My Adventures as an Endurance Spectathlete

I spent almost all day yesterday glued to the live broadcast of the Ironman World Championships in Kona. It was its own one-day endurance event, let me tell you. At one point I took a break to go meet some friends for lunch, but otherwise I watched from the pros’ swim start until maybe 1000 of the age groupers had finished and I had to go to bed, exhausted. I tried to make sure I kept taking in plenty of fluids (beers) and nutrition (sweet potato chips), and I think my race strategy was right on target. I’m pretty sure I set a new PR in couch-sitting, but race officials are still checking the numbers.

When I first decided to race in a triathlon, I found myself googling triathlon training blogs, and I found a whole network of cool, smart, badass women athletes who were blogging about life spent swimming, biking, and running. Many of these women were doing Ironman races — a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run. Yes, you have to run a full marathon after swimming and biking those extreme distances. It’s insane. And it’s awesome.

Three of my favorite bloggers raced in the World Championships yesterday, Bree Wee, Frayed Laces, and Beth from California Training. It was awesome to not only watch the big-name competitors battle for first place, but also to see these ladies cross the finish line after having read their blogs and followed their training adventures for over a year now.

I’ve got no plans to sign up for an Ironman race any time soon, so don’t worry about my sanity. But watching yesterday made me think a bit about my marathon training and how happy and excited I am to be working toward that huge goal. And today, as if I weren’t excited enough, I am spending yet more time tracking athletes online and getting psyched. My friend Sho is running the Portland Marathon, and Scott from Run Vegan, Meghann from Meals and Miles, E from One-Twenty-Five, and a friend from work (with no blog to link) are all running Chicago. I’ve got my online athlete trackers locked and loaded (and obsessively re-loaded and re-loaded again) as I follow their progress along their respective courses. Go, go, go!

In the midst of my marathon excitement, I looked at the Rocket City Marathon site and noticed that the race is almost sold out — so I went ahead and made it official by signing up. I guess I’m feeling confident after my half, but I’m not gonna lie. The idea of running that race twice in a row is a little scary. But you have to trust the training, right? Run the miles and you will get there. I know this. And I am excited to make it happen.

As for the Ironman? Ask me again in a couple of years!


  1. Careful… I remember the days of thinking there is NO WAY I could ever do an ironman, in fact the distances were just CRAZY and INSANE … and now I’m two IMs down, who knows how many more.

    Something shifts the longer you stay in the endurance athlete world… the initial shock of the distances goes away, your belief in your ability to move for long periods of time adds up, and then you see “mere mortals” – people you consider friends, people aren’t really different from you – complete these races and you start thinking “Well…maybe ….”

    What I am saying is, I can’t wait to see you do your first Ironman 🙂


  2. As a side note – the absolute WORST part about being friends with endurance athletes is that your perception of “normal” gets completely skewed. I did an ultramarathon with a group of good friends, and the only difference was that I was doing the 50k, they were doing the 50 *mile*. Do you know how weird it is to complete a 31 mile race and feel like you slacked, because everyone else did 50 miles? That, my friend, is hugely effed up. In an awesome way, but still.


  3. Ha ha. I know what you mean — and I knew you would get it. Every new distance I do, I think to myself, “If I can do this, then surely I can train to do THAT.” I think it’s all the bloggers I read who are such normal people but who do such amazing things. I think, why not me?

    It’s funny, because after I posted this I saw Joan Benoit Samuelson finish the Chicago Marathon in 2:47:50, and man, I just love her. I actually remember seeing her finish & win in 1984. Back then I mainly watched the Olympics for the gymnastics (little 7 year old me was a wannabe gymnast and I SUCKED at it). I remember it was the first time women could run the marathon at the Olympics, and my parents explaining to me what it was and how far (“It’s like running from here to Neighboring Town”) and how I thought those men and women were absolutely superheroes. I still think they are, but I understand why they are differently, if that makes sense.

    At any rate, my plans so far include: the marathon, maybe another half in early winter, then triathlons in the spring and summer. Sprints and/or Olympic distances, for now. We’ll see what happens after that!


  4. I love Mondays this time of the year, because there are so many race recaps on the different blogs I read (including mine!). It pumps me up and keeps me inspired. I think an Ironman would be cool, but not until I’m in my 40’s or so. I can’t imagine how much time the training takes! But being able to call myself an Iron-woman might be worth it…


  5. Yeah, I think you basically have to give up your entire life to make it work, with super long workouts and two-a-days and such. But … well, who can say?


  6. This is one of the hands down best posts ever. I’m pretty happy with the half distance right now, but I definitely feel inspired by watching endurance-ier athletes out there…but a lot of that inspiration is also accompanied by adult bevvies and snack food. I remember watching a documentary about Kona and feeling incredibly accomplished just watching. Just call me an armchair athlete. Congratulations on signing up for your first full mary!


  7. Thanks, Aj! I’m pretty sure armchair athleticism has its place in any training endeavor — we have to get inspired, right? I was channeling the joy on those finishers’ faces as I got near the end of my 7 miler today.


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