It’s a grueling competition that only a small group attempts. The Iron Man. Competitors swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and then end with a full marathon (26.2 miles.) “Crossing the finish line was one of the most emotionally draining experiences of my life,” says Charlotte Buettner , elementary art teacher at Dix Street and Alamo. “Words cannot describe the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment, success, exhaustion, excitement, awe, pride, sadness, and joy.”
She finished in 14 hours 51 minutes and 56 seconds, which was 35th in her age group. Her marathon time was a personal best; she’s run five other marathons. “It went by so quickly. Looking back, the entire run was a blur between laughing, crying, meeting new people, and drinking soup broth and coca cola.”
Her journey to race day started last December when she decided to register. “I had given it a little thought over the past two years, but never seriously,” she explains, “More commonly I would think, ‘I'm never going to do that.’ One day I just decided to commit and do it.”
She began training January 1st, maintaining her fitness and getting comfortable swimming; she hadn’t swam competitively since 4th grade. She admits, she had a few emotional breakdowns as the race got closer, “The whole entire race seemed impossible at times,” she says. She even had thoughts she wouldn’t be able to actually finish the race. However, a week before, she changed her mindset, “I decided there was nothing more I could do, and just enjoy it! It's an extremely mental sport, and I am in good physical shape. Let's Go!”
Buettner says the entire race went by so quickly, she can hardly remember it, “I tried my best to smile the entire time, just knowing how lucky I was to make it to the start.” She was able to swim the entire 2.4 miles without stopping. She says she mentally broke down the biking in 20 miles chunks to help with the length of it. She says the biking was definitely the toughest part. “By the time I got to the run, I was so excited; I made the time cut off by a significant margin, now it was time for the best part.”
She was all smiles crossing the finish line which she did hours earlier than she originally thought she could, “Then I was really hungry and tired. So I had a pizza,” she says.
A full Iron Man isn’t immediately back on her calendar, but she’s taking on a half iron man with Alamo 2nd grade teacher Katie Hughes in June.