So, Ironman Canada is back in town this year. Same course, new date. I, for one, am excited to see it roll through again. Even more exciting this year is the fact that a whole lot of Sea-to-Sky athletes were inspired to sign up to toe the line in 2014, presumably after witnessing last year’s event and likely getting all misty-eyed right around the midnight cutoff.
I wonder how many of them will regret that bout of inspiration as they are riding through the cold, driving rain in April.
Anyway. Race day coverage and media in general tends to focus on the pros and the super-fasties (that’s a word. I just made it up.) Allow me to introduce you to some of the regular folks who are racing this year. And by regular, I – of course – mean super-awesome human beings who deserve your cheers, signs and cowbells on race day.
Meet Danny Ng. I first met Danny when he and his family had just moved to Whistler. I also remember chiding him for commuting to the pool brand-new Cervelo, which he then locked up next to the beaters on the bike rack. Pretty sure that was the last of this commuting!
Tell me a little bit about yourself, you family and your lifestyle.
I’m joining a new age group category 41 this year. Dad of three kids (Tyler 12, JoJo 8 and Ava 4 yrs old). Julie has been the biggest supporter, full time mom with the kids. Full time job as group sales manager at Four Seasons Resort Whistler, celebrated my 20th anniversary with the company this year, Whistler is my fifth relocation (and is my favorite location) after Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong, Chicago and New York.
Tell me about your athletic background.
Zero…Nada…Couch Potato, I don’t know how to swim, I don’t bike and my furthest run was 3k.
What inspired you to try your hand at triathlon? When was your first race?
This article back in 2009 pretty much sums it all:
Try-A-Tri launches local’s pursuit of half-Ironman
Whistler – At this time last year, Danny Ng completed his first Whistler Adult Try-A-Tri. Twelve months later, he’s gearing up to tackle a half-Ironman event in Hawaii.
Ng’s tale of triathlon training begins just over two years ago, when the Whistler resident received what he described as a “wake-up call” from his uncle during the holiday season. Ng said his uncle pulled him aside to tell him, “You are looking too healthy,” indicating that he appeared to have gained a lot of weight. In fact, Ng guessed he had gained about 50 pounds over the previous two years.
That “reality check” set Ng on a path to discovering his hidden athletic side. A senior sales manager for the Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Ng said he had never really been involved in sports, other than occasional volunteering or carrying water, he joked.
“It took me over 35 years to be athletic,” Ng said he tells his wife Julie, who he said has supported and engaged with his quest for fitness along with their two sons.
He began the process of tuning himself up by buying a bike and getting out on Whistler’s trails. When friend Jackie Fulton invited him on a bike ride one day, Ng discovered fresh inspiration to get himself into shape.
“I just got smoked — of course, my ego kicks in,” he laughed.
After Ng began biking to and from work, another friend, Ciro Tacinelli, got him into the hotel pool for early-morning sessions, during which Ng essentially learned how to swim. One lap became 10, and then 20 and 30, and in about November 2007, Ng found his way to the Masters swim run by Brandi and Dave Higgins at Meadow Park Sports Centre.
With their drills and instruction in breathing, strokes and style, the Higginses “were the ones that really straightened me out,” Ng said.
After other friends got him out doing some jogging, Ng found his way to the Whistler Triathlon Club, and the Adult Try-A-Tri. In May 2008, he decided to take a stab at the Try-A-Tri, where he finished third overall and first in his age category while he was cheered on by his sons’ shouts of “Go Daddy go!”
Completing that race, with its 300-metre swim, 14-kilometre bike ride and four-kilometre run, made Ng think, “Wow, I could do this.”
With the Try-A-Tri tried, Ng began looking for ways to step up his efforts, taking on sprint and Olympic-distance triathlons such as the Squamish and Vancouver events. Then he thought about setting his sights on an even bigger target: the Ironman 70.3 Hawaii. The May 30 half-Ironman event boasts a 1.9-kilometre swim, a 90-kilometre bike and a half-marathon run of 21.1 kilometres.
Last November, Ng starting working with Christine Suter, the Whistler Triathlon Club president, accomplished triathlete and Ironman racer, and coach and personal trainer through C2Sky Multisport.
“She basically reconstructed everything,” Ng said.
What drew you to Ironman in particular?
It’s a personal goal and an inspiration to my kids to “dream big, set their goals high, stay focus, work hard, anything is possible”.
What has you most excited about taking the start at Ironman Canada 2014?
Crossing the finish line in Whistler completes my journey of where it all began…Whistler Try A Try in 2008 to Ironman Whistler 2014.
Do you have a particular goal for this race?
My goal begins with “how do I achieve balance in my job, family, training and have fun throughout the journey”. Let’s face it, with my DNA, the only way to Kona is the lottery slot. In short, I do my best to train, cross the finish line before midnight.
Will you complete any races prior to Ironman?
Squamish Olympic Distance
How did you find training through the winter months?
Christine prescribed 2 hours of Skate Skiing every Saturday to make it more exciting.
How do you fit in family life, work and training. Are you able to find balance or did “something have to give”?
Julie and I take one year “turns” being the in-season athlete. My “on” year I trains 6 times/week and in my “off” year it’s 3 time/week. We get to choose what want to focus on and they go for it full steam. Our children are also quite involved; Tyler, Jojo, follow along on their bikes while Ava, 3 gets pushed along in the stroller. Tyler is already competing in his own triathlons and Jojo is so excited to join him that he’s been taking swimming lessons to catch up.
Really, there is no “right” way to train while ensuring your family is looked after, every situation is unique. However, you need to be open and honest with your family and yourself about how much time you will realistically have to dedicate to your training and whether you’re ALL willing to commit to a very involved training schedule. How much training your family can accommodate is something that needs to be discussed and even negotiated in some cases. Also, don’t be afraid to change plans mid-stream.
Ironman can be one of the greatest achievements of your life, but if it comes at the cost of a happy family it’s not worth it.
What do you consider your strength on race day? What about your weakness?
I’m very comfortable on the bike but I’m worried about the run.
What sporting/athletic accomplishment are you most proud of?
Ironman New York Finisher in 2012.
What do you find most enjoyable about training? Is there anything that you dread?
The best part of training is when I’m travelling abroad for work. I woke up 5am and exploring the streets of San Francisco, Florence Italy, Sydney Australia, London, New York. I have also reached out to the local TRI clubs in these cities to allow me to join them as their “guest” of the week. I dread the RAIN!!!!
What are you most looking forward to once you cross that finish line?
A nice steak dinner with my family.
Any race-day superstitions?
Yes. Be humble, Respect the Water, Road & Trails.
Name 3 things you can’t live without while training and racing.
1) Prescription Goggles, Prescription Oakley Glasses and Polar watch.
2) I have a first nation coin with a salmon symbol with the back in scripted “perseverance”.
3)Rainbow Loom !! Yes, I got one made by the kids with each of our favorite color.
If you could have your dream day – perfect racing – describe it.
A calm swim, Wind pushing my back to Whistler, No cramps on the run, No stomach issues.
If you could pick 3 dream sponsors, who would they be?
Cervelo, Vega, Asics
If you could pick 3 dream training partners, who would they be and why?
Karen Blaylock – Swim, Greg Sandkuhl – Bike and Jackie Fulton, Run. They are easy going, fun to be with and no pressure.
What’s your favourite way to recover after a hard race or workout?
Vega Smoothie and the couch. Kids leave me ALONE !!!
I’ll be out there cheering Danny on on race day, and if I see his kids out there, I’ll be sure to tell them to leave Daddy alone for a few days post-race!