Students train to be an “Iron Man”

Murfreesboro sophomore Connor Shea, left, and Mt. Washington senior Jeremy Raley run at Kereiakes Park on Tuesday to train for their first Ironman Triathalon, which will take place July 12 in Muncie, Ind. (Jeff Brown/HERALD)

Anna Lawson

Runners raced toward the finish line at the Bowling Green Marathon as the crowd cheered them on. Connor Shea and Jeremy Raley were just volunteering at the event, but they knew that they wanted to cross the finish line one day.

It was then that the duo started on the road to complete an Ironman triathlon.

“Connor and I were volunteering for Bowling Green’s Marathon and we were just talking about things we wanted to accomplish, we both said Ironman,” Mount Washington senior Raley said.

“Watching the runners kind of gave us inspiration and right there we decided we would do a half one this summer and than the full Ironman in Louisville next year.”

Shea, a Murfreesboro, Tenn., sophomore also decided to start training for an Ironman.

“After I stopped playing on WKU’s tennis team, I needed something else to work for,” he said.

A full Ironman race consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile run. The race is to be completed in that order and without any breaks.

Raley and Shea both have some experience with organized races.

“I have run a mini-Marathon in Louisville twice but never anything like this,” Raley said. “That’s what’s cool about it though is that it’s something we’re not used to and we’ve had to become a lot more comfortable in the water and on a bike.”

Shea has participated in a few 5K races. He said he is most nervous about his body wearing down.

“The last thing I want is an injury during the race,” he said.

Raley also has some nerves leading up to the big event.

“Honestly the heat is probably going to be our biggest obstacle,” he said. “We’ve been training indoors because of the weather, so we are trying to get outside as much as possible now to prepare our bodies for the summer heat.”

The half Ironman will take place on July 12 in Muncie, Ind. Raley started training toward the end of the fall semester. Shea started a 16-week program in the middle of April.

While they are nervous about the race, Raley and Shea are also looking forward to it.

“I’m so excited to start the race and feel the excitement of the crowd as we head into the water,” Shea said.

Raley has found it difficult to manage training, school and a job.

“Training is kind of like a second job. Sometimes we wake up before class and work around 5:45 and get in a run or a swim,” he said.

Raley and Shea are hoping this around-the-clock training will pay off the day of the race.

“I don’t necessarily have a time I’m wanting to make, I just want to finish in good health with at least a 7:45 pace during my run,” said Shea.

“Of course I want to do as good as possible but my goal is just to finish. It’s a monster of a race and I realize that so I don’t want to be unrealistic with my expectations,” he said.

However, Raley is just looking forward to having accomplished something so difficult.

“I am most excited just to cross the finish line and then to not move for three days,” he said.