Kate Conquers Ironman

Originally Posted on The University News via UWIRE

Kate McGrath, a sophomore studying Public Health, never pictured herself completing an Iraonman triathlon, right up to the moment she signed herself up for one. She had always found biking and swimming enjoyable, but did not feel particularly skilled at running as of a few years ago.


“When I came to college I made it my goal to get good at running so that maybe one day in the future I could do triathlons. I am a very ambitious person so once I started running longer distances I knew I had to sign up for one,” said McGrath.


In the beginning of 2019, McGrath signed up for an Ironman in Madison, Wisconsin on Sept. 8, 2019. She had never done a triathlon before, but between starting strength training in February and the big race in September, she participated in two smaller triathlons to acclimate her body to the transitions from swimming to biking and biking to running. 


An Ironman race consists of a 2.4 mile swim, directly followed by a 112 mile bike ride and finished off by running an entire marathon, 26.22 miles. 


The training itself was not straightforward; she fractured her foot midway through the process, but McGrath remained determined to prepare herself to participate in the Ironman a mere two weeks into the school year. The preparation consisted of working out in one of the three sections every day, and at least once a week practicing either all three sections in order or the transition from a long bike ride to a long run. 


On Sept. 8, McGrath was officially designated an Ironman with friends and family eagerly expecting her at the finish line. She crossed the finish line after 15 hours and 48 minutes of swimming, biking and running. 


She had completed the race independently and trained by herself, but that did not mean she was alone in the process. From people checking in on her progress, to friends driving hours to be there when she finished, she was grateful for all the people in her life who were impactful in the experience. 


“My friends were really supportive, whenever we’d hang out they’d always ask. Even some of my friends’ parents would ask about it which was really special. And then my family was there for me throughout the whole process, my mom in particular,” said McGrath.


Her family was slightly skeptical and unnerved by Kate’s large undertaking and assured her she didn’t have to go through with the whole thing, but she was doing this behind her own determination and drive. 


“Actions speak louder than words with my mom’s support because she would tell me that I didn’t have to do it and no one will be mad, but then she’d sign me up for races and email me articles about nutrition and drive me to bike rides across the state. She really was there for me, even though she sometimes verbally said she didn’t want me to do it, she was very supportive of me in that way.”


The entire experience of training and completing an Ironman race was ultimately a reminder for McGrath that anything is possible.


“I’m not naturally athletic. I think people from high school if they saw that on social media they were probably pretty surprised. But if you decide to do something and really put your mind to it and work for it, you really can do it.”

Read more here: https://unewsonline.com/2019/10/10/kate-conquers-ironman/
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