DC Triathlon Club

2020 Member Spotlight – Adam Ruben

August, 2020

I was divorced in 2012-13 and accelerated my casual running and biking to keep myself sane. As I thought about my post-divorce life, in my early 40s, I thought I wanted to be closer to young and fit rather than old and sedentary. A non-obviously athletic friend posted on Facebook about her first triathlon and said “If I can do it, anyone can do it,” so I thought I ought to try taking her up on that.

I did my first sprint in Seattle, where I thought I might collapse but I kept remembering a family of three generations of women I saw at the starting line and telling myself, “If grandma can do it, I can do it.” Ooh, but those cement legs as I started the run!

I decided to train for an Olympic race the next year, and another friend gave me some tips. My eyes boggled at all the things I was told I’d need in transition–buckets for foot-washing, towels, hair spray and cologne, etc.

My friend told me “Once you’ve done an Olympic, you’re going to want to do a half,” and I laughed at her. But I did a couple Olympic races, and in 2015, boosted by the Club’s Olympic Distance Speed Program and Half Ironman program, my friend was proven right when I completed my first half at Eagleman, AKA how many wet sponges can I stuff in my tri top to try to survive the heat.

I continued doing a couple races a year, training mostly on my own (my schedule as a solo parent often made group rides/runs tricky) but staying connected through the Club’s Capitol Hill group and the Off-Season Spin program. My kids asked me after every race if I won, and I tried over and over to explain how that was never going to happen, but at least they were proud of the medals I “won.”

I’d both sworn to avoid a full Ironman and couldn’t stop thinking about it. As I prepared to turn 50 this year, I thought that maybe this was the year I had something to prove. I was in Hawaii over New Year’s and swam/ran/biked sections of the Kona course and tried to imagine what it would be like, muttering “I think I can” over and over. COVID and my work advocating for direct payments to help people survive this economic struggle put that plan on pause, but I imagine pushing myself across an Ironman finish line with a 51 or 52 scrawled on my left calf.