So, what did you do on vacation this summer? When Daniel Kelly, an advisor and psychology teacher at St. Anthony High School, heads back to work September, he may have the same stories as the rest of us: a barbeque with friends, park outing with the family, cleaning out the garage.
But he’ll also have this little nugget to share: on one day in August he did a 2.4-mile swim in the Hudson River, a 112-mile bike ride on the Palisades Parkway, and a 26.2-run that began in Fort Lee and ended in Manhattan. Oh, yeah, and he did it all to raise money for the school.
It’s a tale that’s sure to put all those “I lay in the hammock and read” stories to shame.
A long distance runner who has competed in marathon races before, Kelly decided several months ago to begin training for his first triathlon, the 2012 Ironman U.S. Championship, which is scheduled to take place in New York and New Jersey on Aug. 11.
‘This will be a new challenge for me.’ – Daniel Kelly
“This will be a new challenge for me. This is my first triathlon,” he said. “My last long distance marathon race was in 2008 when I ran from Atlantic City to Jersey City over the course of 48 hours. I’ve run marathons here and there, so I expect to do pretty well in the running and biking sections of the race. The swimming leg will be the weakest of the three for me.”
Baby on board
Like most triathletes, Kelly spends several hours a week training for the Ironman by either biking, swimming, or running several miles a day so he can build up endurance for the challenging race.
“Right now I’m at the pinnacle of my training,’ said Kelly. “I’m swimming three miles a week. I’m running between 80 and 100 miles a week. And I am biking between 100 and 150 miles a week.”
While these trainings sometimes begin as early as 4 a.m., Kelly said he sometimes begins later in the day when he’s on diaper duty and taking care of his daughter Isabelle. So, how exactly does he train and babysit?
“I just take her with me,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’ll put her in a jogger and jog her around for 10 or 12 miles while she takes a nap. It seems to work like a charm. She actually enjoys it. As long as the scenery keeps changing, everything is fine”
(The Ironman organization sponsors shorter triathlons for children ages 6 through 15, so if Isabelle catches the marathon bug from Dad it’s possible we’ll see her in one of these races in a few years.)
Preparing for a triathlon is similar to training for a marathon in that most competitors try to follow a systematic workout routine to build up skills, endurance, and strength over time.
Triathlon associations, and there are dozens of them, recommend that novices first build up such basic skills as being able to make U-turns on a bike without putting a foot down, or learning multiple swim strokes. From there the novice can try to build endurance.
For example, Kelly said an athlete will go for a bike ride then do a short run, or swim and then bike for some distance so that your body gets used to that combination. Those double workouts are called “bricks.”
Although some people in training work out in groups or with a buddy, Kelly said he has been able to stay focused training alone.
“I haven’t had too much of a problem staying focused and motivated,” he said, “although a group can sometimes help you strengthen your weaknesses.”
$20K for kids
Personal challenges aside, Kelly is also participating in the race to raise money for St. Anthony.
“St. Anthony offers an important option for parents looking for an alternative education for their children. Our tuition is $5,000 and we work hard at the school to keep the tuition as affordable as possible for parents,” Kelly said. “But to keep the tuition at that rate, each year the school has to raise more than $1 million to offset rising expenses. So, whatever money I raise from doing the Ironman will go towards tuition costs.”
Kelly – who is also running in the name of St. Anthony’s former Athletic Director, Sister Mary Alan Barszczewski – said he hopes to raise between $15,000 and $20,000. Donors can choose to either pledge a certain amount of money for each mile Kelly runs, bikes, or swims, or they can make a lump sum donation.
While some Ironman competitors participate solely for the challenge, the organizers said recently that many use the opportunity to raise money for charity organizations.
“I would estimate many of our registrants are trying to raise money for a specific charity or cause,” said John Korff, event organizer for the Ironman. “It has become popular with people, I think, because it makes the race about something that’s bigger than them and it probably helps people stay motivated when the race starts getting really difficult.”
Iraq War veteran and Ward E City Councilman Steven Fulop recently announced that he will participate in the Ironman to raise money for ReserveAid, a nonprofit organization that gives grants to military families.
“I just see it as something fun to do that challenges me in a new way,” Kelly stated, “and gives me the opportunity to do something for an important institution in the process.”
Those who wish to pledge to Kelly’s efforts can visit http://www.stanthonyhighschool.org/donate.
E-mail E. Assata Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org.