Personal Best

Boulder-based world champion triathlete Siri Lindley dives deep with her memoir, ‘Surfacing’


ON COURSE Lindley, front, won 13 World Cup races between 2000 and 2002. Photo by Timothy Carlson

Siri Lindley is a triathlon world champion as well as an elite triathlete coach. So it made perfect sense when a publisher approached her, asking her to write a training-centric book about the sport she’s dominated.

But, Lindley, a Boulder resident, had a different, more personal idea in mind for her book. In fact, years earlier she had already started writing her autobiography, but hit a stopping point because she wasn’t ready to tell her whole story, knowing she needed to be entirely vulnerable and authentic to tell it right.

That time has come, and the result is Lindley’s first book, “Surfacing.” In it, she’s honest with readers about how she overcame self-doubt, stopped living from a place of fear and started leading from her heart.

One of her mantras? “I have to be with myself every second of every minute of every hour of every day for the rest of my life,” she says. “I thought, ‘I need to appreciate this person and respect this person and support this person.’ ”

Lindley, who started by competing in field hockey, lacrosse and ice hockey at Brown University, says pivotal breakthroughs helped her push past fourth-place finishes to achieve accolades like winning 13 World Cup races between 2000 and 2002 and becoming the 2001 International Triathlon Union World Champion. She won the ITU World Cup Series two years in a row and achieved a No. 1 ranking in the world. In 2003, Lindley turned to coaching athletes at both the elite and age-group levels. She’s also a motivational speaker.

Lindley says Brett Sutton, her coach, told her to think as if she were retiring from the sport, stop worrying about making a living as a pro athlete and instead start focusing on why she fell in love with the sport in the first place. He also started giving her a list of training tasks every day that seemed impossible—but ultimately she found herself conquering them and gaining self-confidence.

“I realized I was so passionate and I was so grateful to have a strong heart, determined mind, two legs, two arms, and I could celebrate these gifts,” Lindley says.

On a personal level, Lindley, who as a child was the stepdaughter of NFL legend Frank Gifford, also stopped hiding her sexuality and fell in love with the woman who is now her wife.

An important part of her book is how she came to terms with her sexuality. As she was becoming more successful in her sport, she found it harder to “come out” as a lesbian because she didn’t want to lose respect or sponsorships. In fact, one major sponsor asked her to grow her hair longer and get a boyfriend to fit into the image they had scripted for her. After Lindley retired from racing, she went on to get engaged to a man—but paused and thought, “What am I doing?” and broke off the engagement.

People, she says, often live their lives according to the stories they create in their heads. For Lindley, that script was wrought with anxiety, believing she didn’t belong on the podium and that she was OK with not truly falling in love since she was already blessed with a great career, her family’s love and the companionship of her pets. But it’s so important, she says, to change the stories in your head, and put your heart and soul into making your dreams come true.

“I hope I can help people let go of their fears and believe more in themselves so they can truly create the life they want for themselves,” she says. “It’s never too late.”

Imitate swim conditions: Prior to the race, swim with groups. You can link up with master swim groups where you’ll have four to five people in a lap lane, which will lend a little chop that you’ll feel on race day. Plus, you’ll get accustomed to swimming close to people. Also, prior to the race, get out and swim in a reservoir to get the feel for being in a big body of water. Think of race day as a celebration: “When you get out there, celebrate all the hard work you’ve done,” Lindley says. “Celebrating is a powerful feeling.”

TRY ONE OF LINDLEY’S BIKE WORKOUTS: This strength-building session uses the resistance of your gears if you’re inside. If you’re outside, find a hill where you can complete intervals.*

• Warm up for 10 to 20 minutes
• 1 minute in a gear that’s one harder than you would choose to climb the hill you are on. So, if you usually ride at about 90 cadence, add some resistance so that you’re climbing the hill at 80 cadence instead.
• 1 minute easy spinning to recover
• 2 minutes back to the climbing gear
• 2 minutes easy spinning to recover
• 3 minutes back to your climbing gear; push down and pull up on the pedals and feel yourself building strength.
• 3 minutes easy spinning

* If the hill is short, do the interval up, recover back down and start again. Do this as many times as you can.


BUY THE BOOK:Surfacing: From the Depths of Self-Doubt to Winning Big and Living Fearlessly,” by Siri Lindley (VeloPress, $24.95)


Swim, bike and run to success with these items


Lazer Z1 road helmet, $270, at




Speedo FS Prime goggles, $85


Garmin Forerunner 920XT multi-sport GPS watch, $450


Giant Trinity Advanced Pro 2 triathlon bike, $3,100


Asics Gel-Noosa Tri 11 women’s running shoe, $140

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