Personal Best: Triathlete pushes herself to new heights 

From middle school through college, Tyler Stewart’s athletic resume was sparse. Stewart revealed the reason for her transformation from after-school horseback rider to champion professional triathlete.

“It was mostly for a guy,” the 32-year-old Connecticut native said with a laugh. “I started to do sports to impress him.”

The guy, Johnny, was Stewart’s work buddy at a high-tech company, and the newly transplanted San Franciscan had a “crush” on her “super athlete” office mate. 

Stewart jumped at the opportunity after being invited to Lake Tahoe for a weekend mountain bike ride.
“I rented a bike, bought shoes and a helmet,” Stewart said.

She survived the steep Downieville ride, regarded as one of the most challenging in the country, and discovered her passion for biking. And, Johnny discovered Tyler.

The now-married duo continues to work together. These days, though, they’re surrounded by dogs rather than computers. The couple owns Wags Pet Wash and Boutique on Polk Street in The City.

When she isn’t bathing, walking, or boarding her clients, Stewart spends her time training for and competing against some of the world’s most elite athletes.

“Most pro triathletes train 30-40 hours per week. I have very limited time because of business,” Stewart said. “Fifteen minutes on the TRX [suspension training] for me is what I can get done in an hour and half at the gym. It’s super efficient.”

On a typical day, in addition to the TRX workout, Stewart will teach two 90-minute indoor cycling classes at San Francisco’s Velo Collective and squeeze in a 45-minute run.

As an Ironman athlete, the muscular 5-foot-6, 135-pounder must find time for swimming, as well as biking, her best event, and running. Stewart’s most personally satisfying race to date was her first professional full Ironman victory at the 2009 Coeur d’Alene in Idaho.

“For me, it was the most exciting, because in a race in ’08 I went into a thyroid storm, which is right before you have a heart attack,” Stewart said.

She suffered seizures for 2½ hours as a result of being prescribed the wrong medicine for her thyroid condition. Subsequent heart damage kept Stewart out of action for several months. The win at Coeur d’Alene affirmed to Stewart that she had fully recovered.

“Wow, I’m back. My body is working again,” she recalled saying to herself after the 9-hour, 23-minute race.

 

Tyler Stewart file

 

Ironman details: 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-run (marathon)

First pro race: 2007, finished second in Lake Placid Ironman

Best time: 2007 Ironman Florida; 9 hours, 7 minutes

Main sponsor: LUNA Pro Team

Future: Status quo until 2012, then time to become a mom.

Info: www.tyler-stewart.com; www.sfwags.com

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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