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Chasing Triathlon Excellence Across All the Age Groups [A Case Study]

800 800 Patrick McCrann
Al Truscott

The Host with the Most: Another Great Epic Camp with Al!

Always Active

I was on age group, high school, and college swim teams. I was always the worst swimmer on the team, and a breaststroker at that. Then, in college, I became a skier in the 70s, I spent two years as a ski bum, @ age 21 and 29, and got very good – powder, trees, bumps, speed. In the 80s, I was also a recreational cyclist, mainly hauling my kids around on those seats over the rear wheel. In the 90s, I took up mtn. biking, and started doing multi-day bike tours, cycling across the country in ’97. 

I never ran a step until age 50, ’99, when I broke down and gave into the urge to do a triathlon.I did my first triathlon just to scratch an itch, but after I survived, I decided to keep doing them. I found I liked to race and I wanted to show, to myself and to others, what Backwards Progresswas possible as we get older. I tried all the distances and venues. I discovered IM was tricker than it seemed, and struggled for years trying to put all the pieces together.

In 2004-2005, I perused the old Crucible Fitness site and finally the pieces of race execution started to click. I got to Kona and won my AG in IM CDA, and realized there were still more levels to try for. Since the Crucible race plan got me that far, I looked into how EN might help me take myself to the next level.

Then, 3 weeks from racing for my third time @ Kona, I biked chin first at 25 mph into the rear of a pickup which was going 5 mph. That put me in the ICU for 10 days, damaging my spinal cord, crushing my larynx, knocking out 9 teeth, and breaking 7 bones. I lost 15 pounds, and all my strength and fitness. And I was pretty angry that I didn’t get a chance to race again in Hawaii.

I had some unfinished business there, but when I started training five months later, and then went two hours slower at my first IM in June, I worried that I might never get back. A year after my accident, still not able to swim as fast as before, and running a bit hobbled, I won once again to get back to Kona.

Endurance Nation’s Assistance

There are four things which make EN essential to my life as a triathlete:

  • The coaches know what they are doing, are continually improving their training plans and race advice, and provide over the top customer service. No limits to email or other conversation, on course at all US IMs, honest and transparent about their thinking.
  • The training plans value the athlete’s time and goals. Based on the athlete’s own tested performance, they provide a steady progression through the season, and are modular, so one can “plug and play” or “mix and match” to make the perfect plan for a whole season.
  • Race execution, especially at the IM and HIM distances, is a science unto itself, and here EN shines. It’s one thing to get fit; it’s another thing entirely to know how to use that fitness. EN provides both elements for racing success.
  • Finally, and most importantly, EN is a team. I knew early in my career as a triathlete that the support and encouragement of others is as valuable as a low resting pulse. In EN I found a group of people across the nation (and world) who are positive, supportive, and eager to communicate and learn together. The network is robust, using a Facebook-like dashboard, an email forum, a user generated wiki, Twitter, a Facebook page, special events together, not just two coaches telling folks what to do. Without the team, my recovery and return to racing may not ever have happened, and my success in races owes much to their support, and the natural desire to not let them down.

Update: 2019 & Going Strong

At age 70, I’m still racing, and winning, triathlons at all distances from sprint through Ironman. Since my bike accident in 2010, I have secured an additional 3 IM age group wins, with a career total of 10 Kona qualifications. Branching out into the ITU/USAT world, I’ve found success at the Olympic and “Long Distance” (3k swim/120km bike/30km run) national and international championships, most recently a 2nd place in Pontevedra, Spain. While individual success is fulfilling, I have come to treasure more the friendships I’ve made through Endurance Nation.

Every year since 2016, I have hosted an “Epic Camp” at my home in the mountains of Colorado for 10-15 ENers who routinely ride 500 miles and climb more than 40,000 feet in the thin air up there. And now that I’m retired, I have friends all over the country who welcome me into their homes as my wife and I enjoy traveling (and training) year ‘round. My motto remains “Keep Doin’ It ‘Till You Can’t”. And remember, age is just a question of mind over matter: If you don’t mind, it don’t matter.

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