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6.2 Miles Swimming + 263 Miles Biking + 52.4 Miles Running = Siobhan Maize's Ultraman

Siobhan Maize sits on her bike at the Ultraman Florida finish line

The Ultraman Florida race is one of Siobhan Maize’s all-time favorites. She was one of only 50 people accepted to participate in the three-day event.

There’s one LOWVELO participant who doesn’t have to worry about how many miles she’s posting. That is Siobhan Maize, a mom and triathlete, who has managed to do what many would see as a miracle – completing an Ultraman.

An Ultraman is a three-day event, where each day must be completed within 12 hours for a participant to be an official finisher. And each day is brutal. Take the Ultraman Florida 2020 event she did. Day one, she did a 6.2 mile swim followed by 92 miles on a bike. Day two, she did a 171-mile bike ride. Day three, she ran 52.4 miles.

“It’s rare to find a race where everyone is there to help everyone,” she said in a blog account describing the event. “The crew, the racers – we’re all in it to make sure everyone finishes. Friendships are made, bonds are solidified. Continue to challenge yourself! You never know what you’re capable of doing.”

Maize, a LOWVELO supporter and participant, shares here what got her hooked on triathlons.

How did you become interested in triathlons?

Triathlon had always intrigued me but seemed out of my reach. Too many things to learn, too much to buy, too hard to figure out. But after doing marathons for a number of years, I found myself injured off and on. I decided to get into triathlons as a new challenge, a new way to cross train, to ease off the effects of constant running on my body. And with the Charleston Sprint series in town, it was easy to find a race to do. 

When did you participate in your first one?

I did my first triathlon, Charleston Sprint Triathlon Series, the summer of 2007 on a borrowed bike from a neighbor. I was immediately hooked and borrowed a few more bikes before buying a super entry level bike at the end of summer. I did several of the sprint races that summer and then jumped into the Kiawah Olympic distance triathlon that fall. 

How many triathlons have you done?

I honestly have never counted how many triathlons I’ve completed! After my first summer competing, I jumped up to the 1/2 Ironman then Ironman distance and then even longer races.

Which triathlon was your favorite?

This is a really tough question. My all-time favorite races would be Ultraman Florida and the Virginia Double Anvil (double ironman). These events are more than just races, they are a community. But then my first Ironman (Ironman Coeur D’Alene) and the Charleston Sprint races have a special place in my heart as well.

Why did you decide to participate in the Ultraman?

I really love new challenges, and I had heard about Ultraman races after reading about them in a couple of books. I started to look into Ultraman and realized that there are so few races around the world. But then a friend suggested I apply to Ultraman Florida and it seems like a great idea. You have to apply for the race as they only accept 50 people, and the year before the race you need to finish a regular iron distance race (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run). I’m not really sure what they’re looking for in athletes, but they want to know you have completed some type of mentally and physically demanding races. Plus, they want people who are going to fit with the vibe of the race – be nice and help everyone finish the race.

An Ultraman is a multi-day ultra triathlon. The race takes place over three days and each day you have 12 hours to finish that leg of the race. The first day starts with a 6.2 mile swim, followed by a 92 mile bike. Day two consists of a 171 mile bike. And day three is a 52.4 mile run. You have to provide your own crew to help you during the entire race. My wonderful husband kayaked next to me during my swim, and then he and my friend hopped in our car to follow me around, feed me and give me a kick in the pants each day.

Would you do it again?

The race itself was amazing! The athletes, race directors and volunteers become more of a family than strangers. Everyone wants you to succeed. The sense of community is life changing. Beyond that, the race itself will test you in ways you can’t predict. I came into this race very undertrained due to an injury three months before the race, a broken elbow. I didn’t know what each race day would be like, so I was extremely nervous. However, I simply showed up each day and started. That was half the battle.

What is your training schedule?

First, let me say I really love training, almost more than racing. I also love schedules, so when I’m training for a triathlon, I swim Monday, Wednesday and Friday, bike Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday and run Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Yes, that’s seven days a week but not all the time. I have a recovery week every two to three weeks where I take off one to two days that week. 

What is your favorite leg of the race – swim, bike or run?

The run is for sure my favorite leg of the triathlon. I started out as a runner, doing my first 5K in graduate school, then progressing to marathons into my mid-thirties, so the run is familiar to me. I’ve also done a lot of running races, so I’m familiar with how that feels and can prepare for the mental part of running. Plus, fewer things can go wrong on the run than on the bike. In long distance races, the swim comes in a close second. On long races, I can get into a good rhythm and just go forever. Slow and steady.

Where do you train?

When I first wanted to get into triathlons, I started swimming with the Palmetto Masters swim team which was a great way to improve my swimming and meet a wonderful, supportive group of people. I swim with them at LTP swim club. I usually run on my own at different places in Mt. Pleasant. And I ride my bike trainer during the week but ride out in Francis Marion Forest with a group of friends who have gathered to do this for the past five years or more. 

What are your favorite training routes and facilities?

I really love riding out in Francis Marion. It’s so peaceful and beautiful out there. As for running, my favorite run is on the IOP connector to the beach at sunrise. There aren’t many cars, and the sunrise is stunning. It makes me very thankful for the ability to run and thankful for where I live. 

Do you follow a specific diet?

I’d like to say I follow a specific healthy diet, but I don’t. That’s not to say I eat unhealthily. I love vegetables, but I almost love potato chips and dark chocolate just as much. I eat healthy foods most of the time but don’t deprive myself of any foods either. I also use high quality fitness specific nutrition before, during and after my workouts. 

What’s your advice to those who’d like to Tri?

My advice to anyone who has thought about getting into triathlons is to sign up for a race. Then try to swim, bike and run at least one day a week. If you have more time, then do your weakest sport at least two days a week. If you have even more time, then do each sport two days a week. Don’t let doubt hold you back. Everyone starts out as a ‘newbie’! Ask questions, too. Triathletes are really nice people.

Why do you do LOWVELO? 

As far as participating in LOWVELO, it’s not really as much about the push to do the distance as it is bringing about awareness for those people who are fighting cancer. I’ve logged more than 1,660 miles since July 15 for the cause. I have a good bike trainer for a lot of my weekday rides, but I really enjoy and look forward to getting outside and riding on the weekends. I go back-and-forth between long triathlon events and long running events, so my next big event will be attempting a 100-mile run. 

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