Racing to the finish

Webster City woman completes Half Ironman Muncie 70.3

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Webster City resident Jennifer Peterson is pictured above at the Boone River Trail training for the Half Ironman Muncie 70.3.

It takes a lot of hard work, motivation and dedication to compete in athletics. Just ask Jennifer Peterson. The 36-year-old Webster City woman took her fitness goals to the next level last weekend when she completed her first-ever Half Ironman, Muncie 70.3.

Peterson traveled to Muncie, Indiana last Saturday for the event. The intense race consisted of a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run.

Her motivation came from her own personal fitness goals as well as through her boyfriend, Patrick, who complete a Half Ironman last year in Wisconsin. Peterson saw her boyfriend compete and decided to begin training for her own race.

“Competing in a full Ironman has been my lifelong fitness goal since high school. However, all I had ever seen was the world championships in Kona, Hawaii which are on TV. I didn’t think I was good enough to compete,” said Peterson. “Last year my boyfriend completed a Half Ironman in Racine, WI. I saw that there are people of all fitness levels and from all walks of life. It suddenly seemed attainable. We picked my race out on the way home from that event. I competed almost a year to the day after picking the race.”

Peterson, Christian formation director at Asbury United Methodist Church in Webster City, likened her training schedule for the upcoming event to holding a part-time job.

—Submitted photo Jennifer Peterson crosses the finish line at the Half Ironman Muncie 70.3 last Saturday in Muncie, IN. This was Peterson’s first Half Ironman.

“In order to achieve this goal I had to treat my training time like a meeting I would have for work, which meant saying no to a lot of other things,” Peterson said.

She spent long hours swimming laps, biking across the county and running the trails around Webster City.

“I had to start from scratch on swimming and biking. And even running, which I have a background in, was starting from a lower level than I would have preferred,” Peterson said. “I generally trained two disciplines a day.”

As many athletes do, Peterson had some physical setbacks to overcome along her intense training regimen. Peterson had knee surgery in December for an injury she sustained in August of 2016. As she was unable to run during her recovery, she spent rehab time in the pool and discovered a love for swimming.

According to Peterson, there were a lot of highs and lows throughout race preparations.

—Submitted photo Webster City resident Jennifer Peterson competes in the bike portion of the Half Ironman Muncie 70.3 on Saturday, July 8 in Muncie, IN. The bike portion of the race spanned 56 miles.

“Some of the highs were learning some new skills, finding a training method that was easy on my body and getting to interact with others from around the country who were training for the same race,” said Peterson. “Some of the lows were it was hard to find the time to train sometimes.”

Other highs she noted were:

• Having the best bike ride of her life time wise

• Her parents and boyfriend supporting her by attending her race

• Visiting with other athletes who competed

• Crossing the finish line even though not everything during the race went as she had planned

• Earning the title of Ironman

Peterson practiced for the swim portion of the race at the pool and in open water. She noted the difference in training in the pool versus the unpredictable open waters.

“It was a really physical swim. I thought I was the only who thought that because I have not done a lot of open water swims,” said Peterson. “But looking at comments from others who raced I see that I was not the only one who thought so. That many people taking off at one time creates a lot of chaos.”

During her time spent on two wheels, Peterson was able to stay upright during training. Unfortunately, she had her first crash during the race.

“Thankfully I went down in the grass for the most part, though I did take out a table at the aid station on the way down,” Peterson said. “I think going down in the grass is what allowed me to continue. I am scraped and bruised a bit. And it did a number on my lower back.”

Her fall during the cycling portion of the race made it harder to endure the running portion.

“My lower back tightening up as a result of my bike crash made my run difficult. I did more walking than running which was definitely not a part of my plan,” Peterson said. “I was starting to get frustrated with that and then I realized I had two choices I could sulk and hate the last part of the race. Or I could choose to enjoy every minute of the race and be thankful that I was able to finish the race. I chose the second option.”

Although the strain on her back made the run more difficult, Peterson chose to finish the Half Ironman with a positive attitude.

“I am so thankful that I decided to enjoy the race when I hit the run instead of letting it make me upset,” said Peterson. “I worked hard and put in to many hours to not enjoy this accomplishment for what it is.”

With the Half Ironman Muncie 70.3 under her belt, Peterson has plans to continue training for races in the future.

“I can’t wait to tackle another 70.3! Not sure if I am ready to take on the 140.6 just yet,” said Peterson.

Her advice for readers who are thinking about competing in a major race of their own:

“If you want to try it, go for it. Don’t wait for the perfect time because there is no perfect time,” Peterson said. “But know that it is a huge time commitment. There were weeks that my training time was the equivalent of hours of a part-time job. Find a good training plan and a great support system.”