At 68, preparing for her seventh Ironman triathlon
By Billy Cox
Published: Friday, September 28, 2012 at 5:44 p.m.
With the approach of her 69th birthday in November, Theo Carroll of Venice is doing what most people her age would consider insane: swimming, jogging and cycling up to 24 hours per week in preparation for one of the toughest physical challenges on the planet.
Next month, her training will peak as she competes in her seventh Ironman triathlon.
As one of the oldest triathletes in the 350-member Sarasota Storm Tri Club, Carroll is the only group member traveling to Hawaii for the event that is akin to football’s Super Bowl — the Ironman World Championship.
The legendary challenge requires participants to swim 2.4 miles, pedal 112 miles and run a full 26.2-mile marathon in treacherous conditions in a single day. She’ll do it without taking a break, and intends to finish within the 17-hour limit required by the World Triathlon Corporation.
Along the way, Carroll will not only represent her club and challenge the definition of “elderly,” but she will culminate a lifelong battle to overcome past addictions.
On the 25th anniversary of her sobriety, people sometimes ask if Carroll’s immersion into the punishing triathlon culture is a matter of swapping one addiction for another. After all, for 26 years, Carroll was an alcoholic who augmented her compulsion with binge eating.
“There’s certainly some kind of parallel — it is obsessive,” Carroll acknowledges as she prepares to test herself again in Hawaii. “But if I had to go two weeks without working out, I’m OK with it. It’s not always on my mind and making me crazy in the head.”
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