Andrew Oliver

Andrew Oliver: “Anything is possible”

This is my story about setting goals and achieving them. Everybody’s goals are different but mine was to ultimately do the Ironman triathlon.

I got into triathlon a couple of years ago (about the same time as I got into Crossfit) and  right after my first sprint race in August 2008 I  got fascinated by the Ironman Distance: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and a 26.2 mile run. One after the other in under 17 hours. Madness.

This fascination really kicked up a notch after moving to Houston. My starting point – Feb 2009, the Houston Rodeo Run and my first 10km “race”. It took me an hour which is not quick at all and I was a broken man afterwards!

I had already started at Bayou City Crossfit and it was there that I started to notice the difference that focus and dedication made to people’s performance. The Spring Challenge in March 2009 was a real eye opener to see what can be achieved by ordinary people when you set your mind to it.

The next stage on my journey was the ¼ Ironman distance triathlon in Galveston, April 2009. My Crossfit training as well as my triathlon training was starting to really improve my fitness and I started to believe that I could be capable of the longer distances. So rather than think about it too much and risk changing my mind I went for it – and signed up for the New Zealand Ironman (March 2010).

Then I was looking for my next goal for 2009 – and found it. The Half Ironman triathlon. July, Buffalo Springs Lake, Lubbock, Texas. 70.3 miles. Despite the rain, the wind, the hills and having to run my first ever half marathon I did it. Goal achieved and one more step closer to the big one.

I did one more Half Ironman in Austin in October and then set about some long winter training hours. I kept up my Crossfit training as much as possible, using the WOD’s as my strength workouts to supplement my endurance training. The high intensity, quick recovery WOD’s really helped my endurance – as long as I could still walk the next day! The mental game you have to play against yourself at CF was also great preparation for the long hours of training I was doing outside on the road.

The next thing I know Christmas has been and gone. 2010 is here, it’s race day and I’m up to my neck in New Zealand lake water at 7am with 1200 other people. To say I was nervous doesn’t even come close. A million things go through your head, first “How did I end up here?” then “What am I thinking?” then “No seriously how did I get myself into this?”

The adrenaline is pumping but before I can think much else a cannon goes off and 1200 stationary swim caps turn into 4800 flailing arms and legs. I get kicked in the face, a stray elbow hits me in the ribs. It’s every man and woman for themselves. I manage to find some clear water and get my rhythm. All the time in my head “Can I do this? Can I actually do this?”

I swallowed a lot of lake water on that swim but finished feeling good. Then I was onto the bike. A bit too much hype and adrenaline coming out of T1 (Transition 1 – swim to bike) meant that I overcooked it on the 1st loop of the 2 loop bike course. A nasty crosswind on the 2nd loop coupled with my fatigue made things pretty unpleasant for the last 10-15 miles. By the time I reached T2 (Transition 2 – bike to run) I was so sick of my bike I would have run back to Texas if they’d asked me to. My legs felt surprisingly good though and I set about finding a rhythm for the next few hours on the 2 loop run course.

This is where my support crew really did their thing. Having people up close and cheering you on is priceless. Never underestimate how much difference it makes every time you encourage someone, at the box or when you are spectating at a race. My support crew made all the difference for me on my Ironman run. More than any energy gel, cup of gatorade or tasty paleo snack !

Most of the run course is a blur for me when I think back – except for the last few miles – the point in the race when you know you’re actually going to finish. You know you’re going to achieve that long awaited goal. I remember thinking about  every early morning at the pool before work, every lonely hour training on my bike in the cold, every lap of Memorial Park I ran (and believe me there were plenty of those), sore feet, ice baths, shin splints, Airrosti, bleeding toes, more ice baths, all those beers I’d said “No” to. It’s all there at the end with you as you come round the last few corners… and then what a rush to finally come down the finish chute, to see the finish line, to hear your supporters and hear the man call out your name… “Andrew Oliver. YOU are an Ironman”.

Ironman was my goal and I went from a 60 minute 10km to an 11:46:34 Ironman in 53 weeks. Anything really is possible. What’s your goal?

Comments

  1. Andrew,

    Great post! I’ve just started to train for my first half this July. I’m going to try and squeeze a few Olympics in there for practice. Outside of CrossFit, what does your training regimen look like? I’m getting into CrossFit Endurance too…other than that, I am not sure how much training this will require. Any advice you could share would be great.

    Thanks!
    Erich

  2. Andrew Oliver (Oli) says:

    Hi Erich,
    Sorry for the late reply… good work on signing up for the half. Tri’s are so much fun. We have quite a few triathletes at Bayou City so plenty of resources for training talk.

    I liked to swim in the mornings 3 times a week… running 3 times a week and bike 2-3 times. All the long stuff, double workouts and brick sessions at the weekend when I had more time.

    Happy to meet up at the box to talk more!

    Good luck.

    Oli.

  3. Andrew:

    That post made me want to hit Memorial Park at 11pm for a run! That was awesome. I have run a marathon in 2001, a few halves in between, but now I am running a 10k at an hour just like you were. I have dropped off a lot over the years from my marathon I ran in 4:40:00. I am looking for something to fire me up and get me back on track to those days. Crossfit seems like its an awesome experience. I need to get out of this rut. I am new to the area and need that hardcore workout and motivation that crossfit staff and positive energy the sport portrays. I need a new goal! Hope to get into a crossfit facility soon. Anyways that is an amazing story you have Andrew. I have always said these Ironmen are nuts! I ran a marathon and was FINISHED. You do that swim, bike, and then run. Awesome dude! Congrats! Steve

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