Claudia Blackburn

January, 2013

Over the next few months we’ll be running a series on the real lives of the Age Group triathlete. We’ll chronicle the ups and downs, victories and hardships of training in the everyday athlete.

We begin with Claudia Blackburn, a veteran triathlete starting her 9th year of competition.

Happy New Year! I am really looking forward to my 9th triathlon training season. First, let me introduce myself in this entry, my name is Claudia, alias “Ironmaiden” – a nickname I received over two years ago after being stricken by a serious bout of pneumonia, subsequent long-term breathing complications, and maintaining a persistent desire to stay as active as possible in the subsequent recovery months. Since then, I have earned this nickname repeatedly due to chronic diseases, disorders, and injuries throughout 2012. I am closing in on my 55th birthday as a latecomer mid to back “packer” triathlete with some golden moments of glory as an age-grouper in smaller races. Secretly, I am a student of every aspect of the sport from nutrition to power training. However, I believe that if I were to survey first impressions, most people would mistakenly discount me as a serious athlete; nonetheless, I take this sport, my training, and my athletic aspirations quite serious even if my body does not show it or cooperate. As I have aged, I have maintained a commitment to remain active regardless of ailments and tailor trainings to work around them. I want to be the last women standing – and have made a promise to one my girlfriends that we will do an Ironman to celebrate our 70th birthday.

Future Endeavors: In this upcoming season, the Lake Placid Ironman is my primary focus. In triathlon terms, it is my “A” race. Between now and Lake Placid, I am registered for a 22k flying moose cross-country ski race at the end of February, rock-n-roll half marathon, at least one half-ironman, and smaller distances including the Columbia triathlon. More frightening than all of these races put together, I will be attending a weeklong altitude triathlete training camp in the Rockies in May – a surprise holiday gift from my partner.

Past Endeavors: Since 2005, I have run several marathons, numerous half-marathons, trail runs; completed open-water swims, MS 150s, cross-country ski races including the American Birkebeiner; and participated in all triathlon distances including off-road races. I recently participated in a benefit climb on Mt. Washington, NH. I also have acquired a few reluctant, but noteworthy, DNFs including the Arizona Ironman only 8 miles out and have had several stellar crashes – a flip off a snow mountain bike by going “no holds barred” down a cross country ski slope in Minnesota this past year and ripping off the bike seat and post during a crash due to my inability to unclip from either pedal. Beyond this, I have gained great pleasure in introducing people to the sport, and helping them to get to their first start line.

Most Memorable Moments include the second turn-around on the Arizona Ironman bike course an hour ahead of cut-off, resorting to a bonk-driven walk during the run portion of a triathlon that lead to a heart-felt conversation with a women who was racing and crying for her sister who had recently died from breast cancer, completing the American Birkebeiner Cross Country Ski Kortelopet at minus 16 degrees Fahrenheit without frostbite or falling, and a seamless 1st transition in a New Jersey relay triathlon race from bike to kayak with my Aunt who died two years ago from ALS.