Biggest Fears Doing an Ironman

Since signing up for Ironman Florida I periodically think about some of the fears I have about competing in this race.  I am worried about finishing the race in the 17-hour time limit.  My biggest fear has been about the swim.  Can I get through the breakers, can I finish the swim in the time limit that is set, which is 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Until last weekend I never considered that I could die in the swim.

In the past couple of months there have been 4 deaths during the swim leg, two in the half ironman distance, and this month 2 deaths, one man died training for the Grandman Triathlon a few days before the race in Fairhope, AL, and one this past weekend during the Rochesterfest Triathlon.  It is very sad, as well as scary.   All of the participants were men in there 40s and 50s.  I already had an appointment with my cardiologist and she says I am in great shape.

I am reading everything I can about getting through the breakers, and this morning I swam 2400 yards, continuously, in one hour, and felt good.  Bored, but good.  I doubt I will be bored during the race.  I just don’t want to humiliate myself by being pulled during the swim.  I trust my coach will work with me so I can get through the breakers, and I signed up for IMFL Tri Camp, in September.

Following my training plan compulsively is my goal for the next few months, and asking whomever I meet and has done an Ironman tons of questions.  I will be nagging my son, who will be 45 at the time of the race, and is doing it with me, to go to his cardiologist.   

One of my other fears is,  “can I finish the race in the 17 hour time limit?”  Almost weekly, I try to calculate how fast I have to ride, and run, plus transition times to complete the race in 16-17 hours.  Since I am also doing a weight-training program I question whether I am lifting enough to be strong enough to help me on the bike and run.  The plan for the run portion is to run/walk, averaging a 12-minute mile pace.  

The other big concern is nutrition for that 16-17 hour period.  Everyone I ask tells me I have to figure it out for myself because everyone is different.  They have all shared what has worked for them.  

Monday my Ironman training starts in earnest.  I have built a base that has helped me get through the sprint triathlons thus far.  I am ready to move on.

Even with all the concerns about the swim, finishing in the time limit, everyday I visualize crossing that finish line and hearing those words, “Gini Fellows you are an Ironman.”  


Gini Fellows

About Gini

Gini Fellows, a registered nurse, teaches health and wellness at the Biloxi, Mississippi, campus of Tulane University.  She’ll turn 70 in August, and is training for her first full Ironman in Florida in November 2016.  Her coach is her son, Patrick, who’s a huge inspiration to Gini as he schedules her workouts and helps her sort through her doubts and fears.

Gini’s always been active but only began competing in triathlons in 2007, after knee surgery.  In 2013 she competed in her first Ironman 70.3 race, and surprisingly came in 3rd in her age group, qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship.  In preparation for that distance Gini competed in Ironman Texas 70.3 and came in 1st in her age group.

Last year Gini began thinking about attempting to complete a full Ironman.  After talking it over with Patrick, who is competing with her, she decided to register and commit to her training.

Gini says she began her journey to Ironman Florida this winter by building a base and now she’s beginning to add harder and more specific workouts.

Gini’s excited to be blogging about her training – in her words, “the good, the bad, the ugly!!”

Thank you for following!!

A note about Ironman triathlons.

The Ironman 70.3 refers to the total distance in miles covered in the event, which comprises a 1.2-mile swim, a 57-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run.

A full Ironman triathlon event comprises a 2.4-mile swim, a 114-mile bike ride, and a 26.2-mile run.

Ironman also has other events, including events for children and for women only.  For additional information, see the Ironman website.