Lisa Copeland, RDH, who was featured on the cover of the November 2005 issue of RDH magazine, recently completed in the Ironman Triathlon. The Washington state hygienist, who is a professional educator with Philips Sonicare, describes her experience below."When was the last time you tried something new? Life offers us many challenges on a daily basis, but what drives us to accept a competitive challenge? And more importantly, what drives us to the finish line."An IRONMAN, one of the most popular endurance events there is, consists of swimming 2.4 miles, cycling 112 miles and finish it off with a full marathon, 26.2 miles. Grand total for a day 140.3 miles. Which as I write this ... just realized that was my exact time. The bonus for finishing is I will have burned 14,000 calories in one day!
"I signed up to compete in the Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, Ironman 2009 one year in advance. That is when the physical and mental training begins. You slowly progress and maintain for 6-8 months and then begin a 19-week training program. It’s a well-developed customized plan managed by Ginny Pietila and the Club Emerald Triathlon Team in Mercer Island, Washington. After 72,000 yards of swimming, 800 miles of cycling and 400 miles of running, the event day arrives ... and I am ready! "The anticipation at the swim start with 25,000 competitors ready to stampede into the lake is surreal. My strongest leg of the event was about to unfold. Analyzing the turbulent waters and visualizing what was going to happen was my main focus. The helicopters thundered above, the scuba divers bubbled below, and the wind began to make the water dance furiously with white caps. A cannon blast erupts and the 'piranha fest' begins. I had a sigh of release as my head hit the water and I found my rhythm and pace."The biking brings a sense of calm. I know the hilly course well, and I am prepared for the challenge of a windy ride. Well into the second lap, leg cramps began to materialize -- never enough to make me stop, but it definitely slowed me down. This is where the event takes a turn for me, my most challenging portion of the day was staring me down."The run is always painful, especially the first few miles. This is where my true spirit kicks in. Physical fatigue was evident, but mental strength helps me overcome the obstacles. As my marathon progressed, I realized I was feeling pretty strong and my pace was consistent. I knew was going to make it! "The finish line 'chute' is 5 blocks long and I could see it as I made my last turn for the day. I screamed and cheered
as the crowd encouraged me to finish with a sense of pride that can never be matched. "The most common question people ask is: 'What makes you keep going?' My answer to that is simple:"A smile, a positive attitude, and a mantra for the day. Also knowing and appreciating that I am fortunate enough in health, wealth, and support to be able to cross the finish line successfully in any event I take on."