Categorized | Multi-sport, Sports

Ironman: Preview of age group women

By Gaylia Osterlund | Iroman

The 2012 Ironman World Championship is just around the corner and Kona is starting to wake up as the athletes begin to arrive. The transformation of this tranquil beach town as it prepares to host the toughest endurance event in the world is quite surreal.

Today is an opportunity to get to know the returning age-group champions who have spent the year planning, training and figuring out how they might step back up onto the top podium spot in October. This year we are going to shake it up a bit. Whenever possible, I will try to give you a peak into what fills up the time in between training and racing.

Tatiana Vertiz (W18-24)

I knew when I reached out to Vertiz that she was not racing this year. Having turned pro, she had chosen to focus on distances conducive to improving her speed. She had mapped out a season of 70.3 and Olympic distance events and looked forward to embracing this different type of pain, with the goal being to return to Ironman in a few years able to compete at the front of the field.

Let’s just say things didn’t go quite as planned.

“For me this season has been an absolute nightmare- emotionally and physically gutting” she shared by email. “It’s very unfortunate this happened my first pro year, but at the very least I’ve grown a lot in the process and have an indescribable hunger to come back stronger and fitter than ever for next season!”

Her rendition of her season reads much like a novel where the female protagonist is plagued with a drive and dedication that imparts blindness to what is real. After fighting through the season in “pedestrian fashion” Vertiz was diagnosed with a disc bulge/degeneration.

Whether or not this is the only answer to her mysterious back pain that rendered her powerless on the bike, Vertiz has done what she does best…moved on to the solution.

“I’m now in full rehab (strength/mobility/stretching program) along with keeping up running and swimming. I am building up my cycling on a new bike and will likely take the rest of 2012 to get healthy.”

Sheila Croft (W35-39)

Just one month after Kona last year, Croft went on to place second in her division at the New York City Marathon. She says she really has not stopped training or racing and has had top finishes at the Boston Marathon and Seattle Rock-N-Roll Marathon (a PR of 2:41).

Additionally, she was the first overall finisher at three 70.3 events and placed third in Las Vegas. Croft is eager to get to the lava fields and give it all she’s got.

Lisbeth Kenyon (W45-49)

She says her strength is definitely the ability to be in more the one place at a time and her second hobby is laundry. A quick glance at Lisbeth Kenyon’s “typical” day and I would have to agree.

At the crack of dawn, Kenyon begins to wrestle her three children out of bed. Two are driven to school and the other catches a bus. The family dog is along for the car ride as she is deposited at daycare so she is not alone all day.

In between working and training, Lisbeth delivers her kids to saxophone lessons, swim practice and golf. The kid’s activity time is her chance to go back to the office and catch up on work before she retraces her steps to gather up the clan to head of for dinner and homework time.

For Lisbeth, it is all about family first so it was no surprise to see she scheduled in the Norseman Xtreme, which takes place near where her family live in Norway.

After reaching the top of the mountain and earning the coveted black T-shirt, she took some time to be with her loved ones before she changed gears and focused back on Ironman training.

Besides having her family in Hawaii, Lisbeth says she is most excited to reunite with the pull apart cinnamon buns at Lava Java.

Teresa Rider (W50-54)

Rider sports one of the most impressive triathlon resumes I have seen to date. Looking just at her record in Kona, she has 11 starts, eight podium finishes (five in second place) and two age-group wins.

Unfortunately, 2012 will welcome a new champion in this division.

“It is with great disappointment I report I will not be defending my title this year” she shared. “Due to a silly fall from my bike just five weeks ago, I fractured my elbow. While I am healing very fast, I still have not been able to train at the level needed to compete in Kona.”

With the grace of a true champion, Rider was quick to point out that she believes everything happens for a reason and she sees only good coming from her forced rest.

She is looking forward to heading to the Big Island to support her husband, Scott Jones, who will be representing the U.S. Navy in the Military Divisions in “one of the best races in the world.”

Laura Sophiea (W55-59)

Each time Laura “ages-up” to the next division there is a collective sigh of relief from the gals she leaves behind. The reality is when she is in the mix she is favored to win. So what does a two-time world champion do in her down time?

“I had the chance to ride in through the Alpes in France this summer and see one stage of the Tour de France. It was great fun.”
Unfortunately, on the first day of the trip Laura crashed on her bike and cracked a few ribs.

She said the beautiful scenery and amazing wine more than made up for the pain, so it turned out to be a perfect trip!!

October is a big month for her family and it turns out Mom/Grandma racing in Kona will not be the biggest event they will celebrate.

“My daughter is having her second baby Oct. 8 … (I asked if she could hold on for a few more days). I am disappointed to miss the birth, but she had me promise I would spend 10 days with her after the baby is born and Ironman is over!”

I wonder if anyone is willing to bet against Laura bringing the age group trophy home as a welcome gift to the new grandbaby?

Tiare Lund (W65-69)

Lund is another gal who says she has not taken a breath since winning her division last fall. She won titles in Las Vegas, at an aquathon and managed to qualify for World Long Course Championships next year.

In between her travels, Tiare spends time working on the 10 acres of land she owns northwest of Auckland.

Susan Norman (W70-74)

Having taken to our sport later in life, Norman finds much joy in motivating other seniors to get up, get out and get moving. This year she already has two talks scheduled to help older women feel good about themselves and what they are doing.

Her main message is staying fit and healthy will make you happier.

“Even if they set goals you feel they may not reach (much like I did), it is such a good feeling when you break through the barrier of fear and achieve what you thought was impossible.”

Norman says she hopes to be able to help some of these women to realize their goals.

Harriet Anderson (W75-79)

A veteran in our sport, Harriet needs no introductions. She has done it all and inspired many with her journey.

Sadly, due to a bike accident a few weeks ago, she is unsure if she will be able to start the race.

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