Forty-seven weeks to go until my “A” race of 2013. That’s 326 days to go from today until Ironman Arizona, 2013.
Going into 2013 I will be entering my 25th year competing in the sport of triathlon though only 11th at the Ironman distance. Ironman Arizona will be Ironman number eight though that to me really isn’t any type of accomplishment. There are others who have gone down this road many more times than me which if you know what it takes to train for an Ironman will know how impressive this really is. Surprisingly three of these Iron men and woman live here in New England.
I have had the pleasure of getting to know all of these folks over the years during my career. All three have a combined 58 years of Ironman racing. Suffice it to say they know the sport inside and out and all from very different perspectives.
Vinu Malik – Founder and CEO of FuelBelt. In 27 years of racing Ironman Vinu has raced in 36 events. Out of those 36 total races, 7 were on the big island of Kona at the Ironman World Championships. His PR is 9:59 which he earned in Lake Placid. Most of these were accomplished with three kids in tow.
Think about this. 36 Ironman races. I’m not sure about the record for overall number of times raced but this has got to be up there. That’s more than one Ironman race a year on average for twenty-seven years! I think just as amazing is the support his wife gives him.
Knowing full well how supportive my wife is with me you simply have to give a lot of credit to the support crew, otherwise known as the family, that Ironman triathletes have.
Tim Snow – PRO Triathlete. Since 2000 he’s raced Ironman 33-35 times. Considering he didn’t race once in 2012, that’s an average of 3 Ironman races per year for 11 years straight. Talk about durable, this is not only consistent but “historic” in nature as well; At least from a triathlete’s perspective.
If ever there was someone who knew Ironman courses across the country, Tim would be your guy. He’s pretty much experienced everything there is to know about the sport. His wife is PRO triathlete Cait Snow who certainly knows her way around the sport.
Having a professional triathlete as a wife certainly makes things easier in terms of understanding, support and motivation, but it still requires a ton of focus and discipline.
Finally, there’s Karen Smyers. If you’ve raced in the sport for some time you’ve undoubtedly heard of Karen. Having raced in the sport of triathlon since 1984, she’s certainly considered to be one of the “elder statesmen,” if you will, of the sport.
She has raced at the Ironman distance only 14 times in this span of 28 years as a PRO, however, twelve of those have been on the big island of Kona! She too, has done all of this while raising two children. Over her professional career, she accumulated seven national triathlon titles (including six in a row), one national duathlon title, two world triathlon medals, and one victory at Ironman Kona. Her 1995 double of winning at Kona and returning two weeks later to capture the ITU triathlon world title is perhaps the single most remarkable achievement in the sport to date.
She continues to race on average about 10-12 triathlons per year. At age 50 Karen has to pick and choose her race schedule wisely. But then again, don’t we all? Taking into consideration her children and husband’s schedule makes for more of a focus on local races. But don’t ever ask her if she would consider retiring from the sport. For Karen, “Retiring,” simply isn’t in her vocabulary.
For me and what I suppose must apply to these three and thousands of others, the sport of triathlon and Ironman has become truly a way of life. Now I’m certainly not putting myself in their league in terms of their success at the sport; simply my perspective of knowing them personally. However, speaking for myself and knowing these three I can say that, “a way of life,” doesn’t mean what the phrase portrays.
We all know those triathletes who “live the life,” of triathlon. They’re obsessed to the point of fault. They document every workout on Facebook, they have the best equipment, they know the race schedules of professional triathletes, etc. etc.
I think for me it’s simply about living a lifestyle that includes this passion of sport. Of training and staying in shape. Of measuring how far you can push yourself after putting in the work.
After twenty-five years in the sport I can say that I have seen and experienced quite a bit of what there is to know about the sport in general. At this point I can only hope that I will be able to continue doing what I love for another twenty-five.
Category: Sport of Triathlon