aure Blume isn't your typical triathlete. The 46-year-old loves to train, but what about competing? "Racing scares me," she confessed. "Get me to the race and I'll be fine. But getting me there is the tough part."
Blume doesn't go for the usual triathlon training regimen, either. She runs and bikes but doesn't swim very often.
"Family comes first," said the stay-at-home mom of two teens. "Swimming doesn't always fit into my schedule. It's just not convenient."
So you might think that Blume would be an average "age group" athlete, happy just to finish a world-class Olympic-distance event such as the St. Anthony's Triathlon.
But the Pinellas Park woman be-longs to the small group of "elite" athletes fast enough to start at the head of the pack, hot on the heels of the professional triathletes.
Run, run, run
Blume grew up in Rhode Island and moved to Florida 21 years ago. She ran track in high school but never had any intensive coaching.
But then she joined a local running group, the Forerunners, and started training with legendary running coach Joe Burgasser.
"It really helped me," she said. "I made a lot of running friends who made long runs so much easier."
Blume dreamed of doing a marathon but didn't think she had time when her son, Luke, was young. But after her second child, Sydney (now 16), came along, she began training seriously.
"Then I ran 13 marathons in five years," she said. Her husband, Daryl, a mechanical contractor who coaches basketball on the side at Shorecrest Preparatory School, joined in the "marathon madness."
"We even ran a few Boston Marathons together — almost together,'' she said with a laugh.
He wouldn't be the first or the the last man she'd outrun.
A different path
Blume started doing triathlons about eight years ago. She began with the small, shorter events, and even won several local "sprint" races before moving on to big events like St. Anthony's.
She increased her distance, finishing several Half Ironman and Ironman events, and improved her standing in the local women's field, finishing 11th among the elite females in 2009. But unlike most top triathletes, who spend most of their time swimming, running and biking, Blume focused on her overall level of fitness.
"My passion is building a strong body, and I share that passion with a handful of high schoolers I train a few times a week after school and a few friends in the mornings," she said.
"We work on conditioning and core strength, which helps you with everything — running, swimming, biking. I think too many triathletes neglect their core and that can lead to injuries."
Blume calls her gym work the "fourth leg" of the triathlon. She typically spends about 45 minutes in the gym. "I meet friends there and we talk a bit, so I could probably get it done in 30 minutes if I had to," she said.
Gym workouts have helped her become "mentally fit," Blume said, which gives her a big edge in triathlons.
"When your muscles are screaming 'stop' and you keep pushing, trying to get in one more rep, you learn what your body can do," she said. "When you get out on a race course and you're running, your body says 'stop,' but you know you can keep going because you have been there before. That's the mental advantage.''
But Blume never lets her sport get in the way of her life.
"My husband and two teenage children keep me very busy," she said. "I don't stress over a late night waiting up for the kids or having to pick our daughter up from a friend's house.
"If I'm up late, I either get my workout in a little later than planned or make it up the next chance I can," she added. "I need my eight hours of sleep, especially if I want to train my body hard and give it time to rest and recover."
Family time is top priority in the Blume household. That means family dinners at home every night of the week. "I have been a vegetarian for 25 years," she said.
Blume looks at each training opportunity as a chance to do her best — within reason.
"I push myself to go just a little faster, but I always listen to my body," she said.
"Knock on wood: I've not been sidelined with an overuse injury yet. If it hurts, take care of it!"
Terry Tomalin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.