We are thrilled to introduce Paragon Training's newest coach, Roberta Gonzalez! With her years of experience as a triathlete and nurse, Coach Roberta brings expertise as well as valuable wisdom and a lot of positive energy. She's passionate about coaching and supporting athletes of all levels. Read Roberta's bio if you still want to learn more after the Q&A below, and reach out if you're curious about private coaching with Roberta. Please join us in welcoming Coach Roberta!
Occupation: I’ve been a Registered Nurse for 24 years and an Advanced Practice Nurse for 13 of those years, specializing in Emergency Care and Pediatric Endocrinology. I currently work in a clinic treating children and young adults with pre-diabetes, diabetes, and thyroid disorders. The majority of my clinic time is dedicated to my Wellness Clinic patients. Along with a team of dedicated professionals, I assist families with nutrition, exercise and lifestyle modifications.
How long have you been swimming, cycling, running, and/or doing triathlons?
I haven’t always led an active lifestyle. As an adult onset athlete, I initially started my health journey in 2001. With the help of a personal trainer, I lost 50 pounds, made better food choices and it completely changed my life. I fell in love with the gym, group training, running and strength training. I trained for my first half marathon in 2011 and was hooked after my first ever finish line feels. I continued to do running races until I signed up for my first triathlon in 2016. I did not know how to swim—just a small detail. So at 45, I joined Team in Training triathlon team, took some swim lessons and completed my first sprint triathlon: Texas State Triathlon. It was not pretty, but I knew that race was not my last.
What aspects of triathlon do you enjoy most?
Cycling is my jam! I love riding on the open country roads and feeling the wind on my face--it’s so freeing. I leave all my worries in the car and just enjoy every moment.
Another aspect I love about triathlon is the community and how that community expands to each individual discipline. When you really think about it, it does not stand alone. It is three sports rolled into one. I have not only met wonderful people in triathlon, but I have met wonderful people in the running, cycling and swimming community too—each community is unique in every respect but bonded together by the love of each individual sport.
When and why did you start coaching?
I started thinking about becoming a triathlon coach a couple of years ago but when the whole world shut down, I had to change my plans. Since 2019, I had already been supporting many athletes training for their races as the head of a local triathlon training team. By this time, I had already done 2 IRONMAN races and wanted to give back to other athletes just starting out in triathlon. I would offer training advice and set up training rides, runs, and swims around town. Being a part of someone’s triathlon journey is such an honor and I get so much joy helping others achieve their race goals. That is where my coaching journey really started. I finally decided to make it official after finishing my 3rd IRONMAN race in Chattanooga in 2022. There is something about finishing an IRONMAN event that makes you own up on unfinished business!
What has been your favorite training or racing event, and why?
My favorite race hands down is IRONMAN Chattanooga! I made sure my training had lots of rolling hills so I frequented the Floresville and Kicaster cycling routes. I am one of those weird people who love to run hills so that just made me happy. The crowds on that course were amazing, it made the race so much more fun! The bike course is absolutely beautiful and the roads on the bike loops are as smooth as butter! Why haven’t you signed up yet?????
What is your favorite post-workout or race meal?
A turkey burger and sweet potato fries with lots of ketchup after races and a Topo Chico preparado after a long hot ride/ run. If you haven’t had one, you are totally missing out!
What has been the biggest difference between coaching and racing for you?
Over the last few years, I have learned to continue to focus on my own race goals while supporting other athletes at the same time. I had to consider what their training needs were to make decisions on routes, distances, and events. One of my favorite quotes is “The reward is in the journey”. So whether I’m training for a race or racing along side my teammates, we are all in this journey together.
Alternatively, what's something that you've learned from coaching that's benefitted your racing (or vice versa).
I’ve always been the type of athlete that analyzes every aspect of a workout or a race. What could I have done better? What went wrong? What can I do to ensure it doesn’t happen again? I’m in a constant state of learning about myself as an athlete. I seem to get better at racing as I age too. One thing I am certain of is, as my coaching philosophy evolves, my own training will most likely change and evolve along with it. So it will be a work in progress.
What is one recent accomplishment you are proud of?
I am proud of my race performance at IRONMAN Chattanooga. I overcame so many obstacles to get to the starting line. I had Covid-19 the first week of training so I couldn’t start on schedule. Six weeks later, I was diagnosed with post-Covid hypertension and was hospitalized for a ton of tests. After being placed on blood pressure medication, I had to learn how my body would respond to my training sessions with medication on board. Add in the onset of menopause, and I was a hot mess! Despite all of this, the thought of quitting never crossed my mind. I modified my workouts and just kept moving forward. I had my best time in an Ironman on a longer, more difficult course.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
I feel like I’m grown up! LOL.
What’s most important to me is not what I can add to my resume, but what I can do to make someone’s life just a little bit easier. I work with so many young diabetics that are struggling with their chronic disease, if I could change just one person’s quality of life, I would be happy. But if you really want to know, having the first triathlon camp for kids with diabetes is my dream!
What is something no one knows about you?
As you can see, I’m an open book.