Don’t Fall, Don’t Drown, Don’t Walk

Colleen Newman, Ironman triathlon and pickleball competitor, Sun Lakes Pickleball Club Cottonwood

Peggy Martin

If you are as familiar with these coaching tips as our Colleen Newman, Sun Lakes Pickleball Club Cottonwood (SLPCC) member, then you may have watched or participated in a triathlon, considered to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting events anywhere! In one day, you swim first for 2.4 miles, then bike 112 miles, and finally run a 26.22-mile marathon, for a total of 140.6 miles. Anybody in besides Colleen?

On Nov. 19, 2023, Colleen competed in the Ironman Arizona Tempe triathlon classic. In Tempe, she completed her triathlon in 13 hours, swimming, biking, and running for 128 miles, just short of the 140.6-mile distance. Colleen says, “Every time I compete, I want to exceed my personal best.” And that personal best, at age 65, earned her first place in a half-Ironman of 70.3 miles distance in a State of Washington race.

Colleen started running as a young mother. She joined a running club after raising her family for exercise and social engagement. Her group met every week, beginning with a 10-mile running goal, and worked up to a full marathon of 26 miles. At one of their weekly get-togethers after running, someone suggested they should try a triathlon. “Well, why not?” said Colleen, “seemed like a good idea at the time”!

For her Tempe Ironman race, Colleen trained in Sun Lakes, running up to 18 miles a day. In one year of training for a triathlon, Colleen swam 155 miles—like swimming from Seattle to Vancouver, ran 826 miles—like running from Seattle to San Francisco, and biked 2,319 miles—like bicycling from Seattle to Pittsburgh!

It’s really important during a race to maintain fuel levels in your body, as you are burning calories like crazy. So, every 30 minutes on the bike, Colleen had an energy gel snack and a drink specially formulated to boost your endurance. I tasted the gel snack. I think I would have to train and race a bazillion miles to get used to it. And the drink—let’s just say it may have tasted like the stuff you drink when you have that certain medical test beginning at age 50. Let me tell you, Colleen is a warrior. And after this Ironman race, she has decided to take some time off to enjoy beautiful Sun Lakes and her other sport, pickleball!

Now, we can’t promise that you’ll be competing in Ironman triathlons if you play pickleball in the SLPCC like Colleen, but we do know that you’ll get great exercise and have great fun. And, who knows, you may just get to play with Colleen. She can give you some great tips, like don’t fall, etc.