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Obion Central alum steps up to grueling Ironman challenge

Obion Central alum steps up to grueling Ironman challenge

By KATIE DONALDSON
Messenger Intern
A former Obion County native swam in 57-degree water for more than an hour, rode a bike for 112 miles, ran for four and a half hours and finished in time to have pizza for dinner.
Katie (Moore) Austin, daughter of former Lake Road teacher Candy Moore and Kevin Moore, completed the Couer d’ Alene, Idaho, Ironman triathlon on June 24 with her husband Marc.
This was her first Ironman, which includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Ms. Austin finished the triathlon in 13 hours, 29 minutes and 59 seconds. Her husband completed it in 13 hours, 55 minutes and 21 seconds.
Ms. Austin ended the swimming portion in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 22 seconds; the bike part in 7 hours, 13 minutes and 54 seconds; and the final running portion in 4 hours, 28 minutes and 29 seconds. Her husband completed the three different parts in 1 hour, 27 minutes and 52 seconds; 7 hours, 9 minutes and 22 seconds; and 5 hours and 43 seconds.
They chose to enter the Ironman triathlon after moving to Spokane, Wash., in July 2010. Several of their friends had told them about the race prior to their move. The couple decided to volunteer to help with the bike course last year, which allowed them to check out the race.
Both had completed marathons before the race, and they figured a triathlon should be next on their list to complete. After watching participants cross the finish line, they were “hooked.”
“I was ‘sports crying’ for people I had never met as they crossed the finish line,” Ms. Austin said. 
They soon signed up for the triathlon and found an Ironman training program on www.beginnertriathlete.com that focused on bike training.
The training plan began in February, but the Austins started last June after they signed up for the Ironman.
They ran the Portland, Ore., marathon last October, meaning their “run fitness was pretty solid.” Ms. Austin concentrated more on her swimming technique since she was not used to swimming competitively or in open water.
Her husband had some competitive swimming experience because he completed the Tinman triathlon in Topeka, Kan., in 2005, but he was not able to start training until May after he returned from a deployment.
The rigorous training program began with about eight hours of training a week and eventually got to 18 hours a week about a month before the race.
“At times it felt like we had a part time job on top of our full time jobs,” she said.
The race started at 7 a.m. It opened with the swimming portion. The Austins were on the beach two minutes before the race began.
Once the starting shot was fired, about 2,500 people rushed to the water to complete two huge loops before continuing to the next race portion.
Although they had gone swimming in the lake several times, the Austins were not used to swimming with that number of people.
“I had to really give myself a mental pep talk after I got in the water and tried to start swimming,” she said. “After I finally got in a rhythm, I found myself laughing at the chaotic mass of people.”
While swimming the loops, they had to deal with people swimming over and under them and the pull from the mass of bodies moving in one direction. They also had to face the frigid water, which froze them in place at the start.
“I had to say out loud, ‘You’ve got this, Austin. Trust your training,’” she said about the first two minutes in the lake.
After they finished the two loops, Mrs. Austin had to sit inside a transition tent to warm up before continuing the triathlon.
“My hands were so cold after I finished that I couldn’t put on my bike shoes,” she said.
After getting over the lake’s chill, they entered the biking part of the triathlon. The hills and fast bikers made this the hardest portion for Ms. Austin because she does not “do well mentally getting passed,” and she is not a strong biker.
A little more than seven hours later, she and her husband moved on to the long run and the finish.
“When I made the final turn toward the finish line, I immediately started again with the sports cry,” Ms. Austin said about reaching the end of the race.
She said it was “the biggest sense of accomplishment” she has ever experienced.
During the race, the Austins received plenty of support from their cheering section. Mrs. Austin’s parents traveled the hundreds of miles from Clarksville, to cheer for their daughter and her husband. Wes and Casey Moore, Mrs. Austin’s brother and sister-in-law, of Seattle, joined the support team along with their toddler, Leighton Moore. Austin’s parents, Jim and Judy Austin of Topeka, Kan., also cheered on the couple during the race.
The couple currently has no other triathlon scheduled, but they plan on doing another in the future. They want to participate in a half distance triathlon, but they are open to entering in a full length one if the opportunity rises.
“If the situation were right and one of our siblings or close friends really wanted to do a full Ironman, we could probably be talked into joining them,” she said.
Mrs. Austin graduated from Obion County Central High School in 2001.
She completed her undergraduate degree at Murray State University and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Pharmacy in Memphis in 2007.
Austin grew up in Topeka, Kan., and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 2005.
Mrs. Austin is an Antico-agulation/Pharmacotherapy Pharmacist at Providence Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, Wash., and Mr. Austin is a KC-135 pilot in the United States Air Force.
For more information about the triathlon, go to the website  ironman.com/events/ironman/coeurdalene/.
Donaldson is a rising senior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

Published in The Messenger 7.31.12

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