Kidnapped in Mexico City!

25 years ago Ken was kidnapped in Mexico City on a business trip. Only by the grace of God, he escaped and survived. Needless to say, this insane experience changed his perspective about everything in life. As he reflected and knowing anything is possible, he set a goal to finish the IRONMAN Triathlon.

Training for an IRONMAN or IRONMAN 70.3 triathlon is a huge goal. However, with proper guidance from an experienced triathlon coach, anything is possible.

Initially, Ken’s plan was to follow a pre written triathlon training program in preparation for IRONMAN Lake Placid. However, he decided to call an audible and hire RTA Triathlon to coach him instead. According to Ken, this decision was a game changer and made all the difference.

“Nobody Plans to Fail, They Fail to Plan”

Ken is a very busy guy and couldn’t afford to waste time when it came to training. He’s happily married, father of 2 beautiful girls and has a successful, but demanding career.

Ken is an analytical guy. He thrives by asking questions and understanding WHY he is doing what he’s doing. As coaches, we love this and it’s one of the reasons why have unlimited communication with our athletes.

Tracking and measuring various data points along each athletes training journey helps to ensure the best results possible.  Measuring fitness, stress, recovery, ect is part of what helps us as coaches, keep our athletes healthy and making fitness gains.

Not everyone cares about this stuff, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle when RTA coaches athletes, regardless of goals or ability. Clearly Ken cared about understanding these details. It helped him understand what was going on “behind the scenes.”


Race Preparation

Part of the data discussed above is represented in the chart pictured below.  The blue line represents his fitness which increased steadily throughout his training. Although we didn’t have a ton of time to prepare Ken for his race, he still made significant gains in the time we worked together.

Additionally, Ken made it a priority to attend one of our Lake Placid Triathlon Training Camps (KYAH). This allowed for an invaluable, focused training block. Not only did he have the opportunity to swim, bike and run all over the actual course, but he was able to practice his race fueling plan ON THE COURSE. This provided him with a ton of confidence and boost in fitness.

You’ll also notice the red circled I inserted on the far right. This was the date of race day. It’s also shows all three lines intersecting (blue, pink & yellow). This is a good indication that Ken has been properly tapered and is ready to crush his race.

Learn more about how to Taper Like a Pro, here.




Race Day Execution

The longer the event, the more important it is to have a Race Execution Plan. This is something we put together for all of our coached athletes. It includes specific parameters for fueling, pacing heart rate and overall  out put.

The plan is based on the athletes current fitness as established through mini tests throughout training and various race prep workouts. Nothing is pulled out of thin air and there’s no guessing come race day. All the athlete has to do is execute… like they have been doing all along in workouts leading up to their big race.

We also discuss weather considerations and having a plan A, B & C should anything go wrong. Rarely can you expect a “perfect” day when it comes to long course racing.

Simply put, Ken BEAUTIFULLY EXECUTED HIS RACE. Below are Coach Elizabeth’s target/project times for Ken and his actual times. Because Ken was patient and discipline throughout the day he was able to race to his potential and cross the finish line with a big smile on his face.

*Ken’s target normalized power for the bike was 168 and he stayed within 1% of that number.


Ken’s IRONMAN Journey – Q & A

Why did you sign up for IRONMAN?

Twenty-five years ago I first set my goal of finishing an IRONMAN 140.6. I set the goal after surviving being kidnapped while on business in Mexico City. As you can imagine, my perspective about everything in life changed.

In 1993 I had just completed the NYC marathon the prior year and remember not being able to control my emotions as I spotted the finish line in Central Park. I could only imagine what it must be like to cross the finish line of a full distance IRONMAN!

Over the span of 25 years, I registered for three different IRONMAN races, but backed out of the first two because I didn’t feel prepared for either. As I got older I adjusted my goal to finish the IRONMAN by the age of 50. My work hours were long and I was driving 30,000 miles per year for work. Time was not something I thought I had enough of to prepare to achieve my goal.


Why did you decide to hire a triathlon coach?

We all have our favorite quotes and one of mine is, “Nobody plans to fail, they fail to plan!” This is why I hired RTA Triathlon! Looking back, the coaching made the journey more fun with a lot less stress.

I started preparing (or wha tI thought was preparing) in August 2017. I had multiple triathlon books and Steve Tarpinian’s 16 week workout guide from 2003.

I kept receiving emails from IRONMAN weekly which helped keep me motivated and I kept seeing the reminders for coaches and how your success during an IRONMAN can be greatly increased by hiring a coach. 

I initially ignored the advice, but after my progression started to slow, I got concerned and felt I needed a more targeted approach.

Elizabeth Kaplanis was the second triathlon coach I spoke with. She made the following comment, “If you put the time in and follow the training plan, race day should be a celebration, not a day to be stressed out!” That’s all I needed to hear! I was ALL IN!

What was going through your head just before you jumped into the water and started swimming?

30 seconds before – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!” Philippians 4:13 and 15 seconds before – HAVE FUN, FIND FEET and Time to CELEBRATE!



What was the best part of the day?

  1. Feeling prepared and confident with the race plan!
  2. Seeing my wife and kids throughout the race and being able to stop and get a few hugs and pictures
  3. My wife asked me what I was looking forward to the most and I answered, “just getting started.”
  4. Being a part of a team and seeing me teammates and coaches through the race and at the finish line!


What was the hardest part of the day?

Coach Chris Kaplanis (RTA Triathlon) reminded us at the pre race dinner that no races goes exactly as planned so just be prepared for something to happen you don’t expect.

SWIM – swim cap was falling off toward the end of the first loop and I had to swim the last few hundred yards while holding the swim cap in my left hand.

BIKE – I fell at the second turn around… the bike slipped on the duct tape on the road (indicating the turn around) and WHAM, down I went. That was the first fall on my bike in 15 years. Bottles ejected from the bike, bruised my left knee … but KEPT GOING.

RUN – I didn’t want to waste time in the porta-john, so I ended up peeing while running around mile 10-11.


What will you do differently next time (if anything)?

I think I will stop at the porta-john during the run.


What was going through your head when you crossed the finish line and Mike Reilly called you an IRONMAN?



Since the race, I have had time to reflect and still have a difficult time processing that this actually happened! I decided to leave my green (race) bracelet on for 140.6 days to remind myself that, “Anything is Possible!”

Thank you Elizabeth and Chris Kaplanis of RTA Triathlon for following your passion and changing my life and my family’s life for the better!!!




Several days before the race my wife and others were asking me if this was going to be a “one and done” race or did I plan on another 140.6.

I was not able to answer that question until I crossed the finish line in Lake Placid.  RTA helped make this journey so rewarding, manageable and fun, I registered for IRONMAN Lake Placid for 2019! – Ken


Learn more about RTA coaching here.

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