Commitment, Patience, Perseverance & GRIT
This is a story about a true "Ironman." One who displays all of the qualities mentioned above and MANY more.
The "journey" highlighted below belongs to Drew Cruz. It summarizes his long and patient journey to achieve his dream: qualify for and become an Ironman World Championship finisher.
We hope you find this inspirational and informative.
His success drove him to become even more dedicated to improving and his commitment to the sport increased. Drew began allocating lots and LOTS of time each week to training under the guidance of his then coach with the hope of achieving his new DREAM: qualifying for Ironman World Championship.
Many have this goal, but most do not realize just how difficult it is to qualify for the Ironman World Championship. Despite already performing at a very high level, he still needed to become a bit faster. And even then, nothing is guaranteed.
When trying to qualify for Worlds, there are no specified qualifying times (like runners qualifying for the Boston Marathon). Instead, you have to WIN or finish in the very top of your age category at the qualifying Ironman race to be over the prized slot to the World Championship event.
After 4 failed attempts racing Ironman to qualify for the World Championship, Drew was still determined. However, he and his wife Courtney began having kids. Needless to say, he did not have the same amount of free time (and energy) to commit to training like he once did.
Smartly, Drew decided to put his aspirations on hold and decided to dial back his training.
Drew Takes His Talents to Bergen County
Now or Never!
With a lot of things in life, the time is never truly right. Sometimes you just have to go for it and make adjustments if necessary.
In the fall of 2022, with the support of his wife and for the first time since having kids, Drew decided to return to long course racing and signed up for Ironman Lake Placid. It was now or never and he had unfinished business to settle.
After a few dialogues between Drew and Coach E, they decided to stick with what had been working. Quality over quantity in regards to training. A limited training volume approach was something very new to Drew when it came to long course racing. Regardless, as a father of two young girls and a demanding job, this was how it was going to have to be.
The Road to Ironman Lake Placid
Regardless of experience level, Coach Elizabeth likes her athletes to schedule a few preparatory races leading up to their "A" race (Lake Placid for Drew).
Through continuous bench mark testing during training we knew Drew was doing well. Following his first race of 2023 we began to get excited about his return to Ironman. His numbers and race splits were the best they had EVER had been. Then, following his final prep race, Ironman 70.3 Eagleman, we knew he was REALLY ready to go. He finished the race in a time of 4:31 including a very strong 1:26 half marathon to close out the race. The quality over quantity approach was working!
In addition to those prep races, he attended one of our Lake Placid training camps as well. Our camps create an opportunity in an environment to allow athletes to get a focused 4 day training block. Need less to say, it is especially helpful for those racing Ironman Lake Placid.
Ironman Lake Placid
Ironman World Championship FINISHER!
For the first time ever, the Ironman World Championship was in Nice, France and it did not disappoint.
Drew was excited and ready to go. Mentally, he was charged up and prepared for the grueling race ahead. Unfortunately, the short turn around time from Lake Placid to Nice didn't allow for him to physically recover to 100%.
Despite the BLAZING hot temps with a bike course that made Lake Placid look like child's play, Drew slowed to a pace NOT indicative of his training or ability. However, like a true "Ironman," he refused to give in and FOUGHT HARD TO THE FINISH LINE of the Ironman World Championship.
His day pivoted in a direction different than we anticipated. Regardless, We could not be more proud of his effort.
We have been working with Drew for several years. A few weeks ago He had an absolutely brilliant race at Ironman Lake Placid and EARNED a ticket to the Ironman World Championship. This was a long standing dream of his.
Drew did not have the outcome he had prepared for. He is a HIGHLY capable and very smart triathlete with years of experience. HOWEVER, his body did not respond the way we anticipated.
Maybe it was the jet lag, maybe it was the EXTREME HEAT, maybe it was an unreasonably short turn around coming off of Lake Placid for a guy with young kids and a demanding career.
Here’s the thing: there will always be SOMETHING preventing athletes from having a “perfect” race no matter how well they are prepared. In fact, the word PERFECTION does not really coincide with Ironman. It’s is an ambiguous term.
Ironman presents circumstances beyond our control. It is HOW WE RESPOND when things go sideways (not on those “magical” days) when we really learn what we are made of.
On race day, Drew’s GRIT was on full display as he dug deep and finished what he started and WE COULDN’T BE MORE PROUD OF HIM.
5 STAR Google Review:
Having been a coached athlete with RTA for the past few years for marathon and short course triathlon training, I knew that this was the team I wanted to work with for my first long course triathlon prep after several years off.
As an experienced triathlete, and prior Ironman finisher, I wasn’t sure how my work, life, and family schedule would fit the realities of what I thought taking this challenge on again would entail.
I cannot say strongly enough how refreshing it was that Coach Elizabeth’s approach is about tailoring the plan to the athlete vs the other way around.
The consistent dialogue, engagement, “anything you need to feel confident”, check-ins, part coach/part psychologist approach established a trust that was amazing to have when are in the midst of the highs and lows.
What I found remarkable was in the lead up to Ironman Lake Placid I was hitting some of the fastest workout milestones and race results I had EVER experienced. The plan based around quality of hours and not quantity was clearly working. I was never injured from overuse and was able to safely and productively stack week after week of consistency. It all culminated with a well laid out plan for IMLP that we executed perfectly on a tough day.
I had two DNFs in my two most recent prior Ironmans and was concerned how I would manage the distance on race day. I was so prepared to tackle any challenges and troubleshoot quickly different scenarios you may encounter because WE TRAINED AND THOUGHT OUT those exact scenarios. Two to three came up on race day- I dealt with them, moved on and my day never derailed.
As a result of all that, I achieved my first ever Ironman world championship qualifying slot (no roll down!) I’m ecstatic to have achieved this lifetime goal and to race in Nice France in 3 weeks. Elizabeth and Chris are two of the best humans you’ll ever meet and their passion for what they do is clear.
The RTA community of athletes is a special group of people of varying levels who love challenging themselves and supporting their teammates at events. If you’re thinking of partnering with an amazing team of coaches and triathlon team, look no further and drop RTA a note. It may be one of the best decisions you ever make as they will without a doubt help you achieve your goals - no matter what they may be.