Today is My Super Bowl!!

IMWCIt’s October 10th – the Saturday nearest the full moon in October.  To fans of triathlon that can only mean one thing: Today is our Super Bowl!  Today is the Ironman World Championships on the Big Island of Hawaii on the Kona Coast!

As if racing an Ironman wasn’t a grueling enough task in and of itself with it’s 2.4 mile swim in the Pacific Ocean, 112 mile of biking from Kailua-Kona to Hawi and back (with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain/loss in the mix), and 26.2 mile run, throw in some wicked heat from the lava fields and the trade winds that can blow so hard they have been known to blow racers off the road.

The Ironman World Championships is the Holy Grail of long course triathlon racing.  The best of the best of the professionals show up year after year and push the envelope of possibility.  And then there are the age-groupers who come in all shapes and sizes and inspire with every mile.  The people I am most awed by are the physically challenged (PC) athletes!  It is an incredible test of mental and physical will to race an Ironman under the best of conditions, but to do it without legs or with one arm is almost unfathomable.  I am privileged to know one of these amazing athletes who is racing in Kona today.

ash-swimash-bikeAshley Cooper-Heath (or Coop, as her friends call her) is as feisty as they come.  She is about 5’4″ of pure determination and fun!  Coop was in a car accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down.  Most people would wallow in self-doubt and pity, but Coop is cut from a different cloth.  She views her new reality as an opportunity.  She lives her life outloud and with purpose.  Triathlon is a passion for her and she set her sites on the biggest, baddest triathlon of them all – Kona!  Ashley swims like everyone else does – she just pulls the entire course, she uses a handcycle on the bike course, and a racing wheelchair on the run course.  That requires some MAD upper body strength – I can’t even imagine!

Unlike every other Ironman race where you pay your money and train your body and go race, Ironman World Championships is different.  You have to qualify to race.  Over 2,000 athletes will compete in Kona this year:  There are 50 professional men, 35 professional women, a handful of lottery slots (that ended this year), some Foundation slots, 200 Legacy slots (reserved for people who have raced 12 or more Ironman races – let that sink in… TWELVE), and the rest are Age Group slots where people qualify by placing high enough in their Age Group at certain qualifying 70.3 or 140.6 races around the world.

ash-runAshley traveled to Luxembourg in June to race in one of the qualifying events for PC athletes.  She placed 1st in her division and punched her ticket to Kona!

I am proud to call her my friend and I can’t wait to race-stalk her today as she competes to become only the 2nd female handcyclist in history to complete the Ironman World Championship course within the 17 hour time limit.

IMLOU-ladies

SBMAT Teammates (l to r) Jillian O’Malley, Meredith Atwood, Margi Stroh, Rebecca Dobbins, Anne Reed, and Teresa Morgan

But the fun doesn’t end there!  On Sunday, SIX of my Swim Bike Mom Ambassador Teammates are competing in Ironman Louisville!  That is so tremendously exciting and I can’t wait to cheer them on!

The Law of Relativity

normal-illusion-spider-fly-quoteTwo weeks ago, I felt the need to invoke the Law of Relativity.

You know, that universal law that states that nothing has meaning until we compare it to something else.

As my 2nd 70.3 triathlon approached, I NEEDED to have something much worse to compare my measly 1.2 mile swim and 56 mile bike to that made it seem… EASY (a half marathon sucks all the time, I don’t care who you are) by comparison.

So, my BTF (best triathlon friend), Megan, and I decided to do 2/3 of an Ironman triathlon.

2-4-swimOn Friday morning, we met at the pool and swam 2.4 miles – and it was hard, but it wasn’t hard at all until about the 3500 yd point (refer to my previous post on the 75% Rule of The Suck), so 1.2 miles (or 2,112 yds) is a piece of cake – especially at Beach 2 Battleship where the swim is with the tidal current.

Then on Saturday morning, we over near Orlando to a trail system and rode 2 56 mile loops – 112 miles on the bike.  And it sucked and was really hard and really hilly!  But it wasn’t hard until about the 85 mile mark.  So my measly 56 mile bike on flat roads at Beach 2 Battleship should be a piece of cake, right?

112-milesPiece of cake swim + piece of cake bike + hang on for dear life on the run = PR 70.3, right?

Well, that’s the plan, anyhow.  We’ll see how it actually goes down next Saturday.

I ran 6 miles this morning and it felt terrific.  If I can manage to pull together a decent run next week, I have a really good shot at a sub-6 hour half-iron race, which would be pretty cool indeed!

After tomorrow’s ride and Sunday’s swim/run we’re in Taperville and all bets are off.

Tune in next week to see if I manage to keep my sanity or if I completely self-sabotage – there’s a 50/50 shot!

T-minus 7 days to go!Beach2Battleship-Iron-Distance-Triathlon