to handle running now, I had horrible shin splints, I needed a way to get my cardio some how. One day I decided to jump on my bicycle and see how far I could go. Not surprised, I didn’t get very far, 12 miles I think. That made me even more determined I kept at it day after day until it got a little easier and I could go a little farther. I still needed a goal, something to strive for, something to make me train day in and day out. That’s when I decided to look into getting an actual road bike. 

When I was at the store looking at new bikes I saw a flyer for a sprint triathlon. I thought to myself, if I could become a good enough swimmer, I could do that, I mean I like the bike, I know I can run, why not swim too. I joined the YMCA and watched a how to video on you tube. By late summer of 2015 I had completed my first triathlon. It was so slow I don’t even remember the finish time, but no need, I was hooked. After that I was left with one question, what to do next, why an Ironman of course. 

I signed up to volunteer for IM Louisville in October and I knew I wanted to be a part of this. I went home that night and started doing some research. First thing I started looking for was clubs. I kept hearing people cheer for the Landsharks and sure enough I found a great tri group here in Louisville.

I spent the next 12 months reading and watching all the information I could find on Ironman training and competing. My greatest resource was Be Iron Fit, a book recommended to me by a former coworker who had done IM Louisville in the past. With the help of this book and the training peaks app on my phone I was able to formulate an intense, but reasonable training schedule. I invested in a tri bike and started my training. I quickly discovered that my tri group the Landsharks had a sleuth of helpful and encouraging athletes. Several members really supported and helped me to achieve my goals. They were quick to praise and give helpful advice whenever I was struggling.

By the summer of 2016 I was doing Olympic distance triathlons and competing in my first half ironman in Muncie Indiana where I finished in under six hours. I was down to 190 pounds. I was feeling pretty good and knew I still had a long way to go. After my half ironman I began my peak training for IM Louisville. I was now putting in about 20 hours of training per week. I would swim in the morning and bike or run every evening. I felt better than ever, I was in shape with lots of energy and feeling happy, unfortunately my Achilles tendon didn’t agree. Two weeks out from IM Louisville I had to get an MRI of my tendon to determine whether or not it was torn. Luckily it was just tendonitis, my running had to be tapered more than I liked, but I was given the ok to compete by an Orthopedic Sports Medicine Physician. The week of IM Louisville I had reached my goal of 180 pounds. Now I just had to reach my goal of finishing IM Louisville in under 16 hours with a sore Achilles tendon.

October 9th 2016 my alarm goes off at 3 am, not that I needed it, there’s no sleeping the night before Ironman. With my wife in tow we headed to transition to check bags, air up the tires and get my numbers put on. Now we just wait in a very long line for the start. All of my family and friends showed up to cheer me on. I Came out of the water at 1:09:12 and headed to T1 made great time and got on the bike, which is definitely my strong suit. My ride went great, after all I had rode this course for months, I finished it in 5:45:01, now I was on track to finish in less than 12 hours, if I could keep up the momentum going into the run. My run was pretty solid, my heel didn’t seem to be causing me any trouble and the crowds cheering were keeping me pumped. 11:39:11, I did it, I finished in under 12 hours on my first ever full Ironman. I did it, I did what everyone said I couldn’t do, I went from being obese with high blood pressure and high cholesterol to being a healthy happy fit Ironman.

I would like to thank my wife, kids, and my parents for all their love and support. Thanks to all the Landsharks who helped keep me motivated and on track with all my training. I could not have done this without the support of so many great people.

ever full Ironman. I did it, I did what everyone said I couldn’t do, I went from being obese with high blood pressure and high cholesterol to being a healthy happy fit Ironman.

I would like to thank my wife, kids, and my parents for all their love and support. Thanks to all the Landsharks who helped keep me motivated and on track with all my training. I could not have done this with out the support of so many great people.


Rebecca Bryant

First, I am a Volunteer. At least that is what I used to say as I volunteered for Bike to Beat Cancer with Norton Healthcare and Ironman Louisville in the Norton Medical Tent.  That was before I had my husband, Jon Bryant, volunteer with me. When he moved from the volunteer role to athlete, I was supportive in all the events.

That is how I came to know the Landsharks. Last year, after making some changes, I decided that I could “run”. The support of the group was so overwhelming for Jon and I felt the excitement when I ran the Louisville Triple Crown and KDF Mini Marathon. During the ½ marathon, numerous Landsharks were so supportive along the way. As I was nearing the end of the ½ marathon, another Landshark doing the marathon rounded the turn and yelled out support which kept me going!

In addition to my running this spring, I bought a road bike and am starting to ride. The support has been great all along my path and with YOUR encouragement, I anticipate doing more.


Terri Torres

My name is Terri Torres. This is my 7th year with the Landsharks. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would be a ‘triathlete’ I would have thought you were crazy. At that time, I was a two pack-a-day smoker and weighed 60 pounds more than I do today.

After a long painful divorce and loss of a job that I’d had for more than 13 years, I found myself in a strange city and separated from my children. It was after a summer visit with my kids in 2009 where I turned the corner. I was sitting on my couch feeling sorry for myself, smoking a cigarette, when I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the TV and thought ‘what am I doing to myself?’ At that moment, I put out the cigarette, put on my walking shoes and went for a walk.

The next week I joined the YMCA. A few weeks later, I saw a story in the newspaper with pictures from the 2009 Ironman. I thought those people were nuts but did some research and found out that there were several triathlon distances. So, I started swimming and biking a little on my own. Then my bosses’ wife told me about someone she knew at the YMCA that did triathlon. I sent her a Facebook message and she put me in touch with a beginner triathlon group that was starting January 2010.

And that’s where it all started. I was, by far, the biggest girl in the room. As a group, we trained for an Olympic distance triathlon in Knoxville, TN. I still weighed in excess of 200 pounds on race day but finished the race and I was hooked. I remember telling my fiancé “that was fun and I’ll probably do it again but I’ll never do anything crazy like a marathon or Ironman”. That was 4 marathons, 2 Ironman and 1 10-mile swim ago, and I’m still the biggest girl in the room. Never say never.

I grew up as a swimmer, elementary school thru high school, so swimming is by far my best of the three sports. When I’m training for a triathlon, it also happens to be the first thing I skip on the training plan when my schedule gets busy or I’m just too tired to get to the pool in the morning. Riding my bike is by far my favorite of the three. I love to ride my bike. I wish I had more time to do it. Up until I started triathlon, I had never, and I mean never, run a step in my life. I’m not a runner. I will never be a runner. In fact, the only reason I run is because you have to run at the end of a triathlon. I have tried to learn to love it but I simply don’t. I have, however, learned to like it.

I don’t get a chance to spend time with the Landsharks as much as I would like with work and family commitments. I have made some of the best friends I could have ever asked for. I had the privilege of serving on the board for 3 years from 2011-2013. This club is an invaluable wealth of knowledge. At any time, you can ask a question, about gear, training, racing, nutrition, and get help, suggestions, and support from not only its members but it sponsors. 

July 2016

Melissa Christensen

How long have you been involved in Multisport?

2016 is my 8th season of triathlon. I was a runner and mountain biker previous to competing in triathlons.

What distance races do you like to do?

My favorite distance is 70.3 but sprints are really fun.

What kind of challenges have you overcome and are they still a challenge?

My biggest challenge to overcome was a fear of water. As a child I hated swimming with my face in the water and just could not swim the width of an Olympic sized pool to pass off my swimming class so I was stuck for years in a class with much younger children because I got free swimming lessons with my family's pool membership and my mom made me use them. I eventually got too old for the class and my mom let me join the diving team instead of swimming lessons. In diving the fun part happens in the air so I still only had to swim from the middle of the pool to the side.

Years went by and I'd always thought it would be cool to do a tri but the fear of swimming prevented it. Finally, a group of ladies convinced me to train with them for a super sprint tri at the end of the summer that was very beginner friendly. But in just two weeks there was a sprint tri closer to home so when faced with the opportunity to just suck it up and do it, I conquered my fear. It was pretty ugly but with just two weeks of swimming and one OWS practice I did a sprint. I've improved so much since then and I increased distances each year until I did a full Ironman here in Louisville in 2012. Swimming is still my least favorite and weakest discipline but I'm still improving.

Now my biggest challenge is more time as my kids are older and trying to balance the needs of our family with my training. I do a lot of indoor workouts to address this so that I am at home with my kids or they come to the Y with me. They are now old enough to swim in the pool at the Y with me in the lap pool so my swimming is more fun for them now. Finding time for long bike rides is still a challenge since my husband is also a cyclist. We will occasionally get sitters so we can ride together or at least at the same time but it gets expensive. I will also do long rides while my kids are at school. 

July 2016

Eric Dumitru

My name is Eric Dumitru and I have been involved in triathlons for about 3 years now. I honestly never thought of triathlon in my life and had no desire to be a participant. I wasn't a runner or a cyclist and besides floating around in a lake I had no clue how to swim. I was a 2 pack a day smoker until I was about 32 years old and 10 years later I had traded smoking for eating and was almost 260lbs. at 5'9". Dr and I discussing high blood pressure was the last straw for me.

I started out just learning to run a few years before I bought a bike. I did my first century ride in the bike to beat cancer while raising money. I was full on hooked into the running and cycling after that ride, and was looking for my next challenge. That's when I decided to try this triathlon thing. Signed up for Raleigh NC 70.3 with no idea what I was doing. Didn't even know how to swim yet. Ignorance is bliss. I met Brent Morgan at the YMCA and after a 10 minute conversation he was signing up for the same race. We had a lot of fun training and racing together and both joined the Landsharks at that time.

I had never swam before and had a panic attack in my first open water experience. Went straight to the Landshark page and was given all the support you could ask for. Even had an offer from someone to swim with me in Raleigh before the race.

Flash forward to last Oct. and we were lining up for Ironman Louisville. My first and his 2nd. I have had all the doubts and insecurities you can imagine.

I had nerves about the bike, but doing group rides made me confident that I could handle it and a little advice from Scott Farrar helped me mentally break down the run at ironman Louisville into something not so overwhelming. I needed that, as I had never attempted a marathon prior to ironman so my first try was to be after a 112 mile bike ride. If you're nervous ask questions, you'll be shocked how many people want to help. Surround yourself with the positive people in the group and feed off the energy.  Don't be scared to at least give it a shot. You may be inspiring people you have no idea are watching you. 

May 2016

Pete Eddington

Two years ago, a couple of wise guy friends convinced me I could complete “Race The Bridge” Triathlon. The only thing I had ever competed in was obstacle races. Somehow, they convinced me I could do it although I had NEVER swam 1 single lap in my life. A pair of $5 goggles, a rented wetsuit, and a borrowed bike later, I was staring at the Ohio, thinking it's at least 5 miles to those buoys and back.

I made it about 75% of the way to the first buoy with a combination of freestyle, backstroke, and a couple of strokes yet to be identified. I was never so happy in my life to see the Po Po and share a boat for the next 40 minutes. Very embarrassing to say the least.

Since that day my friends have moved out of town. A few swim lessons with Mike Jotautas started me swimming good enough to get completely caught up in this sport. Still lots to learn for me with swimming though.

Currently, I run, bike, and swim 7-12 hours per week and I'm not sure what the limit is yet but I look forward to challenging it and hope to conquer the Ohio this year in the Tri Lou Olympic and then to Muncie for a unique distance race in September.

May 2016

Leigh Clark 

How long have you been involved in Multisport? 

I did my first Sprint Tri last year at Tri Indy. I also finished a duathlon at Tri for Sight. 

What discipline do you find most challenging?

I need to greatly improve my swimming. As I'm finding, this is the discipline most adults new to tri have a hard time with. I took a few lessons at the Y, but further instruction will be needed to reach my goals. 

What achievement are you most proud of and why? 

A few years ago, I reached almost 300 pounds on the scales. As a nurse, I was a fairly active person but I could tell the weight was starting to hold me back physically and socially. I had weight loss surgery in December of 2013. As you may or may not know, surgery alone is not the answer. It still requires commitment and hard work to be successful. My husband committed to a lifestyle change with me and we were on our way. We changed our eating habits and joined the gym. I lost 130 pounds in about 15 months. Along the way, I discovered the love of running. I trained for and finished two half marathons last year and a sprint tri and a duathlon. I'll be running the Kentucky Derby Marathon this year. I'm not in any hurry, so my only goal for this tri season is to do an Oly.

What motivates you?

I'm motivated by how good I feel physically and mentally when I achieve the goals I set out to do. And the calorie burn, for sure!

What advice would you give to anyone just getting started? 

Get involved. This is the advice I need to follow for myself. It can be intimidating to put yourself out there, but if you don't you won't find the community you're looking for. The community is what and who will help you be successful. I learned this when I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined my first running group. Though I only have a goal of an Oly this season, I would like to be involved in training groups and as a volunteer at Landshark events and races this season. Oh, and I'm a back of the pack gal and I'm going to need company, so don't let your idea of being too slow keep you from joining in! 

April, 2016

Lara Donnelly

I was one of the people on the sidelines last year. I decided to join the Landsharks after my first sprint tri. Jeremy Becker suggested that I check out the club, so I went to the kickoff and joined that night. I didn't sign up for any races because I wanted to get started on training and see if I could do a distance further than just a sprint.

I saw the group rides and runs but felt that I was too slow to join in. I had also gotten new cleats and was really uncomfortable riding with them. I decided last minute to do two tris late in the season, both sprints and then volunteered at IMLOU and remembered why I wanted to do this in the first place. I signed up the next day for IMLOU 2016 and then it wasn't an option to wait around to train anymore.

I went on a group ride the next weekend and was way slower than everyone else, which I expected. Everyone in the group was so nice about it and Jeremy even stayed back with me. I experienced something similar on several group rides where I was really struggling. Someone was always willing to stay back with me. Now that I'm more confident, I've trained much more and am not falling super far behind the group.

Realizing it's all a work in progress, I would suggest to anyone who is on the sidelines like I was at this time last year to just get out and join the group for a ride or run. You won't regret it.

April, 2016

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