Friday, September 29, 2017

Kona Profiles: Rory Duckworth #NEVERQUIT

The Ironman World Championships ("Kona") is quickly approaching, taking place Oct. 14th. As you know, it's incredibly competitive to qualify and a major accomplishment to do so. Like last year, we'll be catching up with our local Cinderellas... getting to know them better as a tri community and cheering them on as they get ready for the ball!

Next up is Mr. Rory Duckworth. Thanks for the time man, and best of luck!

  • Name: Rory Duckworth
  • Age Group: M3034
  • Qualified: Ironman Boulder – June 2017
  • Qualifying Place & Time: 6th - 9:45:23  
  • Splits: Swim 1:06 Bike 4:45 Run 3:46

In a previous interview, with regards to Kona you compared yourself to Karl Malone… a perennial contender but yet to “win it all.” Well, that monkey is off your back! After several near misses at a Kona slot, was pressure building going into Boulder or were you relatively calm? Did you feel that this could be “the one?”

I am always calm... My main goals are to not get hurt or sick before a race. I always feel going into the race it could be "the one"... If you don't that's a losing attitude!

If memory serves, you went out to Boulder well before race day. Do you feel that helped you and if so, how?

I like going out and seeing the bike course to make sure I know each corner, every hill, and the road conditions so I know exactly how aggressive or not aggressive I will take them. It also helps on race day to make the time go by faster knowing where you are located and how much father you have. I am very particular about the bike leg and study it very closely to make sure my power is right in line. It also allows me to help my athletes that I train so I can pass this info to them so they can also have a great race.

Can you share your typical Ironman strategy, eg. on a scale from 1-10 how hard do you push the swim & bike?  % FTP?  Did you use a similar strategy at Boulder as previous races or tweak it at all?

Swim: 6 - I have a major cramping issue so I can't give much on the swim or I will honestly die from leg cramps.

Bike: 7 (72-77% of FTP) - I do make surges for strategic purposes or positioning

Run:  7 - I try to stay around 160 BPM give or take. My issues on the run all stem from my nutrition which is an on going balance and modification.

Every race has different challenges and you need to adjust as things come up. Boulder was no different. Cramped very bad in the water, had a great bike, and my run nutrition sucked which led to major leg issues. It wasn't a perfect race but I did what I needed that day!

It seemed like you had amazing highs and lows on race day and the day after. Can you walk us through the rollercoaster of emotions leading up to hearing your name called?

All races have highs and lows, that’s what makes us athletes is how we deal with them and adjust to the unknowns. The race is kinda a blur to tell you the truth. All I remember is that it hurt and I was happy to finish and the thought that I was never going to stop until I crossed the finish line. I knew I was in 6th place and thought that wouldn't be good enough as there were only 3 spots in my age group. I was aiming for 9:30 which I think would’ve gotten me 2nd or 3rd and a guaranteed spot for Kona. That night after the race I went to bed thinking my odds were slim to none for a Kona spot. I was very disappointed with my race and thought it was on the weaker side of what I was capable of. I always go to the ceremonies just because it’s such great energy to see so many people complete a life long goal and get their Kona spot. It’s also a good reminder of what happens when you work hard. I leave the ceremonies driven to always get my Kona spot for the next race.

We showed up and our best friends had also come to hang out with us. I figured I was going to hear them call my age group one by one until they got 1 or 2 names away from me and I would get to sit on a plane ride home thinking of all the ways I could be that athlete that gets his name called for the dream of going to Kona. So as they called the names 1st had already been multiple times and decided this year he wouldn't go. 2nd already had a spot from Ironman Arizona and 3rd never even showed up to awards, which left 3 spots for 4th 5th and 6th ME!!! I had to do the math a million times as Mike Riley was calling the names and they were declining to go... I looked over at my wife Courtney who is my coach and said "We’re going to KONA!!!" I couldn't believe it. I stood up and waited for him to say my name and just took in the moment. This was my 11th Ironman and I had finally got a Kona spot. I could look back and easily point out all the things I did wrong but the one thing I did right was NEVER quitting! As the Ironman motto says "Anything is Possible." I am proud of my rolldown Kona spot, I have worked hard for it and I’m happy and proud to represent the USA, Utah, my Tri Club Salt Lake Tri Club, and my family in Kona HI.

A lot of people knew what Kona meant to you and were pulling for you to cash in that coveted slot… what was the reaction like from SLTC, friends, family, etc?

The reaction was amazing because they have all been there to help me along the way. This wasn't just my journey this was all of our journeys. Everyone has a different story but we all share the same thing in common and that’s the sport of triathlon and how it has helped us become better people in our own lives and communities. It would be impossible to thank everyone for the support and help because there are so many people. I definitely couldn't have done this without all of you!

What’s been going on with your leg, and what’s the prognosis? Also, you crashed your bike while doing a Relay at Brineman?  Has it impacted your training for Kona?

Yes, it has been a very difficult 3 months!!! July 17th I was diagnosed with a calf DVT which is a blood clot in my deep vein. I am super lucky that we caught it early and also that it’s only located in my calf. The clot itself is not as big of a problem but if it goes to your lungs it could be deadly. I was put on medication for 6 weeks (blood thinners) which carry a risk of major bleeding. So if I fell on a bike ride it could kill me. I did all my bike training the last 6 weeks inside to limit my risk. My life is more important than riding outside. The last we checked the clot was still there and the same size. They don't typically go away for months or maybe years, but they’re not a risk after 4 weeks of going to the lungs. My worry going forward is the risk of developing another clot and the big unknown is WHY? I got the clot. If I get another one I would be on blood thinners the rest of my life. Other than that I have been fine to train and race. I would be lying if I said it hasn't impacted my training, not from riding indoors - that actually has helped me - but from the mental side of things. I live with constant stress that I might have another DVT… any little pain it’s the first thing I think. I worry all the time. I always thought I was super healthy and would live forever. It has changed my perspective on life and things in my life.

After finishing Ironman Wisconsin I took a good week off, doing nothing but resting like I do after all my Ironmans. My wife wanted to race Brineman because she is training for Ironman Arizona. She didn't want to do the whole race so we decided to do a relay. She would swim and run and I would bike. I needed to get back into working out for Kona so it made sense. She had a great swim and I was doing good and closing into 1st place (he says no way ) I made a push up a short hill to maintain speed and my chain slipped. I went head over my bike and hit my left side really good. I hit the back of my head and destroyed my helmet. I don't remember much other than some nice guys site seeing helping me and calling for help. A competitor also stopped (Bryce Jolly) THANK YOU! It meant the world and was a nice gesture even though I felt bad he stopped. Eventually R Adam Lee and Casey Merrill showed up and took me to the hospital. I met my wife and sister there and on the way talked with my doctor to come up with a plan. My hip kills and I was having some eye teaming issues. I wish I could say things are good but honestly now that it’s been a few weeks I am starting to get worried. Running over 3 miles is very hard and my memory isn't good with remembering names and small things. I am trying to stay positive and I am doing everything possible to get healed fast. I’m confident I will finish Kona I just don't know how long it will take me.

Most people would be ecstatic to go mid 11 hrs. at an Ironman. But for you, in hindsight what went “wrong” at Ironman Wisconsin this month and what lessons did you learn for Kona and beyond?

Wisconsin was just poor planning and bad luck. Swim went great but right when I got on the bike I lost ALL my nutrition… like everything, it was seriously like the tri gods were laughing at me saying "let’s test him on this one." I just laughed and thought I could easily be fine with the on course nutrition. Well that didn't work out as I had planned and I got super sick to my stomach. I was good until mile 14 on the run and then I threw up a ton!!! From there it was just a battle to finish which I knew I would. Quitting was never an option and I would have rather died than quit! The lesson learned... use my special needs bags as a back up for lost nutrition and I should have stopped and gotten what I could have recovered from when it fell off my bike. Also I have found out that all the sugar doesn't work for me anymore. I am adjusting my nutrition to address this. I lost 15 lbs after the race when I was weighed in medical. They were really worried for me and I got 2 bags of IV and felt great.

Do you feel pressure to perform at Kona or will it be more about enjoying the experience? Any goals in mind?

No pressure. This is a party for me. I am not stressing trying to win the race but will give a good effort to make you all proud. My goals are to have fun, take in the experience, and beat Spencer Woolston’s bike time to have the fastest bike split from Utah ;) Also why not just throw out there to beat all the BAM guys just so they can get all fired up after reading this... :) in all seriousness my body is pretty wrecked. I am taking each day one at a time. I can't swim because of the wounds, I don't have my bike because they had to ship it over to Kona yesterday, and running more than 3 miles is extremely hard and very slow. I made some risks by doing Ironman Wisconsin and had bad luck by crashing my bike. It could be soooo much worse. I just want everyone to know I will do my very best on that day. If it’s a 17 hr finish then that's all I had but I can promise you this I WILL NEVER QUIT! #neverquit #noexcuses

Now that you’ve accomplished the mission, do you see qualifying as an annual quest or will your goals/emphasis change in future years?

No, I am debating NOT doing fulls for the next few years to focus on my family and work... who am I joking... Yeah I am sure I will... after seeing Lee Weatherhead qualify at Ironman Chattanooga I am pretty sure I will do another Ironman and try to get to Kona to have an "all out" race. I am starting a focus group of Utah athletes that have the desire to qualify for Kona. We will help each other out with the same goal of getting to Kona in 2018. We will share advice, training ideas, and up to date race strategies. I would like to see tons of Utah triathletes compete in Kona in 2018. #operationkona2018

You’ve done a dozen or so Ironmans now… what are your top 5 for overall experience?

St. George
St. George

Anything else you want to share?

I am currently a LVL 1 USAT coach and Ironman Certified Coach with a focus on making athletes faster. I just attended the Slowtwitch training with Power certification and am excited to apply what I learned this winter in Kickr Lab 2017/2018. I love keeping up on all the new swimming, cycling, and running techniques and technologies. I am a Tech geek. I pledge my allegiance to the USA, Utah, and SLTC (Salt Lake Tri Club).

Related Posts

No comments:

Post a Comment