Silvy Moleman has crossed the finish line seven times in Ironman triathlons, consistently placing in the top 10 per cent of her age group. The Ironman is an individual long distance race consisting of a 2.4 mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112 mile (180.25.km) bicycle ride and a full 26.2 mile (42.20 km) marathon run, raced in that order. A racer has 17 hours to complete the course and usually a percentage don’t, according to Moleman.
Moleman, who grew up and went to school in Sackville and now makes her home in Moncton, completed her first Ironman eight years ago in Lake Placid, NY.
“The Lake Placid Ironman is one of the oldest and hardest. The swim at the time was a mass start so 2,500 people started the swim at one time. They have changed it now to a wave start so it’s much gentler. But then it was chaos. I’m glad I was able to experience that. It was like your rite of passage to the race.”
Already a marathon runner, Moleman was inspired to begin Ironman training by a friend who was a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.
“She was an inspiration because she was battling addiction and was able to put the training in for the Ironman and cross the line. I thought, ‘if she can do one, I can certainly do one.’ My goal for my first race was just to cross the line and finish the race. When you commit to that many hours of training, to finish your first Ironman is a pretty great feeling. From there I just kept doing them.”
Moleman played volleyball and basketball in high school, but then gravitated toward more individual events.
“I did team sports in school, but I found I liked the approach where you determine your own fate. In an individual sport, it’s up to you to succeed or not. When I got into running and biking by myself, it was like a drug for me. I can fight with the blues sometime, so exercise has become my drug of choice.”
To complete her first event, a sprint triathlon in her hometown of Sackville about 10 years ago, Moleman had to learn to swim. She placed first in her age group for that event and was hooked. Since then, she has completed full Ironman events twice in Mont-Tremblant, Que., twice in Maryland, USA and three times in Lake Placid, NY.
“I try to do them where we could drive. Flying is difficult with a bike, especially a triathlon bike.”
It is the challenge of the race that motivates Moleman.
“The Ironman itself is the most challenging race of all. It’s the big daddy. I’m 45 now so it’s an age thing too. I’m not slowing down. I’m setting a goal and I’m going to do it.
“I’m proud to say that I have always finished in the top 10 per cent of my age group – except for my first race. My best time for a full Ironman is 11 hours and 7 minutes in the Maryland Ironman where I came in 4th. My age group is large and the competition is fierce.”
Moleman gets up at 5 a.m. to train and follows the advice of a personal training coach online.
“For an Ironman, you train no less than nine months and typically 24 hours each week. It basically becomes a part time job. My usual routine is to swim three times a week, run five times a week, bike four times a week and add in some yoga and strength training. It’s a big time commitment. I work for myself and so fortunately, I have flexibility and I can get my training done in the morning and on Saturdays.”
There’s also a financial investment for the race.
“If I didn’t sign up for these crazy races, I probably wouldn’t be as motivated. I’m not going to quit. The registration for an Ironman is a thousand dollars, often USD. And people are like are you crazy? You pay a thousand dollars for that? It’s not a cheap sport.”
Moleman notes that one has to get very comfortable with lots of time alone while training and be ready to endure physical pain. She gives a lot of credit to her “support community,” including her spouse, bike mechanic, massage therapist, chiropractor, and physical therapist.
Last year, Moleman decided she didn’t have anything else to prove and began doing half Ironmans. She just returned from her third half Ironman of 2019 at Old Orchard Beach in Maine in August.
“The ocean conditions were rough because of a storm and many people didn’t finish. I finished but my time wasn’t what I wanted. The Ironman is very humbling and unpredictable.”
Moleman is the owner of Sequoia Trinity, a natural and organic store in Moncton, and notes that her sense of accomplishment spills over into her business and professional life.
“I’ve crossed that line seven times. So I think, stop doubting yourself. You can do this. I’ve tapped into that accomplishment many times in my life. I know it sounds corny and tacky and everyone says it, but if there’s something you really want to do, it’s there for you.”
“The Ironman has taught me a lot. It’s a powerful thing and then again, it’s very humbling.”