Tri Coach: Debi Bernardes
Debi Bernardes, of King George, Virginia is an elite female athlete known to many in the area. She has over 25 years of coaching experience in running, swimming and triathlon. At 51, she is ranked 2nd OVERALL for women in the 2009 Virginia Triathlon Series! This is the 21 event series that comes annually to Culpeper. Our featured “Friends of World Bean Roasthers” are customers and/or are making a difference in their community.
Share with us a brief background history..
Born in Chicago, grew up in the suburbs (Itasca), and graduated from there as well. Went to college at Drake University where I ran track/cross country off and on. Graduated in 1980, and then a few months later joined the Navy, and had my first duty station at Dahlgren where I met my husband (then a co-op student from WVTech). I have two kids (both over 20). I started actually started my first coaching gig while in boot camp, and then restarted my running afterwards.
Share how , when and who inspired you the most in becoming the elite triathlete you are today..
When I was in high school there used to be this older woman (she was probably in her 40’s) who would come to the track daily (either before we went to practice or afterwards). She wore a red tracksuit, and her hair was done in the style set in the 50’s (lots of hairspray). She was very fit, and very petite…and she had the smoothest little stride that never changed pace. Watching her run gave you the feeling that this was something that you could do forever…and it didn’t have to end at the age of 18.
Well…no one inspired me to be an elite athlete J In fact for years I would have been the first one to tell you that I am not elite. I wasn’t very successful as a runner in college. I was fast, but couldn’t race worth anything (always went out WAY too fast). As the years went by I was able to have several great coaches who helped me get to the next level. With their help I was able to be consistent, and with that I also had the opportunity to learn.
As to becoming an elite triathlete? That didn’t happen until I was over the age of 41 But if you were to give me an athlete that I admire it would most likely be Karen Smyers (and even her sister Donna). They have fun with what they are doing, and they don’t make themselves crazy when things don’t go right.
What are some of your proudest moments as a Coach. When did you start, who do you coach , are you taking new clients.
I’ve coached athletes for over 25 years – so this is a hard one. With running (high school kids) it would have been the last time King George Girls had one Districts (back in 1987) in track and field. I had five girls go on to States that year (three of them in the 800). Or it was the group of kids I coached at Courtland high school 10 years later. In swimming, I’ve had so many great kids to work with that I could never separate them. And with triathletes I guess you could say the same thing. I have so much fun with my clients, and helping them to achieve their dreams and goals is what is so awesome about this job. As to taking on new clients I generally only pick up about 5-6 extra each year to replace 5-6 that are ready to move on (past their big race).
What have been your 3 biggest challenges you had to overcome to become the athlete you are today.
Injuries, laziness, and injuries . If I don’t pay attention to my flexibility (try to maintain what I have) I can easily get out of whack for a couple of months. Then I can’t run (normally) for a bit, and then things get better until I get lazy again. Oh, and if I didn’t have a coach? I would not be where I am today. Having someone else make sure you don’t do too much (or in my case, too little) is what really helps.
What are the top 3 life lessons you have learned as a result of being a triathlete and/or coach.
That there is always tomorrow (unless there is no tomorrow), that winning is nice, but it’s not everything, and that helping others is what helps to make you a better person/athlete/coach.
What are you goals for 2010? How about an XTERRA Debi?
I would be SOOO slow at xterra. I can’t even run trails fast. To see me on a mountain bike is funny. Probably spend more time walking than I do riding, and when I am riding it’s slower than my walk. But I do love MTB riding. Goals for next year?
***Qualify for Du Worlds again (but probably won’t go as Nationals for triathlon are a couple weeks later)
***Get a slot for 70.3 world champs (and place top 10 there) at Mooseman
***Qualify for 2011 worlds at Nationals
***Try to place in top five overall in the VA Tri Series.
I like being the more mature athlete on the block.
Alas, what is it about our Fair Trade Nicaraguan Coffee ?! :)
Best coffee! We only go through 5 pounds every 4 weeks (or is it less?), and it’s what gets me out the door in the morning.
Lastly... I know you have many, but some of your stellar athletic moments. (we love this part !!)
** USAT All-American for the last 10 years (last year finally cracked the top 10 again -AG)
** Going to Kona twice, but actually qualifying three times.
** Placing in my AG at IM Wisconsin, and IM Florida (2x)
** Top ten at Triathlon Worlds in 08 (AG)
** Top ten at Du Worlds 09 (AG)
** 5th Overall woman at Dextro ITU race last June with a course PR for me
** Taking second overall for women this year at the VA Tri Series.
Julia – I race way too much – as it is a ton of fun!
Debi is someone I admire for her discipline, commitment, perseverance, goal setting and her sense of humor! She has become stronger and faster over the years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down…… I look forward to being on the starting line with her at the races – it’s really the only time I can honestly say I won’t see her again until awards, as she leaves me in the dust :) Wishing you the best for 2010! You can find Debi at her website (and on facebook!)
Debi’s “resume” (click)