Last Word with Caroline Smith, Ironman World Championship 70.3 Winner

Check out the article about me by Craig Guillot in the New Orleans City Business Northshore Report!

NOTE: The Ironman World Championship in Clearwater, FL is the IRONMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP 70.3

A 1.2-mile swim followed by a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1 mile run sounds grueling but it’s just another day in the life of Mandeville resident Caroline Smith. The fitness and swimming
instructor from Franco’s Athletic Club recently competed in the Ironman World Championship in Clearwater, Fla. Smith placed first in the amateur female category and the female 35-39 age group and was the 15th woman to finish overall.

Have you always been into athletics?
For the most part. I grew up in New Orleans swimming competitively for a team called Green Wave. I kind of fell out after high school
when I went to college and was more into the partying, drinking and smoking scene. By age 30, I reassessed my life and just wasn’t as
happy anymore. I was really missing that element of competition and training and goal setting. I just wanted to get back to some level
of fitness, started going back to Franco’s and just fell into triathlons.
A triathlon seems kind of extreme, perhaps more than just “getting in shape.”
It’s a lot more intimidating than it really is. When I tried my first one, I was scared to death. As a swimmer, I hated running and did not like it at all. I didn’t even own a bike either and had to find one and learn how to ride.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a triathlon?
Without a doubt it’s the running. When I first started, I used to get passed by everyone. I would do pretty good on the swim and could hold my own on the bike but I’d be slow on the run. I used that as fuel though and it only drove me to do better.

What advice would you give to someone looking to get into triathlons?
Start spinning. Go to a health club, get on the bike. Get involved with your local triathlon group. You can start on all three simultaneously but you should really take your weakest growth area and focus on that before you get into any sort of mileage. You need to develop your weakest sport so that you can first of all complete the triathlon, and just finishing your first one is inspiration enough.

Why do so many people who make resolutions to stay in shape quit after a month?
I think many people just expect instant gratification. You have to look inside yourself and make a longterm commitment. It takes a long time for your body to adjust. Don’t go to the gym to lose 10 pounds in a month. Make a commitment to the gym for a year.

What is it like to train on the North Shore?
It’s fabulous.We have Franco’s, which is an unbelievable health club. Cycling up here in St. Tammany is a little tough because of the congestion but the Tammany Trace is fabulous. I don’t swim in the lake as much as I used to before the storm though because we’re kind of afraid what’s out there since Katrina. I think we’ll be having some open water swims on the South Shore soon.

What do you do to relax?
These days, I lie in bed all day and watch football on Sundays. I get a massage about once a week, sometimes that hurts though. I occasionally do go out for a brisk bike ride or an easy run. I think this lifestyle is actually more relaxing than not. Exercise really unwinds you and makes you feel good.

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