A Rose and a Wingnut

Today, I had the opportunity to see Wendy Ingraham talk to the TriDivas at Tri-zone.com’s headquarters. Here’s what I learned about this amazingly down-to-earth triathlete, plus training and racing.

• She has a heart of gold. She spoke to a group of kids fighting cancer last night at Children’s Hospital. Without being preachy, she reminded us of how lucky we are to be able to do this sport.

• She has done 44 Ironman triathlons in the past 16 years. (No, that’s not a typo: 40-freekin’-4 of them.)

• She was once rammed by a Hammerhead shark during a race in Florida. “Don’t worry, they won’t eat you unless you get knocked unconscious!” she said.

• She has incredible comedic timing and deadpan delivery of her tips, quips, and anecdotes. If you ever get the chance to see her, don’t miss it.

• She looks like she’d fit in on Rodeo Drive just as easily as Queen’s Highway.

• She tried her first triathlon right after college on a dare from her dad. “I bet you can’t do it,” he said. (I bet he knew she could.) She won the race. She beat everyone – even the guys.

• Her nickname is “Wingnut.” She admits she’s a nut, but isn’t sure of the origins for this term of endearment.

• She thinks of triathletes as roses. We bloom in the summer, and need time in the winter to go dormant and rest. We’re tough. We have our own thorns.

• She completed Ironman Korea last month in 122° heat, while 20% of the field had to drop out. She’s certain she had heat stroke, but still found a way to finish the hottest race of her life.

• There’s a video of her on YouTube.com crawling across the finish line at Kona in 1997 for fourth place. (I don’t have the heart to post it here.)

• She’s completed adventure races in China and Europe during her off-seasons.

• She advised us, “Go ahead and gain weight during the off-season to fuel up for the new season.” Or at the very least, we shouldn’t worry about gaining a few pounds then.

• She rode a 20-pound Schwinn in her first Ironman.

• She has relied on Kestrel bikes ever since – and loves them, even though they aren’t the most expensive ones on the market. She has stuck with them – and they have stuck with her as a sponsor for all these years.

• She treats a crowd of newbies with the same respect as the rest of her peers -– very refreshing to see her put all of us at ease the week before our sprint.

What a great way to start the weekend. Thanks Wendy!