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Largo triathlete Shannon Shearer is not your typical mom, she's Ironmom

Shannon Shearer, 34, works out Thursday south of the Sand Key Bridge. The mother of two competes in about 10 races per year.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Shannon Shearer, 34, works out Thursday south of the Sand Key Bridge. The mother of two competes in about 10 races per year.

CLEARWATER — When your mom is into grueling endurance races, don't complain that walking a mile home from school is too far.

Today, Shannon Shearer, a Largo resident and full-time mom to two children, will compete in the Ironman 70.3 World Championship triathlon on Clearwater Beach. It will be her second such Ironman, but just one of the 10 or so long-distance events she competes in every year.

For her family, it's just one of those things mom does.

"I'm really proud of her," said Katie Smith, Shearer's daughter, whose friends are slightly awed at her mom.

"They say, 'Wow, she must be really strong,' " said Katie, 13.

Strong enough to wield a threat most parents wish they could make good on with their teenagers.

"My kids joke about it. I always joke that I can catch them and find them if I need to," Shearer said.

A power lifter when she went to high school in Gulfport, Shearer, 34, said since then, she has been drawn to athletics and competition.

"It gives you such a wonderful high," Shearer said. "It makes you mentally stronger. Other challenges in life, it makes them easier."

She trains for a few hours each morning, between breakfast and her kids' after-school activities. Shearer's husband, Ed Shearer, is a cycling enthusiast, but doesn't train with his wife.

"He can't keep up yet. I don't have to say anything. He knows," Shearer said.

The aura of athleticism Shearer gives off has been contagious. Her daughter and 15-year-old son, Garrett, also have raced in shorter-distance triathlons locally.

But it's still hard to get teenagers to come around to her style of get-up-and-go.

"With my son, it happens every day. He'll say, 'Can you pick me up? I have to carry my backpack a whole mile,' " Shearer said.

Tough luck, especially when mom is contemplating the hazards of competition.

"Don't get kicked in the face," Shearer said is her predominant pre-race thought. That, and work through the moments of panic while aggressively breast-stroking through surf surrounded by dozens of other frenzied swimmers.

With mom frequently pushing herself harder and farther, something of a reversal in the parent-child continuum of concern has emerged.

"I worry about her biking, every time she goes," said Katie. "I worry about her getting hit. Drivers don't pay attention to bikers."

Though when she isn't in training mode, Ironmom becomes just another soccer mom, and makes time for the other perks of being a homemaker, like spending time with her girlfriends.

"We go to the mall. Normal girl stuff," Shearer said.

But she said she'll still take a new set of bicycle racing tires over high heels any day.

Dominick Tao can be reached at dtao@sptimes.com or (727) 580-2951.

Fast facts

The race

• Starts and ends at Pier 60.

• Begins at 6:45 a.m. and lasts 7 1/2 hours.

• A 1.2-mile swim on Clearwater Beach (harbor side).

• A 56-mile bike course on the Memorial Causeway Bridge, Drew Street, Countryside Boulevard, McMullen-Booth Road, East Lake Road, the Bayside Bridge, Roosevelt Boulevard, Belcher Road and Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard.

• A 13.1-mile run through Clearwater Beach, downtown Clearwater and the Harbor Oaks neighborhood.

For more information

Go online to www.myclearwater.com/ironman or call (727) 562-INFO (4636).

On the Web

Fans can follow the action today at www.ironmanlive.com, where real-time race results and audio and video updates will be available.

Largo triathlete Shannon Shearer is not your typical mom, she's Ironmom 11/12/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2009 7:39pm]
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