If you were to see Laura Dokupil, the graduate assistant for Wellness in the SHSU Recreational Sports Department, walking down the hall at the HKC, you probably would not think she was much different than any other student.
However the 23-year-old graduate student at SHSU pursuing a Master’s in counseling, has done something that separates her from most students. She recently traveled to Redmon, Okla. and completed what some call the mother of all triathlon events, the full Ironman.
She completed the grueling event composed of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike ride and a full 26.4 mile marathon in 14 hours and 53 seconds.
Finding a student who has completed an Ironman is rare, but what makes Dokupil unique is her decision to do one when she had never previously even participated in a triathlon.
“That’s what’s so amazing to me,” said Mindy Oden, asst. director for wellness in Recreational Sports. “She just jumped right in!”
Oden is Dokupil’s boss in recreational sports and a former triathlete. She said it is incredible that someone who has never completed a triathlon could have the endurance and mental discipline to train for, and actually complete, an Ironman.
Dokupil said she decided that she wanted to run an Ironman in April because she wanted to chase her dream while she was still in her prime. She began training nine days later.
Although the Ironman was difficult, Dokupil said training for the event was in some ways more difficult. She trained at least two hours a day Monday through Thursday, and four to six hours on Fridays and Saturdays, for nearly six months.
Dokupil said she hopes her success in chasing her dream will inspire others to do the same, despite the obstacles.
“I want people to know that I’m not a Lance Armstrong. I don’t swim like Dara Torres or run like Michael Johnson. I’ve always just been the average girl,” she said. “It’s so important for everyone to keep dreaming. And I believe people can go after their dreams, whatever they are, if they put forth the effort.”
Oden encourages others to get involved in triathlons. She said that they are a great experience, and that once you have done it, you will probably want to do it again.
“Unless you’ve done it, you don’t really understand,” She said.
The Wellness department held a triathlon clinic last spring and plans to do the same next semester. Oden encourages students to be on the lookout for the program, and to sign up for it when the time comes.