What time does your alarm startle you in the morning, jarring you from a sound sleep? What are your first thoughts as you grope for your phone, probably hitting the snooze a few times?
For Poughkeepsie native and top-flight Ironman triathlete Colin Martin, the answers to those questions are as follows:
1. Very, very early.
2. “Pay me now or pay me later,” his personal mantra for the grueling grind of training for an endurance test that includes a 2.4-mile open-water swim, a 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon run.
By the way, those Ironman triathlon distances? That’s all in a row, with no rest in between other than the frantic transition phases from swim to bike and bike to run, where every second counts toward your finish time. Yes, the Ironman Triathlon is tough. Yes, it requires an inordinate amount of training time. And yes, Colin Martin loves every minute of it − even when that alarm sirens the need for him to get up and get training in the early-morning darkness.
The 36-year-old has completed 15 Ironman triathlon races, including three Lake Placid Ironman races. His most recent Lake Placid Ironman was on July 24, when he placed 15th in his age group (35-39) in a competitive time of 10 hours, 37 minutes, 58 seconds.
Along with the obvious challenges of the distance covered, Martin and the other Ironman triathletes had to contend with heat and humidity not often experienced in the usually cool Lake Placid area. As usual, Martin was up for the added challenge.
“The race conditions were brutal that day,’’ Martin said in a post-race report via email. “Ninety-one degrees and high humidity is extremely rare for Lake Placid.’’
Martin started the race off with one of the fastest swim legs of the day. He completed the 2.4-mile swim in Mirror Lake in 59:00 – faster than one hour for the first leg of an Ironman is considered elite level. He hopped on the bike for the long grind of 112 miles of North Country hills, starting strong.
“Because it was so hot, you sweat a lot more and lose a lot more salt,’’ Martin said. “I knew it was not sustainable to hold the same power on the second lap (of the bike course) if I wanted to have a good run. Sweat rate was extremely high so I needed to take on more fluids and dial it back.’’ Martin finished the 112 miles in 5:23:34.
The run portion of the Lake Placid Ironman is also hilly and also two loops. Martin said the marathon run is where the Ironman race really starts. He said he first loop went well, but his body started cramping on the second loop. “Miles 15-24 were painful, but I was able to collect myself for the last couple miles,’’ he said. “Coming back into town, the crowds, and my family on the course motivated me to get my butt back into gear and finish.’’ Martin’s marathon split was 4:07:37.
“I am happy with the result given the amount of training that I put in this year, which was less than previous years,’’ Martin said. “I was dealing with a hamstring injury over the winter, which prevented me from doing a lot of run volume, and some of the key longer runs. I spend a lot more time on the bike to make up for that, but there is no faking an Ironman. Just like any race, you get what you put in. For this, you need to be well trained for every leg of the race.’’
Martin lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his wife Cheryl, a former Division 1 runner at Marist College who now runs marathons and half marathons. He works as a trader of mortgage backed securities for a broker dealer (Odeon Capital Group), which finds him at the trading desk by 8 a.m. As a result, that aforementioned early-morning alarm clock gets him up and going for two hours of training most weekdays before work.
The Martins split time between the city, their families here in Dutchess County and also a place in Lake Placid, which made the triathlon a sort of hometown event for him as well.
After all these years of triathlon training, Martin said it has become part of his everyday routine − even if that means a very early start to that everyday routine. About six weeks prior to an Ironman race, he will dramatically ramp up his training to include about 20 hours per week of endurance-based activity.
Martin’s rule of thumb is to get in an Ironman’s worth of total training within the framework of a week. He does this by collectively aiming for 2.4 miles of swimming, more than 100 miles of cycling and 25 to 30 miles of running.
Martin, who is sponsored by a racing team called “Every Man Jack,” said balancing his busy city lifestyle with Ironman training can be tricky. He despises pool swimming and limits outdoor cycling in the city for safety reasons, preferring an indoor bike trainer for its safety and efficiency. “It is what it is,’’ he said, “and you make do with what you have.’’
Martin said he often leans back on his “pay me now or pay me later” mantra.
“Like anything else in life,’’ he said, “endurance sports are about dedication and commitment. You can put the work in early and make the race easy, or you can slack in the training and pay for it in the race. You can make all the excuses you want as to why you had a bad race, but it all comes down to the work you put in leading up to it.’’
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club member Pete Colaizzo, the track coach at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, writes on running every week. He can be reached at email@example.com. For more club information, go to www.mhrrc.org