By Administrator Kevin Weslaski
Last summer I was all set to retire as a triathlete after qualifying for the Ironman 70.3 World Championship, which includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run. The qualifying race was held in Racine and although I did not win my age group, my time was faster than all Southeastern Wisconsin finishers. I placed 35th overall, the top 25 of which were professional triathletes. I was 2nd in my age group. I lost by only 6 seconds to a South African ex-pro who now makes a living out of doing triathlons. My exact finish time was 4 hours, 35 minutes and 49 seconds.
I worked extremely hard that summer to attain such a great time. After the race I felt I had nothing else to prove and would call it quits. I ignored my peers when they would tell me to go on to the World Championship in Las Vegas. That is until one of the my close friends, Scott Richards, a statistical genius, pointed out that my qualifying time in Racine could possibly be fast enough to win my age-group the next year in Las Vegas. That would make me the fastest Half Ironman triathlete 50 years old and over in the entire world. To say that this was a lofty goal is an understatement.
Of course, I was hesitant at first. I had all sorts of excuses such as spending time with my kids, running our business, and not wearing out my body. But as my friend and coach Yoav Meiri always says, “There are good excuses and bad excuses, but at the end of the day, they are all excuses.”
Therefore, I set my sights on the 2013 World Championship and went about my training. I like to use a training regime that consists of a 40-mile bike ride, 10-mile run, and at least a 1-mile swim daily for a minimum of three weeks prior to tapering down before race day. I actually enjoy training. I make it fun by swimming with a Masters team three mornings a week, coached by Myra Fox at the Racine Family YMCA. I literally bike or run everywhere during my training. And if I do not bike to the office, I run. My car sits idle in the driveway all summer long. I like to think of myself as being 13 years old again and just using up all of my energy until I am hungry and exhausted. This is probably why I have kept working out all these years. When you make it a job it is easier to become burned out. So I try to keep it fun.
I arrived in Las Vegas for the World Championship on August 30, 2013, ten days before the race. It is important to become acclimated to the weather and elevation. My friend Yoav had given me a 2-week tapering workout schedule that I followed to the tee. Yoav, along with my Dad, Myra, Ben Oksuita (my bike mechanic), and Claire (my wife) joined me 3 days prior to the race to give me a great support team.
The race went flawless for me. I had a great swim covering the 1.2 miles in 31 minutes. I was 6th out of the water in my age group. During the 56 mile bike ride I held my own by picking up a couple more places early on. The bike course was through the desert hills of Lake Mead park which became hard for me as I am a flatlander from Wisconsin. At the 40-mile mark a few athletes passed me which doesn’t happen too often. But this was the World Championship. I did well on the 13.1 mile run but several athletes were simply faster. The run course consisted of 3 loops so my crew/team were able to cheer me on, give advice, and let me know what place I was in as I passed by.
After the race I was elated. Although I only placed 10th, my performance was the best I could do. I pushed it hard and was proud to be part of the Half Ironman World Championship. Ninety-thousand athletes competed to be one of the 2,300 at the race. Of the 120 men in my age group, I took 10th. When I say it this way it sounds even more impressive!
My goal was to be first place in the world 50 years old and over. I did not achieve that goal, but it was one of the most memorable and rewarding experiences I have ever had in my life.