- Associated Press - Sunday, September 20, 2015

MONROE, Mich. (AP) - Life would seem to be busy enough without sports for Liz Shafer of Monroe.

The 38-year-old has a husband and four children ranging in age from 11 to 2. She has home schooled her kids for the past two years.

But Shafer also is an accomplished athlete who has run numerous marathons and half-marathons, including the Boston Marathon.

She recently took up iron man triathlons, competing in a half ironman contest in Muncie, Indiana, this summer. Her time for the 1.2-mile swim, 5.6-mile bike race and 13.1-mile run was 6 hours, 23 minutes.

“My husband says why can’t you sit still,” she told the Monroe News ( http://bit.ly/1OtdrlM ). “I’m kind of a Type A, goal-driven person. I’m very active. I’m not a sit-still type.

“Somehow through the grace of God it all fits in. I’m very blessed.”

Shafer grew up in Paw Paw and ran track and cross country in high school. She got married in 1999 and lived in the Lansing area until moving to Monroe eight years ago when her husband Mike began working for DTE Energy.

The Shafers have two girls and two boys - Maddie, 11; Will, 8; Zeke, 7, and Mary, 2 - who all support their mother’s activities.

“I did my first endurance race in 2000,” she recalled. “I ran a 25K (15.5 miles), the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, kind of to stay in shape. Then I did a marathon.

Shafer ran the 2001 Detroit Free Press Marathon. She did the Chicago Marathon in 2002, then had a baby and began taking grad classes.

She qualified for Boston, then suffered a stress fracture that required her to wear a boot for six weeks. Told she could only swim and bike while recuperating, she bought a bicycle and started training for her new hobby of triathlons.

She already had three children when she ran the Boston Marathon in 2011. She ran a very impressive 3 hours, 38 minutes for the 26.2 miles.

“It went fantastic,” she said. “It’s super hilly. The first half is all down hilll. By mile 20, it seriously feels like someone hit your quads with a baseball bat. The atmosphere there is like nothing else.”

Less than two weeks later she was in California running the Big Sur International Marathon, giving her two marathons in 10 days.

She has run six marathons and many more half- marathons. Then her husband suggested she compete in a half ironman contest.

“When I first started doing triathlons, I got some lessons at the Y,” she said. “It was a painful process to say the least. Very slow. I had very terrible form.”

Now she has done seven sprint triathlons, one Olympic distance triathlon and now her first half ironman triathlon, the Half IronMan Muncie.

“There were almost 2,000 athletes out there,” Shafer said. “It was over six hours. The kids went to grandma’s again. They were okay with that.”

Her husband frequently runs with her during workouts and travels to her competitions.

“My kids love it. They thought it was so cool that their mom was going to a half ironman this summer,” she said. “But somebody is usually watching them when I compete. For my own sanity and for my husband who is usually my support crew, it’s easier not to have the kids around.”

She actually had a certified triathon coach - Jael Morgan who is married to her husband’s college roommate - for the half ironman.

“My biggest thing was nutrition, making sure I had enough calories in during the race,” she said. “You pick an effort (pace) you know you can sustain for a very long time. Cycling is the toughest for me. I have the endurance for it, but it’s the leg strength.”

Six weeks into her training for the half ironman, Shafer’s back stiffened up, but she fought through it.

She trains twice a day before a big event, running in the early morning and again in the afternoon or evening.

“My husband and I run together,” she said. “I’m the talker.”

The Shafers are members of St. Michael’s Church in Monroe and stay busy with their children’s sports and activities. Maddie runs cross country at Trinity Lutheran and rides horses. Will and Zeke are in gymnastics and soccer.

“I love what I do,” Shafer said. “One of the biggest thing I’ve learned is, always know your why. Why are you doing something?

“For one, I love it. Each race kind of has its own goal. It’s a talent that God has given me and I’m also determined to do it for my kids. They love it too.”

___

Information from: Monroe News, http://www.monroenews.com

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