Aug 20


Anyone who has been doing this sport for any amount of time I’m sure gets asked a lot of questions.  These questions pretty much fall into the standard categories of questions: who, what, where, when, why, and how.  The who, when, and where are usually pretty easy to answer (Me. 9/11 – 21 days. Madison, WI). 

Next up, is the question what.  What is an Ironman?  Most people not familiar with the sport may be confused by the fact that not every triathlon is an Ironman and that race in Hawaii isn’t the only Ironman.  But again, the what question is fairly easy to answer.  When in doubt, just show them this:

The final two questions are often the hardest.  I’m not even going to get into the question of why today.  That is a question that has a different answer for every single person. Maybe you are simply doing for the thrill of competition.  Maybe you have turned an unhealthy lifestyle around.  Maybe you or a love one has battled cancer or other illness and this is your way of celebrating or remembering that person.  Like I said, the reasons are endless.

Today, I’m going to answer the question of how – at least my answer.  I’m sure I’m not only person who has had someone say, “I don’t know how you do it” when they find out what training involves.  Sure, the training is tough, I’m not going to lie.  It involves a lot of hours, a lot of hard work, and a lot of time management.  However, with a little hard work and dedication the training is very doable.  But when push comes to shove, the main reason I am able to train for this incredible sport is this:

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My beautiful wife, cheerleader, photographer, motivator, support crew, manager of social media and when training, my mobile aid station.

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Here is what today’s aid station looked like for a 3 hour run.  Two 32oz bottles (one hidden).  One with water, one with Gatorade.  A 24oz bottle with more Gatorade.  A Rubbermaid container with extra Gatorade powder for refilling at a drinking fountain.  And two packages of Gu Chomps. (And a mini first aid kit of hand sanitizer, napkins, and bandaids – my wife is nothing if not prepared). 

For 21 miles, Jennie biked by my side at 8mph which is about as slow as you can go on a bike without tipping over.  Every mile, without fail, she would pull forward and find a shady spot.  Even miles were water, odd miles were Gatorade with Gu Chomps every 4 miles.  As the miles wore on and my mental aspects faded she reminded me which fluid I was supposed to take.  When it came time to cross to the other side of the road, she would keep an eye on when traffic was clear so that I didn’t have to keep looking over my shoulder looking for an opening.  Whatever, I needed she was there for.

I honestly could not do this sport without her loving support.  Mobile aid station aside, training with a partner makes this sport so much more fun.  Even though Jennie isn’t training for the same event, she is training in her own right and whenever we are able to mesh our training it is fun to do a run together.  I love seeing other couples training and racing together as well.  I’ve followed the training of MattyO and Heather, Matt and Jenn, Jeff and Annie, John and Frances and lots of other blogging and non-blogging couples alike and I am sure they can all agree that having some share in your passion makes all the difference in the world. 

So that is how I do it.  With my best friend by my side. How do you do it?

Keep on moving my friends!

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/08/20/how


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  1. Jeff Irvin

    Great post Kevin! Jennie is pretty darn awesome – and apparently quite patient!

    And as you have guys have each other I really couldn’t imagine getting through all the tough training days without Annie by my side.

    However, if she was on that bike she would probably run me over a few times, by accident of course.

    Great run dude – based on “the plan” taper is oh so close!
    Jeff Irvin recently posted..HA HA!

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      “by accident of course.” – Of course… by “accident”. Annie is smart though, I’m sure she can make the “accident” look good. haha

  2. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me)

    That is so awesome!
    Like you, I could NOT do this without the help and support of my husband. He is amazing…simple amazing!
    Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) recently posted..Humpastry Day – Choco Cherry Chia Granola

  3. Matt Smith

    Well said, my friend! It is because of our Jennifer’s that we can actually do some of this training. We are so blessed to have best friends at our sides to support us, take pictures of us, be our pack mules, cheer us up and keep us going. Jennie is such a rad girl, and I’m so glad you guys found each other. She deserves a special night on the town once you complete WI! You guys are great!
    Matt Smith recently posted..Steelhead 70.3 Ironman Race Report

  4. Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race

    This was perfect and oh so true.

    I had a Twitter convo the other day when I was asked the same question about how and my first response was Karen. She is beyond supportive and I don’t know how she does it. She always encourages me and is always saying yes go do this or yes go do that. It is incredible.

    Having Jennie there for you will make this IM more than just memorable as you will be sharing the accomplishment with somebody who was there literally every step of the way.

    Congrats to you for having her and for you treating her with the respect that she deserves.
    Jason @ Cook Train Eat Race recently posted..Winning The Lotto

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      I totally forgot about you and the Lady Baha in my list!! Sorry! Does Karen blog or just tweet? If she blogs, I’ll have to get her added to my blog roll.

      It certainly has been a fun and amazing journey for both of us. I especially love it now that Jennie has even got to the point where when someone makes a comment like, “My friend just did an Ironman (read: sprint triathlon) last weekend” she just rolls her eyes. haha

  5. Lisa

    How awesome that she is there to help you out so that you can travel this iron road together.
    Lisa recently posted..Reconnaissance Missions

  6. Colleen

    I love this post. You are super lucky to have Jennie there with you through all of this and I know how proud of you she is. And she’ll be the first one you see at the finish line, smiling, probably crying, cheering and waiting to give you a big sweaty hug! There is something to be said having the support of your spouse and best friend. I know I couldn’t do what I do if it weren’t for Tom!

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Oh crap! I forgot you and Tom in my listing too! It was late at night and I was racking my brain trying to come up with a full list. I blame it on the fact that Tom doesn’t blog because I was going through my blog roll. haha. No excuse though – you two are an amazing couple. I think back to GC and remember the look of sheer happiness and pride on both your faces when Tom rocked his marathon PR. It was almost hard to tell which one of you was happier.

  7. Pat

    Julie has come a long way. She is more tolerant of my training than she used to be. That being said, she’s not in the supportive realm of Jennie. I asked her to read this post. When she did, she looked up and said that I should go find a girl like Jennie and marry her and then went back to her book. (Sigh) Appreciate your wife, they’re not all so supportive. Hopefully Julie will come around.
    Pat recently posted..Preliminary Schedule for 2012

  8. Regina

    You are lucky. I’m on my own! I sometimes don’t even know how I do it. But it gets done….somehow.

  9. lindsay

    josh used to be my rolling aid station. it’s the best way to do a long run! i kind of felt bad for him, i imagine it’s pretty boring to poke along on the bike or stop and wait, stop and wait… so, i think jennie should get a massage, or something else if she doesn’t like massages.
    lindsay recently posted..a’s to the q’s (part 2)

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      It is her birthday shortly. So I guess I’ll just get her something extra nice. Maybe I should get her an orange shirt so that we can match.

  10. Morgan

    Love this! Reminds me of last summer, bike pacing Spike while he trained for Grand Rapids and I was injured. (Dude was I ever not injured?!?!? Oh wait yes, for like 3 months between G.R. and Frostbike. Ugh) Three cheers to Jennie for being such an awesome supportive wife and to you for getting that run done!
    Morgan recently posted..Random Friday Facts

  11. Heather

    I heart Jennie! She’s such a cool chick! Wish we lived closer so we could all hang out more! Great job on the 3 hour run and the last century ride…well second to last 😉 I still think Bailey needs one of those bike wagons. He would totally make a wonderful support pup!

    THREE MORE WEEKS!!! CAN YOU FEEL IT!?!?!??!?!??!?!

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Ugh! Don’t give her any ideas! We just got him his own dog bed finally because he HAD to have one. He (apparently) looked soooo sad laying on the floor and needed somewhere comfortable to sleep. So, dog bed purchased and where does he sleep? Next to the dog bed. haha

      We are definitely going to have to get together again soon. Hopefully next year is less stressful as we’ll both have an IM under out belts and not being freaking out about the first one. That should mean more relaxed training and fun races.

  12. Matt Oravec

    Haha, man, you have it made. Most people have to take their own nutrition with them, you, have it provided!

    Love this. Truly a testament to your relationship with each other. Heck, if I loved Heather as much as you love Jennie, I would let her bike beside me with a mobile aid station… but the way I see it, misery loves company so I make Heather compete too 😉 hahahaha!

    Seriously though, great job man. You know that its things like this that will make or break your training some days. Anything to help you get in awesome training helps you THAT MUCH MORE for race day.

    You guys are awesome, glad we were able to meet too! I don’t feel as creepy telling you that you are awesome now haha.
    Matt Oravec recently posted..I would like to introduce to you… Team Oravec Racing

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      HAHA! “misery loves company so I make Heather compete too” – That is great!

      I have to tell you though, you and H were an inspiration for this post. It was the picture of the two of you biking in the pouring rain that got me thinking about all of the couples out there that train and race together. That is seriously one of the most bad ass pictures I have ever seen. You gotta submit that to Triathlon or Bicycling magazine or something. After seeing that picture and then having Jennie give up (yet another) 3 hours of her weekend to bike along with me, the post basically wrote itself.

      I’m hoping that once I have this IM under my belt, next year’s training will be a little less involved. We’ll definitely have to plan some more meetups. Even if don’t want to see us, I know that Frank misses me. haha

  13. Jon

    Awesome post man! You have definately hit the critical mass part of the training. I can just sense the “get this over with already! i am ready to knock this thing DOWN!”

    The mobile aid station is freaking brilliant. Next round? Cooler with ice cream sandwiches on board. One for you, one for Jennie. (or 5 for you, one for jennie) They say the fastest way to cool your core is through ingestion of cold liquids…….or ice cream!

    Wish I could come out and watch you race! You still have two hotels booked, right? 😉
    Jon recently posted..Three Things Thursday: The Master Plan

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      That is brilliant!!! I’ll have to harvest my CO2 cartridges to make some dry ice or something though to keep them frozen. Even with freezing half of the Nalgene bottles the night before, they had thawed within an hour. Did you ever get a response from the WTC about the ice cream aid station???

      Actually just cancelled the second hotel. I’m sure it is still available to book though… 🙂 Registration for 2012 on Monday… just saying.

  14. Elizabeth

    What a beautiful love letter to your beautiful wife!! I really count on the support my husband gives me. Just knowing he is proud of me and stands behind my training makes all the difference in the world.
    Elizabeth recently posted..A few good runs (or maybe just one)

  15. BDD

    It is sooooo hard to do this sport with out family support.

  16. Derek

    nice run!
    awesome support crew

    down the stretch you come!
    doing great man

  17. Shelly in MI

    So nice that jennie can do all that to support you. You are very lucky but it sounds like you know it so it’s allll good. Keep it up!!

  18. CouplaHounds

    WOW, Kevin! You’ve got it made – no excuses!! 😉

    You’re doing awesome!
    CouplaHounds recently posted..We have a diagnosis

  19. Mandy

    Man, you are so lucky, seriously. My mobile aid station doesn’t smile nearly as much. Actually, it is a tree I stash my crap near so I can come by it and pick it up and hope it isn’t too warm.

    That picture of Jennie is SO CUTE!! Seriously, when do I get to meet her? Do I HAVE to wait until IMMT? 🙂
    Mandy recently posted..Meet Porter!

  20. Derek

    !!!!! 10 DAYS !!!!!

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