A Letter from Karen Parkes: Ironman Champion
Ironman is the world's longest endurance triathlon and some say the most challenging endurance race - so I thought to myself, why not?
The Ironman world championship is held in Hawaii each October.
Participants must qualify by placing in the top 1-3 places in other Ironman events around the world.
The event consists of the following: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike ride, 26.2 mile run (full marathon). Participants are given 17 hours in which to finish in order to be honored with the title ‘Ironman’. There are approximately 41 Ironman races around the world – I competed in the Ironman Lake Placid race on July 28, 2019. Ironman Lake Placid is one of the longest running Ironman races and is said to be one of the most challenging due to the elevation gains that competitors much endure on both the bike and run courses. However, the swim is said to be one of the easiest as Mirror Lake is a very small, calm lake.
I have competed in sprint and 70.3 (half Ironman) triathlons on and off for nearly 30 years – 1989 in Dedham, MA was my first one. This was my first full Ironman.
Anyone that has trained for or completed will tell you that just getting to the start line is a huge part of the journey – so many get injured during training and never get to the start.
I began seriously training for Ironman a year ago – I maxed out at approximately 25 hours of training in a week in early July.
My middle son, Andrew, 23 years old, competed with me. We raced side by side for nearly the entire race including our famous hand in hand finish line run. We finished in just under 13 hours – 12:49.
We ate real food during the event including oatmeal, peanut butter & jelly sandwiches, peanut butter filled pretzels, peanut M&M’s, granola bars, Cliff bars, peanuts, Cliff Blocs, Fig Newtons, orange slices, water and EmergenC Hydration electrolyte drink.
It was an incredibly challenging, fun, rewarding, emotional, awesome event.
No, I do not plan to do another one.
The take away: ‘Anything is possible’ and ‘it is a line you cannot understand until you have crossed it’ and ‘it is an incredible journey and you don’t know how deep you need to dig until you have to dig deeper to get to the finish line.' You must have an incredible support team and I did – family, friends, past participants, friends in the medical field that know what it takes to get you to the finish line.
Who said bankers can't have fun?