Endurance Sports Rock Stars — Rudy Garcia-Tolson

I rode my 20.0 miles on the trainer this morning, and it was just one of those recovery rides. What I really want to tell you people about is my ride I took outside Wednesday afternoon:

Type: Steady State Ride
Distance: 20.1 miles
Time: 1:08:24
Average Watts: 213 watts
Normative Power: 225 watts
Average Heart Rate: 161 bpm
Total Work: 873 kJ
Average Speed: 17.6 mph

The temp outside when I started this ride at 3:30 was 17° — no kidding. I thought I dressed pretty warm for this one, but I did leave my face uncovered. There was a head-wind going out, which meant my face was really, really cold. I am talking brain freeze for half an hour cold. It was so cold, my water bottle was just flat out frozen by the time I hit 10.0 miles at the turn-around. My body was warm, all except for my head.

The great thing about riding with a PowerMeter is I can tell how tough this ride actually was by using the TSS score and the amount of kJ measured. Let’s take a ride that I went almost 1.0 mph faster on last week and compare it to yesterday’s ride. The TSS score and kJ measured last week on the same course was 85.5 and 796 kJ. Like I said, it was the exact same course, and I averaged 18.9 mph. Yesterday I averaged 17.6 mph, had a TSS score of 99.3, and measured 873 kJ. Instead of beating myself up for the slower ride, I recognize the challenge that was a head-wind and celebrate my awesomeness.

An editorial note — there were so few comments on my book review yesterday that I think I will stop doing book reviews for a while. Either you people hate Matt Fitzgerald (which I doubt) or you hate to read (which means you just come here for the pictures :) ). You have spoken and I hear you loud and clear. More articles about core work with videos of super ripped dudes showing how to exercise your core.

Rudy Garcia-Tolson

In this what has become a weekly column, I will typically profile someone who has done something extraordinary within the framework of endurance sports. These are people who may be just ordinary folk but who have elevated either their sportsmanship or performance at an event. I think Christian Sadowski is a great example of this. I will always be in awe of his studliness.

But let me take this to a whole new level with Rudy Garcia-Tolson. They only way you don’t know his name is if you live in a rock or a cave or you have recently received a very sharp blow to your head recently (don’t laugh — it happened to me while I was trying to throw a backflip skiing and I lost six months of my memory). If you are at a loss, let me refresh your memory…


Thanks Rich Cruse. Check out his other photos at his URL...

Rudy was the first and to my knowledge still the only double above the knee amputee to successfully finish an Ironman. While this is amazing, I think there is something else that sets Rudy apart from you and me. I would suggest that he and I are nothing alike. Let me explain…

During training and racing an Ironman, you spend a ton of time by yourself. I have argued here and with people that you have to like what you see when you look in the mirror in order to complete an Ironman. If you have deep seated emotional issues, it is a good idea to get those taken care of before you start because you will spend time in a deep, dark chasm during hard training days. I know for a fact that you will find yourself there on race day. It is there that you can find out who you are at the core.

Rudy has every reason not to race an Ironman. He has no quads or hamstrings to motor his bike forward. He has to rely exclusively on his glutes to move him forward. Can you imagine how tough that would be on hills? Then on the run his stumps take significant abuse as his body weight comes down on a couple of square inches where they contact his prosthetics. But Rudy has a different mindset.

Since a young age he has sought to push his own personal expectations of himself. He has competed in and won Gold at the Paraolympic Games in swimming. He has done triathlons galore, including Wildflower. The checklist of his accomplishments is long, longer than what most of us could ever dream of doing.

It is the challenge of competing and kicking butt that seems to drive him. I haven’t met or interviewed him, but from what I have read from those who have, is Rudy has an internal drive that is almost beyond comprehension. I read once that when he reaches towards a new goal and accomplishes it, that becomes his new status quo and he feels a deep desire to now reach further where most people would be complacent and revel in their new found glory. He works on a completely different level that most people I know. I should create a whole new class of “Rock Star” for this guy. We are talking Nikki Sixx people.

What I admire about Rudy isn’t what he has overcome, but what he does with the gifts that he has. He has an amazing ability to inspire and motivate people, regardless of their limitations. If you are on the fence about registering for that marathon, half Ironman, or full Ironman, remember you also have gifts and abilities and it is up to you to use them to their full potential. Anything less would be a waste. A complete waste.

Take a look at this…

Here are a couple of resources for you if you want to read more about him. Here is an interview of Rudy by Lee Gruenfeld that I really liked a lot. And here is a link to Rudy’s Facebook profile. If you ask him to be your friend, he will be. What do you expect? Rudy is a Rock Star — Nikki Sixx class.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...