Fairhope teachers test themselves in Ironman triathlons

Tony Whitehead twhitehead@gulfcoastnewspapers.com
Posted 10/25/13

FAIRHOPE, Ala.—For today’s lesson class, go to the board. But on your way, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run another 26.2. They say it’s the last 0.2 that really gets you.

When Fairhope High teachers Courtney Calhoun and Pam McDaniel …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Subscribe to continue reading. Already a subscriber? Sign in

Get the gift of local news. All subscriptions 50% off for a limited time!

You can cancel anytime.
 

Please log in to continue

Log in

Fairhope teachers test themselves in Ironman triathlons

Posted

FAIRHOPE, Ala.—For today’s lesson class, go to the board. But on your way, swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles, then run another 26.2. They say it’s the last 0.2 that really gets you.

When Fairhope High teachers Courtney Calhoun and Pam McDaniel say, “Do the math.” They  can literally teach by example. Both are veteran tri-athletes who have finished the Ironman version of the sport as well as shorter-length races including Fairhope’s own Grandman triathlon which starts with a swim in Mobile Bay near the Municipal Pier every June.

“I have used it (the triathlon experience) in my class,” said McDaniel, 47. She showed her special-education math students a video of what she would be doing in the different events. “It helps explain how long it would take to swim, how long it would take to bike and so on. So to incorporate the concept of time into it helps a lot. And then with the math teachers we talk about how your speed is a combination of how far and how fast. The boys, especially, are just impressed that anyone could exercise for 15 hours and keep going.”

Calhoun, 25, teaches Algebra and also coaches the varsity girls soccer Pirates. She grew up in Fairhope, played soccer for the Pirates and later the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide. Her first triathlon was the 2009 Grandman after her friend and Fairhope High classmate Jill Weatherford—who was also a Baldwin County cross-country champion—introduced the sport of triathlon to her.

“Jill got me wanting to do it back then. But yes, the kids definitely admire us for putting in the work to train and then finish, especially the full Ironman distance,” she said. “So I hope it makes them realize that you have to put in the hours to accomplish something, whether it’s math or running or anything.

“But when they realize you actually biked 112 miles and then ran 26, it seems to kind of shock them at first. Then they seem genuinely impressed. My soccer players think it’s awesome and some are talking about trying it out. I already have some who run cross-country and say they are thinking of trying a short one.”

A Moss Point, Miss., native and University of Southern Mississippi trained educator, McDaniel moved to Baldwin County four years ago. She said a friend from Fairhope sparked her interest in the sport, then found out the  area is well suited for triathlon training.

“It’s great,” she said. “The city has done a great job with the bike paths and running paths. And also fostering the sport by supporting the Grandman and developing other multi-sport opportunities and facilities. And we also appreciate the city’s efforts to provide safe areas to exercise in.”

McDaniel’s last full Ironman took place last November in Panama City, Fla. Her official time for all three events was 14 hours, 55 minutes and 46 seconds. Calhoun finished her—first but not last—full Ironman in August in Louisville, Ky. Her official time was 13:13:15.

McDaniel is planning to run in a 120-mile relay race in South Florida early next year. Calhoun is helping Weatherford train for another full Ironman event in Texas in May. 

“It’s not about place,” McDaniel said with a big smile. “In a race with 2,000 people, it’s not about place. It’s about finishing.”