By ANITA TODD | Contributing Writer
DAVENPORT — It would be reasonable to presume that when Karen Tiner had to have surgery after injuring her knee doing yoga last year that she would have been sidelined for at least a few months.
It would be reasonable, but inaccurate.
Instead, just 11 days later, the triathlete ran in — and finished — a 10K race and six weeks later competed in a half-Ironman.
That determination reflects, in part, what has helped make Tiner successful.
As the co-owner of Amerifinance in Haines City and the past-chair and current treasurer of the Northeast Polk Chamber of Commerce, she has spent 26 years as a financial advisor building the business with her husband, Steve. Tiner is involved in the community, also, and was named Citizen of the Year 2016 and received the Outstanding Service Award in 2017.
“For me, being successful in endurance sports requires the same recipe of determination and setting high goals that I use in life and in my business,” she said. “I strive for my goals and never quit — I just keep moving forward.”
A runner since she was a freshman at Polk State College, the Haines City High alumna said she started competing in triathlons for several reasons.
“The thing about triathlons is that they are more complex and require more thinking, more training and just more discipline (than foot races),” Tiner said.
Up at 4 a.m. every day, Tiner said setting out on a run before the sun comes up functions as her cup of coffee.
“Running clears my head,” she said. “And, I get my best ideas when I’m running.”
Tiner first became interested in triathlons when the Ironman was held in Haines City in 2012.
“When I started to consider competing in the Ironman, I had never ridden a bike competitively but I thought it would be no problem and swimming, ‘Sure, I can swim,’” she said. “But, what I didn’t realize then was there’s more to it than just frolicking in the pool.”
Competitors can participate in triathlons of shorter distances, but are all variations of the Ironman — or a “big daddy,” as Tiner refers to the race — consisting of a 2.4-mile swim; a 112-mile bike ride; and a marathon (26.2-mile run).
She has come a long way since her first Ironman seven years ago when she finished in 15 hours and 40 minutes. On April 14, she finished the Haines City Ironman in seven hours and 9 minutes.
“Quitting is not an option for me because I train too hard for that,” Tiner said. “I just think ‘I’ll never do it again,’ but then I finish and the payoff is worth it.”
Serious training and experience — she’s competed in 52 races since she started — are what have helped Tiner’s times improve so dramatically. She says that even when she’s not training for a triathlon, she runs every day and, of course, when she’s training she also incorporates swimming and biking.
“I have a gameplan for each event,” she said.
Proper pacing is an important aspect of each race and, for Tiner, it’s easiest during the run.
“l like to run next to people and talk to them,” she said. “I’m so humbled by their stories of why they are there, from cancer or having MS. I don’t ever finish a race without having made at least 3 or 4 friends along the way.”
Tiner’s husband runs, but hasn’t joined her in a triathlon yet. However, there is one member of her family who may follow in her triathlon footsteps. Ten-year old Taylor, one of Tiner’s five granddaughters, participated in the Dip and Dash, a shortened children’s version of a triathlon, during the Ironman this month — and she aspires to do more.
Taylor will have plenty of opportunities to compete along with her grandmother, too, as Tiner has five more races planned before November.