Asked when he began participating in triathlons, Ridgeland financial planner Danny Williams replied, “You mean when did this sickness overtake me?” He admits that what’s fun to him might not be too fun to others.
The 55-year-old partner in Woodridge Capital ran, cycled and swam in seven triathlons this year. That’s only four or five years after he — in true Boomer style — took up bicycle riding with his wife, Jackie.
“That’s how it all started,” he said. “We started riding road bikes to get exercise and be outdoors on country roads in the area. We live in Madison and know other couples who ride.”
They became more interested and got involved in the Jackson Metro Cyclists Club with events of different lengths each month, which led to road racing and the annual Heat Wave triathlon in Ridgeland.
“For several years, we got a team together to do the bike part of the Heat Wave because we’d gotten pretty good at that,” he said. “It made me want to do it. Just being around this great group of athletes. It made me want to do the complete event.”
Williams began training in earnest about mid-year in 2006 with the idea of trying a triathlon all on his own. He was a runner many years ago, but had not trained in a long time, to say nothing of swimming. That’s the part that keeps runners and bikers away from the three-pronged triathlons unless they have a swimming background, he said.
“The most difficult part is swimming,” he said, “because it’s harder than it looks. I could ride five hours for a 100-mile bike ride and do it on a regular basis, which told me I had a pretty good aerobic base. But, it’s hard to convert to the pool rhythm of breathing.”
Training with “The Swim Girl,” Laura Ecker, Williams at first had difficulty breathing and making it from one end of the pool to the other end. He persevered, took lessons with Ecker and practiced three or four times a week.
How does this busy professional find time to train for cycling, running and swimming? “That’s the $64,000 question, especially since I’m not a morning person,” he said. “I make myself a schedule and attempt to do each at least a couple of times a week. I sometimes go for a run or swim at lunch rather than get to the end of the day and procrastinate.”
He also commits to meet friends for swims and rides. When possible, they like to swim in an open lake on Monday afternoons. “We give each other a hard time and have some friendly competition,” he said. “So, there’s that peer pressure.”
Tough but worthwhile
Finding the time to train is difficult with limited daylight and rainy weather this time of year. Williams really has to be organized and plan ahead. He belongs to a couple of gyms where he can exercise. He also takes advantage of Mississippi’s mild winters and leaves work early to ride on sunny days.
“It’s difficult at times, but overall really worthwhile,” he said. “It helps to relieve the stress of the day, and keeps me physically and mentally alert having this training as part of my daily habits. I find it blends with my professional life. If I skip too many days, I get antsy.”
The life-long Jacksonian particularly enjoys the friendships and associations with others on the triathlon circuit whom he said are interesting people who are good athletes with healthy lifestyles. A side benefit are the professionals he meets who become clients because of this common interest.
He’s lost a little weight from the intense training, but was fortunate when he began because he was not overweight and had no health problems. “You don’t see a lot of overweight bikers and swimmers,” he said.
His first complete event was the Tri 4 God that was held last June at Lake Caroline in Madison County. It was a 1/3 of a mile swim, 18-mile bike ride and five-kilometer (3.1-mile) run. Williams points out that it was a short swim compared to other events.
He completed seven triathlons this year, his first year of participation. One was a half Ironman race with a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride and 13.1-mile run. Next month, he will begin training for the Ford Ironman in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, which will be held next June.
“It’s a big event and there will be 14 hours of activity to complete it,” he said. “This will be serious training during a six-month regimen. I’ll do some half events to help train.”
Then, of course, there’s the big local event, the Heat Wave in Ridgeland that Williams didn’t feel he was ready for this year. He will be ready in 2008.
“Being involved in the cycling club and the triathlons is really fulfilling in terms of training over time and then going to participate in rigorous activity,” he said. “It’s something Jackie and I can do together, and we meet a lot of nice people.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.