My Journey Toward ET Personal Coaching
This was my retirement year. After spending several years as an Illinois state employee and watching new retirees get diagnosed with stress related illnesses with some dying, I decided to retire a year earlier than originally planned. This was to allow for further participation in activities I enjoy … cycling, hiking, running/walking and traveling.
Yes the money is tight but I needed to retire and be active while I can … I have severe osteoarthritis in my right knee, moderate osteoarthritis in my left knee, and mild osteoarthritis in my spine and my neck. I have mild nerve damage in my left thigh from a compression injury sustained in a 2014 scooter accident. Also have a metal plate on leftside back ribs 4 – 8, from multiple breaks sustained in the same 2014 scooter accident. Furthermore, as a result of the same scooter accident I punctured my left lung at the scene. Later at the hospital, the lung collapsed and developed a couple embolisms. More recently, I sustained a fracture on the 9th rib, leftside back, on 05/13/19 when I hit a runner during a training bike ride. That’s another story.
I have been participating in various athletic endeavors for several decades. My first official race was a 10k in July 1978 in Pepperall, MA. My first triathlon was in July 1984 at Galveston, TX. I finished the 10k but got a DNF on the triathlon as my bicycle developed a flat tire and I did not have a repair kit. Through the years, I have participated in, finished and DNF athletic endeavors of various types. Since those early races, I developed a love for the cross training received while training for a triathlon. When I had my scooter accident on 08/14/14 and was getting released from the hospital, I was too healthy for rehab so I developed my own version … in comes the case for the triathlon.
I got some specific books on triathlon training and set out to create my own training plans. I worked in a job where I may be told at the last minute that I had to stay for an additional 8 hour shift, so organized group training was out of the question. I have to admit that I completed several really nice training plans but never actually utilized any of them. I completed my training hit and miss and participated in races any way without any planned strategy. I always managed to finish a race by the seat of my pants.
As I rehab’d from my scooter accident, I came across the concept of indoor triathlons. Although other fitness clubs hold indoor tri’s, I was drawn to Experience Triathlon’s indoor tris because they were held in each winter month of January, February and March. I started to use triathlon to recover from my scooter accident injuries … ruptured spleen, punctured left lung, fractured ribs 4 – 9 with a metal plate on ribs 5-8, a surgical scar from receiving my metal plate, and a left thigh with a crush injury with damage to the muscle tissue and nerves. After the surgery wound healed, I got into the pool and did some light swimming. Also did some outdoor cycling when the weather permitted. I started walking as my ribs were too tender to take the pounding of running. Although there were on-line indoor triathlon training programs available for free, I did not utilize them. I ad libbed my training. Fast forward a couple of years …
At the ripe old age of about 56, I started to participate in the state senior olympics and national senior games. At the state level, I participated in all kinds of events just for the fun, but my favorite was the triathlon. In all events, except triathlon, you have to place in the top three places to go to nationals. For triathlon, right now anyway, all you got to do is just finish a recognized state game triathlon and you can go to nationals.
My first national senior games were the 2017 National Senior Games held in Birmingham, AL. I qualified in several events at the state level to go to nationals but I chose race walking and the sprint triathlon. In race walking, which is all about form and technique, I got disqualified with the best of them. On the triathlon, I chickened out as the elevation profile looked like an elevation profile of the Himalaya Mountains. I did complete a sprint triathlon the day before over the same course. I managed to place 2nd in the Athena class. Although I placed, I still entered the race without any actual training. I had a really nice training plan though.
Since 2017, I continued to participate in ET races either as a participant or a volunteer. As the 2019 National Senior Games loomed, I once again created a really nice training plan. The end of 2018 saw my retirement one year prior to planned so I would not suffer from a stress related incident. January 2018, the first month of my retirement, saw me just laying around the house doing nothing. I was supposed to have started a part-time job on 01/02/19 but that was delayed until February. My really nice training plan collected dust. I still participated in the ET indoor tri series without training, after all who couldn’t out last a 10 minute swim, a 30 minute stationary cycle and a 20 minute treadmill session. I went ahead and completed the series although my best time was completed in January 2014 as I rehab from my scooter accident. A funny thing about completing the 2018 indoor series, I got a free entry into the ET triathlon race of my choice. I chose the 2019 Lake Zurich Olympic distance tri. I had entered the year before and backed down to the sprint distance tri as I could complete that with little training.
January slipped by and February followed, I still hadn’t dusted off my training plan. I sat around, literally doing nothing. ET sent out an email about master swimming at Carol Stream. As I had not been training on my own and had a line of triathlons coming up hard and fast, I signed up for Tuesday and Thursday swimming. I officially met Coach Jim, Coach Suzy and Coach Joe. The first week I thought I was going to die. The first Tuesday, I managed approximately 1900 yards, the most I had swam in years. The crazy thing was I came back on Thursday and repeated the insanity. I did not have a swim coach since 6th grade, somewhere in the late 1960s. As crazy as the workouts were, to me anyway, I kept coming back. I came to enjoy the workouts and being around other like-minded athletes. As I had only signed up for 2 months, I calculated funds available, travel distance, etc. I signed on with Experience Triathlon Personal Coaching Services for at least four months as I had the 2019 National Senior Games Sprint Triathlon and Lake Zurich Olympic Distance Tri looming ever closer. I was assigned Coach Jim.
Having a personal coach has proved to be a blessing. Coach Jim had me complete some paperwork about what I wanted to accomplish through his coaching and what my goals for the season were. We met and discussed the different aspects of the method to the madness and such. As I hadn’t ran or swam in a long time, I was started easy. Though similar to some training plans I had created in the past, these training plans did not collect dust. Coach Jim and ET utilize training peaks, an on-line training log, to post training plans and for the athlete to provide feedback. Though I am in the process of making a hard copy of my athlete peaks training log, it has proved to be a valuable tool.
Gotta love modern technology, the communication I have with Coach Jim is fast and efficient. Training plans are posted and feedback is given back and forth through emails and Training Peaks, thus providing for flexibility. One day during a training bicycle ride, I hit a runner who was not able to decide which side of the trail to be on. The runner was fine but I fractured the 9th rib, leftside of my back. I was able to inform Coach Jim of the incident by feedback on Training peaks and email. He adapted my training to fit with what I was able to complete. I did light training for about four weeks. Coach Jim provided encouragement to get through the training even on the days I did not want to train or when I was in pain from working too many days in a row. How have I fared …
Originally my summer race schedule involved the ET triathlon series with a couple other races thrown in for fun …
- 05/04/19 … Sprint2Spring 5k, Elgin, IL … finished in 49:22 minutes utilizing cycling, something I learned from training with coach Jim, placed 3rd in female 60 – 64.
- 05/19/19 … Save-a-Joe 5k, Batavia, IL … finished 1:02:34, 4 days after sustaining a rib fracture.
- 06/09/2019 … ET Batavia Sprint Triathlon, Batavia, IL … finished in 2:58:30, placed 1st in female 60 – 64.
- 06/15/19 … 2019 National Senior Games 1500 meter powerwalk, Albuquerque, NM … finished in 14:14.
- 06/17/19 … 2019 National Senior Games 5k powerwalk, Albuquerque, NM … finished in 51:44.
- 06/22/19 … 2019 National Senior Games Sprint Triathlon, Cochiti Lake, NM … finished in 2:51:07.
- 07/14/19 … Lake Zurich Olympic Distance Triathlon, Lake Zurich, IL … first attempt at olympic distance, finished in 5:503:48.
The following races still need to be completed:
- 07/27/19 … Stoneman Sprint Triathlon, Springfield, IL … IL Senior Olympic sprint triathlon.
- 08/04/19 … Naperville Sprint Triathlon, Naperville, IL.
- 08/24/19 … Chicago Super Sprint Triathlon, Chicago, IL.
Like I have said, having a personal coach has been fun and worth the investment. Coach Jim provided encouragement when I needed it and asking questions of about what’s going on as needed. I look forward to a continuing relationship with ET and their staff as I prepare for my version of an ironman … participating in and completing the Chicago Triathlon Triple Challenge in which the individual completes the super sprint tri on Saturday, followed by the back to back completion of the Olympic/International distance and the sprint triathlons on Sunday.