Forty-two-year old mom completes Ironman competition in memory of sister

| 15 Feb 2012 | 09:22

Joyce Clements lives in Andover Township with her husband, James, and daughters, 16-year-old Courtnee, 14-year-old Brianne and 12-year-old Amanda. She's a 42-year-old super mom and super wife, but she also has a super secret: she's an Ironwoman. Clements grew up in Monaco, and started swimming competitively when she was seven years old. Her family moved back to the states when she was 16 where she continued to swim until she graduated from William Paterson University. After college, she had no access to a pool, so she started running. Seven years ago, she set her sights on training for her first marathon and joined Sparta Athletic Club so she could run inside on the treadmill. The running went great, but she also found herself drawn to spinning and ended up getting her spin certification so she could teach classes. It was a bitter sweet return to a bicycle seat as last time she had been on a bike was when she was 15. She and her 17-year-old sister had been biking and her sister was struck and killed by a truck while they were riding. "I hadn't been back on [an outdoor] bike until a very good friend of mine talked me into doing a small triathlon at Lake Lenape. He took me out on rides and showed me how to ride a bike all over again. He also showed me how to fix a flat tire and take care of a bike. After that first triathlon, I was hooked and conquered my fear of bikes." She'd done a marathon by then and with her swimming background and now her return to the bike, the great triathlon carrot of all time beckoned her: the Ironman. An Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim followed by a 112 mile bike then a marathon (26.2 miles) raced in that order and without a break. "When I signed up for Lake Placid Ironman 2011, I knew that I was doing this for my sister," Clements said, "I had heard of stories about the training process and they literally scared me and I really started to wonder if I could actually do this." She added, "If it wasn't for my husband who became 'Mr. Mom' for a whole year and my girls always encouraging me and telling me I was doing great, I could never have done it." A typical day of training for Clements was waking up at 4:30 a.m. to get to the YMCA at 5 a.m. to swim for an hour. She would then go to her job as a preschool teacher. She spent the afternoon riding or running until her girls got home from school and needed her to do homework and run them over to their sports. She said that the swimming and running she could do on her own, but needed help with the riding and her core. That's where Charlene Beebe came in. The trainer at Sparta Athletic club worked with Clements twice a week. "She worked on my core and kept me physically and emotionally strong. She knew my limits, she knew my bad days and knew when I was feeling really good. I also took her spin class once a week and she really pushed me hard on those rides." During the days that they weren't together, Beebe checked in via e-mail or a text to see how Clements was doing. Clements ended up finishing the Lake Placid Ironman in 13 hours and 36 minutes. "My goal was to break 14 hours and I did," she said, and she did it for her sister. As for the future, Clements said she'll do another Ironman, but not for a few years. "Training for an Ironman takes a whole year and it becomes a life of its own," she said. Her next challenge is a race called The Tough Mudder in November. "It's a whole different training system than a triathlon," she said, but one constant is that Beebe will again be at her side.