Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"Funny How Time Slips Away" Paradise Revisited with Ironman Mark Rothbaum

There are perhaps not many people who attribute their introduction to the World Championships of Triathlon to Willy Nelson – but we found one who does.

Mark Rothbaum has been Willy Nelson’s manager for thirty years, and he has now finished 5 consecutive Kona Ironmans.

“I went to Kona with Willy for a concert and stopped in at Peddles, the store with all the Ironman stuff in it,” said Mark. “That was my first real exposure to Ironman, and there was something awesome about it. It was plump and juicy and I decided I would devour it – eight months later I was racing.”

He hooked up with Steve Tarpinian for coaching and inspiration. But Mark’s profession doesn’t lend itself to an easy training schedule. “Managing the fella who wrote On the Road Again suggests that I do a lot of traveling; I have to be creative when training,” he said. “I own two bikes - one on each coast, I ship wetsuits ahead, get good maps of the city and find out the good gyms to work out at.”

I’ve talked to a lot of people about their race techniques and idiosyncrasies. Mark has one of the most positive and humble habits during the run. “Mid-way through run, when the air is very still and the sun’s going down, is the hardest part of the race for me. So I use the telephone poles in a unique way to keep me going,” he said. “The poles are less than a minute apart, and as I pass one, I dedicate it to someone who has helped get me to this point. I alphabetically thank them and move on.”

I asked whether we’d ever have the pleasure of seeing Willy out on the course one day. “Willy runs every day, swims when he has water available and loves to bike, but he needs some time off to really train for an Ironman,” said Mark.

I've known Mark for a while now -- he is an amazing, inspired and motivated person. He finished this year with a strong 13:34:11 in the 55-59 age group. He wants to do a 5:45 Half Ironman this winter, and a sub-thirteen hour Ironman.