My journey into triathlon started simple enough — when I was eight I would run outside, bike to the city pool, and swim all afternoon each summer. I would spend so much time at the pool that I would go through multiple ear infections. Once I became a lifegaurd in high school, I called the kids like me “pool rats”.
Like most idiot males in college I started lifting weights. A lot. I started power-lifting and ballooned up to 240 lbs. I got married, graduated, and really never concerned myself with the five components of fitness. I knew I could bench 300 lbs. and that was about all that mattered. I never got my body fat tested, but
Sometime around there I got bit by the running bug. I am not sure why I got decided to start running, but I did. I trained for a half marathon in my first season and ran it in the Clydesdale division and finished in 2:10. I was pretty proud of my time and decided I should start training for a marathon the next year.I am sure it was super high. I was playing hockey and roller hockey as much as I could, so I kept the heart a little healthy, but running more than a mile or so would have been very difficult. Here I am in all my glory on a cruise to Alaska in 1999 with my wife:
So in 2002 I ended up running the St. George Marathon in 4:38. My goal was a 4:00 and I obviously missed that. Hell, even Oprah beat me when she ran the Chicago Marathon in 4:29. I was not well pleased. I had a training schedule I followed from Runner’s World and it helped me finish. It was an amazing experience and I loved it. But there was that little piece of me that was left unfulfilled.
I kept running through the next couple of years. I skipped the marathon in 2003 because of the constant pain I found myself in. I loved to train, but found that my body didn’t love training for the marathon distance. My max was about 30 miles per week at the 200 lbs. mark where I was maintaining. I started to educate myself about training methods and strategies and nutrition, both during the run and at the table.
In January 2004 I started to train again for the St. George Marathon. I trained with my buddy Marion who was the CFO for a client of mine and an Ironman. He was my endurance sports hero. At the age of 40 he had done it all and I decided I wanted to be him. His patience helped me train throughout the year and hit my still standing PR of 3:58 at the marathon a couple of months later. But then he gave me an even greater gift.
He talked me into starting to train for triathlons. I started to educate myself on training strategies, and then I hit the road. I started to change my body type. In May 2005 I completed my first triathlon — the St. George Tri. It wasn’t my fastest and I even walked my bike.
I raced various distances through the next couple of years and felt fantastic while training. I got past the point where I would be sore while training. I would be exhausted at the end of the day, and I love the feeling of two a day workouts. I found my home in triathlon and my body reacted well.up a 9% grade hill. In 2005 I also completed my first 1/2 IM distance race at the Echo 1/2 IM Distance event. I fell in love with the distance and thought this is as long as I would ever go. The weather was really tough at this event, but I felt like I was racing this distance. I started to think about the Ironman. It was a thought, but not something I was ready to commit to. At this point, I felt like my body had really hit the peak of fitness that it was capable of…
Then in the fall of 2009 IMNA announced the Ironman St. George race. I was on the road for work (surprise for those of you who follow http://26.2ismycooldown.com) and decided it was time. I would be 39 years old for my first Ironman, but I had the miles in my legs. The challenge I always had with the distance was wrapping my head around the marathon. I had completed the swim distance in workouts several times, and had even grinded out centuries on my bike several times a summer.
So I worked out all winter long. It was not the easiest time for a scheduled Ironman. But I trained hard and followed the workout schedule and calendar that I had put together for myself. All the work paid off and I was able to pound out a 13:06 and finish just outside of the top 25%. As I crossed the finish line, I finally felt fulfilled in endurance sports. You can read the race report here…
My gift to myself for finishing the 2010 Ironman St. George was a new Cervelo R3 — my first road bike. When I raced St. George I thought I was pretty fast because I typically would finish in the top 25% of bike splits in the triathlons I would do. Boy was I wrong. I rode my road bike with new friends for that year. I didn’t race yet; all of the organized rides I participated in were all charity rides or fondos. Even in that environment I figured out how slow I really was on a bike. I also realized that if I wanted to get faster I would need to learn to climb hills and do so at a level of suffering that I was not accustomed to in triathlon. Let’s face it, you can be comfortable all day during a triathlon and not get out of Z2. If you want to compete in an USAC sanction road race, you have to learn how to suffer and then be able to dig even a little deeper.
I got bit by the cycling bug and I did not look back. In 2011 I rode 7,565 miles that year and seemed to be getting faster. That’s also the first year I rode LOTOJA and the Tour de Park City, two of my favorite races. I also raced at the Double Triple Bypass in Colorado. I still didn’t really have climbing legs underneath me, but I was improving. At LOTOJA that year I posted a 12:35, which was not a horrible time, but I knew I could get better. In 2012 I rode just over 6,000 miles. But my vision was elevated by some good friends. I took third overall (my first and only podium) at the Desperado Dual, a 196 mile race I finished in 10:00. A week later I returned to race the Tour de Park City and finished in the top 10 of my category. At LOTOJA that year I finished in 10:27, a huge improvement for me from 2011. I was excited about my improvement, but I knew I still had more in me.
I got a late start to training in 2013 because of work obligations. I ended up with 5,026 miles when everything was said and done. I tried my first stage race at Bike4Kids and got killed. If you want to find out where your suffering threshold is, go out and race a stage race that includes a crit, road race, and individual time trial. You will find out what you are made of. I raced the Rockwell Relay from Moab to St. George Utah with three good friends of mine. Team Betsy was Right (yes that Betsy) came across the line 14/63 teams. I also raced at a local crit series eight or nine times and did alright. I love to race crits. I also did the Ultimate Challenge that is held in conjunction with the Tour of Utah and found that yes, your heart can indeed beat out of your chest. That was one of the most difficult races I have ever done. Then I did LOTOJA again with a time of 9:46. I cut 40 minutes off of my 2012 performance, and I should have been satisfied, but somehow I knew I could continue to improve.
Then came 2014. I wanted to upgrade to be a Cat 4 rider, so I have focused on racing. I raced in the B4K and UVU stage races and did well. I also raced in the Antelope Island Road Race, had a flat at the start line, gave the main group a 3:00 head-start and turned myself inside out to catch them on the Causeway only to get dropped on the climbs around the island. But I did find the value in teamwork that day when a teammate and I beat down the group that had formed behind us to sprint to finish at the front of the group on an uphill finish. I also raced at the Porcupine Hill Climb where I learned that one mental mistake can cost you the wheel of the lead group and it is near to impossible to catch a group of motivated racers. Of course I also raced LOTOJA where I improved yet just a little more with a 9:35 finish. In 2014 I learned how important mental toughness, focus, and fortitude is at the upper levels of racing. Fitness levels are important, but you can make up for a little lack of fitness with the right focus. That and your power to weight ratio is going to predict your finish time.
There is a lot left in my legs. In 2015 I am going to maintain a pretty busy race schedule, including all of my favorite local races. My passion is and probably always will be cycling and figuring out how to pound some additional watts out of my legs. I have my goals for my races and I hope you have fun continuing to follow my journey.