Sunday, October 23, 2016

Grabow wins age division at Kona Ironman

Published by the DAILY RECORD of Morris County, New Jersey
On Sunday, October 23, 2016



In triathlons it is the big one, the one that started it all: The Ironman Triathlon in Kona Hawaii.  It’s not easy to qualify for an entry and not easy to make it to the podium.  Natalie Grabow of Mountain Lakes can tell you firsthand how difficult it is.

She’s had three second place finishes and two thirds there.  It was definitely her turn to hit gold at the world’s biggest and most prestigious triathlon.  Out of six women in the W70 division, Grabow finished first and more impressive than that; only eleven women age 60 and over finished ahead of her and all were in the W60 division.  Her winning time was 14:19:11.

“It was very exciting,” said Grabow when we spoke.  She was recovering from a cold that hit after the race.  With her immune system down after competition this is almost inevitable for her she said.

Grabow qualified for the Kona event this past August at Mont Tremblant Canada in 14:52:13.  It helped that she was the only woman in her division which gave her an automatic chance to qualify for the Kona race.  

“It was a short turnaround time to do and then another one in October so I just took it easy on the run for that one,” said Grabow.

She and her coach, Steve Johnson of Bolder CO, agreed that she should race the swim and bike portion and then hold back on the run.

“The run is what takes the most out of you,” she explained.   “I can recover quickly from the swim and the bike, but recovering from 26.2 miles racing is hard to recover from.”

Grabow swims three or four times a week for an hour to an hour and a half at the Mountain Lakes   YMCA.  At the Ironman the swim segment is 2.4 miles which she did in 1:35:22.

On the bike segment Grabow clocked 6:44:17 for the 112 mile course.  Back home Grabow does almost all of her bike training on her indoor trainer.   She has a power meter on the trainer and Johnson gives her certain power levels to reach, much like doing interval training in running she said.

She admits to fear for her safety on the roads and is more comfortable on the indoor trainer, with workouts three and sometimes four times a week.

Although she runs five times a week, the runs are shockingly short – in the 20 minute range.  In total she gets only 20 miles a week.  That increased to 35 miles when preparing for the Kona race, but that was by running multiple times a day.

“I would get injured if I ran a lot of distance,” said Grabow. 

Grabow had been a familiar figure in New Jersey and Morris County road racing before her foray into triathlons.  Her most recent road race was last winter when she ran in the Pre-Game four miler in Morristown on Super Bowl Sunday.  She finished in 36:28 and age graded at 76.01% showing she is still a formidable competitor on the roads.

In 2017 she won’t have to qualify again for the Kona race thanks to her victory this year.  She’ll be doing a couple of half ironmans,  what they call 70.3’s and the New Jersey state championship, as well as the world ironman championship that will be held in Chattanooga TN in early September.  While runners are planning their next month of racing, Grabow has all of 2017 planned, and set.  And of course, big on that list is Kona Hawaii a year from now.


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