What If I Want to Do An Ironman Triathlon? – Tom Lipp’s Story

Senior Triathlete Tom Lipp took the plunge and competed in his first full Ironman triathlon. Is an Ironman triathlon on your ‘bucket list’?

Its Starts With Inspiration

Track anyone’s start in triathlon or ask them about it. I am sure you will find ‘inspiration’ or some form of the word among the reasons they took part in their first race. Someone inspired them.

For the new Senior Triathlete Tom Lipp of Aberdeen, South Dakota, the inspiration came when he first watched his daughter complete the Fargo, North Dakota half marathon. The next year, he ran this race with his daughter and “was hooked”.

His first triathlon, one completed in 2012 with his uncle Kirby Martz, was the sprint distance Bismarck Triathlon in Bismarck, North Dakota. Later that year, he completed his second triathlon, an Olympic distance event, at the Young Life Triathlon in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.

Exiting the water at Ironman Wisconsin

There are many stories of those for whom triathlon has become part of an active lifestyle. Training for the first race leads to more training. A second triathlon leads to a goal of improving performance “just a little”. For many, these early triathlons lead to longer distance races.

While I have only completed sprint distance triathlons until now, I have certainly wondered about completing what I consider the ultimate triathlon—the Ironman 140.6 comprising a 2.4 mile (3.9 km) swim, 112 miles (180 km) bike, and 26.2 miles (42 km) run.  I am sure that I am not alone.

So when I learned Tom was planning to complete Ironman Wisconsin, I asked him to record and share his experience with other Senior Triathletes.

The rest of the post is based on Tom’s comments about his experience in preparing for and competing in his first Ironman 140.6.

As a preface to his comments, Ironman Wisconsin consistently ranks as one of the most difficult. In 2016, Ironman Wisconsin ranked 9th in difficulty, according to Ironindex™.

My point? Tom did not only take on a longer distance, but he did so in one of the more difficult triathlons.

Why Did You Choose An Ironman?

“The inspiration for Ironman came almost immediately after I completed my first triathlon. I set the goal in 2012 after becoming aware of the sport and its history. There are so many motivating and inspirational stories, and I enjoy the lifestyle it requires and the challenges it offers.”

A flat piece of the bike course at Ironman Wisconsin

How Did You Train For Ironman Wisconsin?

“I started training about one year before the race when a co-worker (a 2X Ironman) asked me to join a group of three others in training for Ironman Wisconsin (IMWI).

I really enjoyed training with the others in the group. Training with one of the guys, in particular, made the hard workouts not only easier but enjoyable.  Unfortunately, our schedules made training as a group difficult. In fact, about 90% of my training was alone.

Training plan

In hindsight, I am sure that a coach would have been a great asset. However, I used a free 36-week training program that I found at trifuel.com.

I didn’t follow it perfectly—I did not do all the speed workouts—though think I should have followed the plan more closely.

Dealing with injuries

Full of motivation, I quickly and dramatically increased my running and biking.  Within two weeks, I acquired a sore left knee that would ‘pop’ and sore Achilles tendons. I spent the next few weeks stretching, icing and working out at a reduced level.

After my initial burst, I was careful with injuries. It is hard to know if the pain was something to push through or something that needed rest. If I felt a strain, I leaned on the side of caution.

I used a foam roller and cups of ice to massage the sore or strained areas.”

Tom’s Tip: To apply ice to sore areas, fill a frozen Styrofoam cup with water and freeze the water.  Cut the bottom one inch (25 mm) of the cup to expose the ice.  Rub the ice on sore or strained areas.

Tom Lipp, Ironman Senior Triathlete

What Was Your Experience From Ironman Wisconsin?

“I was first struck by the number of participants, nearly 3,000. Compare this to the hundred or so for the shorter distance events I had previously done.

Then there was the course. The hills in Wisconsin are VERY different from the hills in northern South Dakota. I was not prepared for them and the bike course took a little more out of me than I had planned, which increased my run time.

The other thing that struck me was the support that the spectators gave us. Ironman events aren’t like the normal triathlon. The crowds are huge and fan support along the bike and run make the race something to remember.”

The ‘home stretch’ at Ironman Wisconsin. The spectators, especially family members, make a huge difference.

What Have You Learned From Triathlon?

“Triathlon is the same as work or life. You need a goal, you need a plan, you need a reward, and most of all you need family support.”

It’s a family affair

“My family support was awesome and my wife Kami was incredible over the year of training. She had more than enough reasons to be upset with my lack of participation in chores, my going to bed early on a beautiful summer night, and my general absence. Instead, she picked up my slack.

Having my kid’s support throughout the summer and having them at the event meant a great deal to me.  It would not have been the same without them.”

Our bodies and mind adapt

“This experience has taught me I should never stop challenging myself. Our bodies and mind are incredible and able to adapt to whatever we throw at them.”

Advice For Other Senior Triathletes

What advice do you have for Senior Triathletes who have completed a shorter distance triathlon and are thinking about the Ironman distance?

  • Discuss it with the important people in your life who will be affected by your training. Their support and understanding will be vital.
  • Complete at least one half Ironman distance race.
  • Commit, commit, commit!
  • Find a plan or coach to guide you through the training.
  • Increase slowly and take care of anything that seems like an injury.
  • Enjoy the journey—-It is worth it!

Are You Ready To Tri?

A common misperception about triathlon is that Ironman is synonymous with triathlon. This probably comes from the world-famous Ironman Championship in Kona, Hawaii covered on national TV.

In fact, there are triathlon distances and events for nearly everyone—from Super Sprint to full Ironman. There are some triathlons in which kayaking replaces swimming. There are even winter triathlons comprising running, biking, and cross-country skiing.

Many events also make relay teams an option in which you can take part in one or two of the legs if you are not ready to compete in all three.

What Have You Learned From Training for an Ironman Triathlon?

I know of many readers who have completed Ironman or long course triathlons. What is the one piece of advice you can offer prospective Senior Ironman triathletes?

Triathlon Across the USA: State #31–Indiana

North Liberty, Indiana; September 17, 2016 – Tri The Creek Triathlon, Potato Creek State Park

I knew this day would be interesting as soon as I stepped outside the Holiday Inn Express in Plymouth, Indiana. In a few hours, I would begin the Tri The Creek Triathlon, the Indiana race in my Triathlon Across the USA adventure.

While it wasn’t exactly a downpour, the rain was coming down hard enough that I felt compelled to run across the parking lot to our van with my suitcase in hand.

This would not be the first time I had completed a triathlon in the rain. However, the rain this morning was the hardest I had ever seen before the start of a race.

Planning the Indiana Triathlon

I registered for the 7th annual Tri The Creek Triathlon on February 19, 2016. This was the same day I registered for the Illinois triathlon.

I chose the Tri The Creek triathlon put on by 3Disciplines for its proximity to Chicago where I planned to be during the days before the event. The race venue was an easy 2-1/2 hour drive south and east of Chicago. It turned out that the venue was an unexpected and pleasant bonus.

Venue for the Indiana Triathlon

Tri The Creek Triathlon’s name comes from its venue, Potato Creek State Park. The entire race occurred within the boundaries of this 3,840-acre park three miles east of North Liberty, Indiana.

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the park’s name, Potato Creek, came from the “potato-like roots on this area’s creek bank”. Native Americans, who inhabited the area along with early European settlers, harvested these roots. The mix of wooded areas, prairie, and wetlands make this park an inviting habitat for birds and other wildlife.

The eastern edge of the park includes the ‘Horsemen’s Campground’. Here there are plenty of trails for horses and their riders to enjoy the diverse nature of the park. A more traditional campground is located at the other end of the park, near Worster Lake, where the swim leg of the triathlon took place.

While Joy and I were exploring the park and driving the bike course on the Friday evening before the triathlon, we counted dozens of families arriving with their campers and trailers for a late season weekend of camping.

Setting Up the Transition Area in the Rain

For this triathlon, packet pickup took place only on the morning of the race. While it was not my goal to do so, I was the first person to pickup their packet.

Besides making Joy get up much earlier than normal, this also meant more time for things in the transition area to become wet from the rain.

I racked my bike with plastic bags over my shoes, which were clipped into the bike pedals. The rest of the gear–bike helmet, biking glasses, and running shoes–remained with me in the van. Here, Joy and I waited until near the beginning of the race.

waiting in the rain for the start of the Indiana triathlon
After racking my bike, Joy and I sat in the car watching the rain and talking about what this could mean for the triathlon.

Putting the Finishing Touches on My Transition Area

As the time for closing of the transition approached, I delivered my bike helmet, glasses, and running shoes to the transition area.

While the rain had let up, it was still coming down at a rate guaranteed to soak the gear in the transition area. To minimize the effect, I set my bike helmet top down on the aero bars. I stuffed my clear safety glasses inside the helmet.

However, because of the rain, I covered the helmet and glasses with a plastic bag. I pushed the bag into the helmet, which kept it from being blown away by a small gust of wind.

As is typically the case, I had laid a towel on the ground next to my bike with my running shoes on top of the towel. I use the towel for wiping sand and small rocks from my feet before hopping on the bike and before putting on my running shoes.

This time, because of the rain, I put a second towel, folded to be as thick as possible, on top of my running shoes, hoping to keep them dry for the run.

7th Annual Tri The Creek Triathlon Managed by 3Disciplines

By race time, the rain had let up a little and the temperature, at least for doing a triathlon, was a comfortable 67°F. It also helped that there was essentially no wind.

Distances for the individual legs of the USAT-sanctioned sprint triathlon in which I competed were:

  • Swim: 500 m (0.31 mile)
  • Bike: 18 km (11 mile)
  • Run: 5 km (3.1 mile)

For this event, the sprint distance was one of four distances. The three other were:

  • Olympic – 1000 m swim, 22 mile bike, 10 km trail run
  • Super Sprint – 200 m swim, 6 mile bike, 1 mile trail run
  • Sprint KayaTri – 2 mile kayak, 11 mile bike, 5 km trail run
The Indiana triathlon included an option for kayaking instead of swimming.
The Sprint KayaTri was one of the triathlon events in the Tri The Creek Triathlon. The starting location for the kayakers was next to that for the swimmers.


With the water temperature at 72°F, the race was considered ‘wetsuit legal’. This meant that, according to USA Triathlon rules, swimmers were allowed to wear a wetsuit during the swim. However, given the relatively short swim, I chose to swim without the wetsuit.

Like many of the Minnesota lakes in which I swim, Worster Lake had a considerable amount of algae, to which I am allergic. Sure enough, my nose ran the rest of the day.

By evening, my nose was fully plugged. It gradually opened throughout the next day. The same as every other lake swim.


The race course took us from Worster Lake to the Horsemen’s Campground and back.

Joy and I had driven the bike course the day before, so I knew what to expect. The course was on relatively flat roads in good condition (few holes or significant cracks). 

By now, the rain had become a mist. Roads were only slightly damp. Even so, riders were more cautious than normal. They apparently remembered the repeated warnings of the race organizers to ‘slow down on corners’.


Upon reaching the transition area, I learned that putting the folded towel over my running shoes had been good.  While the towel was dripping wet, saturated from the rain, my running shoes were perfectly dry.

By the beginning of the run, the rain had nearly passed, though the sky was overcast. The cloud cover, along with the cool temperature, made for a comfortable finish.

Race organizers had described this leg as a trail run. So, while walking through the park the day before, I was sure they meant a paved trail, one used by walkers and runners.

Not so. When they wrote trail run, they really meant running on a primitive trail. And this trail came complete with tree roots, boulders, loose rock, mud puddles, holes, occasional sections of grass, and lots of hills.

The run was considerably more rustic than I am accustomed. The good news was that with the trail constantly changing, I had little opportunity to think about being tired.

In fact, with about a hundred yards to go to the finish line, I had more than enough energy to respond to Joy’s “encouragement”. Her exact words were “Push it! Finish strong!” in the voice of my high school basketball coach.

The run course for the Indiana triathlon was on a dirt trail.
The run course for the Indiana triathlon was on a rustic trail complete with tree roots, rocks, and puddles.

After Completing the Indiana Triathlon

The weather continued to clear throughout the race. By the time of the awards ceremony, the sun was shining.

Nevertheless, I was glad my bike and run gear remained dry, or as dry as possible. This reduced the effects of the heavy rain before and during the race.

Thoughts of Another Senior Triathlete

Before the start of the race and afterwards, Joy and I had met Jim and Deb Panozzo from Michigan. Joy and Deb got to know each other while Jim, another senior triathlete, and I completed the triathlon.

For Jim, who celebrated his 63rd birthday the next week, Tri The Creek was his second sprint triathlon. I love his description of the run – “a cross-country course in the mud that took me back to my high school days”.

As we continued to talk, he shared his feelings about this race and the sport.

“It was a lot of fun, but very humbling. It showed my weaknesses and the things I need to work on as I approach my 63rd birthday. But, I am so grateful to God to be able to participate and finish a triathlon.”

Race Firsts

  • First triathlon in which I was the first to pickup their packet.
  • Kayaking as an alternative to swimming, another first.
  • The Indiana triathlon was my first with the run leg entirely on an unpaved trail.

What Has Been Your Experience Racing in the Rain?

What has been your experience doing a triathlon in the rain or other inclement weather? How did it change your approach? What did you learn through it?

Triathlon Across the USA: State #30–Illinois

Litchfield, Illinois; September 11, 2016 – Litchfield Triathlou Triathlon, Lake Lou Yaeger Beach

Some of my earliest memories involve being in town on Saturday afternoon for shopping and to take in a movie. The small southern Minnesota farming community of Trimont, near which I lived while growing up, was vibrant. It had nearly everything we needed. Today, however, the town is struggling to survive. Its population is a fraction of that during my early childhood.

Meanwhile, forty miles south of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois is the rural community of Litchfield (population at the 2010 census was 6,939). Litchfield, the host city for the Litchfield Triathlou Triathlon, is a still-vibrant community. Residents have worked hard to keep their town strong by creating a feeling of community for area residents and by welcoming visitors to the area.

Planning the Illinois Triathlon

I made plans to compete in this triathlon earlier in the year. This process had become part of a yearly effort once deciding to complete a triathlon in each of the USA states by age 70.

Since business required me to be in Chicago during the days before and the week after the Litchfield triathlon, I used the Running in the USA website to find triathlons in the area around Chicago during this period. This would eventually lead to me completing triathlons in Illinois and Indiana.

We eventually chose the Litchfield triathlon and completed the registration for it on February 19th based primarily on two factors:

  1. Distance from Chicago and
  2. Race description on the organizer’s website  – “a race experience you’ll never forget!” and “Swimming in Lake Lou Yaeger is the best OWS you will have in the midwest.” (Note: OWS is short for Open Water Swim.)

7th Annual Litchfield Triathlou Triathlon

Triathlou is a unique name. So, what was this about?

First, it came as a play on words based on the triathlon’s location, Lake Lou Yaeger. 

However, the race organizers, Racemaker Productions, didn’t stop there. They also designed a finisher medal with the lake’s name and one of the most important pre-race facilities, the ‘loo’ also known as a porta-potty.

The Litchfield Triathlou Triathlon finisher medal represents an important triathlon fixture whose nickname also relates to the race’s name.

Perfect Weather for a Triathlon

The weather on the morning of the Illinois triathlon was, as Mary Poppins says, ‘practically perfect’. The temperature was in the high 60s/low 70s Fahrenheit with modest humidity. There was plenty of sunshine and no noticeable wind.

Setting Up The Transition Area

Typical of race day, Joy and I rose before the crack of dawn in order to arrive at the race site in time for opening of the transition area. For this race, transition opened at 6 a.m., well before sunrise.

One reason I like to arrive early is to get a good position within the transition area. This is one at or near the end of a rack. This makes it easier to find my bike during transition. It also reduces the transition times, even if by only seconds.

Before the race, I also periodically check my transition area. Sometimes, other racers have changed my setup as they have organized their space.

Today, I was especially glad to have made one last check.

Shortly before closing of transition before the beginning of the race, I walked past my transition area.

As I walked past my transition area I thought ‘Where is my bike?’. After a moment of panic, I realized that someone, a latecomer, had racked their bike in the original position of mine and moved my bike two positions down the rack.

While my early arrival allowed me to position my bike on the end of the rack, it was not a real problem for the bike to be in its new position. However, had I not checked my transition area, I would have arrived during the swim-to-bike transition to find my bicycle ‘missing’, then wasting time to find it.

My pre-race rituals may seem obsessive to many people. However, I have learned that arriving early and making the last minute check of the transition area reduces stress during the race.

Sprint Triathlon Distances

Distances for the individual legs of the sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 400 m (0.25 mile)
  • Bike: 20 km (13 mile)
  • Run: 5 km (3.1 mile)


While the race was ‘wetsuit legal’ with a water temperature of 78°F, I made the short swim without the wetsuit. First, the water was quite comfortable. The second reason was that I had not yet tried fitting my tight-fitting wetsuit over my new, somewhat bulky Garmin triathlon watch. Always remember the advice: ‘Don’t try anything new for the first time on race day’.

For this race, there were 65 swimmers in each wave. With this number, there was more than a little chaos, including bumping into other swimmers. 

I learned another lesson today – the wide and hard kick associated with the breaststroke carries a punch. This lesson came while passing a breaststroker and being kicked in the chest. No injury, but they definitely made an impression.

In the future, I will keep a wide distance from someone doing the breaststroke. 

Open water swim start at the Litchfield Triathlou Triathlon at Lake Lou Yaeger near Litchfield, Illinois.


After a gradual climb out of the park, the bike course followed flat, paved roads between soybean fields, cornfields, and the occasional grove of trees near farm homes. A few sharp curves kept the ride interesting.

Race organizers had done a fantastic job keeping the bike course safe by sweeping sand and gravel from the roads, especially at corners.

The Triathlou Triathlon bike course was flat, passing between corn and soybean fields and the occasional stand of trees.


Organizers for my Illinois triathlon described the run course as having “plenty of flats, and a couple hills throughout”. The first part of the race was down a long flight of concrete steps (a first for me) to reach the road that made up the rest of the run course.

I am not sure if the person who wrote “plenty of flats” in the description had actually run the course. I would have written “mostly hills”, at least that’s how it felt to me.

After finishing the race, I spoke with a young lady who, I learned during the awards ceremony, was the overall winner. It comforted me to know that she shared my feelings about the run course being hilly.

After the Illinois Triathlon

While enjoying snacks and drinks after the race, I talked with fellow racers, race organizer’s staff, and race sponsors. Thanks for the post-race stretch and for helping me diagnose a problem with my bike cadence sensor.

I also spoke with fellow senior triathlete Paul Guthrie, for whom the Litchfield triathlon was his first. Despite having one artificial knee and two artificial hips – which had limited his ability to train for the run portion of the triathlon – and an older hybrid bike with an incurable problem shifting between certain gears, Guthrie finished second in his age group.

While we talked about bikes, another senior triathlete informed us he had completed the 56-mile (90 km) bike leg of a Half Ironman (Ironman 70.3) triathlon using his mountain bike. It is not mandatory to spend a lot of money to take part in a triathlon.

I also learned that Mr. Guthrie has his sights set on something similar to my ‘triathlon in 50 states’ goal. His is to hunt turkeys in each of the 50 states. I am pretty sure he will finish his quest since he already holds a world record for bow hunting turkey in Guatemala.

With a lifetime of experiences, most seniors have interesting stories from which we can all learn.

Race Firsts

  • First triathlon in which the race ‘t-shirt’ was actually a hooded sweatshirt, also known as a ‘hoodie’.
  • Having part of the run course on concrete steps was a first.
  • First triathlon in which the age group award was a pair of sunglasses.

Takeaways From the Illinois Triathlon

As much as triathlon has motivated me to stay active physically and to learn about fitness and nutrition (Reason #1 of 15 Reasons for Those 50 and Older to Do Triathlons), triathlon has also given us the chance to experience parts of the USA that we would never have gotten to otherwise.

It was also encouraging to see the vibrant and welcoming farming community of Litchfield and, once again, meet incredibly interesting people.

Where is Your Favorite Place for a Triathlon?

Do you prefer racing in the country or in the city? Share your reasons and experiences in the Comments.

Triathlon Across the USA: State #29–Nebraska

Omaha, Nebraska; August 13-14, 2016 – Levi Carter Park, USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships

Planning My Nebraska Triathlon

I had planned to make Nebraska one of the later states in the ‘Triathlon Across the USA’ adventure. Our son Ben, daughter-in-law Lindsey, and two granddaughters lived in Omaha. Omaha and its surrounding cities offer plenty of triathlons from which to choose. We had plenty of time.

However, when Lindsey told me that Omaha would host the USA Triathlon Age Group National Championships, I made this my Nebraska triathlon.

This triathlon was an opportunity to race with some of the best senior (and younger) triathletes in the USA while completing a triathlon in the 29th state of the ‘Triathlon Across the USA’ adventure.

Age Group National Championships

The USA Triathlon (USAT) Age Group National Championships (AGNC) races took place over two days. The Olympic distance race with over 2,170 participants was on Saturday. This was a competitive race since all participants had qualified to compete in this race through their top 10% place in races earlier in the year.

On the second day, 1,250 triathletes gathered for the sprint distance race. With this number of participants, my Nebraska triathlon had the greatest number of participants for any of my triathlons. Also, this race included the greatest number of participants in my age group (60-64) and largest swim wave start (160).

triathlon participants
Number of participants by age group in the Sprint (upper) and Olympic (lower) distances of the Age Group National Championships.

The number of participants in the Sprint and Olympic distances by age group pictured in the graphs above shows the importance of seniors to the two events.

Only slightly less than half (42%) of the participants in the Sprint distance were Senior Triathletes (age 50 and over). Even for the longer, Olympic distance, more than a third (36%) of the participants represented the Senior Triathletes community.

Sprint Distance Race Day – August 14, 2016

Before the start of the race, several participants and spectators gathered for a pre-race Bible reading (John 4:23-24), short message, and prayer led by a representative of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). This was another first.

Weather at the start of my swim wave (7:44am) was 69ºF with 85% relative humidity. There was no wind. By the end of the race, the temperature was still comfortable at 74ºF with 74% humidity and no wind.

So, while it was cool, the humidity was higher than typical in my home state of Minnesota. This made it feel warmer.

Fellowship Christian Athletes
Before the start of the first swim wave at the 2016 USA Triathlon Age Group National Championship Sprint Triathlon, a representative of the FCA (Fellowship of Christian Athletes) gathered racers for scripture reading, a short message, and prayer.

My Experience at the Nebraska Triathlon

Distances for the individual legs of the Sprint triathlon were:

  • Swim: 750 m (0.47 mile)
  • Bike: 20 km (12.4 mile)
  • Run: 5 km (3.1 mile)

While walking to the swim start, I noticed a guy asking a person doing body marking to write something on his chest. I paid little attention to the details. However, upon lining up for the swim start, I could read the marking.  

The guy, Russ Jones (age 61), told me he had raced in what has been recorded as the first triathlon in San Diego in 1974.  The writing on his chest displayed a memory of the $1 entry fee for this race.

Jones also announced he was racing ‘retro’. Today, this meant racing in shorts but no shirt. For the bike leg, he used his Raleigh bike with two gear shift levers on the down post.


The swim was in Carter Lake which had a water temperature of 82ºF. This water temperature was well above the maximum of 78ºF for which USAT rules allow use of a wetsuit.

All triathletes in my swim wave – for this race, all males 60 years and older – started together in the water. The plan was for all swimmers to start from a position of having one hand on a floating dock. However, with the large number of participants in this age group (160), the group extended well past the end of the dock.

Despite the number of swimmers, the swim remained surprisingly calm. Those who have done an open water swim in a triathlon have most likely experienced the chaos of other swimmers bumping into or trying to swim over top them.

There was none of this, except the occasional finger tip touch of my foot by a swimmer drafting from me.


The bike course was essentially flat, having only a couple of small, short hills. This made for a fast course. The race organizers did a great job of providing comfortable surfaces on which to run between the transition area and points of bike mount/dismount.

Sure enough, less than one mile into the bike course, Russ Jones and his beautiful, baby blue 1970s Raleigh passed me (and my carbon fiber, tri-bike). After I passed Russ once, he passed me again. I never saw him again until we met on the run course.

There was only one issue, that of a bumpy area within transition, that caused a few participants to trip. I was aware of these having walked the path from transition to bike mount/dismount on Saturday. Remember to checkout the paths in transition before the race.


The run was flat with plenty of encouragement from a musician who serenaded us with guitar and song, a cheerleading squad, probably from a local high school or college – they all looked so young – at the turnaround area, and many other volunteers along the course.

Time to Cool Down and Relax

With race over, it was time to cool down. 

While resting my legs in an ice bath after the race, I met a Senior Triathlete from Michigan who was in his second year of triathlon. He shared how triathlon, specifically his triathlon training, had helped him to lose 50 pounds after he had stopped running following an Achilles tendon issue a few years earlier.

I also saw Jim Chapman, who I had met a few years earlier at the Rocky Gap Triathlon in Maryland. By the way, Jim qualified for the ITU World Championships in his age group (75-79). So did Ralph Ward, who I had met at the Rage Triathlon in Boulder City, Nevada earlier in the year.

Firsts From the Nebraska Triathlon

  • First with Garmin 920XT.
  • This was the first time we stayed with one of our children for a triathlon.
  • My first USAT National Championship triathlon.
  • First triathlon with a pre-race prayer.

Senior Triathletes Again Show ‘Age Is Only A Number’

This event was another opportunity to meet great people, broaden my experience competing in triathlon, and share time with family. The Nebraska triathlon showed the strength and size of the Senior Triathletes community.

It also showed how fit people can be, even well into their senior years. More than one 70+ year old passed me on the bike and run. This was probably true in the swim as well, though I could not see their age marking on their calf during the swim.

Thinking about this experience on the drive back home, I remembered that on my 50th birthday, I had run three miles on the track at the local health club.  Why?  To prove to myself that I was not ‘old’.

Today, this seems crazy since at age 63, I regularly run much further.

Then, not so long ago, I had set the goal of completing a triathlon in each state by age 70. Why? At age 58, age 70, seemed reasonable since I was certain my triathlon career would be over at that age.

Now, I’m not so sure. There are plenty of guys and gals competing strong well into their 70s and 80s. Because of them, I am continuously adjusting my perception and definition of ‘old age’.

Congratulations to all the Senior Triathletes who took part. I hope to see you again soon. Thanks for inspiring and challenging me.

Also, congratulations to USA Triathlon for a well organized and well run triathlon weekend.

Now, It’s Your Turn

Have you competed in a national age group championship triathlon? Which one(s)? What was your experience?


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