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 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:
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.
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 up a 9% grade hill. But you can see how my body started to change…
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…
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.
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…
There is a lot left in my legs. I decided to race an Ironman every two years. I will focus on cycling and other triathlon related sports during the off years. I think I have a 12:30 in me on the Ironman St. George course, so I have something greater to shoot for. Triathlon is one of the greatest sports around because you can compete against yourself and the clock instead of everyone else out there on the course. Then again, if you want you can compete against other racers too. The triathlon community is a family and you can always find someone else who is at your same skill level and personality.
I am not the smartest guy on the course, but I do take the time to educate myself about out sport and best practices associated with effective training. You can always get a good laugh at my expense, so please, pull up a chair and stick around for a while. Hopefully we will both learn something in the process.