The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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Race to the Finish


Upper School Math teacher Rachel Grabow spent her summer training for her very first Ironman.

Running next to the lake last Christmas in Madison, Wisconsin–where Grabow will complete the 2.4 mile swim of Ironman Wisconsin–motivated her to continue training throughout the summer for her first Ironman race scheduled for Sept. 13, 2015.

“I spent my whole summer training. I picked this race for two reasons: my brother lives in Madison and it is just at the start of school so it gave me all summer to train.

In order to prepare for the 2.4 mile swim, 26.2 mile run and 112 mile bike, Grabow stuck to a six-day training schedule with the seventh day designated toward recovery.

Each week Grabow would rotate between bike rides that built up to 100 miles, swim practices that extend to 5000 meters and duo training for the marathon portion and her second 50 kilometer run.

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A map of the bike leg of the Wisconsin Ironman.

As a member of both the Dallas Running Club and the Dallas Aquatic Masters, Grabow has developed an affinity toward running and swimming. Training with the the different clubs allows Grabow to work out alongside her friends and not rely on her cellphone as a distraction.

“It’s a lot of fun to be outside and not be connected by phone or email,” Grabow said. “The same thing with swimming. Your head is underwater so you don’t hear anything or have to listen to anyone talk. You are totally disconnected which is nice.”

After picking up cycling relatively recently, Grabow started to compete in sprint triathlon’s which consist of a 300 to 500 meter swim, a 12 to 15 mile bike ride and a five kilometer run. Despite having completed sprint triathlons, Grabow never planned on training for an Ironman Triathlon, until some of her friends convinced her.

“One of my friends was talking about how she wanted to do an Ironman by the time she turned 50 and I thought she was crazy. Like who does an Ironman, it’s so impossible,” Grabow said. “I had another friend who has training for a Half-Ironman and I thought, if she could do it, then I could do it. I started watching all of these youtube videos and they looked like so much fun. It started to seem not so crazy anymore.”

After watching several Ironman videos, Grabow finally mustered enough courage to sign up for a Half-Ironman. Coincidentally, before she even ran the half Ironman, Grabow signed up for a full Ironman. “About [September 2014] they published the video for the Ironman Wisconsin. By the time I had gotten to school [in September 2015], I signed up for the Ironman Wisconsin,” Grabow said.

Although she has been preparing for the Ironman Wisconsin all summer, Grabow still has some nerves concerning the upcoming race. All Ironman races begin with a mass start of the swim, which means that 2,000 people all start the 2.4 swim at the same time.

“This will be a lot bigger of a crowd. That just makes me a little bit nervous. In a swim like that, you get kicked and pulled. People don’t mean to but they are just reaching to pull and they grab your leg or end up kicking you,” Grabow said. “I think it will be fine, but I am a little apprehensive about that.”

Considering that she only took up cycling one year ago, Grabow also fears that one particular event may occur during the race.

“I’m always nervous about getting a flat tire on the bike. I’ve never gotten a flat tire before and I know how to change one, but I just don’t have a lot of experience changing one and that really cuts into my time,” Grabow said.

Despite having some apprehensions about the race, Grabow has a lot to look forward to. One of the things includes the long hilly bike leg of the race.

“Since the start of school I haven’t been able to do my really long bike ride,” Grabow said. “Even though biking is probably my least favorite, I’ve gotten to appreciate being able to bike for about six or seven hours.”

Ironmans draw a lot of attention from spectators and each Ironman releases a video that complies clips from the entire race. The crowd’s enthusiasm and the volunteers help to create the fun atmosphere that surrounds Ironman races.  “The race should have great crowd support on the run. A lot of people cheering and being silly and blasting music, so it should be a really great atmosphere,” Grabow said.

From a crazy idea to an event she will participate in a few days, Grabow has trained to do what she used to believe what was impossible.

“I think that is a good life lesson and translates well to other parts of your life. Ideas of perseverance and if you have races that don’t go as well as you would have liked and you just figure out what went wrong and learn from it.”

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