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  • Sun July 03 2005
  • Posted Jul 3, 2005
Triathlete plans return to Ironman Swim 2.4 miles along nearly the full length of Lake Macbride's upper leg. Then get out, hop on a bicycle and go through Solon and head west on Interstate 80 until reaching Mitchellville east of Des Moines -- 112 miles. Finally, ditch the bike and run a 26.2-mile marathon into West Des Moines. Oh, and finish the ordeal -- nearly half the distance across Iowa -- in about 10 hours and 30 minutes. Those kinds of distances and times are what Laura Lowe, 43, of Iowa City, has endured 11 times during her years entering triathlons. And she is preparing to withstand them once again when she competes with the best triathletes in the world at the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships Oct. 15. "It's the granddaddy of all triathlons," Lowe said. "It's the World Series." Lowe has been participating in triathlons of various lengths for nearly 20 years and even raced professionally for four years from 1987-1991. She's been to the world championships four times, the last time in 1995. She was also the women's champion in the Maui Irondistance Triathlon each year from 1994 to 1996. She was the women's winner and record holder for the Vineman Irondistance Triathlon in California in 1991 and 1995. As she prepares to go to the world championships again, 10 years since the last time she went, she recalled the feeling of finishing the first time in 1989. "I'm at the last 100 yards and every goose bump is standing up on end," she said. "And I'm sprinting after 10½ hours of holding back in the running, and I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, I'm going to actually finish this thing.'" Tricia Seifert, 32, of Iowa City, knows Lowe because they work on the same floor in the College of Education. Lowe is an instructor in the Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies at the University of Iowa. But Seifert knows Lowe even better as a fellow triathlon competitor. Seifert said her goal was always to finish in the top half of competitors. To reach Lowe's level of consistently placing in the top 10 took rigorous training, Seifert said. "That's the challenge, that's what's 'iron' about the iron distance," Seifert said. "The distance that day, you're ready to do, but it's getting there that's the difficulty." Finishing a triathlon is the same as overcoming any challenge in life, Lowe said, best done a small bit at a time. "It's like you reach down and find that there's a reservoir of energy that you didn't know you had and you do," she said, adding later, "You really realize what you're made of. It steels you." Lowe said it's been a major change from racing as a professional young woman to competing as an amateur middle age -- it feels better now and her time has stayed constant. Instead of racing for herself, she's racing for the good of others -- asking for sponsors to support the Women's Resource and Action Center, the Christine H.B. Grant Scholarship Fund for a female student-athlete and university-wide student aid. And she said instead of feeling the pressure to perform, she can just do what she loves. "Those are my daily trophies, my intrinsic rewards -- watching the sunrise as sweat glistens off my body and I'm going down Black Diamond Road on a bicycle," she said. "The sunrise is beautiful in Iowa. You're pretty much by yourself, a few cars here and there, and that's it." Reach Adam Pracht at 339-7360 or adpracht@press-citizen.com.

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