Deborah Battaglia didn’t want to let her 50th year pass without doing something “epic.”
By the time the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, she will have completed 50 full distance (Ironman) triathlons — swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in 17 hours or fewer — in one year. In total, that’s 120 miles in the pool, 5,600 miles on the bike and 1,310 miles on the treadmill/pavement, if you’re counting.
“I live life to the absolute extreme,” Battaglia said.
On Tuesday, she did No. 49 — biking at home in the morning, swimming with her mom, Jo, at the YMCA in State College, running on the treadmill at the Y and then running with a friend outside on a cold and windy afternoon.
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She’ll complete No. 50 either on Saturday or Sunday in Ohio, where she’ll be with her husband’s family for the holiday.
Battaglia’s originally from Penns Valley and moved back to the area — Centre Hall, specifically — a little more than a year ago with her husband, Chuck Kreger. For 10 days a month, she works as an emergency room doctor in California.
She’s not able to do any full triathlons while she’s in California working, so she does them in a burst of about four or five when she’s home. Battaglia said she tries to have four days in between them.
But if you think she’s taking it easy on the couch on those days, think again.
“I can’t imagine not working out every day. It’s part of who I am,” Battaglia said.
She’s done a lot of endurance sports in her life — before this year, she had done 44 Ironman triathlons, two double Ironmans and at least six 24-hour triathlon races.
“So I knew what I was sort of getting into — sort of,” she said.
Battaglia said she wanted to challenge herself to see if she could do 50 full triathlons in a year.
Physically, she said, she knew she could do it. “Mentally, it’s a huge, huge challenge.”
Another aspect of it, for her, is to inspire people as they age to stay fit. She said she’s no different than anyone else — normal genetics, a husband, a job.
Battaglia is inspired by her mom, who is 80 and does 80 laps in the pool each week.
Kreger and friends have also joined Battaglia for parts of her triathlons along the way, and she said she’s “super appreciated” it.