A few years ago, Liz O’Hara Williams began a life-changing journey that she never could have anticipated -- an adventure filled with strength and struggle, exhaustion and empowerment -- the journey toward becoming a Mighty Mujer.
In countless ways, Liz has always been a Mighty Mujer (Spanish for ‘woman’). News Director for an award-winning news station and supermom to three young children, many would have said that she had more than enough on her plate. But in 2011, she saw herself in the mirror and said to her husband, “We don’t eat well, we don’t sleep well, we’re not exercising...we’re a mess.”
Feeling “blech,” Liz resolved to get active again and joined a gym, only to realize she struggled to even run around the shopping center where the gym was located. Discouraged but determined, she saw an ad for Mighty Mujer Triathlon, an all-female super sprint race in El Paso, Texas and thought to herself, “Well, I know how to swim...and, how hard can it be to run? I’ll figure out how to run, it’s ‘only’ two miles.” Liz registered for the race and set her feet on a path that would not only change her life, but impact the lives of everyone around her.
“After registering, I realized I had no idea where to start. Nobody that I knew was doing triathlons, I didn’t have a support group, I didn’t know who to talk to.” Thankfully, Liz wasn’t alone for long. Shannon, a college friend of her husband reached out and invited her on a bike ride, even though neither had any idea what they were doing. Liz remembers that day vividly -- from asking every woman in the park “Are you Shannon?", to feeling like she was going to die as she muscled her heavy duty 1998 mountain bike up the hills, to high-fiving when they conquered the course.
With four months to train, Shannon and Liz began inviting other acquaintances to “come hang out with us and see what this triathlon thing is all about.” Soon, what started as a group of strangers became a workout friendship of eight women consistently meeting to swim, bike, and run together.
This growing community was vital to Liz’s training and she attributes much of her success and perseverance the support and accountability of the women who surrounded her. “None of us were swimmers, none of us were cyclists, none of us were runners, but we all decided that together, we would be.” In addition to the mental strength her new friends provided, their presence was a source of physical strength as well. “I know who my bike buddy is and who I can swim with. I know who wants to do what, what they’re good at, and what my weaknesses are. They push me, they drive me.”
While she has continued on to compete in other triathlons, including a Half Ironman in Austin, Liz maintains that no other race feels like Mighty Mujer Triathlon. She explains that in an all-female race, “There’s a girl power vibe...The body types, the ages, all that stuff just washes away. It’s not about competing with the woman next to you, it’s about competing with the woman inside of you.”
In the last three years, Liz has become an avid swimmer, cyclist, and runner, but she still remembers crossing the Mighty Mujer finish line for the first time. “I felt like a rockstar. I felt like we were masters of the universe; we can do anything.” That feeling, as well as the support and accountability of her friends, has carried her through and she encourages other women to step out of their comfort zones, sign up for their first triathlon, and begin creating their own workout community. “Just give it a try...Is it scary to walk into a clinic and be the only one you know there? Yes. But you don’t walk out that way. And that’s the most important part.”
Click here to see what Mighty Mujer Triathlon is all about and register to be part of this empowering event.
Race El Paso is passionate about creating athlete-centric races and training resources designed to take new athletes to the finish line and veterans to a new high!