LOUISVILLE, Ky. - After months and months of hard work, Amanda Caruso is finally getting a chance to relax - a little, at least.
"(Training) has been going really well," she said by telephone last week. "And finally, after seven months, I'm tapering."
Caruso, a 2005 graduate of Panama Central School, is tapering - the practice of reducing exercise and increasing rest in the days and weeks before an important athletic competition - because on Sunday she'll be competing in what will be her first ever full Ironman Triathlon.
Amanda Caruso, a 2005 Panama Central School graduate, left, will compete in Ironman Louisville on Sunday. At right, Dan Moore, a 2002 Southwestern Central School graduate, completed the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid last month.
The locale? Louisville.
"I had done a half-Ironman last year in the Pocono Mountains," Caruso explained, "and had also run one marathon. It went really well, and (the Ironman Louisville) was the only one left open this year so I decided it seemed like that one was the one to do."
It certainly seems like a good place to start.
Steadily growing in popularity since it was first held in the city in 2007, the Ironman Louisville boasts a number of positive features for the first-time competitor.
Not only will it provide scenic views, but it also has an interesting - and unique - start to the 140.6-mile endurance test.
Rather than begin in one large mass for the opening swim - it's the portion of the race many triathletes dread, for getting a kick to the face is not at all an uncommon occurrence - the Louisville Triathlon begins with a rolling swim start. There, athletes will line up on a first-come, first-served basis, and will jump into the water one at a time to begin the race.
Either way it shouldn't be much of a problem for Caruso - she was a swimmer in high school.
"I'll be a little nervous (for the race) until I hit the water," she said.
The course starts the triathletes on the banks of the Ohio River for the aforementioned 2.4-mile swim, then takes them through the Kentucky countryside during the 112-mile biking portion and, finally, they'll embark on a 26.2-mile run past sporting landmarks like Churchill Downs (home of the Kentucky Derby) and the University of Louisville (home of the 2013 NCAA men's basketball national champions) before arriving in downtown Louisville.
Caruso, who will be making the trip to Louisville with her father, Tom, notes that she is ready for all portions of the event.
"It took some building up (to get better at the running)," she said, "but after I did the marathon I really started to get a grasp of it. Then it was just a matter of getting used to spending hours and hours on a bike."
Results for the now sold-out event can be found at www.ironman.com.
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LAKE PLACID - While one area athlete waits to get the chance to compete in the Ironman Triathlon, another has already finished.
Dan Moore, a school psychologist and track coach at Wayland-Cohocton High School who graduated from Southwestern Central School in 2002, competed for the second consecutive year at the Ironman Triathlon in Lake Placid in late July.
And his improvement from one year to the next was, to put simply, impressive.
After finishing the grueling race in just under 11 hours last year - his time at the finish was clocked in at 10:57:20 to be exact - Moore shaved a little more than 1 hour, 15 minutes from that finish this time around.
When he crossed the finish line the clock read 9:45:34.
The time was good enough for 36th overall (out of the more than 2,500 athletes that took part) and, even better, sixth overall in the men's 30-34 age division.
While Moore was faster in all three of the race's portions, it was the bike race that saw the most improvement.
All told, he finished the swim in 1:10:28 (it was 1:15:56 in 2012), the 112-mile biking portion in just 5:14.58 (it was 5:47:52 last year) and the marathon run - his strong suit - in 3:11:56 (it was 3:43:01 in 2012).