By Tim Hauserman
[dropcap1]E[/dropcap1]very athlete’s journey to standing on the cold sand in Kings Beach waiting for the Ironman starting gun to go off is unique. Here we profile three Tahoe locals: an architect, an attorney and an engineer. All parents raising children, who have trained hard and made sacrifices so they can find out whether on this day they can conquer Ironman Lake Tahoe.
“I was making a list of can’ts, and then I decided I wanted to get rid of that list and give it a try.”
[dropcap1]F[/dropcap1]or some people an Ironman race is the culmination of years of training, the penultimate event after a long list of other triathlon accomplishments. Clare Walton is not one of those people. Ironman Lake Tahoe will be her first Ironman-length event, and only her second triathlon on the pavement. Her first was the much shorter Donner Lake Triathlon, where she took on the Olympic-length distance. What she lacks in experience, however, she makes up for with spirit and attitude.
“Seeing all the athletes out training for the Lake Tahoe Ironman on the places I run and ride, and then seeing everyone doing it two years ago, I just wanted to do it,” said Walton. She began the process of making the decision to do Ironman by telling herself, “I wish I could do that, but I can’t because I work too much, I have two small children, I don’t know how to swim and my knees hurt. I was making a list of can’ts, and then I decided I wanted to get rid of that list and give it a try.”
Her strength is on a bike. She’s ridden in a number of Centuries, completed the Death Ride three times and early this summer climbed 45,000 feet during six days of riding in Italy.
“I loved it, I feel comfortable on a road bike,” said Walton.
Swimming and running on the other hand, not so much. She participated in a Sprint XTERRA off-road triathlon last year and had a poor swimming experience, discovering that swimming was going to be the obstacle to her Ironman dream. She began swimming in the pool almost every day. She took part in a Boost Swim program: a swim class for open water geared toward triathletes.
“It was so hard I thought I was going to give up. Now, I’m loving it, I’m getting over a hurdle,” said Walton.
While swimming has been her focus, Ironman also requires the running of a marathon after that long swim and grueling bike ride. She has never run a marathon before. But she is “really having a blast with the training and the challenges of being focused and efficient with my time,” she said. Walton has learned how to ride or swim between between work meetings and to work at night so she can train during the day.
“Anderson took the crown and Bob Wright took second to take the non-podium for the unofficial 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe.”
[dropcap1]T[/dropcap1]he Ironman Lake Tahoe will be Anderson’s second Ironman, but she completed the first 20 years ago. When she was young. Before her two kids.
“At that time I lived in Portland, and was both a runner and swimmer. Now I’m more of a long-distance trail runner,” Anderson said.
While she always dreamed of completing an Ironman again, her full-time work as an attorney, two children, and love of being out on the trail running with her buddies, made it seem unlikely. Then, her husband signed her up for the 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe as a surprise Christmas present, and she had a new training goal.
She trained hard for last year’s race, and like all the other athletes she was devastated when it was cancelled. But she found her lemonade. She joined a group of 10 people who completed the Lake Tahoe Ironman course on their own on Oct. 4.
“It was tough doing it that way, but it was a picture perfect Tahoe day,” said Anderson.
While everyone else switched to doing a Half Ironman, Anderson took the crown and Bob Wright took second to take the non-podium for the unofficial 2014 Ironman Lake Tahoe.
For those who were signed up for last year, Ironman allowed the racers to choose another race or come back this year. Anderson searched for the right replacement race and couldn’t find it, so she put her name in the lottery hat for the long shot be a part of the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii and she won a spot. Now, she is planning on racing the Ironman Lake Tahoe, and then taking on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in Kona three weeks later.
“In some respects I look at Tahoe as a training day. I can’t race my hardest. I will swim hard, bike hard, but not run so hard. That is what beats me up more then anything,” said Anderson.
With Ironman Lake Tahoe’s history, it is understandable that as the race approaches she is anxious about the weather, smoke and the shallow water in Kings Beach. She also says that she has been missing running in the wilderness with her friends while she focuses her athletic life on the pavement, but she knows it will work out, and soon she will be an Ironman again. And, then just a few weeks later, she will do it again.
“I’m doing Ironman Lake Tahoe in memory of my friend Kevin Murnane and in support for the Murnane family.”
[dropcap1]A[/dropcap1]drian Tieslau trained with his good friend Kevin Murnane as they set out to take on their first Ironman Lake Tahoe in 2014. Tieslau trained hard for five months after spending the winter cross-country skiing.
“Leading up to it I felt like I was getting stronger and stronger,” said Tieslau.
He completed two Half Ironman events, the Donner Lake Triathlon and Lake Tahoe Triathlon at Sugar Pine Point State Park. He also took on the Olympic distance at the June Lake Triathlon.
“My training time was limited with three kids, but if I signed up for an event, I would have to get there. After doing the second half Ironman, I felt like I could go pretty far without being totally trashed,” said Tieslau.
Then last year’s event was cancelled, and he signed up for one of the 50 extra spots provided for Ironman Lake Tahoe folks to take on the Ironman Arizona in Tempe last November.
“The trouble with that was my training in October and November slid downhill as it got cold, but I think it went pretty well,” he said.
In February, Kevin Murnane, long-time manager of Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area in Tahoe City died. It was a devastating event for many people in the Tahoe region, including Tieslau.
“I’m doing Ironman Lake Tahoe in memory of my friend Kevin Murnane and in support for the Murnane family,” he said. “I’ll do my best to finish for my health and in support of the health of all those who knew Kevin.”
In fact, he will proudly wear what would have been Kevin’s number in the race. Kevin’s wife, Valli Murnane, transferred it to him.
“I feel pretty ready, I have to hit it pretty hard the next month. I got a late start, so I have work do to.”
But he will get to the finish line, for Kevin.