IRONMAN 70.3 Florida

IRONMAN 70.3 Florida

Through the Eyes of the Triathlete


On a beautiful morning in May, over 1,600 men and women waited in the early dawn light to begin a physical, and mental, challenge that would last several hours. After countless hours of training, triathletes with a variety of competition experience eagerly hit the water to begin the Ironman 70.3 Florida event on May 19. The Haines City competition consisted of a 1.2 mile swim in Lake Eva, a 56 mile bike course, and 13.2 mile run before hitting the well-anticipated finish line. While many competitors come from around the nation and around the world, we are proud to share the experience of four Polk County residents, in their own words.


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KAREN TINER, 49, of Davenport

Final overall time: 6:43:39

“My goal was to finish, and it was a great accomplishment.”

“In November of 2008, I wasn’t sure I was going to live; I had become very ill. I couldn’t even walk without help. In time, I started walking the front path, then the driveway, then one mile. My strength grew and I did a 5k at Disney and the Gasparilla marathon. Now, I really celebrate milestones. I’ve done several ½ marathons, but Ironman 70.3 Florida meant a whole lot; it was wonderful to have friends and family there to celebrate that I have my health back.

“Last year, I volunteered at Ironman check-in

and helped get athletes registered, and assisted with water stations. Watching the athletes really inspired me.

“I am a member of the tri club in Lakeland (the Lakeland Landsharks). My brother-in-law was a competitor on race day with me and that was a big support.

“Running is my favorite event; I used to run before I became ill. I did a sprint in January (a tiny tri). I had never been on a bike before November of 2012. My granddaughter, Taylor (5), thought falling off bike was what you were supposed to do.

“I did a race in March that was half the distance of Ironman, but Ironman was the biggest race I have been a part of. I was ready for it well in advance and anxious to go.

“Over the last month before the race, I had 14-16 hours of training. We took a cruise for our anniversary so I trained on boat for 2-3 hours a day. I did the course a couple of time over the weekends. There was a pothole I found on the course in Haines City and let them know, and they fixed it quickly. Haines City has been awesome.

“My goal was to finish, and it was a great accomplishment.” Karen has lived almost her entire life in East Polk County. Her son and granddaughter live nearby.

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PATTY SCHMAEDEKE, 44, of Lakeland

Final overall time: 6:49:31

“I used to think he was crazy to want to run!”

“I started running during med school… starting with 5Ks and liked it. Over the course of about three years, I progressed to my first of four marathons. My husband, Steve, started running way before me; I used to think he was crazy to want to run! I started triathlons in about 2008, a few years after we moved here from MN. I did some sprints and got hooked. I wasn’t much of a swimmer, so that was, and still is, a challenge. Steve has always been fast and does very well in races, so we don’t train at the same speeds. I do most of my swimming and running alone.

“I got my first road bike in 2009 and was hooked from there. We sometimes ride together now, but mostly train on our own. We try to model an active/healthy lifestyle for our daughter – she has been active with the TBAY (Tampa Bay Aquatics) team since 2nd grade.

“I have been dealing with a hip injury since late March, so up until the day before the race, I was thinking I’d have to just do the swim and bike and then turn in my timing chip and quit. But the week before the race, I was starting to feel quite a bit better; so I tried a short run off the bike Saturday and felt pretty good. So my expectations for the race were pretty low, since I didn’t even think I’d be able to finish. I was thrilled to make it across the finish line, and I don’t seem any the worse for wear for doing it.

“Other than Steve, my main supporters were my FR Racing Multisport Team teammates and my fellow Lakeland Landshark Triathlon Club members. The most positive aspect of this particular race for me was overcoming an injury and finishing feeling OK. I enjoyed having an Ironman event so close to home, so convenience was certainly a factor in my decision to participate. I would likely do this race again, health permitting!”

Patty is a Family Physician at Watson Clinic South and has been married to her husband, Steve, for 20 years. They have a 12 year old daughter, Kelly.


STEVEN SCHMAEDEKE, 44, of Lakeland

Final overall time: 5:00:41

“My priority is to finish without injury.”

“We both liked running; Patty started running soon after we were married. We used to ride a tandem bicycle together for many years. Patty got her first road bike about 5 years ago, and she got us both back into triathlons. Now we both enjoy planning, training for, and traveling to races throughout the year.“I started cycling in high school; I did 2 triathlons and some running in college. I ran for the next 18 years (9 marathons and countless 5Ks, 10Ks, and 1/2 marathons); then started triathlons again about 3 years ago. My first triathlon in college, I was only supposed to do the bike portion. My other team mates dropped out, leaving me to do all three parts.

“My priority is to finish without injury. I always enjoy trying to beat a previous time, but you never know what you can do until you get to the run. For this race, I had been fighting a calf injury for several weeks. To get it to heal, I had to severely limit my running, so I knew the run would not be my best. I kept moving and I didn’t cause more injury, so my goals were met. I was pleased to be able to finish the race, as I expected to have to drop out for the run.

“Patty and I both were well prepared for the bike and swim. We also shared the fear of having to drop out of the run; but we were both prepared to do so to avoid long term injuries. We saw each other after the swim in transition. Patty passed me on the run when I was having some cramping issues going up one of the gigantic hills. I think that was a boost for her.

“The race, like most Ironman events, was very well organized. They had everything in place as planned, plenty of volunteers, and a great venue for the race. We’ll probably be back again next year. Local races are always on the top of our list.”

Steve is a pharmacist with a passion for triathlons. He is married to Patty; they have one daughter.


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BOB ENGLISH, 75, of Lakeland

Final overall time: 7:13:11

“My age is immaterial to what I can accomplish.”

“I started doing triathlons over 20 years ago. I did 3 or 4 half Ironmans and a full Ironman in my early 50s. I continued to compete until I was elected to the Polk County Commission in 2004. For the next 8 years, I just did a few local short races because I didn’t have much time to train. When it was announced in 2012 that Haines City would host the official Half Ironman for the next 5 years; I decided to do the 2013 event because my commission term expired in November of 2012 and I would have time to train. I started to train hard in January and, as the race drew closer, I was averaging 2 miles swimming, 150 miles biking and 35 miles running a week. When I decided to do the race in 2012, I weighed 195 pounds. On race day, I was 160. On race day, I felt well prepared and confident and the race went well for me. My wife, Linda, and daughter, Emily, cheered me on during the race and their support was much appreciated. I have already signed up for additional triathlons and I intend to compete as long as I’m able to swim, bike and run. My age is immaterial to what I can accomplish.”

Bob finished Ironman 70.3 Florida first in his class.

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