“What did you do this weekend?” That's a question co-workers typically ask each other on Monday mornings. Lately, my answer has been, “Oh, I rode my bike 100 miles Saturday and ran 20 miles on Sunday.” My colleagues call me crazy or their jaws drop or they just shake their heads in bewilderment.
That's the life of someone training for an Ironman race, which consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile run. It's a total of 140.6 miles…in one, single day. You have 17 hours to complete the race.
Michelle Bandur, TV Media Program chairwoman at Iowa Western Community College, blogs occasionally for livewellnebraska.com. Contact her at email@example.com.
I have just wrapped up training for my second Ironman race Sunday in Tempe, Ariz. So why would I put myself through the pain and agony a second time? It's fun and addicting.
There is no other place like the finish line of an Ironman race. It's my moment. And it's powerful. The crowd is cheering for me and the spectators are just as excited as I am to have made it to the finish line. All the pain and suffering goes away for that one moment. It's a natural high.
The actual training begins about six months before the big day.
"It is a second job. It becomes your social life,” said Ironman Wisconsin finisher and Omaha technology executive Bob Harris, 34. “You go to work then train for a couple hours after the job that pays the bills. Saturday you're up at 6 a.m. for a 10-hour training day. Then wake up Sunday at 6 a.m. for a 6 to 8 hour day.”
Part of my training includes the “terrible triple” which I learned from a seasoned Ironman finisher from Omaha. And it is terrible! You ride your bike 20 miles and immediately after finishing, you run five miles and repeat it two more times. I cried the first time I tried it. I was literally in tears running those last five miles. It was so hard, but I didn't quit and that's how I prepared myself mentally and physically.
During Ironman training, my yard always needs mowing, my house always needs cleaning and I rarely see my friends who aren't into endurance sports.
“It has a tendency to fill up your life, even pushing beyond the margins sometimes,” said Jodi Seevers of Gretna, who has completed several Ironman races. “Non-essential things end up being eliminated.”
I don't have children, which allows more time for my training. But those Ironman mothers and fathers often feel selfish.
Ironman Wisconsin finisher Michelle Reitz, who is also training for Ironman Arizona, has 10-year-old twins. Reitz tries to include her children in her training. When she runs, her kids ride their bikes along with her.
“I can reason that what I am doing shows my kids they can do anything if they believe in themselves and exercising is healthy,” she said. “But often times, it feels really selfish.”
But in the end, is it worth it? I believe so. I'm not the same person after completing my first Ironman. I know anything is possible now that I've achieved this goal.
The bonds you form training with other endurance athletes are like no other. My best friends are my training partners. They've seen me at my best and at my worst. When I cried during the “terrible triple,” they understood and reassured me I am stronger because of it.
When I tell my co-workers on Monday morning about my weekend, I don't think it's a big deal. It's a normal part of my life and wouldn't want it any other way.
Six-time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen once told me, “Ironman training becomes ordinary to those doing it. If you step back and look at it in a different prism, you see that it's a huge accomplishment.”
I know that's true and I can't wait to do it again this weekend!