By Somer Breeze-Hanson, Northwest GuardianAugust 11, 2011
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- For the last six years Bruce Antonowicz has followed a strict Ironman training regimen. As he prepares to compete in his seventh Ironman competition in November, he hopes to be nearing the peak of his career.
"They say for Ironman it takes a good seven to 10 years to figure out how to race it and race it well," Antonowicz said. "Going into my seventh year, because of my age, I should be peaking sometime soon. I think these are going to be my big races."
The 38-year-old has been training and competing in smaller races this year to prepare for Ironman in Tempe, Ariz., Nov. 20. An Ironman consists of a 2.4 mile swim, a 112 mile bike race and a 26.2 mile run.
Antonowicz hopes his performance in Arizona will qualify him for the Ironman World championships in Kona, Hawaii next year. Because of where he is in his career, he also hopes to ascend to the next level in his sport.
"I hope to be one of the top amateurs, place in the top three," Antonowicz said. "There's a chance I could turn pro next year if I choose to do so."
To prepare for Arizona he recently raced in the Federal Way Escape triathlon on July 30 and finished third overall. He also finished third overall in the Seafair Triathlon on July 24, finishing 16 seconds faster than he did in 2009.
While Antonowicz is now training at a more intense level than he ever has, he said he feels as though his race performances have not reached his full potential.
"The season hasn't quite been going the way I like it to," he said. "My training has been better, my racing has not."
Antonowicz and his coach continue to search for the balance he needs with races, rest and recovery, but there's no question Antonowicz's training is where it needs to be.
Seven days a week Antonowicz is training in some aspect. He's swimming four to five days a week, biking three days a week and running four to six days a week. Sometimes his high-energy dogs, Kona and Fina, will accompany Antonowicz on his runs. On his bicycle he's logging between 20 to 80 miles at 20 to 23 miles per hour.
Even with his strict training schedule, Antonowicz works with a variety of athletes. He just reached his 20th-year anniversary as swimming instructor/trainer at Joint Base Lewis-McChord pools. What started out as training to be a lifeguard when he was 18 turned into his career.
"He listens to his athletes and creates individual plans based on personal goals and frequently adjusts (them) based on feedback and training data," said Karen Ballard, an athlete who is coached by Antonowicz. "He is incredibly knowledgeable about all of the three triathlon sports and knows a great deal about nutrition."
Antonowicz shares his wealth of knowledge and experience in coaching triathletes and runners of all calibers.
The athlete competed in three Ironman competitions in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, two in Arizona and one at Kona in 2009. He also did a partial Ironman in Canada.
When Antonowicz competed at the Ironman World two years ago, he was burnt out before he started.
"I went more to enjoy the atmosphere and not get caught up in the racing," he said. "By the time I got there I was ready to be done with triathlon and Ironman."
But now he has his sights back on the elite race.
"Potentially to be a podium placer at Kona would be a nice end of a journey," he said.