This is the Ordinary Fellow again and I’m here to continue my saga – the journey to completing my full Ironman distance triathlon. My goal in this series of articles is to encourage someone who may be wavering with indecision about their abilities to compete in this event. I’m here to say that: If you want to…you can!
A quick review, in the past two installments I gave a brief introduction of myself – I’m just an Ordinary Fellow who lives an ordinary life working an ordinary job. I’m not an elite athlete (I’m not even particularly motivated at times), I don’t have a money tree in my yard (I don’t even have a yard!) and I did a lot of the training just “winging it”.
I also shared part of my process and progress as I went along through the past year which lead up to the actual event at the Michigan Titanium in August 2018.
In this issue I’ll share a bit more of the process I took to get to the race.
I Got a Plan
I’m sort of a spontaneous guy, so making plans is not normal for me (I’m getting better). Once, when we were younger, my wife and I decided that we would drive to New Jersey for the weekend. I left my Navy Recruiting office in Jackson, MI on Friday at 5, packed up the family and we drove overnight to Monmouth, NJ. I spent the majority of time there sleeping instead of visiting, got up and made it back in time to get to work on Monday!
Please don’t misunderstand me when you read the next sentences. I’m not ‘hating’ anyone or saying I’m better but running a 5k no longer seems like a big deal to me. Nor is doing an Olympic (or even half) distance triathlon. Why? Because I’ve already done them.
I recognized, however, that to do the Ironman distance I needed to be more focused and purposeful.
I spoke with a trainer at the Ascension Borgess Fitness Club who developed a monthly plan for me but soon realized that the cost involved in working through the Club was nothing I could sustain. I looked at other options, some on-line trainers, other gyms, but there was still that reoccurring charge which I could not fit into my budget. (Ordinary Fellow = ordinary job = ordinary pay)
I do have a friend, Todd, who is a tri coach. He’s got the creds plus the experience of doing his own IM. When I finally contacted him and he had 3 other athletes training with him for their first IM (and several 70.3’s) so he offered to help me too – for FREE! (He offers this service to anyone interested!!) Todd developed a plan for me that took me from where I was to where I needed to be.
Doing an IM distance tri is, to say the least, a daunting challenge. Swimming two miles, biking 112 miles and then running a marathon is a big deal!
In any tri the lion’s share of the work is on the bike so I had to become comfortable biking. I really don’t enjoy riding (or running, or swimming) indoors but it was January! So, I set my bike on the trainer, turned on the TV and endured until it was warm enough to bike outdoors.
My first Century (100 mile) ride, the Kal Tour, was notable. It was a supported ride sponsored by the Kalamazoo Bike Club. Due to a wrong turn coming out of the Fish Hatchery, the 100 miles turned into 110 but I made the course in just under 8 hours. I was excited having accomplished that monumental feat!
After this ride I joined the TriKats. I was still really excited about having done the 100 mile bike ride (you know, one and done, check it off the list), that is until I met Cara… She casually burst my excitement bubble by saying, “That’s a good start...” What??!!! She kindly suggested that I should probably do at least one more century before my race. I couldn’t believe it.
I was on my own for my second century ride. I charted a roundtrip course from my house in Battle Creek to Schoolcraft. (I found that maps don’t work particularly well if you don’t know where you are.) Spotty GPS reception, taking a detour to avoid a major hill on the way home and the heat all helped to contribute to a very rough day. I ended at almost 120 miles! Highlights of this ride included becoming dehydrated, mentally confused, falling down twice and a phone call to my wife to come pick me. I was south of Ceresco but managed to pedal to the casino (about 10 miles) where my wife met me. It was a brick day so I still had to run six miles when I got home. I was going to call off the run (I was hot and tired and discouraged) but still eked out six miles after some loving encouragement from my wife.
There’s still more to come – talk with you next time!!
Hey all you TriKats… It’s me again, the Ordinary Fellow, Pat. I’m here with Part 2 of a series that Cara (Prez) asked me, as a relative new member, to share with you regarding the Ironman (IM) distance Tri that I completed this past August at the Michigan Titanium. Due to the length of this section on what I did to prepare for the IM I’m going to make two parts out of this. Consider this as a sort of warning or a “heads up” so if you find this too completely boring you can skip the next (and any subsequent) issues.
What Did I Do To Prepare For My IM Tri?
I finished the Michigan Titanium (MiTi) full ironman distance triathlon this past August. Up to this point I had already achieved most of the items on my bucket list. I had finished the gamut of popular running events up to 26.2 miles. I don’t have any desire to run further than that so there will be no ultra-distant events for me! I had also completed several triathlons. Also by this time I was beginning to have some concept of the enormity of the journey I was about to embark on and, just as NASA made a plan to repair the Hubble Telescope, I knew that I needed a plan to keep me focused and on course.
I Told My Wife
I had read an article that was written by the wife of an IM bound triathlete. After reading it I felt that it was quite significant. She said that her husband enlisted her help and support as he trained and did his event.
I’m married (sorry all you single ladies!!) and I enjoy being married, while there have been some real rough times, I’m aiming to stay married. I felt that I didn’t need nor seek her permission since I was going to do it anyway, but I wanted her understanding of what I was undertaking and her blessing on my efforts. It was going to take a bunch of time away from our normal times together. Missing family functions and such. She was going to have to start making dinner again (I’m told that we had an agreement after our last child moved out. If I made dinner she would clean up the mess. That worked for me since I really don’t enjoy cleaning) because rather than being home I would now be out and about doing some crazy workout. I realized that I wasn’t going to be the only one making sacrifices during this training. My wife would be making adjustments as well. So we talked about it and she gave me her blessing on my goal. She became my biggest fan and source of encouragement.
It sometimes seems that we’re out there all alone on long bike rides or runs so having companions to train with is awesome! Not only does it break up the monotony of the workout but it gives you someone to help you through it. You’re less likely to call it off or cut it short if you have a friend or two with you. A really wise king once wrote that “a cord of three strands is not easily broken”. So even on those days where you bike for half a day and then have to get off that bike and run for an hour, if you have your husband/wife/significant other’s emotional and moral support you know you can attempt to bike another mile or take that next step.
Let’s face it, just looking at the training schedule for an IM tri can be, at times, a bit unnerving. My wife encouraged me and, gently, prodded me along – even if she didn’t know it! She’s the one who had to change her schedule so she could come rescue me after I had taken a wrong turn and realized it twenty miles later and after I had fallen down with my bike for the second time that day. She encouraged me to finish my work out that blisteringly hot day and do the short run that was on the schedule even though my leg was sore and bruised. And she was cheering for me as I hobbled up the driveway when I finished.
Doing a tri may be an individual effort event, but we need help (and someone to tell the rest of the family and friends why you’re not at this get-together either). Find someone that is close to you who will support you and believe in you and remind you that you can do this crazy thing when all you want to do is quit. There will be days when that’s just what you to do!
I Told Others
Sometimes we can say we’re planning to do such-and-such a thing, even to those closest to us, but not really mean it or find a reason to not follow through with it. Well, at least that’s been my experience. But I really wanted to do this IM so not only did I tell my wife, I told everyone I ran with and family members and co-workers and my boss and strangers. It was probably out of place or out of sync with many conversations (even though I’d try to make it relative to the topic) but somehow in the telling of it, it solidified my resolve to pursue the goal.
I signed up for the race
Not only did I have to keep telling people about my plan but I needed to put some money on the line. Have any of you ever seen a money tree? Do you have one growing in your yard? I haven’t and I don’t. My wife has a budget and she would like me to try to stay within the boundaries of this budget. I know how many hours I have to work to be able to pay the bills, so, in my mind, to sign up for a race and not doing it, for any reason short of death or dismemberment (and that’s a maybe) would be the same as throwing that money away. Paying the entry fee (I paid almost a year ahead since it was cheaper with the early bird pricing), increased the determination factor. I was going to do an Ironman!
I Bought A Bike
After I had made my fireside declaration of my bucket list to my family members who were sitting with me at a camp ground, I told another friend about it. I gave him the rundown of what was on my list and that I intended to accomplish it all by the time that I reached 80 years old. On that list was doing triathlons. After he finished shaking his head at me, wondering where his couch potato friend had gone, he walked me out to his barn and gave me his bike to use. He had used it when he did the Shermanator once and was kind enough to loan it to me.
It’s a 1980’s era white Peugeot 10 speed bicycle. It has a friction derailleur and Shimano SPD pedals. It came with aero bars and a Schwinn bike computer! He also let me use his bike shoes (my first experience with clip-in shoes was disastrous! I tell you what, there’s really something to that whole ‘gravity’ thing!) He gave me a bike trainer as well. The bike was a bit too tall but we pumped up the tires and off I went.
Moving the bike from point A to point B, short of riding it (and then what would I do with my car?) required a bike rack. I was able to trade an old lawn mower for a used bike rack. I needed a bike helmet and heard that Borgess Hospital gave them away without charge so I got one. (The hospital still gives them away for free but now it’s only once a year during their “bike rodeo” in June.)
As I said, I was given this bike to use for my first tri and it worked out wonderfully. I used it for subsequent events and just for pleasure riding but had difficulty at times maintaining a gear especially when shifting between gears.
I realized during the bike course on the Olympic distance (2017) of the Tri Del Sol that, while my bike was ok, it was going to need serious upgrade if I wanted to do the IM. I went to the local bike shop in Battle Creek and met with the store owner, Mike. He helped me with information that I needed to consider about either rebuilding the old bike or purchasing a new bike that fit my size. I opted to buy a bike.
I chose NOT to purchase a tri bike but a regular road bike. It was more affordable and I could also use it after I had finished my event. I knew that it was significant to get a proper sized bike as the majority of the race will be spent on the bike course. I’m just an ordinary fellow and, without seeking professional help would not have been able to get a proper ride on my own. So I made the investment to get “sized”. The store has a machine that emulates the feel of various bikes and, while it’s all very subjective, various bike brands and models within brands felt and rode differently. I chose one that I thought felt just right for me. The new bike was awkward to use at first since I was accustomed to my old, larger, bike but we, the bike and I, became acquainted with each other over the winter while riding attached to the trainer.
Stay tuned for the continuation of this post next week....
Ordinary Fellow Blog Part 1 11/8/2018
I had just made the turn and was heading for the home stretch. I could see the lights from the chute at the finish line. It was about 9:30pm and I was at mile 25.2. My get-up and go had gotten up and went. My watch battery had died at about mile 12 of this crazy marathon so I had no idea as to what my “statistics” were but I was nearly finished. My feet were sore, my mouth was dry and it was still really warm. Even though I had been drinking water at every aid station, I had stopped sweating some time back. But my fans (my wife and daughter) had hung with me and were cheering me to finish line (I never had fans before). I shuffled passed the final water station. One more mile and… (Sound effect time: the sound of a phonograph needle scratching across a record on the record player (do you even know what one of those is?); the sound of screeching brakes) Let me back up…
I started on June 3rd. The year, 1958 and I was at Cottage Hospital in Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan. I was there because that’s where my mom was and I wanted to be close to her and my sister who showed up just a few minutes before me. After the allotted amount of time we, both sister and I, were taken to our home in a blue collar neighborhood in Detroit. Hmm, too far back…
Hi all you TriKats (and TriKitten!). My name is Pat Huot (pronounced ‘yacht’ like the boat) and, as one of the new kids on the TriKatblock, Cara (A.K.A. Prez) asked me to write to you guys. Her idea is a monthly blog for the website regarding my journey to finish the ironman distance triathlon this past summer at the Michigan Titanium. In this series of (at this point) five installments I hope to encourage any of you who may be thinking about doing the ironman distance but perhaps question the “do-ability” of it, whether you could do it or not. I hope that you see from these articles that I’m just not an elite athlete like the Cara’s, Joe’s, John’s or the host of others in the gang. I’m just an Ordinary Fellow. I hope that you will see that you too can go the distance.
I felt that before I really get started I should introduce myself and give some back ground to me. A bio of sorts and since I know me better than anyone else I’ll tell the story!
I was the youngest child of 4 and grew up in the city of Detroit. Outside of street football/baseball (no dibs on broken windows!)/hockey and backyard basketball, my only exposure to sports was the high school swim team. I wasn’t good at it so only lasted one year.
I never followed any sports programs or teams growing up, being indifferent about them. So it was a rare thing to find me at a sporting event. But here I was and it, as it turns out, was a triathlon, to cheer for someone I knew who was participating.
Later that summer I was visiting these same some folks who were camping in Covert, MI. They had pedaled the KalHaven trail to get there. That, to me, was a seriously long way (I knew how long it took for me to drive there!) to go on a bike, and then to camp in a tent (my idea of camping was the Holiday Inn!) But we were sitting around the campfire and just enjoying the evening (a beer or two may have been involved). It was there that I came up with a bucket list having been inspired by their athletic prowess and stories they had been regaling me with. I decided that I was going to begin running and accomplish a 5k, a half marathon and a full marathon. Also I said that I was going to do triathlons, a sprint, a half ironman and a full ironman. I stated that I was going to do this before I turned 80, thinking that that would be enough time to get it all done. I don’t know if anyone there thought I was serious or not. I was the epitome of the Couch Potato. (Actually I heard later that they thought I was just going through a phase – like a mid-life crisis but without the shiny red sports car.)
I remember the day I went for my very first run. I was all geared up in my running clothes that I had purchased at Target and a pair of Nike’s from Kohl’s. I stepped off the back porch and ran as fast as I could. My goal was to make it around the neighborhood – a reasonable goal I figured. I got as far as the corner, about 50 yards! I was wheezing and gasping terribly! Exercise induced Asthma!
Well, with a little bit of advice from a seasoned runner – slow down, and a Ventolin inhaler I eventually made it around the block and beyond to my first “organized run” which was Run Through the Lights, sponsored by Gazelle Sports in Kalamazoo (at that time there was only a Kalamazoo store!)
That was the event that pushed me over-the-top on seeing that this bucket list was going to be accomplished. Since that first run (I still have the shorts!) I’ve run in all those events that I had goaled for plus some I didn’t even know were a thing (10 & 25k) as well as achieving personal speed goals for the half and full marathons. I’m not fast, but I am determined! My first triathlon was the Shermanator at the Sherman Lake YMCA. It was so exciting to participate in the event. A borrowed bike, a free helmet (which I still use), a used (Ebay) Garmin Forernner 410 and a pickle bucket (it took a long time to get that pickle smell out!) to carry all my stuff and double as a chair in transition. In short I completed all the items on my bucket list, this year fulfilling the last item, the full distance ironman tri.
I’ve made a few improvements over the years since that first run and tri, not many. Mostly I just found that I like to run/train with others better than by myself so I have been participating in the Borgess Run Camp and Gazelle’s Summer Safari for several years – hey, it’s a great social outlet for me plus I get to run. This year I joined the TriKats which opened up another door for training with others who do more than just run.
Well, I’ll end my intro at this point. Next time I’ll begin by telling how I got organized for my ironman tri. Right now I need to sign off and get dinner made! Until next time…
Tel: 269-217-4525PO Box 142 | Oshtemo, MI email@example.com