She began racing with Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies Team in Training program. She has taken part in 9 Ironman distance races and minus the ACL in her left knee she can still get things done. Ladies and gentlemen up on The Podium is: Sheila Plemich
KK: Where did you grow up?
SP: I grew up in Mt. Prospect, IL and now live about 25 miles from there in Downers Grove, IL.
KK: What was your sports background before triathlon?
SP: I rollerbladed (40-ish miles a week) for about 8 years and then switched to bodybuilding. I began doing step classes (retro flashback!) and thought I'd try running. That was 10 years ago. 2 years later I got bit by the triathlon bug.
KK: What is the funniest or most embarrassing thing to happen to you during a triathlon?
SP: I usually find ways to make every race fun, but some of the most memorable things were during Ironman Canada in 2004 and Ironman Lake Placid in 2007. At IMC 2004, I stopped to dance in a "boogie circle" that was drawn in chalk on the road in front of a bar, and belly-bumped two guys dressed in drag twice during the marathon. At IMLP 2007, the first time up IGA Hill on the marathon, Megaphone Guy was shouting my name, and they were playing music, so I did a little razzle dazzle footwork, and I guess I must have been feeling really good because I stopped and mooned the crowd! I heard afterwards that that was the only time Megaphone Guy was totally speechless!
SP: The most embarrassing thing was falling off my bike in transition during my very first triathlon while attempting to get out onto the course for a little test spin before the race began.
SP: There are many more funny things I've done in races-way too many to list here. If you're curious, I've been told I write some pretty colorful race reports. You can find many of them on my blog: http://crackheadfe.blogspot.com. Just click on the label ‘Race Report.'
KK: Do you get involved with any charity organization?
SP: I was involved with Team in Training for my first year of training and racing.
KK: How many Ironman's have you done?
SP: I've done 9 NAS/WTC races, 1 independent race and 2 NothingMans (self-supported).
KK: Which Ironman is your favorite? Why?
SP: Ironman Hawaii would be my favorite WTC race, as I'd been vacationing in Kona for 10 years prior to gaining entry via lottery, but my first NothingMan in 2007 was really special because it allowed me to connect with what I felt was the true spirit of endurance sports.
KK: What is a typical training day consisting of?
SP: I keep a fairly consistent weekly training pattern that is:
Monday: Swim and form run
Tuesday: Quality bike and maybe a brick run and weights
Wednesday: Swim and tempo run
Thursday: Long run, recovery swim and weights
Friday: Longer swim and easy run
Saturday: Longest ride and brick run
Sunday: 2nd longest ride
SP: My weekly training hours vary from a low of maybe 9-10 up to 22, with my weekly average being about 14.5 over a calendar year.
KK: How many triathlons had you done before entering your first Ironman?
SP: 12: two sprints, four Olympics, one ½ Ironman and one duathlon.
KK: What else do you enjoy doing other than training and racing?
SP: I enjoy reading, gardening, cooking, sewing, travel.
KK: Have you ever had to overcome any major injuries or obstacles? If so, how did you deal with them?
SP: I have no ACL in my left knee from an old skiing accident. I experienced several running related injuries during my first few years running and doing triathlons, but have since learned to take really good care of myself both proactively and reactively through a combination of stretching, trigger point work, targeted strength exercises and massage. Just last November I injured my back (pretty much all of it) pretty severely while trying to move something, but was able to get myself back to 100% in about 8 weeks; although I was back training the very next day! I think it's critical for any long-distance triathlete to become knowledgeable about self care, and believe that most injuries can be either prevented or quickly remedied with the right approach.
SP: My Mom died in 2006 and my Dad in 2007, and those 2 years of training and racing taught me a lot about myself and what I could handle. The mental strength developed from all the Ironman training made it possible for me to get through Ironman Brazil in 2006 (5 weeks after Mom died) with a sinus infection and kick to the face during the swim.
SP: Ironman Lake Placid 2008 was my first Ironman after Dad died, and I took some of his ashes with me while I raced and left some along the course, and that kept me going on a day when it rained constantly and I was hypothermic and very sad. Eight weeks later I did my second NothingMan, and it rained and rained in deluge fashion, I got water in my house, but still we did the gig-2.5 mile swim (pool), 115-mile bike (part of which felt like it was in a pool-riding through water washing over roads) and 27 mile run (more rain including wake created by passing cars). So technically, I guess I've gone longer than Ironman distance!
KK: What is your favorite part about the triathlon lifestyle?
SP: I can cook all the food that I really like and eat it and not gain weight! Well, most of the time, anyway.
KK: What tips would you give to someone just getting started in triathlon?
SP: Find several mentors who can teach you all the little details that are just as important for longevity in the sport as a training plan or coach. Have boatloads of fun! Never assume that an event is too hard or too long for you. My biggest training tip? Consistency!
KK: What are some of your goals for 2009?
SP: To make it through all the crazy stuff I've got planned! Seriously, though, I think I have not slowed down yet and want to have one more good NAS Ironman in me before I cut loose and do some more extreme stuff. I've already won a 4-race series of indoor sprints, and I'd also like to place in a ½ Ironman, make top 5 in an Ironman and be top 3 in a competitive bike challenge. There's another sprint or two in my schedule where I hope to make top 3 in my age group.
KK: Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?
SP: The outside of me is very driven and focused. That's what everyone sees. Inside, though, I think I've got it down to the three L's: Laughter, Love and Learning. That's what really drives me.
Vacation Spot: Kona, Hawaii
Recovery meal: Sushi
TV Show: Big Bang Theory (I'm a total nerd)
Book: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Person you would like to meet: Donald Trump