One of the world's most grueling competitions may be called the Ironman Triathlon, but Bonnie Hallinan of Danvers and Patty Loubris of Beverly leave no doubt that the name could be changed to Iron-Woman.
The North Shore women competed in their second career Ironman Triathlon and have no intentions of stopping in the near future.
"Well, I like to be active and it gives me a goal to work towards so I am never bored with it," Hallinan said.
The Ford Ironman Triathlon — held in Panama City, Fla. — consists of a rigorous 2.4-mile swim, a lengthy 112-mile bike ride, and if you're not tired enough, a regulation 26.2-mile marathon run.
"When I got to the finish line I couldn't walk too well," Patty Loubris said, laughing. "Going up and down stairs was quite a challenge for a week, but other than that I felt pretty good."
The two women started training together for a regular sprint triathlon about seven years ago, and four years later got the urge to compete in the grueling endurance triathlon.
"I have always had a thrill for endurance," Loubris said, "I can run and bike forever but I just can't do it very fast. The ironman just felt right for me."
After their first ironman in Lake Placid, New York (summer of 2007) the two women — enthralled with the idea of competing — signed up for the Florida challenge.
"The weather was going to be nice and I loved the idea of an ocean swim — it's just a different aspect," Hallinan said.
The less than lenient training began early in March, so there was only seven months to prepare for what seems like a lifetime during the race.
"Our training probably peaked at about 20-22 hours a week, which is extremely time consuming with a full-time job," Loubris said.
Time consuming, but worth every minute. The local pair knew that if you are not prepared, your dream of crossing the finish line before the 17-hour deadline could be smashed.
Bonnie and Patty trained every day with the guidance of their coach, Brandi Dion of Salem, who operates BNF fitness.
"Brandi sets up workouts online for us every day so it makes it real easy to follow," Hallinan said. "We type our times at the end of the day and it keeps track of our workouts."
Training progressed as the months moved on and the women were running, biking, and swimming in longer intervals each day.
"Well, we had to build up for the really long stuff," Loubris said.
The time came to indulge in the true test of mental strength and willpower, and Patty and Bonnie were unexpectedly at ease as to what was ahead of them.
"In the first race we both had our families there cheering us on and that made it really special," Hallinan said. "The second one was just Patty and I, so it was not as exciting. But it was all good. We had a great time."
Not being rookies anymore, Patty and Bonnie had already felt the wrath of fatigue and pain. Anticipation was the best medicine for that.
"I was much more relaxed knowing what was going to happen so it definitely makes it a little less nerve racking," Loubris said. "The training regiment really prepared us for the race."
The race was brutal, the sun was beating, one mile felt like 10, but both women fought through all the mental hardships and crossed that finish line within the allotted time and couldn't have felt better.
"It was awesome," Loubris said. "The whole day I was just in total disbelief I was actually doing this."
Bonnie finished the race in 16 hours and 17 minutes but was disappointed with the running aspect of her triathlon.
"I was not happy with my run because of some nagging hip problems, but I liked my time in the swim and bike," Hallinan said.
Patty came across with a time of 13 hours and 11 minutes and couldn't have been happier.
"My legs were killing me in the end to where it hurt just as much to walk as it did to run," Loubris said, "but the crowd really helped me get through it — they were great."
Bonnie and Patty will never forget this monumental day, and also encourage others interested in endurance training to go ahead and give it a whirl.
"I recommend this to anyone who is interested in this type of event," Hallinan said. "It truly is unforgettable."