“In my head, I always thought for the first time, doing less than 11:30 would be pretty good. I mentioned this to Chad a few days before the race, and he told me: You will surprise yourself. So, I thought sub-11 could maybe be in the cards, though we didn’t say it out loud.”

Arcadio is 35 years old, and spends his working days as an MD specializing in Infectious Disease. He resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with  his wife Celia. He has done 12 Olympic Distance races, 2 half ironmans, and 1 full ironman. He has climbed two mountains in Mexico, Iztaccihuatl & Citlalteptl. Away from sport, he enjoys reading about World History. He prefers pizza, sushi and his beverage of choice is beer. His favorite quote is “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.” (Winston Churchill).

Suffice to say, Arcadio managed to go sub-11 hours at his first Ironman in Cozumel last November. He crossed the line in 9:49, good enough for 14th in the Men’s 35-39 age group. I managed to catch up with Arcadio recently to find out a bit more about his impressive Ironman debut race.

Growing up in Mexico City, one may say he was given an unfair advantage from the start, as the city sits at 7400 ft of elevation. Toss into the mix an impressive family pedigree of athletes and Arcadio, as some may say, won the genetic lottery. His parents were both runners, as he used to ‘hop in’ for a few miles of their 20-mile marathon training runs when he was younger. His two sisters were also accomplished swimmers. Larissa has done many marathon swims, and Yosce is a triathlete and marathoner. If nothing else, hanging around this clan may create a lazy guilt complex if he didn’t partake himself.

At age 17, he did his first half marathon in Mexico City, running a 1:36. Around this time he also took to mountain climbing, tackling 2 of the 3 tallest mountains in Mexico (no small feat, as they stand at ~20,000 ft above sea level). He began dabbling in triathlons, however in 2001 his career goals took precedence and he started medical school. While he did some racing and ‘stayed active’ for the next 15 years, it wasn’t until he began to see the light at the end of the education tunnel when he was doing a race in Northwest Ohio in 2015 with his wife Celia that he saw his passion for triathlon ignite. “I recall so clearly how, during the swim, I was telling myself that triathlons were what I enjoyed the most, and I wanted to try to attempt to compete more seriously.”

In early 2017, with medical school in his rear-view and settling into a routine, he decided this was his year to tackle an Ironman. His goal race was Ironman Cozumel, where he could race on his home turf. In January, he decided he “needed a plan”. He found a training book that had good reviews, set up a goal for a training race of Eagleman 70.3 (June 11), and away he went. Despite following the training plan to the dot, his experience at Eagleman was far from what he anticipated. While he started out with a decent swim and bike, he found himself depleted by mile 2 of the run (with 11 miles still to go). He didn’t quit, but by mile 8, he was resigned to walking the rest of the way in. He felt dejected and a bit deflated as this was intended to be his confidence booster towards Cozumel.

Despite his thinking “I never really thought hiring a coach an option for an amateur like myself”, he reach out to Chad. After creating a relationship and giving Arcadio more structure to his schedule, he started to find himself being challenged as he hadn’t ever before. Although a bit trepidatious, he follows the plan, hit targets he never had previously, and found the hard work validated when he raced the Great Buckeye Challenge ½ Ironman in September, finishing 2nd overall, clocking time of 4 hr 54 minutes.

Clearly, he was ready for Ironman Cozumel. Here is how it all played out in his own words.

Arcadio, tell us about your first Ironman experience.

It was a mix of excitement, nervousness, anticipation and just stepping into unfamiliar territory. But I felt as prepared as I could, and it played out better than I could have imagined. The day was beautiful, swim was amazing, and I had the support of my wife Celia, my parents and my sisters. Starting the run, I noticed that if I ran decent, there was a slight chance of going sub-10; I couldn’t believe it. But I decided not to push the pace and to follow Chad’s recommendations. I know it sounds cliché, but I never thought a 9:49 could be possible for me.

Amazing. What a feeling! Do you have any advice for others who may be busy, balancing careers, and family, who want to tackle an Ironman?

I try to wake up early, swim at 5:30 and be at work by 7. After work in the evening, if I have to ride, I’ll usually use the trainer during the week and ride outside on weekends. I don’t like the treadmill, so I run outside exclusively, regardless of weather. I usually train ~12 hours a week but before an Ironman that bumps up a bit.

I think consistency is key. We all miss workouts here and there, but if you can be fairly consistent, you’ll find you develop a rhythm and improvements will follow; a schedule doesn’t seem so daunting anymore. It’s also good to have intermediate goals to keep you motivated. Also, I strongly encourage taking rest days seriously; relax, get away from exercise and enjoy family, friends and desserts!

What does your 2018 look like, so we can follow along?

I’m starting the season in April at the Rumpus in Bumpass Olympic triathlon in Lake Anna, Virginia. Planning Raleigh 70.3 in June followed by Musselman ½ Ironman in July. For the latter half of the year, I’d really love to place Top 10 in my age group at Ironman Mont Tremblant in August. Depending upon how the body is feeling, I may do Ironman Louisville in October. I’m really happy to just continue training and see if I can keep improving. I still have that feeling that Chad has sent me someone else’s plan by mistake each time I see it. But I love that the workouts are tough, yet achievable.

Great Arcadio, thank you for your time! We wish you best of luck and that you keep enjoying the journey.