On Aug. 4, Lindsey Hankus pushed her body to limits that many of us don’t dare to imagine. In less than eight hours she swam 1.2 miles, pedaled her bike 56 miles and jogged 13.1 miles to complete the Ironman half-triathlon in St. Joseph, Mich.
Perhaps even more astonishing is Hankus, a firefighter, arrived promptly at the Forest Park Fire Department the very next day for work, where she participated in yet another workout.
“It’s hard to put it into words because we’ve been watching her train for more than six months,” Chief Steve Glinke said. “And what’s even more impressive is that I saw her the next day in the firehouse, and there she was working out.”
Hankus, 26, completed the Ironman half-triathlon with a time of 7 hours and 15 minutes. This was her first Ironman competition and, according to Hankus, solidified her desire to participate in a full Ironman triathlon (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a full marathon) in the near future.
“Before the race, I had no idea what to expect,” Hankus said. “I was pumped when I got into the water with the other athletes. The swim went well and so did the biking, since it was a relatively flat course. The running eventually caught up to me, though. This experience was a stepping stone. And now I feel confident enough to start preparing for the full Ironman triathlon, with the one in Hawaii being the ultimate goal.”
Though the Forest Park firefighter is not terribly familiar with the overwhelming course in Kailua-Kona and its uncanny hellish features, Hankus has been competing in some form of endurance sports for nearly 10 years, and her occupation certainly has helped in strengthening her mental toughness.
“I think I can reach this level of fitness, in part, because of my profession,” Hankus said. “It requires the never-give-up attitude just as these competitions do.”
Hankus, whose biggest concern before the race were the lengthy bike rides, began “maintenance training” in January and started the serious, more intense training in May. Her personal training coach, Brett Petersen, detected that same critical drive and optimal stubbornness that tri-athletes desperately need.
“She has superb endurance,” Peteresen, who coached Hankus for roughly eight months, said. “She’s certainly one of my most motivated and self-disciplined clients. She is making her way up to serious competition and has the potential to become a very serious amateur competitor.”
To get a more concrete understanding of Hankus’ fitness, her resting heart rate is in the low 40s. When cyclist Lance Armstrong was winning seven straight Tour de France races, he was found to have a resting heart rate of 32. The average resting heart rate for a woman is 75.
In a hyper-busy society where personal time seems to instantly evaporate, Hankus found a hidden oasis of self-discipline and motivation. It may be difficult for nine-to-fivers who sit in swivel chairs and tinker with office machines to imagine, but Hankus balanced a potentially physically taxing job and a hectic training schedule. Admittedly, she said the training occasionally took its toll.
A typical week entailed 100 to 150 miles on the bike, 25 to 30 miles of running, and three or four hours in the pool, which made for an average of 15 hours of training.
“Brett tried scheduling most of my training on days off,” Hankus said. “Those days tended to be harder and more intense, almost as if I was doing double the training in half the time.”
Meanwhile, she continues to finalize the details for her Aug. 18 wedding.
Both Petersen and her boss, Glinke, said they didn’t notice any fatigue and commended her ambition.
“I was amazed at how she puts in all her hours at the fire department and then goes to plug into her workouts with the same energy and concentration,” Petersen said. “I would receive her workout data from her and was impressed. You can tell she’s definitely motivated.”
Hankus’ trainer was not the only one to notice how effectively Hankus balanced the time constraints of an intense training schedule, planning a wedding, and working full-time. Hankus could find her biggest supporter not only at work but at home. Hankus is marrying fellow Forest Park firefighter Phil Chiappetta on Aug. 18.
“She’s done everything on her own–train, work, and plan the wedding,” Chiappetta said. “I give her all the credit. You need a lot of heart to keep going and not quit, and that is just her personality.”
There may be one small downside to Hankus’s exceptional fitness-she has had to refit her wedding dress twice already and it still does not fit properly. But don’t think that will keep her from squeezing in a run or a bike ride whenever she can.
“I’ve really enjoyed the experience of pushing the body and how your body feels afterward,” she said. “In a way, it’s a healthy addiction.”