Gia Porter, Iron ‘Wo’man
by Kathryn R. Burke
[Montrose, Colo. April 19. 2016] This woman can swim! She can ride a bike faster than some of us drive our cars. She can run like the wind. Gia Porter is a Triathlete, an endurance athlete—someone who competes in events involving swimming, biking, and running. And she does this . . . “because it’s fun.”
Porter got into the sport because of her brother, Jason, a “Legacy Ironman’ who has completed at least 15 Ironman’s in various countries. Porter was with him in Switzerland, when he competed for the first time, and she has been there for many others, including the World Championship in Hawaii, when the whole family went to cheer him on.
“There is an amazing sense of camaraderie among the supporters as well as the athletes,” she explains. “There’s a really great energy, and once I got into it, I understood.” “Triathlon, more than any other sport, shows you who you really are. You always have the option to quit. And the pros do. Age groupers don’t. For us, it’s not about the ranking, it’s about the experience, about being better than you were yesterday or even when you got up that morning.”
Porter has participated in numerous triathlons of various distances and intensities. The Black Canyon Triathlon, held here in Montrose, is a Sprint: 800 meter swim, 12 mile bike, 3.1 mile run. The Tri-Boulder is an ‘Olympic’ race: 1 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 6.2 mile run. A ‘Half Iron’ (like one she recently completed in Arizona) is 70.3 miles total and takes 7-8 hours for 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile Bike, and 13.1 mile run. A ‘Full Iron,’ like her brother does, is 140.6 miles (double the distances of the Half Iron), and for Age Groupers, takes 10-13 hours. (Notice the terminology, It’s “the bike,” for example, not ‘biking.” “Age groupers” are competitors divided in to common age groups, like 40-45, the division that Porter is in.. “Podium,” means finishing in first, second, or third place.)
Although she prefers triathlons, because of the variety, she sometimes participates in
events like the Spartan Race or Tough Mudder that require either brute strength or stamina. “Or just insanity,” she laughs. “That would be the Las Vegas Half Marathon. Done in the dark, wearing green glow gear, and having Jell-O shots at the aid stations!” She also does these fun events for the medals, and has amassed an impressive collection, not the least is one from the Ironman Arizona.
She likes the Olympics best, because although they are challenging, they are not overwhelming, and can be finished in under three hours and only require about 30 minutes training, twice a week, in each of the three sports. Training for the Half Iron, she spent 9-11 hours per week, twice a week in each sport. That’s a major commitment. “Training for a Full Iron,” she says, is like a part time job. You won’t see your family; you’re going to be an annoying picky eater. It’s consuming. That’s why I like the Olympics.”
Her goal is to podium in an Olympic* distance event, and, before her 45th birthday, to be invited to (qualify for) the Olympic Nationals*. “Maybe this is my year,” she says. Her next race coming up is the Boulder Sunrise Olympic, June 26. The last is Ironman North Carolina In October.
Her advice to any woman wanting to start out in triathlons? Learn to swim. (You will do better if you never knew how, since you won’t have to unlearn bad habits.) “You also have to realize, if you choose to do this, it’s a commitment. It will be a major part of your life.”
This article also appears on website for the Woman’s Club of Ouray County. Designed and maintained by Kathryn R. Burke