By Christina Schiavo, Corporate Relations Intern, Palio
The Ironman Triathlon, organized by World Triathlon Corporation, is arguably the most famous endurance triathlon. It consists of 2.4 miles of swimming, 112 miles of biking, and a marathon of 26.2 miles of running. An iron distance triathlon is raced in that consecutive order, without any breaks, and has a time limit of 17 hours to complete. Beginning at 7AM, each section has a cut off time: swim at 9:20AM, bike at 5:30PM, and marathon at midnight.
The endurance triathlon was created as an unlikely challenge and quickly grew into an international sensation, drawing in the fiercest competitors from all around the globe. To give a little background about the history of Ironman, ideas were stirring in Hawaii in 1977 after a race. Locals wanted to create a challenging endurance event for athletes who were hungry for more. Creator, John Collins, played with the idea and proposed combining swimming, biking and running for the toughest race on the island. According to the Ironman World Championship website, Collins combined the 2.4-mile Waikiki Roughwater swim with 112 miles of the Around-O’ahu Bike Race, ending with a 26.2-mile run on the Honolulu Marathon course.
Collectively, it was decided the challenge would begin at 7AM and whoever finished first would be deemed ‘The Ironman.” The inaugural event took place on February 18, 1978 and 15 competitors set out to prove they were the toughest. Collins and 11 others finished the entire course but only one won. “Gordon Haller, a taxi cab driver and fitness enthusiast, crossed the finish line first in 11 hours, 46 minutes and 40 seconds to become the ‘original’ ironman.” (Ironman World Championship, 2012).
The New York Ironman is offered annually in Lake Placid, NY, and is known for having one of the hilliest courses. Hurricane Irene devastated all 18 villages of Essex County last September, where the Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) is held. Through generous donations, the Ironman Foundation worked to provide support to the community to help with relief efforts.
This year’s Ironman Lake Placid (IMLP) took place on Sunday, July 22 and Palio congratulates Allison Gubala for her participation in the world’s most challenging endurance event! She is our Ironman and finished strong, with time to spare, at the time of 15hours, 32minutes and 55 seconds.
That’s Allison, running the marathon, happy.
So here’s a little bit about her journey with the Ironman event. Gubala did the Half Ironman: Timberman in New Hampshire back in 2010, which sparked her interest in potentially doing an Ironman. She decided to volunteer at last year’s IMLP in the women’s transition #1 tent or T1 and knew she wanted to sign-up proceeding the event. Interestingly enough, sign-ups for the following year take place at 7am, the morning after the event has ended. Ironman is a hot commodity, so it’s no surprise that the event fills up fast, which is why most people volunteer in order to secure a spot for the preceding year. “Most people do what I did – volunteer for a few hours, watch the race all day, cheer on all of the amazing athletes, and then get in line at midnight to sign yourself up for the following year when the line opens at 7am,” said Allison Gubala, account executive.
Volunteering in the women’s transition tent was not only a rewarding experience for Allison but also an inspiring one. Upon seeing all the strong female athletes racing, she knew she wanted to be one of them. “It was truly the most awe-inspiring event to be a part of and I knew I wanted to participate in the race alongside these outstanding female athletes,” said Gubala.
After signing up for IMLP, Allison knew she needed a plan that would help her achieve her goal. She hired a coach and partnered with a great group of athletes who were also training for IMLP. “The amount of training required is challenging! It’s been tough to fit in all of the workouts, both time wise (mine required anywhere between 8-18 hours a week for 20-weeks) and mentally,” said Gubala. “But it’s all about finding what works for you and sticking with it!” Gubala made a training plan and stuck with it, regardless of all the curveballs that came her way. She trusted her training and kept her head in the right place, focusing on her dream of being an Ironman.
During the race the most challenging part for her was the mass swim start. “It was tough in the beginning because it felt like you’re in a giant, human washing machine,” explained Gubala. “I definitely panicked for more than a minute because there were so many people around me and I needed to get into the right spot, mentally and physically, to do my thing.” After the swim, Gubala only progressively got better within her age group with regards to time. She had a steady pace with each lap for the bike portion of the event and excelled in the marathon. “I felt strong during the entire race,” said Gubala. “I stuck to my plan, in terms of pacing, nutrition and hydration, and just felt solid all the way through.”
She is surely an inspiration to all, especially the folks here at Palio! Even more inspiring is when you hear about Gubala’s past athletic endeavors. Her interest in fitness didn’t happen until later in her life. “I was always trying to cut out of gym class,” she explained. “Sports were never a big part of my life growing up but now I love being active for the way it makes me feel and the personal achievements it offers.” Here’s a video of Allison training for The Saratoga Palio:
Gubala offers advice to future Ironman participants, “Nothing new on race day! And train with what nutrition is going to be on the course so nothing is a shock to your system.” She was able to finish strong in this event because she knew herself as well as the course. “I knew when the hills were coming and when to push harder. I knew what to expect,” said Gubala.
Think she’d stop here? Not Allison. “Yes, I will surely do one again,” said Gubala. “I’m addicted to this sport!” The next big event on Gubala’s schedule is actually tomorrow, August 4. She will be competing in the 6th annual Fronhofer Tool Triathlon. This event is a challenging, Olympic distance triathlon. Other upcoming events Gubala will be participating in are The Saratoga Palio on September 16, and the Ragnar Adirondacks Relay on September 28-29. She’s actually throwing around the idea of signing up for another triathlon between now and then. We’re excited to hear about her continued athletic accomplishments and wish her the best of luck this weekend!
Here at Palio, health and wellness runs through everything we do – in the office and out. And our employees are involved from every angle! From running to yoga, and tennis to ironman – you name it, we’ve got folks who do it. Because health is such a big part of our lives and work, we want to share some of our experiences with you. Our Because We Can health initiatives series is designed to highlight the passions, commitments, accomplishments and goals of a few of the members of our team.
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