Thursday, June 3, 2004

In the spollight: Triathlon

Mike Keiser isn't your average triathlete. The 60-year-old Hyde Park resident is the 2003 champion of the National Ironman Championship's 55-59 age group. An Ironman is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

Keiser has a list of triathlon accolades to his credit, including a sixth-place finish at the 2000 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii - the elite of Ironman triathlons. He has been to the Kailua-Kona race eight times and has no intention of quitting his training regimen anytime soon.

Question: How did you get started?

Answer: Initially I saw the Ironman on TV 15 years ago and thought it was pretty cool. The next day I bought a bike and started training.

Q: Did you get a trainer?

A: A lot of people do, but I decided to do it on my own. I was a competitive swimmer for 14 years at St. Xavier and the University of Cincinnati, where I swam the 100 freestyle. My (overall) times were very slow at first. I was terrible. I started at the back of the pack.

Q: What is your best time?

A: For an Ironman distance event, it was 11 hours, 11 minutes. That's my time at Lake Placid. (The national championship event.) I'd say the average time for all age groups is about 12 hours.

Q: Hardest part of a triathlon?

A: Running is always the hardest unless you're a competitive runner. With cycling, you can coast. With running, you can walk, but you're still moving those legs.

Q: What is your training schedule?

A: I swim between 12,000 and 15,000 meters a week. I bike 250 miles a week and run 40 miles a week unless I'm injured, and then I run 20 miles a week.

Q: Best part?

A: I love the training and I enjoy the people in the sport. I love to test my limits and find out more about myself.

Q: Worst?

A: When you're competing for a time or place and you have to push through the pain.

Q: Any advice for aspiring triathletes?

A: Do it for fun for a while. Don't get too competitive too quickly, or you'll burn out.

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