A Triathlon Bike’s Tale

Editor’s Note: Ever wonder what your triathlon bike thinks about travel? Dave Conover has. He has teamed up with his triathlon bike to share the good, bad, and the ugly parts of traveling for triathlon.

By Dave’s Quintana Roo PRFive

A Little About Me

I’m a matte red and black, four-plus year old 56 centimeter Quintana Roo (QR) PRfive with numerous triathlon training and racing on my frame and wheelset. I was purchased in Virginia by my rider and good friend, Dave Conover.

Dave takes good care of me. Aside from racing in some rain in Puerto Rico in 2022, I have never been out in stormy or wet weather. We have logged close to 10,000 miles together outside and on a basement trainer with oldies from the 60’s playing. This is my story.

After qualifying for the 2020 World Triathlon Championship at the 2019 Cleveland Olympic Distance USA Triathlon (USAT) Nationals, Dave got the go ahead from his wife of 50 years, Louise, to team up with a new bike. He ordered me through a local triathlon-focused shop after a session with a professional bike fitter.

After arriving at Dave’s house, we quickly became good partners. I also got to literally hang out on the wall with his well-aged and cared-for FUJI Airfoil Pro. We got in some late fall rides, then transitioned to the indoor trainer.

My First Time Traveling

We made plans – truthfully, Dave made most of them – to travel to Edmonton, Canada for Worlds in 2020. These plans included me being transported by Tri Bike Transport (TBT) from Virginia to Edmonton and back. We were ready to start our racing season in 2020, then COVID came along. Long story short, we spent a lot of time on the indoor trainer and on solitary rides outside on less traveled two-lane roads in 2020. We also did a virtual triathlon together.

The Edmonton trip was postponed until 2021, then canceled in 2021. Still, we started racing in 2021 and drove to all our races, where I got to ride inside the SUV. Thankfully, I didn’t need to wear a face mask, though had to keep my distance according to USAT Competitive Rules.

Anxious for a challenge, we used a credit from TBT for our pre-paid trip to Edmonton to travel to Puerto Rico for a 70.3 race. I’ll simply say it was a wonderful experience, although a little warm and muggy.

From drop off to pick up in Virginia and at the race site, TBT was wonderful. I had a great time traveling and hanging out with so many other bikes, including a number of QRs from my time at the QR factory. Oh, how great to sit supported from a rack with that wonderful late-March sun on my aerobars.

My First Time in Europe Was Great

Then, in 2022, we raced well in Milwaukee, where we qualified to go to Spain for World’s in September 2023. It excited me to think about another trip arranged by TBT, again traveling with other bikes from the U.S.

I was ready to go in August, and was picked up and shipped to Spain with no incident. During this trip, I got to visit with some old bike buddies and make some new friends.
All 186 of us were stored in a nice warehouse near the race site. We were treated very well.

I was reunited with Dave a few days before the race for a few rides. I also got to stay with him and his wife at their rented apartment. You should have seen the view of the river. Still, it reminded me why I am glad to do the biking. I cannot swim or run.

What fun going up, then down, and up and down again, a big long hill during the race. My new rear cassette made my easy gear just a little easier for the hill. I was also glad to not be going down the hill at over 50 miles per hour like some of the other bikes.

But, The Way Home Was Long

After the race, I was dropped off at the warehouse for my trip back home. I got to compare notes about the race with all the other bikes. Then, when they turned out the lights, we had a great party using some remaining race hydration and CO2 cartridges.

I was packed up and made it back to the U.S. We were happy to be back in the states and almost home. However, we began a bonus tour of the U.S., one which we soon learned was no bonus. Some would say we were stolen.

Right after being offloaded from the trip across the Atlantic, we heard discussion, some heated, about shipping fees and unpaid invoices. Some bikes ridden by lawyers understood there were even threats about legal action.

From what these bikes heard, TBT had contracted with another company to transport us to and from the U.S. and Spain and had not paid this company. It was not just for the 186 of us who went to Spain, but other bikes that had gone on different trips organized by TBT.

Someone went to court to secure our release and got an order for the shipping company to do just that. Unfortunately, we were moved to another state and then another before settling in California.

California? From Spain to Virginia?

Days turned into weeks, then months. It was getting pretty bad. The fluids and goos dropped on us in Spain were getting smelly. Our tires where deflating. Rust was showing up in places. On top of this, we were getting restless from not being able to get out to ride.

We also did not get much sleep because of all the noise associated with the places we were shipped and stored. Some of the bikes snored, while a few released some bad air from their tires.
It also got really cold at times. We knew we had been moved to California when it warmed up. I wish I could have smelled the salt air; by now, the odor inside our containers was really stale and smelly.

After being in California for a while, one of the Cervellos heard the word “auction”. As we discussed what this could mean, we realized the shipping company was going to sell each of us in an attempt to recoup the money they were owed.

We were awestruck. How could TBT allow this to happen? Where would we end up and with whom? Would we ever race again? A few bikes feared the worst, being sold for parts and never riding again. This exerted a significant amount of mental stress on each of us.

A Glimmer of Hope

Then there was a ray of hope. Someone heard that if our owners would each pay $2,000, they could come to California and pick us up. A few bikes left because their owners paid what we considered a ransom. Of course, I hoped Dave would come rescue me.

At the same time, I realized this was not reasonable. He had already paid for my safe return to Virginia. Now, he was looking at the cost and time associated with a trip from Virginia to California on top of the $2,000.

Those of us not rescued by our owners waited as our tires deflated some more. Many of us lost our desire to ride again.

Finally Rescued

Then someone came along to save us and get us back home. Travelers Insurance Company, who had underwritten policies to cover damage and loss, agreed to pay the outstanding fees to the shipping company to secure our release. Even better, they had arranged with a company to pack and ship us to our homes.

We were all thrilled, so much so that we threw another party with what we could scrounge together.

I was packed in a box and found my way back to Dave’s house. This ride was a little rougher than the first one; a plastic box on my seat post, like that on all QR PR bikes, was knocked off and damaged in shipment. But, after this ordeal, a little broken plastic was not a big deal.

It thrilled me to be reunited with Dave. He cleaned me, and put fresh air in my tires. He even took me to the triathlon shop for a check and tune up. Then, we got to go out for rides again in Virginia.

I’m Looking Forward

Later, I thought about what could have happened. While the additional four or so months it took to get home were very trying, it all worked out in the end. I have some good and not so good memories of my ordeal.

I also learned that TBT is no longer in the business of shipping bikes. Maybe someone will put them in a box and ship them around a while to see how they like it.

I’m still in contact with a few of my hostage mates. We are looking forward to the 2024 racing season. Even better, I have some trips coming up this season, though none outside the U.S. I will very much enjoy being pampered by Dave, driven in the back of his Honda SUV while I lay on my side, being properly cleaned up after each ride, and getting to visit with many friends in transition.

Have You or Your Bike Had An Experience Like Dave’s Bike?

We’d love to hear your or your bike’s story in the Comments below.

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Ten Years Later – Pat Johnson’s Triathlon Sequel

Pat Johnson completed her 28th triathlon at age 80. What has caused her to continue in the sport? What has she learned about triathlon over the past decade?

A Sequel Story

Ten years ago, Pat Johnson completed her first triathlon as part of a promise to her niece, Barb. The Senior Triathletes post titled “At Age 70, I Had 19 Days To My First Triathlon”—Pat Johnson’s Story describes her experience in preparing for that triathlon. Now, days after her 80th birthday, Pat completed her 28th sprint triathlon, this time with Barb.

First Triathlon of Her Eighties

The day began early, at 4 am, when Pat picked up Barb. Barb traveled from Colorado especially for Pat’s birthday and to do the Great Clermont Tri sprint triathlon with Pat.

Pat and Barb arrived at Waterfront Park in Clermont, Florida, also known as the “World’s Triathlon Destination”, at around 5 am, while still pitch dark. Through her ten-year triathlon career, Pat has learned to arrive at the race venue early, especially since she likes to get a parking space for her car close to the transition area.

As the sun rose, Pat could see that the 60 degrees morning air appeared angry, whipping up waves over Lake Minneola. During the triathlon swim, these waves made the swim more difficult than usual. Pat told me, “I have never done a triathlon swim with so big waves in which you are drinking water while swimming.”

Once the swim was over, things looked up. Barb rode with Pat during the entire bike leg, using a bike borrowed from one of Pat’s friend in The Villages. The two of them made one stop along the course, long enough for Barb to help a lady whose chain had come off.

After returning to the transition area, Pat and Barb racked their bikes, then took off on the run leg. Throughout her triathlon career, Pat, a competitive race walker, has walked instead of run. As with the bike leg, Pat and Barb completed this leg together, with a fast walk.

As the two approached the finish line, Pat saw her two nephews, who came from Minnesota to celebrate their aunt’s birthday. While the two had originally planned to surprise Aunt Pat, one of them had accidentally “let the cat out of the bag” during an earlier conversation.

After the awards ceremony, during which Pat received a first place age group award, the family headed off for a lunch at a Mexican restaurant. During lunch, the restaurant staff got wind of this meal being a birthday celebration. As they came up behind her singing and carrying a piece of flaming cheesecake, Pat nearly jumped out of her skin.

Pat’s birthday weekend with family was “delightful and a fantastic 80th birthday present.”

Pat Johnson, age 80, and her niece, Barb, coming out of the water at the Great Clermont Tri in Clermont, Florida. Pat has a wetsuit top over her triathlon suit and Barb and a full length sleeveless wetsuit.
Pat Johnson and her niece, Barb, coming out of the water at the Great Clermont Tri in Clermont, Florida

Why Continue With Triathlon?

What has prompted Pat to continue competing in triathlon throughout the past ten years?

Stay in shape

While Pat has won at least five first place age group awards, she claims to not be competitive. For Pat, triathlon is a hobby. Her real motivation for continuing to complete two to three triathlons each year over the past decade is to remain healthy and mobile.

Along that line, Pat tries to do some physical exercise every day. Some days, this is swimming. Other days, she goes for a long walk, bikes, or joins an exercise class with The Villages Triathlon Club.

“If I wouldn’t keep walking, biking or swimming each day, I wouldn’t be as healthy and mobile as I am.”

Pat holds herself to this by keeping a daily log of physical activity, writing down each activity and its distance. Having a triathlon on the calendar also helps her be consistent and intentional in training.

Inspire others to stay active

Pat completed her first sprint triathlon mainly because of Barb’s goal to complete an Ironman triathlon before age 40. Years later, Pat met a couple, both in their 90s, who did triathlons together. She has also seen families with young children at triathlon events, in which one parent competes in the race.

Experiences like these have caused Pat to encourage others to live a healthy life through triathlon. The positive remarks Pat often hears both during a triathlon and after finishing it from people who see her age on the back of one of her legs is evidence that she too is inspiring others.

Pat is also an unofficial ambassador for triathlon. She encourages those she meets at the swimming pool or those who enjoy biking or walking to consider doing a triathlon. “Triathlon is fun”, she tells them.

Even if the person knows little or nothing about triathlon, Pat assures them that there are plenty of people their age willing to help them prepare for a triathlon. There also seems to be a growing number of triathlon clubs for seniors.

Meet people

Pat loves people. My wife and I often golf or have dinner with Pat and her husband, Lou. In nearly every outing, Pat meets someone she knows or makes a new acquaintance.

Attend most triathlon events today and you will see all ages represented. Families with young children to older adults. And the camaraderie, especially among amateur athletes, is unbeatable. As the example of Barb reinstalling a dropped bike chain shows, triathletes encourage and even stop to help each other along the way.

For Pat, a triathlon is a place to meet new people and reconnect with family and friends. Triathlon is also an opportunity to tell others of her faith in Jesus Christ and remind herself of who has given her the ability to finish each race. For this reason, she proudly wears a temporary tattoo from the triathlon group, Tri4Him, on one of her arms during each race.

Never Too Old To Tri

Pat exemplifies the ‘You are never too old’ mantra on display within the sport of triathlon.

Are you on the fence about doing your first triathlon, yet have always wanted to? Pat and plenty of others in our community are eager to help you check this goal off your list.

Think You Are Too Old?

What questions do you have for Pat? Leave them in the Comments section below.

Comments: Please note that I review all comments before they are posted. You will be notified by email when your comment is approved. Even if you do not submit a comment, you may subscribe to be notified when a comment is published.

I Found ‘Athlete’ In The Words ‘Heart Health’ – David Conover’s Story

Editor’s Note: You may think that any issue with a person’s heart health will end their hopes for triathlon, especially for older athletes. David Conover’s story proves otherwise.

I have been blessed to be able to compete in triathlon for over 30 years. More important, for almost 20 of those years I have been able to train and compete in spite of some medical challenges. Much of the credit goes to my cardio, pulmonary, and hematology focused doctors, my triathlon coach, and my family, including Louise, my wife of almost 50 years.

That said, I also had to ‘read my dashboard’, that is, keep track of relevant health and performance data. When a yellow light appeared, I had to seek help and follow their excellent guidance. A coach, medical professionals, and the athlete and their family comprise a formidable and necessary trio to support successful training and competing. They comprise the ‘tri’. The ‘athlete’, which can be created with the words ‘heart health’, fills it out.

Active Early Years

After swimming in college in the late 60s, I continued into my 20s with masters swimming and some recreational biking. These gave way to work and family responsibilities while I was in my 30’s. I had little extra time.

Around 1990, a son’s little league coach mentioned triathlon. Even though I did not run, I was interested in the sport. So, at 40, I decided to learn to run, do a triathlon, get fit, and lose some weight.

After doing one race I was hooked. I self-trained with advice from relevant print media, signed up for local races and, over time, made great friends in the tri community. Each year, I learned some new racing techniques, updated some of my equipment, and improved a little.

Heart Health Issues Appeared While Competing In Triathlon

A little more than 20 years ago, some medical issues arose. These challenged my triathlon journey and a number of other things. Through these, I have learned to listen to my body, record and assess relevant health data, eat right, and plan and execute under the guidance of medical professionals and a triathlon coach.

Thirty minutes after completing the 2005 Timberman half iron distance in New Hampshire, in which I had really pushed the run during the last mile, I experienced some sweats, thirst, nausea, and very minor pain at my sternum. I went to the medical tent. Even though I had OK vitals, I opted to go to the ER, where I was tested over six hours. The doctor found me to be OK and released me.

I felt fine but the sternum symptom re-occurred over the next few days when I got my heart rate up a little.

Home in Virginia, I consulted a cardiologist. After looking at data from a number of past EKGs and a ‘fresh’ one, he informed me that I had had a mild heart attack. The sprint at the end of the triathlon dislodged some plaque. A clot formed in one artery adjacent to the plaque ‘rupture’. The clot restricted blood flow to part of the heart muscle.

I was sent to the hospital and underwent a cardiac cauterization. One stent was placed in the artery. While recuperating at home, I experienced a pulmonary embolism caused by an allergic reaction to one of the blood thinning drugs given during the stent placement.

Learning To Adapt

After recovering from the stent placement and the embolism, I went to cardiac rehab. Through rehab, I got the confidence needed to return to exercise, and raced again eight months later.

My takeaway from that first medical challenge was to listen to your body and learn what is and is not normal for you, including values for pace, pedal power, swolf, and the data athletes now collect via heart rate monitors. Also, establish relationships with medical professionals you respect and trust. And, don’t be afraid to ‘get back on the horse’.

My next medical hurdle occurred in 2009 and 2010. This consisted of a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) that lead to another pulmonary embolism. During this period, I was also treated for prostate cancer (seed implants) and a case of shingles.

With the help of my growing medical team, I was able to successfully meet these medical challenges and continue to train and compete. From these experiences, I added resources to my medical team to include hematology, pulmonary and urology. I gathered more medical information about these conditions, their treatment, and their impact on performance data related to my training and racing.

I essentially followed the same game plan, but it was now more complicated. Being on a blood thinner meant having to train and race more carefully. I didn’t want to get kicked in the swim, crash on the bike, or trip and fall on the run.

David Conover has proven that heart health affects triathlon performance.
Family, including Louise, my wife of almost 50 years, have been part of the support team for my triathlon journey.

Adding A Triathlon Coach

Fast forward to 2019. For almost 10 years, I was able to successfully train and compete every year. This was thanks to the help of great medical professionals with whom I was actively engaged on a regular basis. Of course, I had to heed their guidance.

After qualifying for Team USA in Cleveland, I added another member to my team. I had been self-coaching since my first triathlon. In late 2019, my training was enhanced with the help of a triathlon coach.

For the next three years, I continued to have checkups with my medical team. With the help of my coach, I was able to improve both my times and my health metrics. My heart rate decreased while resting and while training and competing compared to my pre-2019 seasons. In short, I became more efficient, which had a positive impact on my times as well the level of effort I had to put out while training or racing.

All was good, except COVID came along and in late 2022, after some running speed work, I had another health scare.

Afib Enters The Picture

On September 23, 2022, I was awoken from a deep sleep by what turned out to be atrial fibrillation (Afib). Over the years I had had some missed heart beats. My cardiologist felt the missed beats were not an issue since I would return to normal (sinus) rhythm with a deep cough.

A trip to the ER confirmed Afib. I visited my cardiologist right after leaving the ER and left his office feeling much better. The Afib had stopped but I had atrial flutter so he ordered a 24/7 cardio monitor, stress test, and cardiac echo test.

A week later I was back to normal and even did a 5K on October 1st. After a review of my test results in early October, I was considered healthy and the Afib event history. Then I came down with COVID and within 12 hours of an antibody infusion the Afib came back. This time, the Afib would not go away.

While the COVID went away, the Afib did not and I went to the ER again. This was followed by appointments with my cardiologist and a new medical professional.

Afib and Athletic Performance

Aside from not feeling ‘right’, my training was significantly impacted. However, I could still stay active in spite of Afib. I could still swim and bike at a much slower rate. It was a blessing this was in my off season. What had been a nice 10-minute pace for an easy long run at an aerobic heart rate became a 13-minute pace at or above maximum heart rate. I was now out of breath and having to walk in less than 10 minutes.

With the help of my cardiologist, I added an electrophysiologist to my medical team. I was not aware of the term ‘electrophysiology’. Neither did I know there were electrophysiologists, doctors who were expert in the heart’s electrical circuitry and impulses.

An Effective Treatment for Triathlon-Ready Heart Health

I did considerable reading about the heart and electrical impulses, an interesting addition to my understanding of its mechanical pumping operation. After this, I consulted with my new doctor and decided to undergo an atrial ablation. I had the procedure on February 1, 2023 at the INOVA Heart and Vascular Institute in Fairfax, Virginia.

You can think of your heart’s normal sinus rhythm like skipping one stone over a smooth pond once every second and watching the waves on the pond. Then imagine many others showing up at the pond to randomly skip stones and upset the waves you were making. During the procedure, those throwing the extra stones are identified and blocked. You are left alone throwing one stone per second.

From an exercise point of view, or any effort that increases your heart rate, having Afib felt like I was carrying ‘extra baggage’ in my swim jammers, on my bike, and on the soles of my shoes. Being back in sinus rhythm, I was cleared to go home. After a two-week period to heal the incisions associated with the ablation procedure, I started exercise again. The exercise was light at first, then ramped up over time.

Back In The Saddle

During this period, my medical team and coach were invaluable. Two months after the procedure I completed a sprint triathlon. During the remainder of 2023, I continued to train and compete successfully with no issues related to my heart.

I continued to see my doctors. With their and my coach’s help, and my family’s invaluable support, I was able to compete at the World Championship in Spain in September 2023.

Heart Health and Triathlon

As 2024 gets underway, I continue to train using the weekly schedule provided by my coach, visit with and follow the guidance of my medical team, and gather and evaluate medical and workout data.

Everyone is different and has different likes and dislikes and capabilities and talents. That said, no matter your age or abilities, a healthy diet, exercise and a good night’s sleep are all important factors in establishing the basis for good outcomes.

Read as much as you can about health and medically-related topics. My experience also underscores the importance of listening to your body. It has also taught me the value of taking relevant data such as pulse rate and blood pressure. Rounding this out with data on run and swim pace and bike power output and you have a basis for making informed decisions. Those data are the way your body speaks to you as well as medical professionals and coaches.

Regardless of your abilities or athletic interests, consider setting some measurable athletic goals no matter what you choose to do to stay active. Work with a coach or health club staff, establish a relationship with medical professionals, gather and assess relevant information and most importantly be willing to adjust your expectations, training, and race schedule as warranted.

Better than feeling good, you ideally can successfully meet the challenges that come with age and be one of a few lining up for a race in a 70’s or even 80’s age group.

Dave Conover’s Story on NBC Washington

Related Senior Triathletes post: Can I Do Triathlon With Afib?

Leave Your Questions and Comments Below

Comments: Please note that I review all comments before they are posted. You will be notified by email when your comment is approved. Even if you do not submit a comment, you may subscribe to be notified when a comment is published.

Individual Competition, Team Effort – Gene Peters’ Story

Triathlon is a competition involving three activities, usually swimming, biking, and running. The three activities, or legs, are most often performed by an individual. However, reaching the finish line of a triathlon requires training and the support of others, including family and friends. This is Gene Peters’ triathlon story.

Gene Peters’ Path to Triathlon

Gene’s introduction to triathlon occurred in the early 1990s, in his late 40s, when his younger brother and his brother-in-law, both in their 30s, were doing triathlon.

“What’s wrong with these guys?” He thought, “This is crazy. These guys have missed their opportunity to be serious competitors in triathlon. Why bother?”

If the window to compete in triathlon had closed for these guys in their 30s, it definitely had closed for Gene, who was nine years older than his brother. That’s what he thought, at least.

While Gene was somewhat active while growing up in central California, he was not athletic. “As a kid, I was shy and not athletic. I was never among the first to be picked when teams were formed.”

However, he had stayed active during college until his late 30s, racing motorcycles off-road and riding ‘centuries’ (100 mile bike rides).

Volunteering at Wildflower Triathlon

A few years later, Gene’s brother asked him and his wife Kitty to help out as volunteers at the Wildflower Triathlon at Lake San Antonio in central California. Gene’s brother was responsible for feeding the race volunteers who came from a local college. He needed help with barbecuing at the end of the race. Since most of this work was done after the race, Gene and his wife were able to get up close to what happened during the race by volunteering at the sole transition area for this triathlon.

While sitting around the campfire later that day, Gene’s brother threw out a challenge. If Gene would compete in next year’s triathlon, his entry would be free.

“Anything my brother offered to participate in with me was perfect. The guy was an absolute joy to be with, He was fun.”

There were two challenges right from the start. The sprint triathlon involved mountain biking and Gene did not have a mountain bike. Second, the only swimming he had done was in group lessons he had taken when six or seven years old and when he water skiied later on. With water skiing, he wore a wetsuit. In other words, he was starting from the point of a near beginner swimmer.

Before the race, Gene developed his swimming first by swimming back and forth in the small round pool managed by the HOA (homeowners association) and later in a local community pool.

First Triathlon – Wildflower Off-Road Sprint

When Gene arrived for his first triathlon, he learned he needed a wetsuit for this race. The only one he had was for jet skiing, which was not appropriate for the triathlon swim. He ended up borrowing a Farmer John wetsuit from his brother-in-law. However, because the suit did not fit well, he said “I would have been better off not wearing a wetsuit”.

“Then on the mountain bike leg, I was chugging along when who should pull up beside me but Paula Newby-Fraser. She said ‘You’re not even breathing hard’.”

After finishing his first triathlon, he and his wife were talking about the race. Gene told Kitty, “You know, I think this could be fun.”

He told her that he would need a wetsuit and a bike. They walked over to the expo where vendors were selling triathlon related items.

After looking at the price tags on the triathlon wetsuits, Gene remembers thinking out loud, “How much use am I really going to get out of a wetsuit? I mean, how many triathlons will I do?”

Knowing something Gene had not yet realized, Kitty said, “Go ahead and get it.” Since then, he has worn out that wetsuit and two or three more wetsuits as he trained and raced in other triathlons, including eight or nine times in the Wildflower half Ironman.

Competing in Olympic and Half Ironman Triathlon

The next year, he went back to the Wildflower event, this time to complete the half Ironman distance. His goal for this race was to finish with a Kona-qualifying time. However, Gene learned how difficult it is to qualify for Kona.

For the next several years, during his late 40s and early 50s, Gene continued to compete in Olympic and half Ironman distance triathlons. He was not giving up on his goal to race in Hawaii.

Gene also realized he was a triathlete, something which had taken him a while to recognize. “For a long time, I thought I was playing, not a real triathlete.”

Related post: My First Triathlon – Is This How George Plimpton Felt? Plimpton was a journalist who competed as an amateur in different professional sporting events. He then wrote about the experience.

1996 – A Milestone Year

In 1996, Gene’s brother invited him and his wife to volunteer with him and his then girlfriend and later wife at the Ironman World Championships in October.

One month before traveling to Hawaii, Gene and his wife moved to Park City, Utah. While going for his first bike ride in his new home state, Gene was hit by a car. In the accident, his back was broken in two places.

Despite being in a back brace, he made the trip to Hawaii. While being stationed at T2 (bike to run transition area), he spent most of his time lying on the grass. However, at one point during the race, still under the influence of pain medication, he got up and walked over to where the bikers were coming in and runners going out, and proclaimed, “I gotta do this!”

He went back the next year, now fully recovered and without the influence of pain medication, to get a better picture of the race.

Related post: In this post Restarting to Bike After a Crash, you will read how Gene and other senior triathletes have recovered from a bike crash to start riding again.

First Ironman Triathlon for Gene Peters

In 2000, Gene completed two full (140.6) Ironman triathlons, including his first in Oceanside, California, near Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, north of San Diego.

Soon after registering for the Oceanside triathlon, Gene’s friend contacted him to let him know the race director had opened 500 more race spots for Ironman Canada in Penticton, British Columbia. Gene and his friend stayed on the registration website overnight in order to secure spots in this race.

Gene qualified for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii for the first time in 2004. Sadly, his younger brother, the one who had gotten him into triathlon, passed away in 2003.

All totaled, Gene has completed 35 Ironman triathlons. Included in these are three World Championships in Hawaii. He has already qualified for the 2024 World Championships in Hawaii.

Gene and Mary "Kitty" Peters at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee
Gene and Mary “Kitty” Peters at the 2017 Ironman 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA

A Love for Triathlon Training

Gene ‘loves’ triathlon training and his association with the sport. He told me that it has taught him discipline, self-determination, and confidence.

“While I have always been relatively healthy, I have been in better shape in my 60s and 70s than I was in my 30s.”

Training/Preparing for Ironman Triathlons

Gene’s characterization of his Ironman triathlon training is straightforward: “I follow directions”.

Several years ago, Gene began using the TriDot® system, initially without a coach.

Since February 2017, he has been coached by Kurt Madden, a TriDot coach who is also one of the senior triathletes coaches. Of Kurt, Gene says that he “is excellent at adjusting to what my needs are and what my condition is.”

Kurt is Gene’s second TriDot coach. The first one, selected because Gene and he had graduated from the same college, was about half Gene’s age and focused on Olympic distance triathlon. The relationship lasted one year because of their differences in age and focus.

Before starting the relationship with Kurt, Gene spoke to a lady at TriDot about “needing a coach who could relate to the needs of the older triathlete and what we are going through. You need to have a program that recognizes that older triathletes don’t recover as fast, sometimes, as a person in their 30s.”

Gene attributes the TriDot system for impressive race results. “In the last ten years, I have podiumed in 100% of my races.”

Gene Peters’ Advice

Earlier in his racing career, Gene did triathlons and ran marathons. Today, however, he focuses on triathlon.

“I learned unless I warmed up with a nice long swim and bike, I pushed too hard on the run. I would hurt myself.

“Now, I do only half marathons. I stopped doing full marathons except as part of a full Ironman.”

Stay Consistent

Gene echoed what many have told me to be a key to success with triathlon – consistent training. Gene has thought about the time he has spent training for an Ironman triathlon, acknowledging it is not for everyone.

Operating his own accounting business enabled him to train consistently. On top of this, Gene had not only the support, but encouragement, of his wife to continue training and racing.

Tribute to Mary C. “Kitty” Peters

In October 2022, with 55 years of marriage to Gene, Kitty passed away. Gene was by her side.

Before she passed away, Kitty would help keep Gene stay on track, knowing how important and valuable the training was to him. She was known for telling her friends how proud she was of her husband.

Kitty also willingly volunteered at many triathlons, being known for the smile with which she greeted finishers. According to Gene, she volunteered at more Ironman races than he had done. As a registered nurse, she often provided medical help at triathlons.

In reflecting on our conversation, it is doubtful that Gene would have accomplished what he has throughout his triathlon career had he not had her never-ending support. She is and always will be missed.

Who’s Behind Your Triathlon Accomplishments?

Who do you credit for your triathlon achievements? In what way(s) have they supported you?

Give them the recognition they deserve in the Comments below.

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