The schedule in Elizabeth "Betsy" Parmer's day planner looks like it was concocted by a crazy person.
Wake at 3 a.m. and start working out, a mixture of swimming, biking and running that will take between four and seven hours. Lead a mediation at her Fort Worth law office that will last until the afternoon. Eat a quick lunch then back to work. Go home in the evening to spend time with her family. In bed between 9:30 and 10.
Every day is grueling, but every day is preparing her for the Arizona Ironman (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run) in November.
"I may be one of the last ones across the line, but I'm going to finish it," said Parmer, who has lost a little more than 40 pounds since taking up the sport but still calls herself a chunky athlete.
Parmer, who works full time, started early-morning training long before the weather heated up. She has to start before 4 a.m. just to make her insane schedule work. She's committed to accomplishing her Ironman goal, as is her husband, James Hinkle, and 11-year-old daughter, Claire.
But Parmer's routine hasn't always been so hectic.
Parmer doesn't train alone. She is joined each morning by her coach, Shawna Gibson, a certified USA Triathlon coach who owns a gym on Camp Bowie named Shag Fitness. The two met more than five years ago.
Parmer was once a rugby player at Yale, but she was out of shape when career and family led to infrequent workouts. So she hired Gibson as a personal trainer. Parmer's initial goals were to be healthy and set a positive example for her daughter while not sacrificing food or drinking.
"Who would have thought we would end up here," said Gibson, who has completed three Ironman races but won't race with Parmer in Arizona. "Her story is similar to so many others. But they are too afraid to make the leap. She has."
Slowly, Gibson talked Parmer into running a 5K. Then came a sprint triathlon. A few years later, Parmer was a regular triathlete and half-marathon runner.
"It was a gradual build," Gibson said. "I knew she could do it, but it took a while."
While they can be cranky and argumentative during early-morning workouts, Parmer and Gibson have become best friends. When Parmer easily beat her expected finish time in her first half Ironman (1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike, 13.1-mile run), Gibson knew a full Ironman was just a matter of time.
Gibson worked up a training plan and on March 12, two weeks after Parmer finished her first marathon, the two started training.
Parmer works on sprint swims at the downtown Fort Worth YMCA and distance swims at Benbrook Lake. Her cycling and running routines are a mix of inside and outside work.
Gibson has more than 400 movies in her fitness center, most of which she and Parmer have watched during early-morning cycling sessions. Recent hits include The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Snapped (an Oxygen TV show about wives killing their husbands) and Grease 2.
"One day we did hill climbs to musicals. Every time a song came on, we had to climb," Parmer said. "Do you know how many songs are in Grease 2?" There are 23. It was terrible."
On top of her busy schedule, Parmer finds time for her blog, chunkytriathlete.wordpress.com, which has become a popular read.
"I did it originally for accountability, then the blog itself sort of took over the training," Parmer said. "They are all stream of consciousness. If you are going to train this much, you better like yourself. Because you spend a lot of time in your own head. That's where my blog posts come from. I don't hold anything back."
While her posts can be long, Parmer doesn't take much time to write. The words flow from whatever she is feeling. Her posts are funny and profane, but also real.
"There are so many blogs about training, but mine is more about my philosophy," Parmer said. "I can't even believe some of the things that have happened as a result from my blog."
Parmer has encountered many fans at races, and many more have reached out to her online. Even members of her triathlon team, Ironhead, have ordered Chunky Girl triathlete racing uniforms. Several men are now sporting the logo.
Chunky Girl's slogan is: "Chunky girls do it slower and make it last longer."
"Chunky girls get more out of the course," Parmer said. "So race chunky."
Parmer didn't intend to be an inspiration to others; it just happened. She has convinced many friends to try their first races. Several are signed up to run/walk a half marathon because of her.
"I want to convince every woman out there that they can do this, and the feeling of finishing is amazing," Parmer said. "If they could feel that, I think they would all do it. Even if it's walking a 5K when you think you can't."
Parmer's advice to beginners is to set a goal, even if it seems small or unachievable.
"I bet you can do it," she said.
When Parmer's blog became popular, she and Gibson saw an opportunity to pick up sponsorships. But they weren't after typical sponsors such as Powerbar or Gatorade. Parmer went after her favorites: vodka and chicken wings.
Gibson sent e-mails almost daily to Tito's Vodka, Parmer's favorite, with pasted blog posts where Parmer mentioned the vodka. Eventually, Tito's agreed, sending a case of vodka bottles to Shag Fitness along with shirts, hats and a large banner supporting Chunky Girl athletes.
"I'm the slowest member of our triathlon team, and I have the most sponsors," Parmer said, laughing.
Parmer also picked up sponsorships from Button's restaurant (her favorite wings), Cowtown Canines and other non-athletic companies. She still has two on her wish list: a cupcake sponsor and oysters from Bonnell's on Bryant Irvin.
"I think cupcakes and oysters are an integral part of my training," she said.
Parmer will compete in the Arizona Ironman on Nov. 18. She, Gibson, her family and other members of Ironhead will celebrate the halfway point of Parmer's 36-week training program on Aug. 2.
"I feel really good about where I am in my training, but I'm always nervous," Parmer said. "But I'm pretty sure I will beat the time cutoffs."
Parmer will cut out all alcohol, a tough sacrifice, starting in October. Then comes the home stretch.
After finishing the Arizona Ironman, Parmer and her crew will celebrate with a trip to Las Vegas.
She promises nothing healthy will take place.
Brent Shirley, 817-390-7760