Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

October 17, 2012

Two-Lane road less traveled

Mother-son duo Patty, Ross Lane complete Half Ironman

Aaron Snyder
The Independent

FLATWOODS — Mother and son, they’re back on track.

Well, at least on a new track — a trek to one of the most grueling challenges an athlete can take on.

It had been 10 years since Patty Lane had competed in a Half Ironman triathlon. Her son, Ross, was 7 at the time.

On Sunday, they completed one together.

“My mom started when I was young, and I competed some then too,” said Ross, a Russell High School senior and member of both the cross country and baseball teams. “I started running a lot this summer and decided to pick it back up.”

A Half Ironman consists of 1.2 miles swimming, 56 miles biking and 13.1 miles running, all in succession. The swimming takes place in open water.

Ross, Patty and Russell graduate Ross Turner spent the past several months training and competing in six triathlons, with the toughest being an Olympic-style event, in preparation for the Half Ironman. Turner was unable to participate because of school obligations.

Ross and Patty took to the course in Anderson, S.C., and emerged from the Revolution3 Triathlon with impressive times.

The 17-year-old Ross finished in 5 hours, 44 minutes. Patty, 53, overcame a flat bicycle tire to finish in seven hours.

“I was pretty excited,” Ross said. “But I kind of wanted to be under 5:30.”

Ross placed first overall in his age group.

“He did pretty spectacular,” Patty said. “To just complete it his first time is great.”

The mother-son duo have already signed up for the big one in August. They will compete in a Full Ironman in Louisville. Ross will have turned 18 in May, which is the youngest one can be to participate in the longest triathlon. It is comprised of 2.4 miles swimming, 112 biking and 26.2 running.

Both are tireless trainers.

“When I did it 10 years ago, I would literally drop (Ross) off at primary school and go out and bike for seven hours and then pick him up,” Patty recalled.

Ross’s regimen is one that involves unique dedication rarely seen among high schoolers.

He wakes up at 5 a.m. most mornings, goes and swims for more than an hour with Ashland swimming coach Billy Cox. He runs cross country after school, and commonly logs extra miles. On the weekends, he bikes, even if he has a cross country meet.

“He’s up for any challenge,” Patty said.

When asked what keeps him so driven, Ross is quick to answer.

“Winning,” he said. “I want to be the best that I can. I want to make it to Kona and win that.”

Kona, Hawaii, is the location of the Ironman World Championships.

The Lanes’ come by their athleticism and work ethic honestly. Patty’s mother, Doris Puffer, was the first woman to hike the Jenny Wiley Trail. And she hiked the Appalachian Trail.

“My mom is kind of the matriarch,” Patty said.

Puffer, 81, was in a car wreck en route to watching her daughter and grandson this past weekend. While her car was totaled, she was just fine and still arrived (with the help of son in-law John Lane, Patty’s husband) to take part in enjoying Ross’s and Patty’s achievement.

Patty called triathlons a growing sport, and it’s certainly one that requires discipline.

“You have to eat and drink right,” she said. “They suggest 200 to 300 calories every hour.”

Patty rode with power bars strapped on her bike.

There are also stations set up with protein bars, bananas, power gel packs and water.

After swimming in Lake Hartwell, athletes approached a transition area.

“You come out of the water, and throw on your bike gear,” Patty said. “When you come back, you take off your bike gear and go straight to the run.

“When we do Louisville this summer, with the heat and humidity in August, keeping a real balance is going to be important,” she added.

The rest of the event took place along the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

As they look ahead to Louisville, which is sure to be full of professionals taking part as well, Ross said there’s plenty of work to be done.

“I’ll definitely have to train more than I was,” he said on Monday, which he took off to rest. “I hate taking days off.”

AARON SNYDER can be reached at asnyder@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2664.