Have you seen Connie O’Connor lately? On a racing bike? And did you wonder why?
Now that school is out, O’Connor, age 55 and diabetic, is training to participate in a triathlon on Aug. 1 in Solana Beach.
“For me,” she wrote in a recent email, “the goal will be to complete (it) in under two hours… I am, at this point, just looking at the finish line.”
O’Conner, who retired from Fallbrook High School this year, will be swimming a quarter mile, going 10 miles on her bike, and making a 3.2 mile run.
With diabetes, she said, she has had to learn to test her blood constantly during training. She knows how to estimate how many proteins and carbohydrates to consume and how much insulin to give herself during each individual event.
Since making the decision to become a triathlete, she has taken swimming lessons, bought a wet suit, started swimming in the ocean, and bought a racing bike – and, of course, she is still running.
Three years ago, O’Connor began training with Kat Folger in pilates and yoga. “I started walking with her, then she got me to jog once I had lost some weight and gained some strength, and then she started me in running.” During the last two years, O’Connor has entered several 5K races, and has lost, she said, 35 pounds in the process.
At first, she wasn’t thinking of entering a triathlon. She got back into swimming to ease a hip injury acquired while running up and down stadium stairs, she said.
For the past nine months she has been swimming both in a heated pool and in the ocean. After buying a special triathlon wet suit, she found that she really prefers ocean swimming.
“Then, because my son is a downhill mountain bike racer, he said that I should get a bike.” After buying one, with her son’s advice, she found that “I loved biking from the beginning… (at first) the thought of doing 20 miles seemed impossible, but not so now.
“I have taken to super training on the hills of Fallbrook, and now I have bought a new racing bike that is 10 pounds lighter.” She has recently started training with Beginner’s Mind in San Diego, a triathlon training group, where prospective triathletes are given “the information that we will need.”
“We meet two to three times a week at various places to practice biking running and swimming. (Our coaches) no only answer our questions but also push us a bit more than we think we can, so that we train for intensity and endurance. I know,” she added, “that good form and good training from the experts prevent most injuries.”
“I am not sure whether or not I will be the oldest woman doing this race, but I think I am one of the oldest.”