Stafford's Andra Mazur an Ironman competitor

By Lauri Voter - Staff Writer
Stafford - posted Fri., Sep. 9, 2011
Stafford resident Andra Mazur completed her first Ironman competition on Aug. 28. Photos by Lauri Voter.
Stafford resident Andra Mazur completed her first Ironman competition on Aug. 28. Photos by Lauri Voter.

Late in August, 30-year-old Stafford resident Andra Mazur packed up her bicycle, her running and swimming gear, and headed to Louisville, Ky. – but not for a typical summer vacation. On Aug. 28, Mazur participated in – and completed – her first Ironman event.
The Ironman is an intense triathlon that truly tests the limits of its competitors.

In Louisville, the 2,500 registered athletes started the day with a 2.4-mile swim in the Ohio River, followed that up with a 112-mile bicycle ride, and completed the trilogy with a 26.2-mile run. Mazur completed the grueling event in slightly over 13 hours, placing 182nd out of 632 competitors in her gender category, 36th out of 118 in her age category, and 1,099th out of 2,500 overall. Initially, she wanted to finish in 12 hours, but in July, she hit an obstacle or two – or, that is to say, they hit her.

First, while out biking one day, she fell off her bike and hurt her shoulder. She recovered from that only to be overcome by a case of shingles. Recovering again, she was then hit by a car while on her bike in New Hampshire. She was not seriously injured, but suffered some bruising. She recovered again. These impediments were not enough to keep her out of the Ironman competition, but she had to reassess and change her preferred finish time from 12 hours to 13 hours.

Mazur said that she had to make a decision to participate in the Ironman in December in order to register before it was filled to capacity. Once she committed, she trained non-stop, both on her own and with a trainer. Mazur said that the intense training required to build up to such physical events result in a delicate balance between over-training and under-training.

There is a sort of “chemistry” involved in knowing exactly how many calories and how much fluid intake the body needs per hour to sustain itself during the rigorous activities. In some cases, the body can work so hard to recover and repair itself from extensive workouts that its own immune responses can be compromised. Mazur feels that this may be how she contracted shingles.

So, what makes Mazur tick? The pros and cons associated with this level of physical fitness and discipline make one wonder how it all started. Overnight? No. Mazur said she was never bitten by any type of fitness “bug” or “craze,” saying instead that “it just was.”

Mazur began running with her father, Gene Mazur, when she was in grade school. She would run with him during the early morning hours, and he would encourage her. They participated in road races. “My dad is my rock,” said Mazur, who said that her dad attended the Ironman event in Louisville to cheer her on, and then to drive her home after it was all over.

Always a go-getter, Mazur said that as a child, she did not spend a lot of time watching television or working on a computer. She would play outside, making up games as she went along, always using her imagination. “We watched the Muppets together as a family at night,” said Mazur, emphasizing that current television programming does not seem to be as family-friendly. “We were raised to be outside,” said Mazur, who even now does not watch television, and does not have cable.

In entrepreneurial fashion, in her pre-teens she cared for neighbors' houses and pets when they were away. She ran a lemonade stand and started a running club at her grade school. That running club still functions. “I always worked,” said Mazur. “I always was active.”

Mazur's nuclear family sat around the dinner table every night, which was used as an opportunity for the family members to “check in” with each other. Mazur recalls that she did not always want to have dinner at home every night with her family, but now sees the long-term benefit of that practice.

Her parents encouraged her to try new things. Mazur played the cello and the piano. She tried soccer and gymnastics, but she said she is not particularly fond of team sports.

Although Mazur is a personable, sociable individual, she describes herself as a bit of a loner. “I liked that running was a team sport, but that it was also very individual,” she said. She added that alone time is how she renews her energy.

As an undergraduate student, Mazur attended New York University. She said she wanted to do something in entertainment, so she studied music business. “I wanted to work at a record label,” she said. She moved on to study entertainment law at U.C.L.A., saying that being in California allowed her to study in a desirable climate, which in turn enabled her to run year-round. In addition to being an “iron (wo)man,” she is an attorney employed by TicketNetwork in South Windsor.

Mazur volunteers with Vernon Parks and Recreation. She said that she does not particularly want to do volunteer work simply because she does not have much time for it. However, once she is engaged in running activities with the kids, she said she loves it.

Inspired by her recent accomplishment, Mazur thinks that there may be another Ironman event in her future. Meanwhile, she keeps running, biking and swimming. In fact, just a couple of days after finishing the Ironman, she went for a run – to “reward” herself.

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