And he was right. After struggling to train consistently following Skye’s birth, Sodaro reached a point in her postpartum fitness journey this past July where she felt like she could finally handle the demands of a full training load. That meant managing 30 hours a week of swimming, biking, and running, plus additional time spent lifting weights, doing core work and rehab exercises, plus weekly sessions with a chiropractor and massage therapist.
Sodaro’s parents also played a pivotal support role. In the weeks leading up to the race, her mom took over as the primary caretaker of her daughter so Sodaro could focus fully on training, since her husband is away for days at a time for his job as a firefighter. Sodaro’s dad accompanied her to Kona for a two-week pre-race training camp, where he “sagged” all her rides (meaning, as she biked, he followed her in a car and provided hydration, food, and gear support). “There’s no way that I could have done this without them,” says Sodaro.
2. Fun is an important performance enhancement.
Sodaro was “super nervous” the morning of the Ironman Championships. She showed up to the staging area later than she wanted and felt really rushed. But once she got into the water to swim to the race starting line, a sense of calm washed over her. “My stroke felt really good immediately,” she says.
After the race started, Sodaro noticed a rainbow as she stroked. She told herself to imagine she was simply out for a fun open-water swim with her friends. That perspective shift set the tone for an enjoyable day of racing. “I let myself have fun, which is such a good lesson for me moving forward—that you can be really committed and serious and competitive, but you can also enjoy that process,” she says.
During the run, for example, as she averaged a blistering pace of 6:33 per mile, she also took time to wave to spectators and blow kisses to the crowd. “In endurance sports, we oftentimes are so selfish and so focused on ourselves,” says Sodaro. “And sometimes getting out of that, getting out of your own head, and having fun and smiling and being positive can be a performance enhancer.”
3. Motivational sayings can help you stay present.
After tackling the swim and bike portions of the race, Sodaro was in fifth place. She began the marathon run—the final leg of the race—and immediately fell into a fast pace. “I kept on telling myself to slow down,” she says. Sodaro remembered hearing five-time world triathlon champion Craig Alexander shout “Girl, you need to chill!” from the sidelines as she whizzed by. His words helped refocus Sodaro, who then “really committed to taking care” of herself. She walked through a lot of the aid stations, grabbing ice and water to make sure she stayed hydrated and kept her core temperature down.
Around the eight-mile mark, she passed the leader, Lucy Charles-Barclay of Great Britain, and held onto first place for the remaining 18 miles. Though her lead continued to grow as the race went on, “I really didn’t allow myself to dream of winning the race until I got to the finish line, because so much can go wrong in long events like that,” says Sodaro. Instead, she focused on staying completely present as she ran.