Todd Byers first became interested in triathlons simply from hanging out with his friends.
“I had some friends who were really big into it out in Colorado,” he says. “So I came back and found a tri-club here and got into it.”
Now he competes in triathlons and also participates in some running events. He recently finished fifth in the Tri-Shark Classic sprint triathlon with a time of 1:03:16.2 and eleventh in the Galena Triathlon with a 1:35:05.
Even though Byers didn’t start until he was in his 20s, the 27-year-old has always enjoyed athletics and competition, having played sports in high school.
His first race was the Naperville Sprint Triathlon in 2006. Since then, he has traveled to Colorado, Louisiana, Wisconsin and all around Illinois for races.
This August, Byers is hoping to go to Canada to compete in his first Ironman, so he’s been training 11 to 15 hours a week, three or four times in each sport. All the training has made a big difference in the only three or four years he’s been competing, he says.
“My bike and run times have improved considerably, but I’m still a terrible swimmer.”
Suetfei Li started became a competitive runner almost by accident.
“I participated in a 5K race without any training and was able to get second place, so I kind of realized maybe I had some talent and I should pursue it,” she says.
She began running seriously in 2003, but repeated injuries kept her away from races for about two years. Now the 33-year-old computer engineer is going strong. She runs races from 5Ks to marathons, recently finishing first in the Martian Half Marathon in Dearborn, Mich., with a time of 1:20:13 and second in Chicago’s Soldier Field 10-mile with a 1:01:17.
“I feel like I have some kind of talent, and I just want to maximize my potential,” Li says of her motivation. “It’s just to make the best of what I have.”
Li says running is pretty high on her priority list. “It’s definitely a very serious hobby. It’s beyond fitness.”
Still, she advises other runners to just relax and run as much as possible.
“Ultimately, the more you run, the better you are. Be flexible, but just run as much as you can.”