When Max Henry decided he was going to do an Ironman triathlon this year, he knew he’d need to get in the water to swim long distance.
So the local opthamologist started inviting friends who he knew were also training for triathlons of all distances to swim in Grandview Lake behind his house. From April through October, a group of usually 10 to 20 people swam from his dock to one end of the lake and back — in some cases, multiple times.
Their work paid off. This summer, some people from Henry’s group completed their first half-Ironman triathlons, and in the past two months, a few more have conquered their first Ironmans.
“We don’t do these half-Ironmans or Ironmans without a lot of support around us of family and friends who think it’s a great idea,” said Amy Swinford, who has done the Muncie Endurathon the past two years. “It can be a very selfish sport if you let it.”
The Muncie Endurathon is a half-Ironman, which is a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run. A full Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a 26.2-mile marathon.
The latter was the distance Henry and his son Malachi completed earlier this month at the Ironman Florida in Panama City.
Max Henry finished fourth out of 73 in his age group, 612th out of about 3,000 overall in 12 hours, 33 minutes, 8 seconds. He was competing in his first Ironman.
“I was totally surprised,” Max Henry said. “My training was difficult, and I was still working five days (a week). But 80 percent of it is mental, and I just pushed myself mentally to keep going.”
His son was competing in his fifth Ironman. The 25-year-old was actually ranked No. 1 in the world in the 20-24-year-old age division for a short time in 2013 and finished fifth in his age group that year.
But last year, the younger Henry was plagued by a painful IT-band injury. He qualified for the world championships last year and did Coeur d’Alene Ironman last June, but was injured in July and couldn’t walk down steps for two months.
Malachi Henry then began using Hawk Grips, a metal tool that breaks up adhesions of the muscle, as a recovery and rehabilitation tool for three months. He implements that in his everyday recovery.
“I have a much larger drive,” said Malachi Henry, who is in Palmer Chiropractic School in Port Orange, Florida. “When I first started, I trained too much with more quantity. Now, I’m realizing to do more intervals and much harder workouts. It’s a learning process.”
In Panama City, he finished seventh in his age group and 81st overall in 10:31:38.
“I hadn’t run over 13 miles, so when I got to mile 16, my body was just not having fun,” he said.
His father felt much the same way.
“The run was the hardest,” Max Henry said. “You just talk to yourself and be an individual. I didn’t think I was going to finish that well, but I did because I just kept on pushing. I had a good support team with me.”
Meanwhile, four other triathletes that train with Max Henry completed last month’s Ironman Louisville. One of them, Stuart Davey, was competing in his first Ironman three years after overcoming cancer. He finished in 13:00:26.
“It was twice as hard as a half,” Davey said. “It was a great experience. I loved every second of it, and I’d absolutely do another one again.”
Logan Worley, Wendy Scgalski and Julie Wilson also did Ironman Louisville. Scgalski, who was competing in her first Ironman, finished in 14:53:29.
“I felt very sick to my stomach because I’m not used to eating and running, and I didn’t really train enough doing that,” Scgalski said. “But I finished, and that’s what my goal was — to finish and not get picked up by the (sag) bus.”
Laura Gilbert, who won the women’s division of the Columbus Challenge Triathlon the past two years, did her first half-Ironman in May in Chattanooga. The former Columbus North and University of Toledo swimmer finished in 5:02.
“Obviously, it was a lot harder because it was more that double the distance (of the Columbus Challenge). I just had to pace myself and really control my speed on the bike so that I still had some energy and saved my legs a little bit for the run.”
Gilbert also did the Challenge Series with a half-Ironman distance earlier this month in Florida and finished third overall in 5:21. Barbara Salee did her first half-Ironman in July when she finished the Muncie Endurathon in 6:34.
In addition to their Sunday swims on Grandview Lake, some of the triathletes swim on Mondays at Foundation For Youth. Now that the weather is cold, a few are swimming in the endless pool in Max Henry’s basement.
Max and Malachi Henry will return to competition April 2 in Oceanside, California, and will also do the half-Ironman in May in Chattanooga, along with Salee. Gilbert plans to do the Muncie Endurathon in July, and Kelsey Finch is training for a half-marathon in Augusta, Georgia, in September.
“It was something that everyone should experience,” Scgalski said. “Anyone can do it if you just train for it. You just have to make sure you put in the time.”
Local athletes who train with Max Henry who have completed Ironman and half-Ironman triathlons this year:
Malachi Henry, Ironman Florida
Max Henry, Ironman Florida
Stuart Davey, Ironman Louisville
Wendy Scgalski, Ironman Louisville
Julie Wilson, Ironman Louisville
Logan Worley, Ironman Louisville
Laura Gilbert, Chattanoonga half-Ironman
Barbara Salee, Muncie Endurathon (half-Ironman)
Amy Swinford, Muncie Endurathon (half-Ironman)