CEL­E­BRAT­ING KONA

Triathlon Magazine Canada - - Warm-up Elite Profile / Pro Kit -

She’s a 19-time Iron­man 70.3 cham­pion, took the 2015 Iron­man North Amer­i­can Championship in un­der nine hours (and was also un­der nine hours when she won Iron­man Chattanooga in 2014). So why was An­gela Naeth just happy to have sim­ply qual­i­fied for the Iron­man World Championship in Kona this year? For al­most a year, Naeth had been suf­fer­ing from Lyme dis­ease, which was fi­nally di­ag­nosed in May. We caught up with Naeth as she was get­ting ready to head over to Hawaii’s Big Is­land for the race.

On qual­i­fy­ing for the Iron­man World Championship

“I was just so amazed that we were able to sal­vage one of the most dif­fi­cult sea­sons of my ca­reer. It is a bit bit­ter­sweet to have the op­por­tu­nity to head over to the Big Is­land to race. I’m not even look­ing at it as a race. This time around, it is go­ing to be a cel­e­bra­tion. Quite hon­estly, be­ing hit with Lyme dis­ease and its co-in­fec­tions, and go­ing un­di­ag­nosed for sev­eral months, re­ally threw me for a loop. I felt hor­ri­ble for about four or five months, with

un­ex­plained deep fa­tigue, mus­cle sore­ness, weak­ness, de­pres­sion and who knows what else. I thought that I was go­ing nuts. And, some­times, I was. The treat­ments have been a jour­ney. They are pretty ag­gres­sive, with sev­eral months of mul­ti­ple an­tibi­otics, which, while help­ing to make me bet­ter, leave my body wasted.”

Four full-dis­tance races in three months – to qual­ify for Kona, Naeth em­barked on a lit­eral world tour of rac­ing, fin­ish­ing full-dis­tance races in the United States (Boul­der), the United King­dom (Bolton), the Nether­lands (Maas­tricht) and Swe­den (Kal­mar)

“Each race has been an im­prove­ment and a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence about how to train and race while on all of these dif­fer­ent an­tibi­otic med­i­ca­tions. There were times when my body’s re­sponse to the dif­fer­ent med­i­ca­tions seemed quite un­pre­dictable, and I just never knew what to ex­pect from one day to the next. Be­cause my health was so up and down, my train­ing from May through mid-Au­gust was pretty frac­tured. I did what I could, when I could, and it was kind of all over the place. We de­cided to give qual­i­fy­ing for Kona a shot just be­cause you only get so many chances. So, we mapped out a path, and de­cided that we would take it one race at a time. It re­ally be­came one day at a time. And some­times, one work­out at a time. As a re­sult, the races were hard sin­gle-day events, but I never got beat up by a

full-on train­ing cy­cle. Tim [Snow, Naeth’s coach] has me hit­ting Kona in what he would call a mid-cy­cle of my train­ing. Be­cause it has been such a screwy year, Kona is not go­ing to be the be-all, end-all. I am plan­ning on a full set of races through to the end of the year.

The Chal­lenges of deal­ing with Lyme dis­ease

“The big­gest chal­lenge has been ac­cept­ing each day and what it brings. At the same time, aside from one mi­nor set­back, Septem­ber has been the most sta­ble pe­riod over the past year. When first di­ag­nosed, my symp­toms kind of took over my life. I was strug­gling to get out of bed. Stairs were men­ac­ing, at best. The first cou­ple of months were very dif­fi­cult, be­cause I just never knew what to ex­pect from one day to the next. Some days I felt OK, and oth­ers I was sick in bed. The pro­gres­sion was very slow and of­ten very dif­fi­cult to see. But it has gone pretty much ex­actly as the doc­tor de­scribed it would be. Lyme made me feel deeply fa­tigued and con­sis­tently nau­seous, like I had the flu for a much longer pe­riod than any­one should have the flu, but it would come and it would go. One of the co-in­fec­tions, babesia, greatly af­fected my mus­cles, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to stand, walk stairs, get in and out of the car and more. My legs con­stantly felt like I had run a half-marathon the day be­fore. The run­ning that I could do was nei­ther fast nor pretty. But, lit­tle by lit­tle, it got bet­ter and bet­ter. The pro­gres­sion was hum­bling. It taught me pa­tience, and it made me ap­pre­ci­ate both a healthy body and this sport more and more. I can’t thank

Tim enough. He went through the thick of it with me. Go­ing from cry­ing in the mid­dle of the night be­cause my body ached and my mind was de­pressed, to run­ning in­ter­vals on the track with him last week. It has been quite a jour­ney.

I Race Like A Girl

“I Race Like A Girl [Naeth’s en­durance-sport team] is just open­ing mem­ber­ship for our third year. It has been such a great av­enue to meet new fe­males, and to help to sup­port them in the sport and feel their sup­port for me. It has been a great way for me to re­ally dive into what this sport is all about: a com­mu­nity. The sup­port we have for one an­other and the abil­ity to meet mem­bers at races and to cheer for them on course has been sim­ply amaz­ing and fun. It brings me back to why I do this sport – the peo­ple, the com­mu­nity, the fun, sup­port and in­spi­ra­tion that you get from oth­ers. My spon­sors have sup­ported us all along the way. It is my hope to con­tinue to build these re­la­tion­ships in or­der to help our mem­bers in all as­pects of triathlon, be it ed­u­ca­tion, sup­port and gear, as well as a global com­mu­nity of women all con­nected through the team. In the fu­ture, I plan to grow the brand and team into events and camps. We have our first camp coming up in Jan­uary in Cler­mont, Fla., and it is al­ready sold out. I would love to cre­ate a fund for younger ath­letes in the sport, as well as the be­gin­ners and moth­ers who need that ex­tra sup­port.—TMC

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