A blog for (semi) athletic middle-aged men (and women) holding on to (the last vestiges of) their youth
by training for and competing in running, cycling, swimming and triathlon events!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Why? Never Again! What's Next?!

Why? That's the question a lot of people ask when I talk about tackling an Ironman 70.3 triathlon. And, honestly, it's the question that was running through my mind around mile 8 of the 13.1 mile run in today's Boulder Ironman 70.3 (the last leg of a 70.3 Ironman, following a 1.2-mile swim and 56-mile bike for a total of 70.3 miles).
Above: Pain is overshadowed by elation, relief and satisfaction as I crossed the finish line at today's Boulder Ironman 70.3.

For the answer, take a look at my before and after picture. Sixteen years ago, at the young age of 30, I weighed 270 lbs. and got very little exercise. As I began to live a more healthy, active lifestyle I realized that I need to set goals to get me out of bed in the morning to ride my bike. So I signed up for an MS150 bike ride (fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis research). After my first century ride (100 miles) I was hooked.

Several years later I met Nancy Strickland, a fitness instructor and tri coach, Nancy convinced me to give my first tri a try. Despite nearly drowning (not really, but I did stuggle mightily in the swim), I was hooked. So I signed up for swimming lessons with Nancy and started training for my next event. Ten triathlons later, all of various distances Nancy challenged me to sign up for the Vineman 70.3 (triathlons come in many distances -- sprint, Olympic, Ironman 70.3 and 140.6 are just a few).

I ran the Vineman 70.3 in July 2007 and thought "never again." The 13.1-mile run in 90+ degree heat was the most painful experience of my life. But it wasn't long before I was asking myself, "What's next?" I need goals!

Two months after Vineman I had a little altercation with a car and ended up getting a new titanium collarbone (in a bike vs. car altercation the car always wins). I continued to ride and run but stopped swimming and didn't sign up for another tri until this year -- the inaugural Boulder Ironman 70.3.

So tonight I am sitting on my couch reveling in the satisfaction of completing another Ironman 70.3. Three years older and about 5,430 ft. higher, I set a new PR, besting my Vineman time by over 22 minutes! I worked hard to get here and completed my goal. It's a great feeling...in spite of the pain. That's "why."

I'm not saying "never again." but I'm also not running out to sign up for another 70.3. And although I've toyed with someday trying a 140.6 (double the distance in each event), I think I have given up those crazy thoughts (ask me again tomorrow...or maybe next month).

So what's next? Maybe a marathon. I've done five halfs (two as part of the Ironman events) but never a full.

Or maybe I'll go back to being a couch potato...NOT! That's the one thing to which I can say, "Never again" and mean it!

Ride on!


Pics from the Boulder Ironman 70.3
photos by Leslie Williams

The Boulder Ironman 70.3 began with a skydiving team and singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

A Sharpie pen turned my old tri jersey into my new BEEFMAN jersey (still a work in progress). Unfortunately the love handles I developed in my "Fat Daren" days don't really look great in the super cool BEEF tri top my friends at the Texas Beef Council sent me :(

A warmup swim in the Boulder Reservoir netted a new seaweed toupe and a lot of confidence that my "water anxiety" issues were under control.

My heat (Wave 5) began around 6:45 a.m. I compare the swim start to a school of pirhannas attacked their prey. It can be a bit disconcerting so I have learned to move to the side and settle into my rhythm before re-entering the fray.

Exiting the water is part relief (to be alive) and part trepidation (still have a 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run to go!).

My bike is one of the last on the Wave 5 rack after a very slow swim. I had some serious time to make up on the bike and turned in a 2:54:24 (19.3 mph average over 56 miles -- a personal best and ANY distance in a triathlon where drafting is not allowed!).

The run is my least favorite part of the event but I felt good for the first 6.5 mile loop. I slowed down a bit on the second loop but still hit my run goal of sub-10 min. miles (2:09:43). Dehydration became an issue in the last several miles and both hamstrings threatened to seize up at any moment. did I mention it was 90F during the run?

Nothing refuels like BEEF! The zinc, iron and protein in beef help repair and rebuld your body from instense physical activity. "The Rancher" burger at the Pearl Street Pub in Boulder (and two Amber Ales) hit the spot, but the hour-and-a-half ride home was painful. I'm glad Leslie was driving. Not sure I could have focused on the road!


  1. I have no doubt you will continue to set and achieve higher goals as the years go on. Forget about "what next?" for now and ignore all questions asked to you in that vernacular.

    Revel in this accomplishment and fire up the grill. I am coming over for a burger.

  2. Congratulations! I am in awe! Relax a bit, refuel with more beef and wait until next week to make plans for the next one!

  3. Wow, Daren, what an amazing day! You should be quite proud of your accomplishments.

  4. Good advice, Dane! Thanks, Debbie, I feel pretty good today but will wait awhile before setting my next BIG goal! Stay tuned...


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