As most of you already know, there have been some changes at Powerhouse Racing. We’ve grown as a coaching group and pro shop and Houston afforded us the space to continue that growth and forward momentum. A lot of that would not have been possible without the help of triathlete, resident bike mechanic and friend, Bobby McGehee. We have worked with Bobby for many years now and are fortunate to continue that relationship. You know “Bob the Builder”. He’s always willing to help athletes and coaches whenever he is able to. He’s not a new kid on the block and has a lot of knowledge to share with our group. Read on as Bobby shares his experience with endurance sports and what he’s picked up over the years. Age is nothing but a number!
There aren’t too many athletes competing in the 50+ age group category. Why do you think that there are less competitors in this AG?
First of all, I have some bad news for those of you looking forward to aging up to race against those older, slower guys. While there are fewer competitors in the higher AG’s, the males 60+ guys are often just as fast as the male 40-something guys. Check the next race results and you’ll see 60 year old AG winners posting times that would have placed in AG’s well below their current ages. So, if the best athletes continue to compete then the people who quit racing as they get older are the back and middle of the pack guys. Now why is that? Sadly, I believe a lot of the guys who quit competing do so because they fail to recognize/accept a basic physiological truth; aging bodies simply do not perform as well as younger bodies and no amount of training can make up for it. At 55, they are suddenly unable to take their turn pulling the lead group of 40 year olds on Sunday and that can be disheartening. Bottom line is in order to continue enjoying the sport it’s imperative for aging athletes to remember the only people they are competing with are themselves.
How has an active lifestyle benefited/changed you, your friends, your family?
We all know you are what you eat but as you get older that adage is more appropriately modified to be “You do what you do.” Train your body to sit on the couch, drink beer and munch bon-bons and it will repay you with will a physique well suited to do just that. However, when vacation comes around and all the kids are going white water rafting or rappelling or hiking to 11,000 ft ridges you will not be able to play and that bites. When you’re in your 30s, you can get away with the whole weekend warrior thing but that doesn’t cut it when you’re 50. So if you want to do fun things with your grandkids on the weekend, you gotta pay your dues during the week.
How long have you been competing and what brought you to endurance sports? What brought you to Powerhouse Racing?
In 2003 I was a physical wreck; having spent way too many hours a week for far too many years working on my professional career. I was way overweight, smoking a lot and had bad back issues. I joined a gym, stopped smoking, and began to make other lifestyle changes. Competition wise, I started as a runner completing my first marathon in 2005. In 2008, I started doing tri’s and sometime around 2011, I hooked up with Powerhouse Racing. Having trained with a couple of other area coaches/teams, I was, to be blunt, looking for a new group with a lot more camaraderie and a lot less chaos. I followed Melanie and Jim over to Johnny’s place and never looked back.
Training day in and day out, repetitive motion can be hard on the body. How do you help keep injuries at bay?
With the assistance of my coaches and a great deal of trial and error, I’ve found a great balance between family time, work time, sleep time and training time. I now know how many hours a week I am willing to dedicate to the sport and how much my body can take. Knowing this figure and being aware of the lifestyle trade-off involved has actually been quite liberating. I know I’m not training hard enough to be a consistent podium finisher and that’s OK. Taking three weeks off to go hiking in Colorado with my wife is more important to me right now, ya know?
How has your training changed over the years?
As I’ve gained experience and learned what gains are available and the time commitments required, my training has become more structured. I don’t have time to invest in ‘junk miles’ workouts. Every workout I do has a goal and a purpose.
What keeps you motivated?
Immediate physical feedback keeps me motivated. Maintaining a training rhythm allows me to participate in just about any activity I want. Taking the kids camping, hiking the mountains, walking around the zoo all afternoon – no problem. Skip a few workouts and I can feel the difference real quick.
What has been your greatest achievement in relation to triathlon or endurance sports?
After my second Ironman, I developed a serious blood disorder requiring 18 months of nasty treatments and zero training. Coming back from that downtime required a great deal of soul searching, re-prioritization of life goals, and dedication. It also required the patient, skillful guidance of a great coach and good friend. Thanks, Melanie. Would not have made it without you.
What advice do you have for your younger counterparts? What advice would you have for your 20, 30, 40 year old self?
Life is all about trade offs. Wanna’ be insanely rich? Have a great, loving marriage and family? Win most any athletic event you want to enter? Enjoy great hobbies? Be a world traveler? Any one of these things can be yours with enough hard work and determination. Especially if you are willing to let the others waste away, which is a perfectly fine strategy if that’s what you want. Just make certain you are making the tradeoffs consciously.
How do you feel about competition at 50+?
I try really hard NOT to compete. Being a type-A, I have to be on guard against that ‘competition thing.’ I play this game to have fun and maintain a healthy body so I can enjoy the other 80% of my life.
What have been the important keys to your success?
Balance, balance, and balance. Two snapshots tell the story:
My first Ironman was done as part of a fun, well-rounded team of people; fully supported in all aspects by my family. It was a joyous time, a wonderful race and a great experience overall. My second Ironman was done with a hard working, pushing, no nonsense group with no support from my family. I earned an age group podium spot but hated the whole 9 month experience.
What advice do you have for those athletes starting out or are on the fence about triathlon or Powerhouse Racing?
First -> Always stay connected with your family. Triathlon requires training time and your spouse and kids simply must buy into your time commitment or the stress at home will sabotage the training. It’s best if they want to train with you but if they don’t like sports, that’s OK. See if they can enjoy being a sherpa or volunteer. The rest of the Powerhouse will welcome their efforts with open arms… Which pretty much sums up the Powerhouse – a well, tightly knit group of highly supportive, self-actualized people each standing with open arms to welcome, encourage, and help each other meet our individual goals.
Second -> Don’t be afraid to approach the more experienced Powerhouse peeps with questions. We all love to talk and share our opinions and insights. But none of us want to be “that guy” who is always telling everybody what they are doing wrong – whether they want to hear it or not. Pick your times, though. Try not to start up long discussions during an interval ride or between sets at the pool. Remember, they are out there training just like you!!