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Athlete Profile: It’s a bird, it’s a plane…it’s an Ironman!

Posted Jun 10 2010 5:54am

I have talked, probably at length about this next athlete. I have mentioned here and there about an athlete I met at my gym, Elena. She recently completed her THIRD (did you hear me? 3!) Ironman. If you passed her, you would definitely notice her petite, strong frame, but she doesn’t scream overworked gym-rat. She’s tiny and mighty! I asked her to share with us how an average gal can go from barely being able to run (never ran until post-college) to competing in Ironmans.

You know, a casual marathon.

Endearing Elena: She’s smart and athletic. All around powerhouse.
Likes: This rock star loves triathlons, marathon running, Ironman, traveling, and exploring exciting foods with her hubby. Did I mention her husband and her race together? Their combined times from the Brazil Ironman probably would have equaled my total race time.
Dislikes: Marathons on Mondays, ripped wetsuits, tapering and bad tan lines from lots of biking – 100 mile weekend jaunts will do that.

WARNING! You best be sitting down when you read this. Chances are you will be sore from reading. If you aren’t the least bit motivated after hearing from Elena, please check your vitals.

I was a diver in high school and college, as was my husband. He graduated 2 years ahead of me and decided to start running after college. So, I followed realizing that we couldn’t recreationally dive to stay in shape after college. I couldn’t run more than 5 minutes without getting out of breath! That year, he signed up to do the Chicago Marathon and he did great, so I decided to sign up for the following year hoping that would motivate me to continue running.

At first, it was ridiculously hard but slowly I found my pace and crossed the finish line in 4:06. I was super happy, but could barely walk. We decided to stick to running to stay in shape and not do marathons for a while. Then, we got the bug again, but this time we wanted to cross train a bit more. Since we were comfortable in the water, we decided to start swimming. Running and swimming are VERY different! I couldn’t last very long. Then, someone recommended that we do a triathlon and start biking. After our first triathlon – Chattanooga Olympic Triathlon, we were hooked. One event led to another, with trying a half Ironman the next year. While, we vowed never to do a full Ironman, it suddenly intrigued us. 3 Ironman’s later, I still love the sport and how it makes me feel.

Now that's teamwork.

During Ironman training, I do 14-18 hours with 3 work outs of each sport a week. Off-season, I generally try to shoot for 10 hours a week, focusing on having fun and getting back to the basics of the sports.

Favorites:
- Gear: Brooks Launch running shoe, Aegis triathlon bike (with pretty flowers painted on).
- Race: Boston Marathon 2010. My husband and I ran together, which was amazing to begin with. Then, the crowds that day were phenomenal. They cheered for everyone – no matter how fast/slow you were. I’ll never forget the feeling crossing the finish line (in 3:29) with my husband, knowing that I just ran along some of the best athletes in the country (and world!).

I recently competed in Ironman Brazil on May 30, 2010. I had a great race, with a PR time of 11hrs and 3 min (Swim: 1:04, Bike: 5:51, Run: 3:55). While the course was a bit rough, the experience to travel to Florianapolis, Brazil and do a race was incredible. It rained for a bit and there were some strong winds, but overall, I had a great time.

A lot of people ask what’s next, um NO IDEA!! My husband and I decided to take a step back and relax. We worked really hard training over the last few years, and it resulted in us not enjoying it all the time. Now granted, I wouldn’t expect us to love every minute of a 100 mile bike ride following by a 20 mile run the next day, but we wanted to go back to biking and running for fun without having to push every day. So, we haven’t signed up for any races. With my personality, I am sure to sign up for something soon, but I am so happy to just be able to go to the gym and run for as long or short as I want. I do really want to focus on building strength in my core as well as go back to yoga/pilates. With Ironman training, there isn’t much time for other stuff, so I hope to do that.

My greatest advice, is to have confidence in yourself. Anyone can do a triathlon. The only thing people need is the confidence to do it. It may take time to learn to swim, or bike, or run, but with confidence (and probably a good training program), anyone can complete a triathlon. You’ll be hooked when you cross the finish line.

******
I’m sorry, did y’all hear how EASY she made this sound. Truly outstanding. I have had one proper workout with Elena and it was intense, but fun. Maybe there is something to this whole endurance thing. Understanding the limits of your body, pushing the boundaries, it’s something anyone at any level of training or age can do.

If you all have questions for Elena about her experience or training let me know! You can also try to keep up with her on Twitter . And don’t forget I’m on Twitter too! Anybody out there willing to try more endurance-focused sports?


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