Mary Hays Fawn V. Hernandez Upon walking into Reve Coffee Shop Downtown I see a smiling Mary Hays, part owner and manager of Geaux Run, ready to give me a hug and chat about the happenings in my own life even though this is an interview about her recent accomplishment of completing her first Ironman. After a bit of catching up she wonders aloud if it’s hot in the coffee shop. It isn’t; in fact it is a bit chilly. At this point she mentions she got in an accident on the way to our interview. It was just a fender bender but she still showed up on time to our meeting and we chatted 15 minutes before she even mentioned the accident. This exemplifies Mary in a nutshell: friendly and always calm under pressure. On October 1, 2016 in Cambridge, Maryland 2,572 athletes prepared to start their journey on an Ironman Triathlon 140.6. Each athlete has 17 hours to complete a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run to receive the title of Ironman. As often happens, Mother Nature determined that the day would not go as planned. After much deliberation the race officials deemed the weather conditions were not suitable for the athletes to complete the swim so the race was whittled down to biking and running. Many participants walked away from the starting line with the announcement. When asked how Mary felt about the decision she stated, “I was disap36
pointed because I put in all of the work and all of the training but I felt like a horse in a stall. I was ready to start the race!” Mary dealt with rain on the bike and flooded streets during the run. In fact, the race officials were forced to shorten the bike distance to 100 miles due to flooded out streets that were impassable. After 100 grueling miles on the bike and 26.2 wet miles on the run Mary finished her first Ironman in 11:51:28. Mary contributes her success to many different factors. The biggest change for her was hiring Brad Stoufflet of Acadiana as her coach. He quickly made Mary realize she has historically over trained for races. Instead of reaching that point in her training where she typically feels burned out, she actually enjoyed her entire training cycle. As an added bonus, Stoufflet was very familiar with the Maryland Ironman course so he was able to incorporate training sessions designed specifically for that course.
A few other key components that helped Mary cross the finish line were:
• Training by perceived exertion rather than with a watch
• Regular massage and chiropractic
visits especially since she suffers from arthritis in her neck and back
• Incorporating a few races in her
training schedule to boost confidence and fine tune her nutrition
and hydration plan
• Making a few long training days
tougher mentally (For instance, Mary had a six-hour bike ride on her training schedule so she did it indoors on her trainer instead of hitting the road.)
• Volunteering at Ironman Maryland
the year before so that she would be familiar with the course and the way the Race Officials organized and executed race day logistics
• Completing two other 70.3 Ironman events previously (a half Ironman)
• Incorporating circuit training, weight lifting, and yoga in her training season
What’s next for Mary? Immediately, she plans to do circuit training, BodyPump, yoga and Jazzercise for fun and to stay fit; beyond that, another Ironman of course. At the time of the interview she was struggling with post race blues. To overcome that, her coach had specific recovery workouts planned and her friends organized a large celebratory gathering at Corner Bar to congratulate Mary on her huge accomplishment. Next time you stop into Geaux Run ask Mary about her gashed leg during training that required stitches and ask her to tell the story about unexpectedly meeting relatives while visiting Maryland. Oh, and don’t forget, to wish her luck on her next full Ironman journey.
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