CMU graduate student completes Ford Ironman Triathlon
The popular sports slogan, “Pain is temporary. Pride lasts forever,” fits Kari Alsager’s journey through a Ford Ironman Triathlon in August.
Enduring the pain and grueling, punishing competition, which consists of extreme amounts of swimming, biking and running, was just as rewarding as the moment she passed the finish line. Her dream was achieved.
“I think I always knew I could do it,” the Mount Pleasant graduate student said. “I never had the fear of not finishing.”
Alsager competed in the Ford Ironman Triathlon in Louisville, Ky., a contest which includes a 2.1-mile swim, 110-mile bike ride, and a marathon, which is 26 miles.
She said there were about 2,500 other contestants. Alsager finished in 14 hours, placing her in the middle of the time completions for the 18-to-24 age group.
“My primary goal was to finish,” she said. “A lot of people didn’t finish the race. I finished, which I was happy about.”
Her training regiment began in the spring, where she would train for, at one point, up to 18 hours a week for the then-impending contest.
“I was training in the spring to go to the collegiate nationals with the triathlon club at CMU,” she said. “Once that race was done, I amped up my training over the summer.”
Her increased training included swimming in local lakes in Mount Pleasant and even completing a century bike ride, which is 100 miles.
“I did a lot of biking in the country roads here in town,” she said. “For swimming, I would go to a small lake here in town.”
She said her training spots varied because there were multiple sports to train for.
Having competed in triathlons since she was 16, she said keeping peak physical health is important to compete in an ironman triathlon.
“It’s totally different than any other triathlon,” the physical therapy program graduate said. “With an Ironman, you have to make sure you’re eating right and drinking enough and working hard. You have to keep your stamina up because it’s a 14-hour competition, which is a really long time.”
She said being involved in the triathlon club at Central Michigan University helped her prepare for such a competition. A friend of hers, Nancy Boyd, competed in the Wisconsin version of the Ford Ironman Triathlon last year and inspired Alsager to compete in the Louisville edition.
“It’s a ripple effect,” the current Seattle resident said. “I’m so happy that she was motivated to go for it, and I hope that she now can go on and encourage others who need a little push to believe in themselves, and know that they are capable of doing anything that they set their mind to.”
Both Alsager and Boyd, after the competition, said they had a long road back to recovery after their respective races.
“Recovery is key,” Boyd said. “You have to give your body time to heal. Even after muscle soreness subsides, your body is fatigued.”
Alsager said her education, graduating from CMU with a degree in physical therapy, helped her with the triathlon training.
“Being a physical therapy student helped me with the triathlon,” she said. “Knowing about the body and nutrition and those kinds of things.”
Alsager is proud of the accomplishments she has achieved throughout her time of competing but says the ironman triathlon was the most difficult challenge of her life.
“I think now, when I have something difficult in my life, I say to myself : ‘I did an Ironman. I can do anything,’,” she said. “Because it was definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
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