For years, Matt Durkin’s closest friend, an experienced triathlete, encouraged him to sign up for a triathlon. Each year, Matt declined because the commitment to training was daunting… plus, he wasn’t exactly the greatest swimmer. However, in December of 2021, Matt finally took the leap. Matt and his friend signed up for a half ironman the following June. Ironman Eagleman 70.3 was their target race.
Meet Matt. He is a busy guy with a lot of responsibilities. He’s a husband, father, coaches his kid’s youth sport teams and has a full time, demanding job. He is not unlike many of the people we work with. He also doesn’t like to turn down a challenge.
His goal was set and his mind was made up. Game on! Matt researched triathlon coaches and contacted us. Together, we mapped out a plan and we wasted no time getting to work.
Below is a Q & A on Matt’s young triathlon journey and how he ultimately achieved his goal of finishing a half Ironman.
We hope you find inspiring.
How / Why did you decide to work with RTA?
After signing up, I did some research on the benefits of hiring a coach, but I was stubborn enough to think: swim/bike/run, how hard could it be?
During my first swim session in December 2021, I realized how hard it could be....if I was going to swim 1.2miles, I would need help.
I referred to the Ironman website for local coaches, and Elizabeth Kaplanis from RTA Triathlon was at the top of the list. I emailed her, along with 2-3 other coaches, and she was the first to respond.
I felt like I immediately hit it off with her. Her triathlon experience, positive attitude and humor seemed to align with what I was looking for. When the other two coaches got back to me, I didn't even reply. I liked how she and her husband Chris customized coaching programs around the busy lifestyles of their athletes.
When doing my triathlon research, I read that you need to find an extra 2-4hrs a day to train, and being a husband/dad/youth sports coach/full time employee, that was going to be difficult, but Elizabeth and I worked together to “make it happen” and worked with my schedule and other commitments. It was NOT 2-4 hours/day.
The hardest part was the swim. It was the first time I was surrounded by so many people. I got beat up a little bit. I was a little upset I had to stop twice, but my heart rate spiked and I lost my breath after getting rolled.
Next time, I think it may be smart to get some more open water swim practice in with a larger number of people. That experience is helpful.
Crossing the finish line felt amazing, as I really turned up the speed around mile 11-12 thinking about all of the hard work I had put in over the prior 4-5 months (the early mornings, lunch rides, evening runs, cold weather, dark mornings etc)....it was a very rewarding feeling.
It also felt great to finish faster than my more experienced friend who suggested I sign up for the race.
Prior to Eagleman, Coach Elizabeth put together a comprehensive race plan for me to follow. All throughout the race, I constantly referred to the plan, and what both she and Chris had taught me during the months prior. - Matt
My advice if you’re thinking about doing an IRONMAN 70.3?
For anyone considering a 70.3, my advice would be that preparation is key. You will likely need to prepare more than you think is necessary.
My race recovery lasted only a day as my body was used to the grueling training that Elizabeth and Chris put me through. At the time, I felt it was excessive, but I never complained and knew I was in good hands.
Going forward, my challenge will be how to maintain and build on the progress I have made swimming. I plan to continue to swim 1-2x a week and ramp that up for my next race, whenever that may be (Sept 2022?). I also want to find a way to incorporate weight lifting back into my routine, as I did miss that during my training program. The reality is, that weight training probably is not that necessary for endurance sports....on to the next one!!
2022 Eagleman 2022 Finisher