Meet Sherri Guba, a lifelong resident of North Judson, a Cross-Application Analyst for ArcelorMittal and an IRONMAN Triathlon All-World Athlete.
Guba’s days start early. She leaves her home by 4 a.m., and heads to Chesterton for her first workout of the day before work.
“I usually do two workouts a day,” Guba said. “I swim before work in the morning, then in the evening I go on a run or a bike ride. When the weather’s nice, I like to train in Culver because of the hills.”
Guba wasn’t always an All-World athlete. Her motivation began when a close friend became ill.
“She wanted to be an athlete for a day by participating in Ringing in Spring,” Guba said. “It was her goal to either walk or run that race. She got together a group of ladies and said, ‘Train with me to do this.’ I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to do this for Kelly.’ Never in a million years would I have thought that I would even be able to get out and run.”
She kept her promise to her friend, and then some.
“When I first started training, I ran maybe half of a mile the first time and I thought I was going to die,” she said. “I thought I’d never be able to run three miles. I kept saying, ‘I’m going to do it for Kelly.’”
Those words followed her through her training and kept her motivated.
“I crossed the finish line and it was just amazing,” Guba said. “I had so much fun - it was ridiculous how much fun I had and this is where I got hooked.”
The rest happened in rapid succession. A good friend asked her, Do you have a bicycle? Do you have running shoes? Do you know how to swim? Have you ever thought about doing a triathlon?
“Needless to say, he talked me into to signing up for the Valpo Triathlon at Rogers-Lakewood Park,” Guba said. “It was hysterical - I literally had no idea what I was doing. I completed the race in these old tennis shoes and used my husband's old bike that was way too big for me. I absolutely loved it, even though my equipment wasn’t ideal for the competition.”
Following this milestone, Guba set her eyes on a bigger challenge.
“The Chicago Marathon and the Chicago Triathlon were next,” she said. “Then I decided to bite the big one when the same friend told me about the IRONMAN Triathlon. I didn’t know anything about it, so he mapped the whole course out for me on a dry erase board. Before I knew it, I started upgrading my equipment. I got a decent bike and better running shoes and started training and had the best time.”
Guba has participated in more than a dozen half IRONMAN Triathlons and two full triathlons. A half IRONMAN is a 70-point, 3-mile race and consists of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride followed by a 13.1-mile run, and must be completed in 8 1/2 hours. A full triathlon includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride, 26.22-mile marathon raced in that order without a break. The sport is considered to be one of the most difficult one-day sporting events in the world and has to be completed in 16 to 17 hours.
“My first major competition was a non-IRONMAN branded race in Michigan,” Guba said. “Through the whole race, I really enjoyed myself and got hooked. I immediately went into the half IRONMAN circuit, did a few of those. Then I decided to do the full IRONMAN and started training relentlessly.”
While training for her second competition, Guba got the chance to train her best friend for Wisconsin’s IRONMAN Triathlon.
“I’ll never forget being up there with her,” she said. “I was running back into town on my last lap and she was just coming out of town, just starting. I looked at her and said, ‘Don’t quit. Whatever you do, stay strong. You got this and I’ll see you at the finish line.’”
Guba continued, “After I had finished, I went back and I got to see my best friend finish. It was beautiful to see the smile on her face, and it makes me want to cry just talking about it. To see her accomplishment was amazing.”
Guba credits her success to other athletes she’s met along her journey in becoming an All-World Athlete. When she’s training, she hopes to inspire others to keep the sport alive for future generations. It’s working. A young girl who saw Guba running every day was so inspired, her mother asked Guba to sponsor her for Girls on the Run of Northwest Indiana. Guba happily accepted.
“I was honored. When you train every day, you hope someone sees you and they pick up on stuff like this,” Guba said.
No matter which stage of training you’re in, this All-World Athlete has a message for everyone.
“It doesn’t matter what gear you have, it matters that you want to try. The biggest thing I like to promote is - don’t be intimidated by anything. If you want to try something, just do it.”