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Swimming, Biking and Running Scared

May 6, 2007
Me, signing up for IronMan 2007

I’m scared.

If you know me, then you probably know that I signed up for IronMan 2007, Lake Placid, NY to take place July 22. If you don’t know me, or didn’t know that, now you do.

IronMan triathlons are endurance events that require every athlete to challenge themselves to complete the following:

  1. Swim 3.8km (2.6 miles)
  2. Cycle 180km (112 miles)
  3. Run 42.2km (26.2 miles)

So, now you know why I’m scared. Every day brings me closer to July 22nd, and I worry that I’m just not going to make it. I started training for this last November (2006).

Why am I doing this?

I was inspired to do this when I went to IronMan Lake Placid 2005 to watch my brother compete. Honestly, I thought that watching a triathlon would be boring. I wondered why I was going to spend the whole day there (arrive at 5:15am, leave somewhere near midnight) when I’d only see him for about three minutes during the race. To the unitiated (i.e., me) it was a reasonable line of thinking.

At the end of the day (literally), it was one of the most exhilarating sporting events I’d ever been involved with. Ever. Those three minutes that I saw my brother were unreal. I was filled with pride, anticipation, inspiration and fear all at once. And right then and there is when both my wife and I decided that we wanted to start doing triathlons.

What this means

What it really means is that I’m spending a lot of time training, and I’m really not sure I’m doing enough. I’m supposed to be training anywhere from 1 hour to 4 hours a day with one day off a week. But most of the time, I’m taking 3 or 4 days off a week because of other commitments, because of whatever. This is probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Correction: training for IronMan at the same time as running a business while travelling for conferences/training/consulting work, having three kids, with a wife who works full time and is also training for the same IronMan is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Let’s hear it!

I know this is stating the obvious, but words of encouragement are very much appreciated. Kathryn and I are filled with doubt about this every day, so every little bit helps… If you’re feeling really supportive and want to make the trip to Lake Placid, just let us know and we’ll get you setup with team Featherstone supporter t-shirts or something :)

36 Responses

Comment by Jared M. Spool — May 06 2007 @ 3:40 pm

A triathlon is a bold move. I have complete respect for you even attempting it.

I think it rocks. Go for it and keep us updated!


Comment by Kathryn Featherstone — May 06 2007 @ 3:41 pm

today while doing my run – in the first hour of course because my legs started to ache in the second half – i came to the realization that we are going to do this – and we will do it well – we are going to do our second half marathon in a couple of weeks – which most people never even accomplish in life – and this has just become one of our weekends of training – i am amazed at the human body and how it learns to adapt over time – i am thrilled that i have been able to get my fitness level even to this level so far – and i must admit, the only reason I can is because you keep pushing me Derek Featherstone – with encouragement and belief – and I believe in you too – we will finish – it might not be pretty – be we are two of the most stubborn, competitive and fitness loving people I know – it will be done

Comment by Lisa H — May 06 2007 @ 3:42 pm

What an amazing thing to do!

I watched the Sydney Olympics on TV one night and decided I was going to Greece to compete at the next one. So I picked a sport I thought I could learn within that time: Archery.

I actually had 4 lessons. I think that’s the most sport I did that year. It was exhilarating.

Ok so there was no chance I was ever going to get to Greece with four lessons, but I can see you guys are really going to make it across the line.

How brilliant. I might even go for a walk this morning :)


Comment by feather — May 06 2007 @ 3:42 pm

Crap. My wife just made me cry…

Comment by Bryan — May 06 2007 @ 3:44 pm

This is quite an undertaking, but you’re a very strong individual, one of the strongest I know. I can’t even imagine the amount of mental preparation needed for this type event, let alone the obvious physical commitment needed. But I truly believe that after everything is said and done, even if you don’t reach the goal you’re after, you’ll still come out better for having done it. This is a life chagning experience, and it’ll be moreso once you take part in it.

Jen and I will be cheering you on from here in the Bay Area. :)

Comment by Kathryn Featherstone — May 06 2007 @ 3:51 pm

the other thing that I am finding interesting during the course of this training is how much I appreciate the peacefulness of the “quiet time” I am getting on the swims, runs, and the bikes – Being a fitness instructor I am constantly listening to my music for the classes I teach (Derek can attest to that) and I am really concerned about how bored I am going to be swimming for over an hour in silence, and biking for 6 plus hours and the running – my biggest worry is that I am going to have one song stuck in my head and have it repeating over and over again for the entire day – However I find when I am swimming great distances I am focused on my stroke and trying to always improve it – it makes time fly – and today on my run after the second hour, I decided to turn off my music and run in silence – 30 minutes of silence – it was amazing where my thoughts drifted – I felt very peaceful when I returned home – sore and tired but in a great spirit – maybe silence isn’t so bad after all

Comment by Sarah — May 06 2007 @ 3:56 pm

Hey Derek and Kathryn,
I’ve been following Derek’s ridiculously early starts for training (via Twitter) and wondering what the big event is. I won’t be able to make it to the venue to support you, but I’ll be thinking of you both, and I’ll cheer you on from over here.

You know you had my respect anyway, but I’m truly in awe of your efforts in training as much as you do, especially with the schedules you both keep.

Good luck to both of you, both in the training and the event itself. How fantastic you have each other for motivation and support! :o)

Comment by Mike Stickel — May 06 2007 @ 4:09 pm

Dude, I’ve got a crazy amount of respect for you and your wife right now. You say your wife made you cry with her words but I’m sure just the thought of doing half of what you both are going to accomplish would make a lot more people cry.

Keep up the good work Featherstones, you’re doing something few people I know could.

Comment by Jeff Smith — May 06 2007 @ 4:40 pm

Krista and I both have a huge amount of respect for your (both of you) decision to enter the IronMan. It’s inspired both of us (mostly me) to get back to mountain biking and get back into shape again after a long winter.

You’ve both got our support, and if there are extra things that I can be helping out with business-wise – you know where to find me. :)

Comment by stuart — May 06 2007 @ 4:51 pm

Such an amazing think to even consider doing, you must be a little bit crazy! I have masses of respect for you Derek, I can’t imagine the amount of hard work you’re putting into this, and you’ll probably never have a better feeling than when you cross that finishing line.

Best of luck with it, and do keep us posted with your progress!

Comment by Scott Fegette — May 06 2007 @ 4:52 pm

Derek, you not only have my support, but admiration as well. The determination to keep with training on this level alongside a busy work and family life is hard to sustain (something I’m painfully aware of at this point in my own life), but you seem to juggle it all with ease. If it ever gets difficult, just know that you’ve got legions of friends rooting you on from the sidelines worldwide. I’m proud to be one of ’em.

(hopping on the bike to get some miles in ASAP while the inspiration’s still warm, in fact.)

Comment by Andrea — May 06 2007 @ 5:08 pm

You both have my support, and I know you’ll make it. :)

My advice would be to not worry, and enjoy the training. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how well you do in one event– it matters how well you do over the long haul.

Comment by Stephanie — May 06 2007 @ 7:01 pm

Hey Featherstones — you’re gonna do great! By just entering you’ve done something… by training as much as you possibly can with a busy life, you’ve done more… by starting the race, you’ve accomplished much. Even if you crawl over the finish line, you’ve done more than most of us. Kudos to you!

And anyway, having seen you both in Feb, it’s quite apparent that the training is agreeing with both of you… you guys rock! :)

Comment by Ruth Ellison — May 06 2007 @ 7:17 pm

Good luck to the both of you. A triathlon is an amazing event, and you both have my respect and well wishes. With the amount of training you guys are putting in, and with your determination, you WILL make it!

Good luck from Oz!

Comment by Jonathan Snook — May 06 2007 @ 7:33 pm

You guys will do it. You both seem extremely determined and I can only imagine the pride you’ll feel by the end of the day (as I’m sure you feel at various points through your training). Your kids are no doubt extremely proud of you as well and I think both of you are setting a fine example for them. The level of maturity, training and dedication required is an inspiration to everybody. Keep at it!

Comment by Nick Cowie — May 06 2007 @ 7:40 pm

I think you are both crazy to start with an ironman triathlon, when a regular triathlon would seriously challenge almost all of us. Then again you could be sneaking regular triathlons into your training regime with out letting us know ;-)

That said I have huge admiration and respect for you both and wish you all the best in your chosen endeavour.

Kathryn, I try to ride to work once a week (84km round trip) and have tried it with music. However I find it best is silence, the trip in is my best thinking time and solve numerous problems just riding. The trip home at the end of the day, I end up concentrating on my pedalling and you are right, time seems to fly by.

Comment by Chris Hamilton — May 06 2007 @ 7:59 pm

I’m pulling for you and Kathryn.

For the past two months since you first talked to me about the triathlon you’ve been an inspiration to my own fitness, which has helped me clear my head and begin to recover from a long disrespectfully ended relationship.

No matter how the race goes you guys are kicking ass! Hang in there and keep training one day at a time.

Comment by Gary Barber — May 06 2007 @ 8:19 pm

Derek. I’m sitting here, stunned. I know you have a backbreaking schedule normally and from somewhere you are making the super-human effort to get all this training done as well!

To say that I’m in awe is an understatement. Derek you and Kathryn both have my deepest admiration.

Derek this is a mountain, you’re climbing, it not for the destination but the journey, I know you can do it. Focus on the smaller tasks, you will get to the end goal, I know you will.

I’ll be cheering you on from the other side of the world. Go Derek!

Comment by Ben Buchanan — May 06 2007 @ 8:19 pm

Derek my friend, you’re talking to lazy bastards like me who can barely get outside once a week for a walk. I am impressed beyond belief!

…of course I do think you’re nuts, but that’s because I’d die trying to run 4kms, let alone 42km :) Remember to give yourself credit where it’s due. You’ll be fine!

Comment by matthijs — May 07 2007 @ 2:23 am

Good luck. If you only started training last november, it’s an amazing feat. And you’d be very lucky with a body capable of coping with the training load. Most people would have been injured badly after a couple of months. Don’t know what your previous training background is?

Only advice I would give: keep it up, but stay realistic as well. If you are not doing very, very long training sessions now (cycling+running) with relatively ease, be careful. Doing a full triathlon in the heat (July NY), can be dangerous. If you’d push it too far you can seriously injure or even kill yourself. It’s not worth that.

Comment by Richard Rutter — May 07 2007 @ 4:47 am

Derek – it was good to go with you on a training run during SxSW. It was one of hundreds, I’m sure, but if it helped just a tiny bit, I’ll be well happy.

Triathlons are a challenging concept at the best of times, but IronMan is just monstrous. But the very fact you’re scared about it and worried you’re not doing enough training, is enough to convince me you’re going to do it. Combine that with the support you and Kathryn are giving each other and you’re sorted!

Comment by Garrett Dimon — May 07 2007 @ 7:15 am

Consider me impressed. I don’t have even a quarter of those commitments, and I find it incredibly difficult just to find time for basketball, let alone all of the other aspects of getting in shape.

I’m hoping to ease into a more intense and frequent workout regimen myself, and I’d love to hear updates of how ya’ll are doing. It’s posts like this that make me realize just how little I actually do, and just might get me motivated to “keep up with the Featherstones”.

Comment by Lori — May 07 2007 @ 9:35 am

I’ve always found the concept of triathalons appealing, and I love watching the Hawaiian IronMan on TV, but I’m not sure I’d have the commitment to do all the training y’all are doing. I tell myself my life is too busy, but really I’m just too lazy. Although my spouse and I both work full-time, I don’t run my own business, and I have two fewer kids than you do. I’m thinking that maybe a trip to cheer you on would be just the thing to inspire me to train for such an event myself! Whether I make it or no, I know you will. You’re amazing!

Comment by Scott — May 07 2007 @ 2:11 pm

As others here have said, just finding the time in a busy day to exercise at all can be a challenge. I can’t fathom trying to train for an Iron Man competition while juggling work and kids and the fact that you both are doing it is amazing and inspiring.

Always remember why you are doing it in the first place and make it fun for yourselves. In the end, whether you win or lose, it won’t diminish the incredible achievement you will have made to even get that far (and to get as far as you already have)!

Comment by Paul Hagon — May 07 2007 @ 6:12 pm

The hard part is nearly over, race day is easy compared to the training. You are much better off feeling that you haven’t done enough, than being burned out, training too much & juggling everything else that goes on in your life. If you want to do it, you’ll do it regardless of how much training you’ve done. Go out there on race day with 1000 other friends have a blast & enjoy the day (it goes quickly). Remember – if it was easy, everyone would do it.

Comment by Stephanie — May 07 2007 @ 9:46 pm

That’s incredible. I wish you both good luck and no injuries!

Comment by Robert Wellock — May 08 2007 @ 7:14 am

You’ll have to bury the computer in the garden or something so the temptation is not there to be reading this instead of training.

Good Luck.

Comment by Jesse C. — May 08 2007 @ 7:55 am

Well, your work has always inspired me, but this takes it to another level.
Here is my encouragement: go well, and enjoy each and every minute. It is so great to see an entire family so completely involved.

My gratitude (for inspiring me to reinvigorate my own life) is immense…

Comment by Duncan Rawlinson — May 08 2007 @ 10:32 am

Kathryn and Derek,

You have my full support as well. When you told me about your experience watching your brother at his triathlon it totally solidified my decision to run the half marathon myself! Now that I’ve done that I’m going to do a full marathon and maybe one day a triathlon as well! So thanks for the extra inspiration and best of luck!

I hope to see you in Vancouver sometime.

Comment by Donna Maurer — May 10 2007 @ 7:17 am

Here’s how I’m going to send encouragement your way…Whenever someone comments on how amazing I am and how much I do – I’m just gonna say “It’s nothing – you should see what Derek & Kathryn are doing”

Far out – you are amazing!

Comment by Jennifer — May 11 2007 @ 7:57 pm

I wish you the best of luck… I live here in Lake Placid down on Main St. and get to see bits and pieces of this amazing challenge every year. I’m not athletic at all so I do the cheering thing. I make miniature teddy bears and this year will be making them into Ironbears! You’ll have a local cheering you on!
Good Luck on the 22nd!

Comment by Nate Koechley — May 15 2007 @ 12:38 pm

Wow, just imagine the feeling of pride and relief and excitement and glorious well-earned weariness when you wake up Monday, July 23rd*.

I’d love to know that feeling.

Hear, hear!

(*you cleared your calendar that Monday, right?)

Comment by Jeff Davies — May 17 2007 @ 6:42 am

Derek, while I was only able to spend a brief amount of time with you when you presented at Web Essentials 05, you told me your goals were to:
1. do more public speaking/conferences,
2. contribute more to Industry publications,
3. achieve a lifestyle where you can spend more time with the family and
4. complete in at least 2 triathlons a year.

The first 2 were simply enablers for you to achieve the 2nd 2 goals (the more important ones). By the looks of it, you are well on track. No need to wish you luck because people with your determination do not rely on luck. I look forward to seeing the photos of you and Kathryn crossing the finish line, being greeted by family and Friends.

Comment by Jenny — May 24 2007 @ 12:03 pm

just found your website while taking a lunch break at work.
dont be scared, i am right there with you. I am a full time female md, married to another md (heart surgeon) we have two boys, 10 and 11.

i am training for placid also, agree, this is really difficult but we should hang in there, it is really a great goal.

wishing you and your wife the best of luck!

Comment by Belinda — Jun 23 2007 @ 7:55 pm

Derek, I remember you speaking with such enthusiasm about running and triathlons last year at Web Directions, so it’s completely inspiring to know you are both still training hard and focussed on race day.
Truely amazing… Best wishes to you both!

Comment by Kevin Rutherford — Jun 26 2007 @ 6:06 pm

Derek –

I actually just connected to you again through facebook (through Switz). I was intrigued by your ‘status’ that you just finished training in Lake Placid for some ridiculous length of a bike ride. It’s been a long long time since chatted, but I sure have a ton of respect for you. It’s interesting, I did a 1/2 marathon a couple of years ago in Chicago as I too was inspired by watching someone else. Since then, I have competed in several extreme adventure races … but none are even close to being an Ironman. You are your wife are so inspirational that you have me rev’d up to compete a goal that I have been waivering on for the last couple of months. That goal is to compete in the Xterra Triathlon Series (an Olympic length triathlon but off-road), specifically a race in Michigan in the fall. I will follow through and do it … thanks for the kick in the butt.

I will keep following your training and I wish you and your wife the best of luck on July 22nd. Actually you won’t need luck, you will both be well prepared. Mark me down for an Ironman next year.

Game on …