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Sarasota Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020 1 month ago

The first step to fitness is believing in yourself

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At 68, Ed Rymer has completed six Ironman triathlons, including the 2019 World Championship Ironman.
by: Whitney Elfstrom Staff Writer

Ed Rymer said he’s in better shape at 68 than he was at 20.

Perhaps that’s because in the past 13 years he’s competed in six Ironman triathlons, including the 2019 World Championship Ironman in Kona, Hawaii.

“I’m no spring chicken,” Rymer said. “It’s pretty rare just to do an Ironman, let alone being almost 69. I know it’s a gift that I can even do it. It takes discipline, but on the other hand, I think anybody can do it.”

The Ironman is made up of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.22-mile marathon run.

How does one decide not only to participate in the Ironman, which is commonly revered as one of the most difficult races in the world, but also compete in six? Rymer said his passion for the event stems from his love of the discipline that comes along with his training.

Rymer isn’t a lifelong lover of health and fitness and said they only made sporadic appearances in his life while growing up. He played baseball as a child, and in high school he dabbled in football and wrestling.

It wasn’t until he was in his 40s that health and fitness became a main focus for him, Rymer said.

His desire to participate in an Ironman competition developed after he heard that his daughter’s friend competed in one.

“I remembered when she couldn’t even run a marathon, and it inspired me that if she could do it, then I could do it,” he said. “That was around age 56.”

A true believer in putting his mind to something and coming out the other side stronger, Rymer believes that anyone who decides to — and who also has the time and discipline — can compete in an Ironman or anything they seek to do.

Ed Rymer competes in the bike section of the 2019 World Championship IronMan.

For someone who says he’s competitive by nature, spending his time training for the competition made sense. He linked up with an Ironman trainer, bought a triathlon bike and devoted his time to being the best he could.

A typical Ironman training session for Rymer could look like waking up before sunrise to complete a 100-mile bike ride in the form of three loops from his Golden Gate Point home, to the north end of Longboat Key, down to the south end of Lido Beach and back.

Or it could be swimming laps in the YMCA pool — something he said he excels in now but can remember a time when he could barely do more than a few laps.

“I can remember not being able to swim five laps when training for my first Ironman,” Rymer said. “I can remember that day. I had run marathons prior to deciding to compete, but I had never really swam.”

Focusing on his “why” keeps Rymer going. He said he competes in the hefty triathlons to set a good example for his four children and seven grandchildren, who watch him compete in his races.

Although he’s taking the year off from competing in any Ironmans, Rymer said he still works out four or five days a week to keep his mind clear and to keep a base fitness level.

“The training instills a discipline that you can hold on and continue to do, whether it be for health or all other aspects of your life or your mind,” Rymer said. “The more you use your body, the better it gets. The more you use your mind, the better it gets. There’s all kinds of ancillary benefits, other than just the pride of doing it.”

I’m the Sarasota community reporter, which means I cover the people, places and things of Sarasota. I graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a degree in journalism and digital communication and a minor in English. 

See All Articles by Whitney

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