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Questions and Answers with triathlete Shannon Snider

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By Tommie Kendall

Shannon Snider, the Henry County High School girls’ soccer coach, will attempt his first Ironman Aug. 31 when he swims 2.5 miles, bikes 112 miles and runs 26.2 miles with hundreds of other long-distance triathletes at the Ford Louisville Ironman. Ford Ironman made its debut last August with 1,564 finishers, and has quickly become one of the United States most popular Ironman races. The swim takes place in the Ohio River, while the bike and run courses go through various areas which include downtown Louisville, Prospect, Clifton, LaGrange, Clarksville and Butchertown. The race also finishes on a route lined with thousands of screaming fans at Fourth Street Live. Snider, who lives in Oldham County, started preparing for this event last fall shortly after signing up, and following a few setbacks is tapering down to reach his goal of finishing his first Ironman, which is two and half weeks away. The Local recently caught up with Snider to see how his training has been going.

Local: What is your background in triathlons?

Snider: I’ve done about four sprint-distance triathlons, some road races and a few duathlons (where you run, bike, run) but never an Ironman. I’ve never even done a half-Ironman, but I talked to some guys that have and they said I should just do the Ironman and not worry about getting in one that’s half the distance. It’s just a matter of stepping up to the plate for the big one.

Local:When did you decide to try this year’s Ford Louisville Ironman?

Snider: I’ve always wanted to do one — every since I watched my first one on NBC around 1990. I really wanted to do the one in Louisville last year in its first year, but I was so busy coaching club soccer and with other things that my schedule wouldn’t allow it. When I decided not to coach club soccer this year, I decided to do the Ironman. My goal was to get signed up and take a shot at it.

Local: When did you specifically start training for this Ironman?

Snider: I signed up for the race in the fall and started training right away, trying to build up swimming and getting on the bike. I did a lot of indoor training on the bike in the winter. I had some points where I had time to get in more hours of training and points where I didn’t have as much time to train.

Local: What has a typical week been like as far as training?

Snider: My training has been anything but typical because of everything else I’m involved in. I usually try to get in around 10 to 12 hours of training a week. I had some weeks where it was closer to 18 though. It just depends on how I feel that week and what my schedule is like.

Local: What has been your longest swim, bike and run?

Snider: I have swam the entire 4K distance in a pool but not in open water; I’ve biked 100 miles; and I’ve run about 15 miles. With the running, I’m not worried about getting in that many miles because of the amount of pounding it puts on my joints. I’m more comfortable with the run and bike, so I’m really trying to work on the swim.

Local: What’s the toughest part about your training?

Snider: I have no swimming background, so that’s been the most difficult. You can’t just jump out of bed and go for a swim like you can running and biking — you have to go somewhere to go for a swim. A lot of my swims I had to hurry from soccer practice to get to the YMCA in Buckner, or fit it in during lunch. As far as injuries, I had a hamstring injury at the end of May, early June, which kept me off of training for about four weeks. I couldn’t even get in the water at the time.

Local: What motivates you for this event?

Snider: There’s times when it’s really hard, your body is just worn out and you’re very tired. That’s the hardest time to train but also the most important because that’s what it’s going to feel like on race day. I think about that and push through it.

Local: What are your goals for this Ironman?

Snider: Before my hamstring injury, I was hoping to finish in around 13 hours. But after taking all that time off and trying to build back up, my main goal is just to finish. I hope to get through the swimming and biking in around eight and a half hours, then work myself through the run. I know the biggest challenge is going to be mental. I will just have to keep moving through everything. I’m excited about it, but at times I’m worried about it, too. That’s what makes it exciting though. You never know until you line up and take off.

Note: The Ironman will start Aug. 31 at 7 a.m. at the Great Lawn in Waterfront Park. For more info., visit the website www.ironman.com/louisville.