By Matt Sinkewicz / Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- Move over Robert Downey Jr... There's a new Ironman in town: Eastern Connecticut State University cross country and track and field coach Kathy Manizza is training to compete in next year's World Ironman 70.3 Championship at Mont-Tremblant, Quebec.
This past summer, 59 Ironman competitions were held around the world, and the winners from each age group qualified to compete at Mont-Tremblant, which is located about 80 miles north-west of Montreal in the Laurentian mountains. Manizza qualified by winning her age group (55-60 years old) in an Ironman competition in Gilford, NH on Aug. 18.
An Ironman 70.3 competition consists of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride, and a 13.1-mile run. Manizza's time for the qualifying event was five hours, 29 minutes, 54 seconds. To put that time in perspective, the average time for a woman in her age group is about 7 hours. Her incredible performance was over an hour and a half faster than the average competitor.
This type of performance obviously demands a strict training regime. Manizza trains about 15-20 hours per week. She bikes about 180 miles, and runs about 30 miles every week. When asked about her swimming, she admitted to hating it. However she still pushes herself to swim three or four days every week. She has a strict vegan diet, and she does not eat any processed foods. When asked how she stays motivated, she responded, "My husband Ken is a competitor too. I enjoy training with him because he is always pushing me to do my best."
Manizza is in her second stint on the Eastern coaching staff. Born in Hawaii, and a graduate of Cal State Fresno, Manizza coached cross-country and track at Eastern in the mid-1990s before spending 13 seasons at the University of Hartford.
Manizza has been active her entire life. She first became involve in triathlons about 30 years ago. Since that time, she has run in seven marathons, many more half-marathons, and countless 5K and 10K races. She was also a member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak team, which won the world championship three times.
Manizza is the kind of person that wants to be the best. She does marathons and triathlons because she loves being fit and active, and she truly believes that leading an active lifestyle leads to happiness. Also, she wants to be a role model for her cross country and track teams. She trains hard, and her hard work pays off. She is an inspiration to everyone.