A lot of people in this province first saw an Ironman triathlon event on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. It was new, exotic and the most exhausting thing you’d ever hope to avoid. Sherrie Myers saw it differently.
“My sister and I grew up watching the Hawaii Ironman and we were fascinated seeing the people crossing the finish line after such a gruelling event,” Myers recalls.
“We thought it was exciting, dramatic madness. Some part of me, even as a child, wanted to be one of those people one day.”
Last weekend, Myers finished 44th out of 83 women in the 40-44 age group at the 2013 World Ironman Championships in KailuaKona, Hawaii.
Myers said given that the race brings together the best pros and age-group athletes in Ironman distance racing from around the world, she felt she did quite well.
“The heat in Kona is a factor that I wasn’t used to,” explained Myers, who has run nine Canadian Ironman events, including one in Whistler, B.C. in August which qualified her for the worlds.
“I was careful all day with my pacing to ensure that I would finish,” said Myers, who added that not finishing was never an option.
“I would crawl to the finish line before quitting a race, unless the medical folks carted me away.”
Despite the heat problem in Hawaii, Myers said just waiting the days before the race started was tough.
“It’s a struggle not to let nerves get the best of you. You are anticipating what might and might not happen, and trying not to worry about what you can’t control.”
The Ironman includes a 3.8 kilometre swim, 180K bike and a 42K run.
She posted a time of 1:1.21 hours in the swim; 5:58.39 hours on the bike and 3:44.30 hours for the run.
She said the bike is the toughest of the three disciplines.
“It’s the longest of the three and where the most can go wrong such as crashes, mechanical issues, etc,” she said.
She said her favourite portion of the Ironman is the marathon, “where I’m on my own two feet.”
The 41 year-old Myers, a mechanical engineer at Memorial University with a masters degree in counselling psychology, was attracted to Ironman because, “it’s tough and it offers you the chance to test your limits physically and mentally.
“I think people are capable of, and can push themselves much more than they believe, whether in sports or other areas of life,” she said.
Myers, who grew up in Mount Pearl, began running 10K road races to marathons while living in Vancouver in the late 1990s.
“There’s a very strong running community in British Columbia so that’s where I began, but it was slow going at first … baby steps, really,” she said.
But, then again, she’s always been active.
And trying something new has never been a problem. As a youngster, she competed in soccer and volleyball as well as some crosscountry running while in high school.
“It was sports 24-7 growing up,” she said.
The 5-4 Myers began training for triathlons in 2000 and completed her first triathlon in 2001 in Muskoka, Ont. followed by her first Ironman a couple of months later in Penticton, B.C.
A member of the Athletics Northeast running club, Myers, who hasn’t had any injuries in her athletic career so far, is registered for the half Ironman in Mont Tremblant, Que., next summer.
She’s taking a break from the sport until the new year in preparation for an early spring triathlon.