EC Professor Conquers Triathlon World


Megan Granich is a math professor at El Camino College and competes in triathlons. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi

Surrounded by thousands of swimmers and athletes in the middle of the ocean, one particular swimmer is competing for her first time. The race is on the big island of Hawaii on the shore of Kohala Coast.

BOOM! The gun fires and the race is underway, swimmers dunk their heads, begin to kick their feet and paddle their arms. ‘It was going to be a long day,’ was the first thought going through the swimmer’s head. She finished the race just before her goal of six hours.

Megan Granich, 40, is a math professor at El Camino and is also a triathlete who competes in different races, marathons and triathlons. She got into running when her sister signed up for a 5K marathon but began competing in triathlons when she saw an ad for a reverse triathlon, which is just a mini triathlon.

Megan competed in her first half IRONMAN in 2012 on the big island of Hawaii. Megan trains in the early hours of the day. When everyone is finally waking up to start their day, she is already on her way to teach after already getting her run and swim in.

“People think you can’t balance work, training, and a life. If you look at my phone there’s an alarm set for 4:15 [a.m.], there’s a reason for that. There’s no way I can swim for an hour and a half, drive up to the Santa Monica area and come back and either run or bike before I come here [to teach],” Megan says.

Megan admits it could be difficult to manage everything but it has to start early. It is completely doable, she says.

Megan began teaching at El Camino in 2002 but it wasn’t until 2013 when she became full-time. She was born and raised in the South Bay, attended Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance and graduated college from Loyola Marymount University in Westchester.

Megan has participated in IRONMAN competitions since 2012. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi


Megan originally wanted to be a high school math teacher and after getting her degree, she went to teach high school math at the school she attended, Bishop Montgomery. One year was enough for her.

“I taught one year and that one year was enough for me to know that high school was not for me,” Megan says. ” I didn’t want to deal with parents and I didn’t want to chaperone the prom. I didn’t want babysit.”

Megan wanted to get her masters so she could teach college students. She went back to LMU and the dean at the time said it would be ok for Megan to teach math at LMU part-time, so she did.

In 2012, while teaching at LMU and multiple other schools part-time, Megan was named one of “Princeton Reviews Top 300 Professors,” the award was also in conjunction with the website “Rate My Professor.”

“It meant a ton to me especially at the time because I was teaching part-time at four different schools a semester,” Megan says. “Knowing I can juggle four schools at a time and still [make an] impact on students enough to be listed in that book with a prestigious entity like Princeton Review, it meant more than anything to me at that point in my career.”

Megan has taught at 11 different community colleges. She’s enjoyed teaching colleges students because they are more motivated and she does not have to deal with parents.

To go along with teaching, Megan competes in numerous races a year.

Megan typically competes in three big competitions a year with multiple shorter races and marathons mixed in.

In 2018, she has competed in three half Ironmans, the Chicago Marathon, and a couple of other shorter races locally.

This year will be different because Megan has signed up and is set for her first full IRONMAN in June. In addition to the full IRONMAN, she hopes to compete in a half IRONMAN (Santa Cruz) and the New York Marathon in November.

Megan is competing in the New York Marathon in November on a charity entry. In the NYC Marathon your name must be pulled through a lottery. If not, like Megan’s case, you can compete on a charity entry and race for a charity cause.

“Team Autism Speaks,” Megan says. “Being a teacher and seeing students on the spectrum and my personal life, I’ve had some experience with family. It was the charity that I was like ‘yeah this is perfect.'”

“It’s more so all the people that you meet, all the friends that you meet. They come to your races, you go to theirs, they cheer you on,” Megan says. Photo credit: Kealoha Noguchi

For more information on how to donate to the charity Megan is racing for you can follow her on instagram (@megangranichetri) or email her ([email protected]).

Megan has been named a “Silver All World Athlete” (AWA) from IRONMAN in back-to-back years, 2018-2019. The AWA program is IRONMAN’s way of rewarding racers based non their performances in age groups.

A Gold AWA is ranked in the top one percent of their age group, silver is in top five percent and bronze in top 10 percent of their age group.

“I got silver again, and its just really cool, I got a cool keychain in the mail,” Megan says.

Megan is a brand ambassador for four companies, Wattie Ink, BOCO Gear, SBR Sports and Nuun. Wattie Ink is a brand that provides sports apparel for bikers, runners and swimmers. BOCO Gear is a hat company. SBR Sports has formulated products for hair and skin care for athletes. Lastly, Nuun is an electrolyte beverage company.

“I got a thing in the mail last week, like ten tons of shampoo and conditioner and a shirt that said ‘SBR Athlete’ then a hat,” Megan says. “The next day I got something else and it was BOCO, it was a hat that said ‘Brand Ambassador’ and ‘I’m like man the is awesome.'”

The Chicago Marathon was one of the biggest races for Megan in her career because she was trying to qualify for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

However, Megan began to cramped up early in the race. Megan was disappointed because it occurred only half of a mile in. She tried to continue right away but she could not.

Megan said the cramp began to seize and tighten up the more she tried to stretch it out. She tried walking it off but it tightness was making it difficult to move. Megan began to cry out of frustration because she had gone through all of the required training, only to cramp up at the beginning of the race.

The Chicago Marathon is about a 50,000 person race with another 50,000 people in attendance. Megan said everyone is going through their own personal thing, if her time did not qualify for Boston, she did not qualify but she wanted to finish the race.

Megan went to the aid stations and drank all of the Gatorade she could. Stopping for Gatorade and having to rest her cramps ended up costing her 5 minutes.

With 54 seconds to spare, Megan crossed the finish line qualifying her for the Boston Marathon.

Megan is a part of two clubs/organizations, the Los Angeles Tri-Club and Tower 26. The L.A. Tri-Club serves all the local triathletes in the L.A. area. The club was founded in 2000 by Paul Hekimian. The club grew quickly and not long after that Paul says he knew he was onto something.

The L.A. Tri-Club began with 250 members but quickly rose to 800 within the first year. The club has been over 1,000 members for 18 years.

Paul first got into triathlons in 1998 when a friend suggested that all of their friends train for a triathlon. He had ran a marathon before but never a triathlon so he was up for the challenge. Paul says in order to do a triathlon you have to be mentally prepared.

“After doing my first one I was hooked, then it became a lifestyle. I do it for the lifestyle,” Paul says. “I think its 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical, most people talk themselves out of it or they think it’s not reachable.”

Tower 26, the other organization Megan is a part of, began as a swimming program for triathletes and they have around 150 swimmers currently, coach Jim Lubinski says.

Jim, 40, is a professional triathlete and Megan’s swim and triathlon coach. As a triathlon coach he has to create different training schedules based on goals for the specific triathlete. It’s vital that he has open dialogue and communication with each of his athletes, Jim says.

“I kind of oversee her entire plan, how she prepares for races, gets stronger and faster in all three [sports],” Jim says. “I need to look at strengths, weaknesses, time commitment outside of training, work life, family, friends, travel. I have to work all that into a training program that would benefit individual athletes the most.”

Jim became Megan’s coach at the end of last season. When he looked at Megan’s schedule he thought she might be trying to do to much and needed help staying on course.

“Megan is a good athlete, she is very driven but I don’t think she had very much direction in how to train. That’s not necessarily training harder or training longer, it’s training more specific to her goals,” he says.

Megan’s swimming has improved drastically since going the organization. Jim believes her improvement might be the best he’s ever seen.

“She has improved by maybe the most of any of my athletes have improved because when I set a goal for her, she achieves it no matter what it takes,” Jim says. “No matter the demand I put on her she achieves it. It’s pretty amazing to see because of the grit and determination she puts into each workout.”

Jim credits Megan for coming back from a foot injury. She took the necessary steps to get her foot better and now, not only did she come back but Jim says she is running better than ever.

“Her perseverance is amazing too,” Jim says. “She had a stress fracture, people don’t just come back from that injury but because of her commitment and determination to come back and become a better athlete, she has improved the most out of my athletes.”

Megan’s a fierce and ferocious competitor. Once she feels the intensity and adrenaline of the race, she gets into her flow and there’s no stopping her. It’s inspiring, Jim says.

“It is inspirational for other athletes that I coach too, [I tell them] hey look what Granich did on this race, she was totally dialed in, she executed perfectly. She performs within herself, stays motivated throughout the day,” Jim says.

The thing Megan loves most about the sport is the friendships she has made with the different people that she’s met. She says the camaraderie and friendship inspires her the most.

“It’s more so all the people that you meet, all the friends that you meet and then they turn into training partners and then you kind of feed on each other. They come to your races, you go to theirs, they cheer you on,” she says

Along with becoming training partners, Megan and her friends come up with crazy ideas that they question when it’s time to do it.

“Horrible ideas, you know we’ll go out and have dinner and then it’s like let’s go for a 100 mile bike ride tomorrow [everyone’s like] ‘yeah sounds great.’ Then when your alarm goes off at four o’clock in the morning to do that and you’re like this was a horrible idea,” she says.

“I mean it happens all the time, we’re crazy.”