Reflections and Afterthoughts from Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, Part II

Whew, I can’t believe the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse was only two days ago!

I had a blast volunteering, cheering, and watching the triathletes complete the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, and 13.1-mile run.  Since there is now some distance between the event and my initial reaction, I want to articulate some additional reflections and afterthoughts.

Happiness, belonging, pride – After my first job as a body marker, I spent the rest of the day with volunteers from Fleet Feet. (Someone asked if I was a “Fleet Feet girl,” and it killed me to say no!) Since I’ve been to Fleet Feet more times than I can count, a few of the girls recognized me, and it was awesome hanging out with a group of people who love fitness, specifically triathlons, as much as I do.  And since MaryBeth works at Fleet Feet part-time, everyone got to know me as “Carrie, MB’s cousin.”

Everyone had nothing but great things to say about her—as both a person and triathlete—and I felt so proud watching her kick some Ironman butt.

Inspiration, motivation, drive – The pro athletes—and a lot of the age groupers, like MB—populate an elite level of physical fitness, and it was inspiring to watch them complete this journey.  As they crossed the finish line, a bunch of them looked good, as if they could’ve kept running. (Most do, for this was an half-Ironman/Ironman 70.3; a full Ironman entails a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run.) However, there were a ton of “everyday” people competing, too.

Seeing them complete this race sparked some personal motivation; if they can do it, then I can do it.

Inadequacy, laziness – Watching each and every athlete embark on this journey was awe-inspiring, but with it came sense of inadequacy.  These individuals completed a half-Ironman; they swam, biked, and ran anywhere from 4:16 to 8-plus hours straight—the only thing I’ve done for 8 consecutive hours is sleep!  Moreover, it made me question my workout plan and fitness outlook.  The individuals train hard and diligently for the 70.3.  Comparatively, in the words of my high school basketball coach, I seem to be “farting around” with my workouts.  Sure, I run, bike, lift, etc., but not at the level that would adequately prepare me to finish a half-Ironman.  But I’m starting to accept that it’s OK—I have yet to complete an official sprint triathlon!  In terms of my triathlon training, I’m starting at the beginning, learning the ins and outs of the event, and building my swim-bike-run endurance; I’m guessing most of Sunday’s triathletes have completed multiple sprint and/or standard/Olympic-distance triathlons.  However, I know if I made completing a 70.3 Iron one of my fitness priorities, I would make it happen.  But since it’s not on this summer’s calendar, I can still attack my workouts with more intensity, vigor, and dedication than before.

Every shape and size … – It’s so surprise the pro male and female athletes—and a lot of the age groupers—have enviable physiques:  chiseled shoulders, defined arms, and strong legs.  These individuals definitely looked like triathletes, but there were athletes of every shape and size who tackled the course—extremely tall, pocket-friend short, (sadly) dangerously slim, football player-like hulkiness, you name it.

This proves that everyone—and literally every body—can train, compete, and complete an event like an Ironman 70.3.  Now that’s inspiring!

… and every age – From body marking and holding swim wave signs, I got a pretty good visual of who participates in triathlons.  When I body marked, I met only one 22-year-old guy who was competing; the youngest female athlete I marked was 26, and the majority of individuals were between the ages of 30-45.  During the swim starts, the 30-35-year old men were broken up into two separate waves (based on their last names) because there were so many of them.  Out of curiosity, I studied the race results, and only 13 women comprised what would be my age group (18-24), most of whom were 24.  Interestingly, the youngest men seemed to be 26, and the biggest groups seemed to be the 30-35 divisions for both genders.  I’m guessing age 26 is the first big group because these individuals have graduated college, have jobs, and have settled into a routine that includes triathlon training.  I think it’s difficult to find a tri-community in a college setting, and plus, most college students are busy … being college students if you know what I mean.  Moreover, training for a half-Ironman is a yearlong fitness endeavor.  Right now, I have no idea where I’m going to be in one year or what I’m going to be doing, while the 26-year-olds have established lifestyles.  With this in mind, I think training for and completing an Ironman 70.3 is definitely feasible down the road.

From volunteering, spectating, and/or competing in triathlons, have you noticed similar things?

4 responses to “Reflections and Afterthoughts from Ironman 70.3 Syracuse, Part II

  1. My Mum noticed the same thing when she came with me to a swimming race, that tri and openwater swimming is more of an older person’s thing. Think your explanation for this is probably right. I really hope the 70.3 I want to do will run in 2013, it would be a big challenge and it would probably take me 9 hours since I’m so bad at cycling but as you say, ordinary people can do this stuff too!

    • I’m thinking if the youngest athletes are 24-26, then I have two years to get really good at triathloning before people my age start getting into it 😉

  2. That’s an excellent though! Sadly at 28 I am too old!

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