Running a marathon is no easy feat. Tack on a 112-mile bike ride and 2.4-mile swim and most people would call it impossible. But for the few gifted athletes who are able to complete all three, there is the Ironman competition, an event in which Mattapoisett native Shane Wilhelmsen competed on August 19 in Mont Tremblant, Canada.
“I felt very satisfied and relieved,” said Wilhelmsen about completing the Ironman. “I had a very big feeling of accomplishment.”
Wilhelmsen began running in 2009 when he trained for his first 5K with some co-workers. After realizing how much he loved running, he graduated to triathlons and marathons before trying his first half-Ironman competition.
“I never thought I would do anything like this,” he said. “I was never big into running or anything. I biked back in middle school just to get around here and there but never competitively. I did very little running in high school.”
Wilhelmsen has come a long way since his days at Old Rochester Regional High School, where he graduated in 1997. He began preparation for the Ironman competition in February, following an intense 26-week workout regimen and dedicating 10 – 15 hours per week to his exercise. Even with all the training, there’s no doubting the difficulty of the competition.
“The hardest part for me is the bike ride, but I go back and forth with that and swimming,” said Wilhelmsen. “At the start, they fire off a cannon and 2,300 people run into the water at the same time. That is kind of daunting and you have to be prepared for a lot of contact swimming.”
After the race, it took Wilhelmsen nearly two weeks to fully recover. He took the week following the competition off to relax and let his body mend, but he’s back on the pavement running to prepare for a marathon in October. He has his sights on qualifying for the 2013 Boston Marathon in April.
Wilhelmsen is proof that you can do anything you put your mind to, even without an extensive athletic background. He has plenty of advice for those looking to challenge themselves physically.
“Start small and see where you can go,” he said. “After I did the half-Ironman a couple summers ago, I was completely wiped and I was lying down on the grass. After a few minutes I started recovering a little bit and I felt like I could do more.”
By Katy Fitzpatrick