Many people have asked me how SJ did in the Ironman. And the people that followed SJ's results want to know how this self proclaimed "non-triathlete" managed to go so fast and qualify for the Kona World Championships. This was his first Ironman and he finished 3rd in his age-group and 27th overall (not including pros) out of 2100+ competitors.
In my attempts to figure out the answer to this question, I've come up with the following list:
- He's married to a pro triathlete: this means access to the best gear, inside knowledge of the sport, and built in training partner. Instead of having to beg his wife to let him go out for a 7 hour workout on a Saturday morning, he gets me saying "hey, what do you think of riding from New Paltz to NYC..." Plus, when your training partner is a pro and a girl, there's no slacking in workouts. Ever.
- The Training Program: A total of 6 long (80-115 mile bike rides). One of them was with me and I cried 2/3 of the way because the route choice was awful and scary, so that one probably didn't count as training. His more serious rides were solo, hilly and hard. The run training was less formal, with one long run on the weekend and maybe one run during the week. We started doing long runs together in January and he was not easily dropped. This was the first indication that he might do well in the Ironman. As far as swimming goes, a total of 90 minutes in the last 2 years, but thanks to the Hudson River current he floated to a 47 minute swim.
- Cross Training: His "intense" winter training program included: elliptical sessions of 45 minutes each, an occasional spin bike workout (if he won the daily battle with the fashionista for the only bike in the gym), backcountry skiing in Switzerland and ice climbing in the Catskills.
- Genetics: a super-low resting HR that sets off hospital monitors, which he inherited from his grandfather. His grandmother climbed mountains in a Victorian skirt in the 19-teens.
- Pressure: His boss came all the way from Connecticut and was cheering for him at Ross Dock and other points along the way. An entire trading floor from work was monitoring progress online. Again, no slacking.
- Experience: Even though this was his first Ironman, SJ is a serial podium finisher in the variety of events that he enters. He's done several 24 hour adventure races and even won one outright as a solo team and is a multi-time winner (and organizer) of the Shawanathon.
And now, about Kona...he declined his slot. Maybe another year.