Five years ago, Stacey Parisi wanted to get back in shape after the birth of her second child.

She’s since decided to pursue the ultimate test in physical endurance to reach that goal.

On Oct. 11, Parisi, a Seymour resident and native, will compete in the Ironman competition in Louisville.

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“After having my kids, I just wanted to get in shape and feel healthy,” Parisi said. “It just sounded like a challenge.”

An Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run. Competitors have 17 hours to complete the event.

Parisi said she’s never seen herself as an athlete. While she played basketball and volleyball in high school, she never felt that she excelled in sports.

“I had never been a runner,” Parisi said. “I never did swimming, cross-country or anything like that. I remember going to the YMCA in Fishers, and I had to put on a swim cap. I thought, ‘I somehow need to swim from this end of the pool to the other end.’ I didn’t even know how far 500 meters was in a pool. It’s 10 times, the first time I did it I was gasping afterwords.”

The 35-year-old started with sprint triathlons after seeing an ad in a newspaper. A sprint triathlon consists of a 750-meter swim, 20-kilometer bike ride and a 5K run — half the distance of an Olympic triathlon and less than a quarter of the full Ironman distance.

After doing a number of sprint triathlons, Parisi began running half marathons.

“Each summer I increased my distance,” Parisi said. “I ran some half marathons, and every distance I did I thought, ‘maybe I can increase my distance.’ An iron man, for me, wasn’t there yet, though.”

This past summer, Parisi completed the Ironman Kansas 70.3 event (a half-Ironman) and in the Olympic distance event at the Columbus Challenge Triathlon. She also rode 160 miles on a bicycle in the annual Ride Across Indiana (RAIN) cycling event from West Terre Haute to Richmond.

Last week, Parisi ran in the Jackson County 50/50 Ultra-marathon — a 50K run.

“If you would have asked me three years ago, I wouldn’t think it was something I could achieve,” Parisi said. “When I was out in the 50K, I thought never in my life would be able to do something like this. I have never felt like I’m awesome at sports. I don’t know what the end goal for me is, I am constantly looking for a challenge. Even if I’m walking, I’m going to get it done.”

In 2015, Parisi plans on running the Seymour half-marathon, riding RAIN and completing the Ironman 70.3 Steelhead in Benton Harbor, Michigan.

Parisi said training for the Ironman Louisville will take many hours of dedication.

“I need to do a lot of training,” Parisi said. “I usually work out six times a week from 4:30 to 6 a.m. In my off season, I’m mostly lifting weights and doing speed work. I will work a lot on my nutrition plan because I’ve had battles with leg cramps. It’s a very involved sport. I will increase my distance.”

Many athletes use a number of supplements, such as energy gels or drinks, during these distance events. Parisi, however, prefers real food.

“It really depends on what you prefer,” Parisi said. “You can use the energy gels, there are people who use electrolyte pills or energy drinks and real food. I learned that real food is a lot better to work with me than the processed stuff. I had Cheez-its, Pringles a Mr. Goodbar during the 50-50. It’s not the best food, but it’s more natural.”

{span class=”_5yl5”}{span}{span}With the amount of training that goes into her competitions, Parisi has found a strong support structure from her family. She said her husband, Chris, parents,{/span}{/span}{/span} Bill and Libby Koleszar, brother, Todd Koleszar, and children, Gabriella and Samuel, inspire her.

Another source of support has come from the faculty in the Columbus school system, where Parisi works as a speech therapist.

“My husband is very good about being flexible with me,” Parisi said. “We take turns going to the gym in the morning. If I’m riding the bike trainer in the garage, he’s going to the gym. We really try and work together to get it done. In the summer it’s easier because I’m off.”

“He knows that my dream is to do a full Iron Man. He said he’s on board. My weekends will be full; I will be riding a bike on a Saturday for six to seven hours.”

{span class=”_5yl5”}{span}{span}Parisi’s brother, Todd, also competes in Ironman and other triathlon competitions. Todd will be joining Stacey in the Ironman Louisville.{/span}{/span}{/span}

“My brother is a big supporter — we’re super competitive,” Parisi said. “He did Ironman Florida this year, so now I feel like I need to do one. I used to beat him all the time in the run, but he did a lot of work last year. He will start after me in Louisville because of the age groups, but I will push it as far as I can to not let him pass me.”

Greg Reasoner of Moxie Multisport also is helping Parisi train.

Right now, Parisi is on her own workout regimen. In March, she will begin her intense training.

“The maximum amount of time working out is 17 hours a week,” Parisi said. “In August, it will be peak month for my training — right when school starts back up.”

Follow Parisi on her journey

Stacey Parisi, who will be training for the Ironman Louisville on Oct. 11, will be writing a column every other week for The Tribune leading up to her competition.

Follow Seymour resident through her training starting in the Dec. 19 edition of The Tribune.

Author photo
Jordan Morey is sports editor at The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7069.