Teacher gears up for Iron Man triathlon

October 7, 2008

By Derek Johnson

At some point, you’ve likely seen Malia Greening. The 33-year old teacher from Endeavour Elementary School rides her bike all through Issaquah.

It’s not just her lifestyle, but also part of her training as a tri-athlete. Greening recently qualified to participate in the Iron Man Championships in Kona, Hawaii, Oct. 11. 

“The Iron Man is bigger than a standard triathlon,” she said. “It consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and 26.2-mile run. It’s intense.”

Greening’s summer conditioning program, overseen by trainer-husband Alan Bechtel, has been exhaustive. 

“Starting in July, my workouts take about 25 hours a week,” she said. “We usually swim four days a week, and then, we would swim around Mercer Island in stages with a group of swimmers. It’s called the Tour de Mercer. Then, I commute on my bike virtually everywhere I go. I cycle year-round. I bike in snow, in rain, in hail, in lightning — everything.” 

Greening has been doing triathlons for a few years, but competed in her first Iron Man only last year. Six weeks ago, she took part in Iron Man Canada, and fared well.

“There were 2,600 athletes altogether, around 800 women,” she said. “Overall, I was 17th, and third in my age group.”

In preparation for the upcoming event, Greening went to Hawaii this summer and did a Half Iron Man, in order to familiarize herself with the course.

“The course is tough,” she said. ”You swim in the ocean. Then, the bike is an out-and-back, which is brutal. There are 40 mph winds. The athletes get blown sideways. 

“The run is through the lava fields. It’s hot and it’s brutal,” she added. “The waves were incredible. The wind blew the cones out of place. It was awful.”

Why would she put herself through that type of rigorous agony?

“What gets me going is that I have worked so hard to get there, and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do as an athlete,” she said with a smile.

“I just love it. I love to compete. I love what my body feels like when I finally feel the change from working out to being in race shape,” she said. “The switch occurs suddenly, and I feel it and love it. And there’s nothing better than crossing the finish line and reaching your goal.”

Reach interim Sports Reporter Derek Johnson at 392-6434, ext. 236, or ip-sports@isspress.com.

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2 Responses to “Teacher gears up for Iron Man triathlon”

  1. Sara Cox Landolt on October 8th, 2008 1:55 pm

    Very impressive qualifying for Kona! I wish Malia Greening a beautiful day for racing!

    Ironman tidbit: The title Iron Man was originally two words (1978), but is now Ironman. The race in Kona is the 2008 Ford Ironman World Championship.

    Again, best to Malia!

  2. Sherry Bourzac on October 19th, 2008 3:06 pm

    Malia, you blew it out of the water, as always! What would you do without Alan/Andy?!?! Congrats again, girl! Happy to be able to train with you at least for the running (and short swimming distances) portions on occasion :-) You give the rest of us faith in our own abilities, and never cease to amaze!

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