Is It Too Late To Be a Professional Athlete?

October 18, 2012 · 4 comments

So here begins a few of the Kona recaps. What I found to be the coolest thing about the Ironman race series is that many of the pros had corporate lives before they began competing.

If you still dream about becoming an athlete, this sport proves you’re never too old! Throughout my series of posts, I’m going to be sharing how ordinary people go from the casual, biker, swimmer or runner into a sponsored athlete despite only starting the sport in adulthood!

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Wednesday night, the Timex Ambassadors were invited to a VIP cocktail reception held at a Hawaiian palace. We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside. The entire race was very centered around the local culture and history. Each banquet and big event had cultural dancing and music which was crazy cool.

DSCF9010At the swim start, athletes and spectators were allowed to use the course for leisure swimming and or training. I bought a one piece but decided against it after day 1. I did bring my pink goggles and ear plug. Yes, I have to wear an ear plug thanks to a tube I once had in my ear. I haven’t done “laps” in years and I was eager to try it in the open water for the first time.

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Ryan, the editor for Stride Nation, brought along his GoPro for the swim. Ryan has competed in a few triathlons and was a strong swimmer. I took swimming lessons from 6-13 years old, but having been away from the calisthenic for so long I struggled to keep up with the gang. My slower pace didn’t help the fact that I kept stopping to take pictures of the fish. Literally, when you swim the course at Kona, this is what you are looking down at. You can see the bottom the entire time.

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At the third buoy (about 1/2 mile), we stopped for some photos. What else is an underwater camera good for?

DSCF9023Jackie, below, is a professional triathlete who is amazing at the Ironman distance. She was injured part of this year and wasn’t competing at Kona but was still training for a race in Florida in two more weeks. She shared with me one of her favorite water workouts that I’ll be uploading to YouTube tomorrow! It was simple but seriously hard. DSCF9025

When Jackie graduated college she was offered a job as a fitness director on a cruise ship. She sometimes wonders what her life would be like had she taken that job. A collegiate swimmer and cross country swimmer, she casually competed in triathlons while working as a pharmaceutical scientist and at 23 years old, she attempted her first Ironman as means to stay in shape during Wisconsin winters. She came in first in her age group and set the record to boot!

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After a few more successful finishes, she applied to become a Timex sponsored amateur. As an amateur, you don’t get paid to train but you do get connected with other sponsors who help provide equipment, training guidance, and teammates. Regularly racing and coming in on top for the next 3 years, she finally went pro in 2011 and is now a full time sponsored triathlete.  She has competed twice in Kona, coming in 2nd in her age group her first year! When you go pro, you don’t compete in your age group as an fyi. Due to a flat tire, she was the 22nd female pro to cross the finish line her second year.

We swam a few days out in Kona reminding me of how much I love to be in the water. I will admit the lack of flip turns, warm water and colorful fish made the experience a little bit easier but it gave me the confidence that I can swim in the ocean freestyle if I were to attempt a triathlon.

Another social ambassador on our trip, Ken Chin, competed in his first Ironman this past winter in Wisconsin. He learned how to swim just a year before competing. Triathlons are not about being the best in every portion of the race but holding your own in your weakest. Biking is probably my weakest leg.

Have you competed in a triathlon before? If not what is holding you back?

Mine is the bike portion. I don’t have one and I hate spinning. I love to swim and run though.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristy @ Kristy's Health Revolution October 18, 2012 at 5:25 pm

Look at those abs! Looking good Sarah!

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2 anodien October 18, 2012 at 6:59 pm

I can’t talk personally, but for my dad: he’s been a amateur athlete his whole life, but for the most part he swam or scuba dived. When he was about 40 started to run marathons, and then triathlons (half Ironmans)…and bam! Last year (age 54!!) he ran and finished his first full Ironman, in Brazil, 11 hours. Nowadays he bikes more than anything, because his knees are not in the best condition, so he compites in long-run biking circuits, like L’Etape du Tour.
So yeah, it’s never too late.

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3 Roni October 18, 2012 at 10:08 pm

Sarah, What?? No pics in a grass skirt??? =-) Loved the pink googles!!! Too cute!!!

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4 Jessica LeBoeuf October 19, 2012 at 11:16 pm

I have competed in 4 triathlons and each time was a blast. I was told it’s addictive my first triathlon and yes indeed it is. I did my first sprint last year, then a month later I did an olympic. After that I did a relay with my brother who was scared for the swim portion. This year I did a sprint/olympic one. Next year my goal is to do a half ironman. The way I train is definitely around my schedule as I am a busy college student with a job as well. I happen to work at the YMCA so I swim before or after work then proceed to class afterwards (I live at home so my college is very close by). The YMCA also has some awesome spinning classes, which I WILL be attending tomorrow. As for the run, I love that part it’s so much fun that I just do it around my neighborhood or treadmill if it rains/winter. It’s hard to plan the training part as I don’t know for certain when I may have to study or have something that comes up, but I think the point is the stay relatively consistent and push yourself when you are doing your workouts. Another crucial part is yoga, since we put our bodies through so much pressure, it’s essential to do something to alleviate the muscles. As for nutrition, I eat ALOT and very regularly…people often are surprised how much I put away haha. My weakness is the bike, but I make up for it in the swim and run…reason why I really push myself during spin or riding outside. Specialized bikes (brand) are pretty good and not horribly expensive…maybe even used – maybe check that out? Either way my goal is always to just finish and at least beat my last time. Cheering people on is really crucial, it means alot…when I pass people on the run I almost always shout out good job and come on what else do you have to do today? :P Well that’s my rant and if you want to do a triathlon just go for it, what do you have to lose other than your triathlon innocence?

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