On Sunday, June 13, NBC will air the world's greatest endurance event—the Ironman World Championship 70.3.
For those unfamiliar with the competition, the Ironman 70.3 is a triathlon that starts with a 1.2 mile swim, followed by a 56-mile bike ride, and then a 13.1 mile run.
Lucy Danzinger, a competitor who is also the editor-in-chief at SELF magazine, took a few moments to speak to me prior to the event, which will air tomorrow at 4 p.m.
She covered issues ranging from raising money for charity to triumphing through injury to finish a race. Here are Lucy's answers to the questions I presented:
1) There isn't one part of the world untouched by this event. If you could, please speak about the international competitors. How interested are they in the Ironman and how popular is it overseas?
"One of my favorite experiences that really speaks to how international and the level of talent when I was standing at transition during the morning of the race because my race chip needed charging and I came across a competitor from a different country. In speaking, I learned that he’d actually been at the Olympics twice—it was then that I realize the caliber of the talent and the level of athletes that are at the Forest Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championship. I started as a triathlete on the local level competing in races on Long Island and here I am amongst international Olympians."
2) As you know, the Ironman is an absolutely grueling event. To train, do athletes swim, bike, and run every day? Or do they choose one facet to work on at a time?
"Everyone is different. Most will not do all three every day. There is a rhythm to the week—run, swim, bike, or a brick. (Note: a brick is when you train on two disciplines during the same workout, one after the other with little to no break between). Most will swim on a light day or before a heavy day as a means of recovery and as you get closer to race day, a run in the A.M. or swim in the P.M. Swimming uses different muscles than run or bike so it’s a great recovery workout."
3) A couple years back, you helped prepare singer/actress Jennifer Lopez for her first triathlon and she raised $125,000 for a children's hospital. Do you have any future plans to work with celebrities and raise money for other causes?
"I helped Natalie and Hoda from NBC’s Today Show train for their races, but right now, I am helping Juju Chang from Good Morning America with her training. I'm taking the role of more of a cheerleader to spark enthusiasm than a coach. Juju is raising money for UNICEF and Haiti orphanages as part of her race. She saw these groups first hand when on assignment for work and wanted a way to help, and therefore is using her triathlon as a means of helping."
4) Stories like Chad Soileau's serve as inspiration to us all. (Note: Soileau was a 38-year-old computer programmer who used to weigh 462 pounds. Danzinger helped him lose 262 pounds and he regularly competes in triathlons to keep fit.) Have you ever met a challenge that weakened your will to compete?
"During the Foster Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championship, I was pretty injured. I had a torn hamstring and plantar fasciitis—making it my hardest run ever. I had the cameras on me so it kept me going even though I was in more pain than I had ever been in. I felt like I owed it to myself to finish with a smile on. I also had to redefine what success meant to me that day—I went into the race wanting to PR, but with all in the injuries, I just wanted to make it across the finish line."
5) How can your Average Joe, who is sitting on the couch with a bag of potato chips, begin to prepare for a triathlon?
"This is where Jennifer Lopez started. She was pregnant with her twins and saw a triathlon on TV. She decided that she wanted to use a triathlon to celebrate her re-emergence back to her old body. Everyone has a limiter or weakness and a triathlon teaches you to make the most of what you’re good at. If you’re watching a race on TV and you think ‘I could never do that,’ think of the one sport in it that you’re good at and start there. Before you know it you’ll prove yourself wrong and enjoy it."
6) How can readers tune in to see you compete in the Foster Grant Ironman 70.3 World Championship?
"Tune in this Sunday, June 13th at 4 P.M. to your local NBC station to watch me compete in the 2009 Foster Grant Ironman World Championship 70.3. Also, check out Ironman.com to download a calendar reminder for the show and find additional information and listings of other upcoming event broadcasts—watching these always helps keep me motivated to compete."
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