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!!