A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Tyler Michael, YOU are an IRONMAN! (Tyler's Race Recap)

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On September 29, my brother Tyler completed his first Ironman! He did an amazing job, completing it in 11:31:52. I conducted an interview with Tyler and learned A LOT of things I didn't know about this kind of endurance event.

Read on to hear about Tyler's Ironman experience!

What made you decide to do an Ironman?

I knew what an Ironman was ever since I was young. I guess it was just from randomly seeing coverage on NBC. It never crossed my mind as something I would want to do one day. I was out of shape three years ago and gained some weight, so I decided to train for a marathon as motivation get in shape. One night I was browsing YouTube and came across a video of NBC's Kona coverage from the previous year. There was a blind man racing Ironman Hawaii while attached to his guide/friend by a tether. It inspired me, and Ironman became my goal.

How long did you train for Ironman Maryland?

I trained for a little under three years. When I decided to train for an Ironman I started to look for options on which race to do. There are only 13 races in North America and 10 in the United States. Lake Placid New York was an option, but Cambridge Maryland was hands down the easiest choice because of location to my in-law’s house. Travel would be easy, and lodging would be free. I estimated that I would need two to three years to do the proper training. I made a training log spreadsheet with September 2018 as the target and worked backwards from there.

There were three marathons and three half Ironmans mixed in. I also completed two double centuries a triple century and an Everest to work on my bike endurance. Most of those nine endurance events had their own mini-training plans that I came up with, but Ironman Maryland 2018 was my goal.

What does a “typical” week of training look like?

Long distance triathlon training is all about volume. The easiest way to measure the volume it is total hours per week (swim + bike + run). For this calendar year (roughly 10 months) I averaged 9 hours per week. Ratios during that time were 48% biking, 35% running, and 17% swimming. Peak weeks before the Ironman were up to 15 hours per week. A 15-hour peak week is roughly 6 miles swimming, 110 miles biking, 40 miles running in a week.

What was the hardest part about training?

Making time to drive to the gym and swim is the hardest. Swimming in general takes up a lot of time. 45 minutes of moving time in the pool usually requires another 45 minutes driving. By the time I add in locker room, shower etc. it becomes a huge time suck. It also costs a lot for a gym membership. Running is by far the easiest part of training. I throw on a pair of shoes and I start and end at my front door.

What did you enjoy the most about training?

Watching my times and distances improve was fun to see and kept me motivated to continue to go faster, longer, and more often.

Do you find the physical part of training or the mental part of training more difficult?

The hardest part was logistics and time management. It was hard to balance training with my family's schedule. It was not easy, and Debby had to keep me in check a lot of the time, especially in the final four months when volume started to get crazy.

As for physical or mental, I would say physical was harder for me. I would have sore legs for 6 months at a time. I remember having a nasty cold earlier in the year and I couldn’t do much for a week. When I got back out there and did my first run it felt like I was superman running on clouds. I remember thinking to myself “This is what it feels like to not have sore legs”. It was the first time in many months I was on fresh legs. That didn’t last long, and it would be many more months of sore legs before my taper.

A key element to my training was to simulate the back half of a marathon as often as possible without running the front half. As an example: By the time Sunday came around I was already nice and sore from the week that I could use a rest day. Sunday was my long run and not a rest day. That means a 12-mile run felt like miles 13 - 25 of a marathon. Using this method, I was able to keep my biggest Sunday long runs under 15 miles but still get the huge benefits and experience of dealing with pain and training my body to adapt to the stress.

How did you juggle working full time, raising three children, being a husband, and training for an Ironman?

Training for an Ironman in my early thirties with two young kids and a baby on the way was probably the worst time to do something like this. I was only able to do this because Debby was supportive from the beginning. Sometimes it got easier because of learning and adapting to ways to be more efficient with time and schedules. Other times it got harder as volume and overall longevity of the new lifestyle increased.
Long-distance triathlon is one of the most selfish sports there are. The time and energy it takes to train properly takes a lot away from family. There were many times when Debby wouldn’t get a night’s sleep for weeks on end because of babies or kids waking up at night. She would still shift her schedule around to allow me to train, sleep and prepare for a big race. She would often let me sleep in to recover from a long race or to recover from a cold or illness more quickly. When I was sick I would take off work and sleep to recover. When Debby was sick she didn’t take a single day off.
There were countless times when we would have family plans on a weekend afternoon and I would be doing a 2-hour run or 4-hour bike in the morning. By the time I would get home, shower, and eat, Debby would have the kids ready to go and everything packed for our outing. She cooked me a lot of special healthy foods and handled all our probiotics and preventative medicine. Debby even canceled outings with her and the kids the whole week and a half before Ironman Maryland to ensure that the kids wouldn’t catch something and get me sick before the race. Incredible.

What sport is your strongest? What is your weakest? (swim, bike, run)

Bike and run are equally my strongest. I'm not a fast cyclist or a fast runner but my endurance is strong. The longer the race, the better I do overall. Swimming is by far my weakest. I started lap swimming two years ago. My success or failure of finishing an Ironman all relied on learning how to swim. It took a lot of hard work to build up to swimming 2.5 miles comfortably. My longest swim in training ended up being 3.5 miles in a pool.

How did you sleep the night before the race?

I was able to fall asleep around 7:00 PM and wake up at 4:00 AM with a couple bathroom interruptions in between. I think I was able to fall asleep early because I didn't get much sleep the night before that. I also had some experience on how to go to sleep early from my previous ultra-cycling events when I had to wake up anywhere from 1:00 to 3:00 AM.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

I guess my ritual is to write everything down and make lists. I have lists of what gear goes in which bags. I have a list for what to do the days leading up to the race and I have a list for race morning. I have lots of spreadsheets to keep things organized. I use spreadsheets to plan my nutrition intake and to plan bike and run race strategy and pace.

Describe the morning of the race.

I woke up at 4:00 AM on race morning. I ate some pancakes, syrup, and a leftover slice of pizza. I also slowly sipped Gatorade all morning. Debby helped me get out of the house by 4:45 AM. We drove 50 minutes to Cambridge and parked at a middle school. A school bus drove us through town and dropped us off at the race site. After doing some last-minute adjustments to my bike, I got to meet back up with Debby and see my mom and dad for a few minutes. I was rushed but I made it over to the swim start in plenty of time.

Describe the swim.

The swim was a two-loop rectangle in the Choptank River, close to where it dumps into the Chesapeake Bay. The water in the Choptank is brackish and has a current.

My friend Damian also raced. He was able to find me just before the swim start and he lined up with me in the 1:30:00 – 1:45:00 corral. It was a self-seeded swim start just like marathons where a runner’s time doesn’t start until they cross the starting mat. Some people can swim 2.4 miles in just under one hour, so they lined up first. It takes me closer to one and a half hours, so I started closer to the back. The swim started at 6:48 AM but I didn’t cross the starting mat until 7:07 AM. What this means is that when I crossed the finish line, my official time would be 19 minutes less than what the over-head display finish clock showed. There were 1,400 racers so it took a while for everyone to enter the water.

Even with the rolling start to help separate swimmers, the swim was somewhat chaotic at times. Every now and then I would get bumped into by an arm or kicked by a leg. My biggest fear was getting water in my goggles and having them fog up. Sighting the buoys was hard at times with the sun rising. The swim was a giant two-lap rectangle with buoys always being on the left. Yellow buoys were to sight, and red buoys were to let me know when to turn left. Buoys were the size of a small car. There were dozens of boats, kayaks, paddle boards etc. with life guards.

While completing the final side of the first rectangle, swimmers were funneled by smaller buoys into a narrow section with a timing rope the was hanging above the water. This allowed the timing officials to register swimmers as they were starting their second lap.

I was impressed with how perfect the swim course was set up. It’s not easy to secure dozens and dozens of buoys in a perfect line in a body of water that has a current. The turn buoys also seemed perfectly square with the yellow buoys. As a swimmer it was very easy for me to follow along and I always felt like I knew where I was when I was out there in the water.

My goal was to complete the swim in 1:35:00. My official swim time ended up being 1:33:11 which was pretty much right on pace.

Describe transition 1

T1 started from the moment I crossed a timing mat at the water exit and ended when I crossed the timing mat at the bike mount line. Immediately after exiting the water I declined assistance with removing my wet suit and was quickly handed my bike gear bag. Bike (and run) gear bags are packed by each athlete and checked into the race site the day before. The bike gear bag contained my bike shoes, socks, bike glasses, helmet, gel flasks, a Nutri-grain breakfast bar, and a mini bottle of Gatorade. I removed the top half of my wetsuit as I jogged to the men’s changing tent.

Bike Gear Bags

Run Gear Bags

The change tents look like large white tents with closed sides. They look like something you might see at an outdoor catered wedding. The parameter is lined with folding chairs facing in. The center area is an aid station with volunteers. I sat in a chair and removed the rest of my wetsuit. I geared up for the bike and put the gel flasks in my tri-suit pockets. I made the decision to skip the coconut oil and sunscreen to save time. I put my wet suit, goggles, earplugs, and swim cap into the bag. I handed the bag to a volunteer, chugged the Gatorade, and jogged out of the other side of the change tent into the transition area.

Transition area is basically 1,400 bikes racked in rows. The bikes are packed together like sardines. I knew where my bike was located. As I jogged to my bike I shoved the breakfast bar in my mouth. I waved to Debby and my parents as I jogged to the bike mount line.

 Bike Transition Area

Bike Transition Area

My goal was to keep T1 under 8 minutes. Official T1 time was 0:07:52. I was right on pace.

Describe the bike.

The best way I can describe the shape of the bike course is that it looks like a 112-mile lasso. There is an 11-mile handle, followed by a 45-mile loop that is ridden twice. Then cyclists ride back up the handle into Cambridge. The course is flat and windy. It is very close to the Chesapeake Bay. Flat sounds nice on paper but it is a different type of riding than I am used to in central Pennsylvania. Constant pedaling is required. There are no rolling hills or downhills that would normally allow me to coast and give my legs a rest. There are no opportunities to sit up and stretch out my back and arms without huge aero losses.

With flat comes speed and with speed comes wind. This makes bike position more important than most courses on the Ironman circuit. Bike position is basically how the body fits on the bike. Typically, a cyclist would want to be in the lowest possible position to reduce drag. Another term for bike position is simply “aero”. The more aero a cyclist can get, the more power they typically lose because their legs do not have as much leverage to hammer down on the pedals. The key is to find the lowest possible position without sacrificing too much power. On a flat course, aero is more important than power. Power is measured by how many watts produced.

As a quick example: if I rode at 175 watts sitting upright with my chest in the wind, I might average 16 MPH. If I produce the same exact effort of 175 watts (and burn the same amount of energy), but I am in my best possible aero position, I might average 20 MPH. When compared over 112 miles, that is a 7-hour bike at 16 MPH compared to a 5-hour 36-minute bike at 20 MPH. This shows that with the exact same effort and the exact same energy produced, there is a 1-hour 24-minute time savings.

Another note for non-cyclists, Ironman triathlons are not draft legal. What this means is that cyclists cannot ride within 6 bike lengths of each other unless passing. There are course marshals on motorcycles looking for drafting. Those who get caught are given a blue card and must stop in the next penalty tent for five minutes. This is another reason why being aero is more important than ever.

I was very happy to have the swim behind me and get on my bike. Because I am a below average swimmer and an above average cyclist, this is where the fun began. I had one goal in mind: pass as many as possible and save enough in the tank to not blow up on the marathon. After the race I learned that when I got on my bike there were 950 cyclists ahead of me.
The first 4-miles of the bike course had a lot of 90 degree turns as I rode through town. It seemed like a lot of people were taking these turns conservatively or easing into their ride after just coming out of the water. I used this as an opportunity to throw down the hammer and gain some time. The bike course was so crowded at this point that it was common for me to pass groups of people simply rounding a corner.

The next 12 miles were a 6-mile out and back detour / addition to the course. Because of flooding the previous days, the two 45-mile loops were reduced to 39-miles. The missing 12 miles were added as an out and back early in the race. This was a unique opportunity to see almost every single cyclist that was ahead of me. It was incredible to see 800+ cyclists coming from the other direction in a short 6-mile section of road. My friend Damian who is a faster swimmer somehow noticed me and yelled as we passed each other going opposite directions. After making the U-turn on the out and back it was another 10-miles before I would start the two 39-mile loops. I passed Damian on this stretch of road and that would be the last time we would see each other until the finish.

The wind was blowing from the north that day. This means that one side of the loop was a tailwind, two sides were cross winds, one side was a head wind. Tailwinds are awesome. Crosswinds suck. Headwinds really, really suck. One in four is not great but everyone had to suffer equally.

There was a high school at the beginning of the two loops and this was the only place on the bike course with a lot of spectators. The high school parking lot was also an aid station / feed zone. I had two bottles of Gatorade stored behind my seat and one permanent bottle on my cockpit between my arms. They are called BTA and BTS (Between the arms and behind the seat). My BTA bottle sits horizonal to the ground and is in an aero position. The top has an opening that I can poor liquid into. It also has a straw to drink from. As my BTA emptied, I would grab a bottle from BTS and fill the BTA without reducing speed. At feed zones I would throw the BTS on the ground at the designated trash area and grab a full bottle from a volunteer without slowing down. This saved a lot of time on the course because in total I was handed 4 bottles without reducing speed. I always used my right BTS to fill my BTA. My left BTS was insurance / emergency bottle in case I dropped a bottle during the handoff or lost one on course.

At the start of my second loop, Debby and her friend Dana were cheering as I went by. I gave them a smile and thumbs up. By the time I finished the second loop I started to run out of people to pass. Everyone ahead of me was either equal to or faster than me. The final 11 miles back to Cambridge into the head-wind were lonely and brutal.

As I entered the town I used it as another opportunity to throw down the hammer, get a boost from the crowd, and gain some time by finishing strong.

I was able to finish with an average cadence of 94. Cadence is pedal rotations per minute. Right around 90 is most efficient and optimal. The higher the cadence, the easier it is to push the pedals, but at the same time they need to be pushed more often. I prefer a high cadence as it helps prepare my legs for the run.

I was also able to finish the bike with a full tank of nutrition. I was fully hydrated, and I consumed enough calories and salt to set myself up for a strong marathon.

My goal was to complete the bike in 5:45:00. My official bike time ended up being 5:38:25. I knew in my head that overall, I was just about 10 minutes ahead of 12-hour goal.

Describe transition 2.

T2 started from the moment I crossed the timing mat on the bike dismount line and ended when I crossed a timing mat on the exit of the change tent.

After racking my bike, I ran through the run gear bag area and a volunteer handed me my bag. I entered the change tent and stripped off my cycling gear. I had been debating in my head during the bike if I would keep my tri-suit on during the run to save time in transition, or if I would change into my running shorts and shirt which are more comfortable. I finally decided to go with comfort and make up the time on the run. I put on my running shorts, shirt, shoes, and belt. The belt already had my race bib attached and I prepacked it with Ibuprofen and salt tablets.

My goal was the same as my earlier transition. I wanted to keep T2 under 8 minutes. Official T2 time was 0:07:24.

Describe the marathon.

The marathon course was about 5 miles of road, with multiple loops / out and backs. This was a great setup for the end of an Ironman because it allowed spectators to see each athlete up to 6 times. It forced spectators into smaller sections of road which made the crowds huge. I had never seen anything like it in person. In town it was endless rows of crowds lining the streets screaming and cheering. Even running out of town there were corners and intersections with large crowds. Aid stations were set up almost every mile.

I don’t think there was any time in my life that I was so happy to be running. I was mentally ready to be off the bike. I knew all I had left to do was handle my business on the marathon and even had 10 extra minutes in the bank as insurance.
I knew I was running an unsustainable pace my first mile. This was normal for me immediately off the bike. My 94 cadence on the bike set me up so that my legs were already in a rhythm to turn over quickly on the run. My goal was to run just under a 10:00 mile pace for 26 miles. After 4 miles into the run I was averaging an 8:40 pace. My legs felt good, but my heart rate was just a bit higher than I was comfortable with. From training, I had a good idea of what heart rate I could hold for 4+ hours and I wanted to keep it in that range. Within the next couple miles, I settled into a 9:10 per mile pace and my heart rate looked good. I decided this would be my target pace for the rest of the race. I knew that I already banked 10 minutes on the swim/bike and an additional 5 minutes or so the first six miles of the run. If I kept the 9:10 pace and kept my heart rate in check I would continue to gain time. Even if I bonked near the very end it would probably be worth it. What it boiled down to was that I was 6 miles into the marathon and I was confident I was going to beat my 12-hour goal. Everything else was going to be icing on the cake and it gave me a mental edge to keep adding layers of icing. With every layer added came relief that it didn’t start melting yet.

Cooling was an important part of my race strategy. I overheat very easily. My spring, summer, and fall training runs are always shirtless. Shirts are required at Ironman races. The high on race day was 77 degrees which is a bad temperature for me. My optimal temperature would be closer to 55 degrees, but I knew when I signed up for a September race that high 70s would be very possible. I wore a white compression shirt and used every opportunity to dump water on my head and ice down my shirt to stay cool. There was a young woman standing on the edge of her yard with a garden hose during my entire marathon. The more I think about it, she might have been an angel sent directly from heaven. I passed her 6 times and each time I came to a complete stop and let her absolutely drench me. By the time I was on the back half of the marathon, we had a system in place. She would soak my head, then down the front of my shirt, then I would turn around and she would go down the back of my shirt. At every single aid station, I would grab a cup of water and a cup of ice. I dumped the water over my head and dumped the ice down the front and back of my shirt. Usually the ice would melt just barely in time for the next aid station only to repeat the process.

As the miles ticked by, I started to enjoy the run more and more. The crowds and volunteers absolutely loved the double thumbs up and smile that I would throw their way. One of the turnarounds was a town street with restaurants and bars on either side. This section was barricaded with large crowds against the barriers cheering. The double thumbs up and smile would make the crowd roar each time I passed.

Soon after that turnaround was a quarter-mile straightaway lined with cones. If a runner was starting their second and third lap they stayed to the left of the cones. If they were on mile 25 they stayed between the cones. I remember starting my second lap at mile 9 and third lap at mile 20, staying left at the cones. I could hear the finish line party a quarter-mile ahead knowing that it wasn’t quite my time yet and I would be turning left. As I ran along the cones I would congratulate the athletes who were inside of them. They were going to finish within a couple minutes and I took the opportunity to be one of the first to congratulate them on their amazing performance.

I spent the rest of the marathon soaking in whatever the crowd would give me and checking off each mile in my head as another mile that I didn’t bonk. I knew I was way ahead of pace and I knew it was going to be huge. When I started the third and final lap, which was a half lap (6 miles), I kept thinking about those cones. I kept thinking about how great it was going to feel to see those cones and stay to the middle, knowing they lead to the finish party and I would not be turning left.

As I entered the cones for the final straightway I started to think about my family and kids. I knew my family were tracking me online all day and they knew I was having a strong performance. I was excited to get this run done and celebrate with them. For whatever reason I held my pace and decided to not to speed up at the end. There was really no need to and I enjoyed being comfortable (relative to the circumstances of course). As I entered the finisher shoot I heard Mike Riley, the voice of Ironman, calling my name and the crowd was banging on the barriers. I did the airplane with my arms for my kids as I approached the finish line.
My goal was to complete the run in 4:24:00. My official run time ended up being 4:04:54.

I couldn’t believe it. My fastest marathon ever was 3:53:18 a year ago. Running a 4:04:54 at the end of an Ironman was huge for me.

Overall time 11:31:52.

Describe the finish.

Immediately after finishing, a young woman congratulated me and gave me a hug. She handed me a finisher medal and took off the timing chip that was around my ankle. She held my arm and walked me over to a photo area to get my picture taken. I told her she was too kind and then exited an athlete only area to see my family who had watched me finish from the stands. My dad, mom, father-in-law, wife Debby, and three kids were all there to congratulate me. We chatted for a couple minutes and then took pictures in front of a large fountain and the Ironman Maryland statue. It was a very long day for my mom, dad and Debby. They had been there from before sunrise at the swim start. I was very happy my parents came. My father-in-law brought the kids to the race during my marathon. My kids loved the finish area. Ellie didn’t want to leave because she called it a giant party. My father-in-law stayed behind with me so that I could stay to see my friend Damian’s finish and congratulate him. My dad took the shuttle with me back to transition area in Great Marsh Park to retrieve my bike and gear bags. He took my gear bags on another shuttle to the middle school to meet back up with everyone at the parking lot to leave. I rode my bike about a mile back to the finish area and stayed with my father-in-law to watch Damian’s finish.

What did you eat/drink during the race?


1 Nutri-grain breakfast bar 30 minutes before entering the water
10-ounce Gatorade in T1 change tent
1 Nutri-grain breakfast bar in T1 as I jogged to my bike


10 gel packs (stored in two small flasks)
4 Nutri-grain breakfast bars
6 bottles of Gatorade (a little over 1 gallon)
8 salt tablets
6 ibuprofen


24 or 32 ounces of liquid (A mix of water, Gatorade, Pepsi, Coke, and Red Bull out of small cups)
4 salt tablets
3 more Ibuprofen

That was the first time I drank soda in over 5 years and my first time ever drinking Red Bull.

Did you have a high point in the race? A low point?

My high point was on mile 18 during the second loop of the marathon while running around the parameter of Great Marsh Park. My dad was holding Clark and pointed me out to Clark, “Here comes your daddy”. Clark had a confused look on his face as he was looking at another athlete. Clark's face absolutely lit up when he saw me. I leaned over the ropes, kissed him, and continued running. A couple minutes later after running around the park I got to see Ellie and Clementine (and Clark again). I gave them all a hug and a kiss then kept moving.

My low point was the last 15 miles of the bike. I was ready to get off the bike start the marathon.

Want to share how one goes to the bathroom during an Ironman?

I went twice on the swim right in my wet suit. I nailed my hydration plan so well that I was able to go seven more times on the bike. Peeing is a good thing, especially when it is clear. It means you are properly hydrated. I was riding a very high cadence at 94 rpm. To pee I went into a very hard gear and stood up doing about 40 rpm in the hard gear. My speed stayed the same, but my power had to go up because my body was a sail in the wind. The slower spinning makes it easier to do your business. At 20 mph it dries quickly and being so hydrated it's like peeing water. No big deal. I tried to pull off this maneuver only during tail winds or the rare times that cross-winds were blocked by trees. This limited the amount of wasted energy needed because of the huge loss of aerodynamics.

Was there anything unexpected that happened during the race?

I planned all the logistics well in advance. One thing I screwed up and was unexpected was I did not get to transition to work on my bike soon enough in the morning. My bike was already checked in and racked the day before. My plan was to pump the tires and put on bottles and pouches in the morning. When I entered transition, there was an announcement that it was closing in 8 minutes. I had to rush to find a pump, get the tires ready and pouches/bottles on. I use a disc on my back wheel and there is an opening for access to pump your tires through the disc. Usually I put tape over the opening to not allow air into the disc while I am riding. Air getting into the disc make you lose some speed. Everything was so wet I couldn't get my tape to stick to the disc. It was a small aero penalty, but it was still much faster than having no disc at all.

Was there any point where you thought, “Why did I do this!?”

No. I was glad to be there the entire time. The crowds were awesome, and I was feeling good.

Were you ever worried you wouldn’t finish the race?

No. My cycling is strong enough that I knew I could easily finish. Even if I walked the entire marathon, I could still have finished before the cutoff time.

Describe what it felt like to cross the finish line.

I was mentally ready to stop running. I didn’t have any more speed to give but I felt like I physically had another five miles in my legs if I had to. My pace was just comfortably below that fine line where any faster and the threat of my legs locking up was too high. It felt great to see my family immediately after crossing the finish line.

How is your recovery going?

I am four days post-race now. My legs are almost not sore anymore. I have previous experience with recovery. Some things I do are eat protein, limit sugar and caffeine, hydrate often, avoid pain killers (slows muscle repair), and keep moving throughout the day to get blood to my muscles.

Do you have any tips for someone who is about to do their first Ironman?

Everyone’s situation and goals are different so not all tips apply for everyone. The biggest thing that worked for me was to study lots of training plans, read lots of triathlon forums, ask lots of questions, and then make my own training plan that fits my abilities, lack of abilities, and family's schedule.

How does it feel to be an Ironman?

It feels good to crush my goal time and avoid the bonk on the marathon. Everyone’s goals are different. Some people need all 17 hours and their goal is to just finish before the cutoff time. My goal was to push myself to my personal breaking point and beat 12 hours. Some people’s breaking point is 16 hours and professionals can finish in just over 9 hours. I was seven miles into my marathon and heard the leaders finishing. Everyone has their own goals. It just felt great to meet my goals regardless that the leaders were two hours ahead of me. There are bigger fish everywhere but that doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is that you show up to your race prepared and race your race.

Do you think you’ll do another Ironman?

My initial thought is if I had the money I would do one every year, but the more I think about it I don't have the time to go through that training volume again. I could finish one every year, but I wouldn’t have the time to train properly and reach my highest possible performance. Maybe when my kids are much, much older I will train for a sub 11:00:00.

Is the Ironman the hardest thing you ever did? If not, what was the hardest?

Racing the Ironman at my highest possible intensity was the hardest endurance event that I have ever done. If I took it easier and added an extra hour on both the bike and the run, then Everesting (29,028’ of mountain repeats a single bike ride) would probably surpass it in difficulty.

What’s next for you?

I’ll work on something that doesn't take as much training volume. Maybe I'll work on speed and try to get PRs on my 5k and 1 mile. I am a long way away from that because of the slow endurance training. I'll probably do road races with the Millersburg Velo Club next season. I’m going to take a break from swimming for a long time because of the huge time commitment.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

This entire endeavor was harder for Debby than it was for me and she deserves kudos and praise. I would have never been able to do this without her.

Thank you Tyler for taking the time to thoroughly answer all of my questions!

He's INCREDIBLE, right!!!???

If you want to see his finish, go here:

Ironman Finish Line Video

Scroll down to the Ironman Finish Line video and skip ahead to the 3:12:36 mark. You will see him finish, airplane arms and all!

Do you have any questions for Tyler? Ask in the comments and he will answer them!


  1. Wow...just wow! I read the entire summary -- thank you both SO much for putting in the time to give a fabulous recap. I train 3 sports and LOVE it but would NEVER want to do an IronMan. I am in total awe of the time and commitment you and Debby both put in to make that happen. Well done. Very well done!! (I'm tired/sore just reading about it. LOL).

    1. Tyler put a lot more time into than I did, thank him! He said he'll never write that much again in his life, but at least he has a detailed account of his race forever!

  2. Congratulations! I was teary eyed reading your recap (Great questions/answers). I like how you describe your highlight of seeing your kids faces light up--in the pictures your face is probably just as happy!! I am amazed at how positive you managed to stay during the whole race. I would like to know your "mental game". Megan, did you catch the bug???

    1. No I don't have the bug! I'll let Tyler answer your other question. :)

  3. I got so emotional reading this! What an accomplishment. I enjoyed every word of his Ironman journey! Congrats Tyler! You are the man!

  4. INCREDIBLE!!!! I was so busy at work today so had to read this in chunks but each time I couldn't wait to come back and read more. What an incredible journey with such an exciting ending coming in well under goal time! BRAVO!

    I always say that Megan is my favorite runner but maybe now Tyler is :D

    1. Noooooo! Okay fine if I must be surpassed, let it be by my brother.

  5. Wow congrats! There are lots of logistics in an endurance event I never thought of. I know I'd be wondering when to eat since I'm hungry all the time. I know it would take lots of training to nail down the fueling part and get everything just right.

  6. Wow, just amazing! That is an incredible finish time - congrats to Tyler!! Seriously impressive times for all events. Thanks for all of the great information. I have learned a ton. Really, people pee on the bikes? I am glad to see my favorite running food, NutriGrain bars, is a fuel of choice for him too! I do agree that it's a "selfish sport". So much time involved in training. Clearly, it pays off!! (also impressive that he didn't get chaffed nips in that white shirt! wow!)

    1. Oh yeah he could have had a really bloody shirt!

      I used to eat nutrigrain bars all the time! I miss those. The "real" ones are the best. As an Aldi shopper, I eat generic brands of everything but there sure is nothing like a kellogg's nutrigrain bar!