For our series "Profile of an age grouper" we talk to Andy Meyer who won his age group at Ironman Florida in 2007 after almost 2 years away from triathlon. This Cohutta, GA native raced Ironman Florida in 2004 and 2005 and then pretty much raced road bikes for the next 2 years. He was also busy supporting his cycling protégé son A.J. as a driver, masseur, cook and proud dad. In the fall of 2007 he returned to triathlon and won his age group at Ironman Florida.
Weight: 143 pounds
ST: When did you first consider doing an Ironman Triathlon?
Andy: I actually have a brother, Pat and a friend, Ben Eicholtz who talked me into doing IMFL about 3 years ago. I had always toyed with the idea of doing an IM since my early twenties, but starting a career and family took precedence. I followed the sport closely and Dave Scott, Mark Allen, Scott Tinely, Mike Pigg, and Scott Molina were all idols of mine. I was in awe of the incredible effort, perseverance and fortitude these athletes exhibited. No way would I ever be able to do an Ironman. I had done the usual bike racing, running races, short course triathlons, mountain biking and adventure races. Pat, Ben and myself were looking for a new challenge and they suggested we all try an IM. I had always been one who struggled early in any kind of race and felt stronger as the event proceeded. This seemed like the natural choice as they so convincingly argued. I had reservations about the training time commitments not to mention just being able to finish an IM. We picked IMFL because it was close to home and gave us all summer to train. I completed my first IMFL in just under 11 hours and was hooked. I realized I had so much more I could improve upon. The next year I dropped another hour and again realized I could go even faster with better training, diet, and nutrition. The third time was the charm as I had a blessed day and everything came together for another 30 plus minute improvement.
ST: Prior to IMFL, what triathlons did you do in the last few years?
Andy: In the last 3 years, I'd done IMFL 2004 and 2005 but skipped 2006 to help my son, A.J. get his cycling career going, plus I also wanted to improve my running (8th overall '06 Atlanta Marathon and 2nd master). I had also done the Chattanooga Waterfront 2005, and the Cohutta Springs '04, '05 and '07 triathlons for fun. Mainly, I'd been doing masters road cycling events though.
ST: How did you build up for this year's Ironman Florida?
Andy: As a husband of 22 years with a wonderful wife, Karen, who makes training/racing at all possible, plus a dad to 3 sons and a full time job, I tried to focus on what would give me the biggest improvement for the least time investment. Nutrition and diet were the obvious choices, but so was running improvement. In the two previous IMFLs I had neglected running to work on my weaknesses, swimming and cycling. I ran in high school and college, so I just counted on my natural running ability. In both those races I swam around 1:00 and biked 5:00, which put me in, reach of a Kona spot, but suffered at the 18-20 mile mark on the run with 4:08 and 3:50 run splits. I actually began my IMFL '07 buildup with the '06 fall Atlanta Marathon. I was able to carry that over into the spring and work on swimming through the winter along with riding, racing and training with A.J. and his team up until May, and then the formal training began. In May, I began 3 months of base work, followed by 2 months of strength work, then 1 month of taper/race specific work. All the while, I was able to get back to my college racing weight with the loss of 5 pounds. Thus I was at IMFL '07 with a stronger run; a swim and ride that were equal to previous years and 5 pounds lighter.
ST: Were you actually gunning for a Hawaii slot?
Andy: Kona was a very distant dream. I actually thought that was well out of the question and I never even entertained the thought of an age group win! One thing I've learned about IM racing and training, it is not about the outside race itself, but about the race inside your mind and body. I've finally come to understand what Mark Allen was saying about racing an Ironman. I just wanted to be better prepared than in the past years and what ever happened would be fine. Kona had only faintly entered my mind, but to tell you the truth, I was going to hang up all the racing and training after this race. I've been racing/training since I was in middle school and at age 45, I wanted to travel and enjoy watching A.J. race. I also have older son, Hunter, a freshman who plays basketball for the University of the South, and I wanted to travel and watch him play too. My youngest son, Conner wants to start bike racing juniors next year, so another young cyclist needs to be managed, but most of all I wanted to spend time with my wife as she has spent our whole marriage sacrificing for my training. She deserves so much more than I could ever repay her. It is time I start repaying her! Well, when I got to the 13.1 mile mark of the run, she and A.J. told me I was leading my age group and I'd better not walk any until the race was over! Then I knew Hawaii was in the equation and she wanted to go! That night, before roll-down the next morning, we, as a family, decided maybe I could train for one more year. We all wanted to go to Kona.
ST: Rumor has it that you are constantly supporting your talented son A.J. Can you tell me more about that?
Andy: My middle son A.J. is a better cyclist at age 16 than I ever was, or will be. He's been fortunate enough to be selected to race the last 2 summers with the 15-16 year old U.S. National Team in Belgium. You can see him driving the break during a race in Belgium in the picture. (Ed. left) He also placed 4th in the road race and 2nd in the criterium at this years Junior Nationals. My father (A.J. grandfather) and I have been shuffling him around the country to races for the last few years. We play mechanic, masseur, cook, driver and on occasion proud parent. Since I'm at these events with A.J., I try to race the masters if I can, but sometimes it is more important that he has all the support needs. We are on opposite ends of the athletic development curve; he's on the way up and well let's say I've seen better days. I get him through a race, then after that, I can train or I get up early in the morning and fit in a workout. It's all about time management skills! I've been fortunate to meet so many good people that have actually helped me with A.J. and my training; Coach Brown and his son Nathan, Lynn and Bill Joslin, Chris and Lori Harkey, Steve Carpenter, Rich Hincapie, Marshall Martin, Jeff Gibson, Ron Swope, Saul Raisin and the Scenic City Velo club.