The Fraziers balance life, family, and fun, and lean on each other to be IRONMAN finishers TOGETHER!
Deciding we wanted to do an Ironman together wasn’t exactly the plan. My wife, Jaimie, gave me the go-ahead near the end of 2019 to start planning and training to do my second 140.6 distance triathlon. It was something we discussed, but I never actually signed up for a race.
Then in late February of 2020, we left for a family vacation with my in-laws to Hawaii, where Jaimie grew up, and her family lived for 13 years. Well, when we returned home on March 2, I was supposed to sign up for a race sometime in the next week. The following week began the start of all things COVID, and signing up for a race just never happened.
February 17, 2020, 8.2 Mile Great Aloha Run, Honolulu, HI. Jaimie ran 23 weeks pregnant with our second son while pushing James, who was 17 months old at the time.
Family of Four
2020 wasn’t an ideal year for numerous reasons, but we were fortunate to remain healthy, and we welcomed our second son, Graham, to the world on June 10.
Bad Ideas and Registration
In early November of 2020, we coordinated with both sets of parents to each take a night of watching our boys, and we got a small cabin in the Hocking Hills area of Ohio – a short drive from our home in Waynesville, OH, which is between Cincinnati and Dayton. Jaimie was nearly getting back to her normal levels of exercise, and we planned to do some trail running, hiking, hot-tubbing, and drink some Costco margaritas without having to change any diapers or chase a toddler.
But you know what happens when you have two endurance athletes that haven’t done an in-person race in nine months together without their kids for a weekend? We started discussing bad ideas.
The result of those discussions was that we would both do Ironman Florida together the following year. Armed with a credit card and false confidence we’d have enough time to train on November 16, 2020, we each paid our $800+ registration fee and got to work.
Getting to Work
We kind of knew what we were getting into, but not really. We’d tackled the 140.6 distance at Ironman Louisville in 2017. It went okay, especially considering that we didn’t own or ride bikes or swim 14 weeks before the event. We signed up as a way for us to shift our focus to something else for a few months, after nearly a year of being unable to get pregnant and start our family.
This time we wanted to do it right. We would buy proper TT bikes, we would have cycling legs leading up to the marathon and not just be runners that had to swim and bike before they let us run the marathon.
Shortly after buying Jaimie’s gently used Cervelo P5, I changed the paint scheme using automotive vinyl wrap to transform all the red to a seafoam green, which is her favorite color.
We started riding on Zwift together for our “date nights” twice a week for 30 – 45 minutes after the kids went to bed. It was typically a second workout of the day for us as we’re both early risers. We stuck with our run training because running is what we know best and started utilizing some of the Zwift prescribed workouts to add structure to our morning rides. We hired a coach in April because we needed an outside perspective and wanted someone else to write a training plan for time and efficiency purposes.
Date night in the pain cave. Two screens for Zwift, one for Netflix and can’t forget the baby monitor that’s automatically toggling between the two boys’ cameras.
In April of 2021, after being on Zwift for 18 months and being a member of DIRT most of that time, I joined a WTRL crew and became a member of Riding DIRTy. I had minimal Zwift racing experience before joining, and besides two triathlons in 2017, I’d never ridden a bike in a race outside either.
Joining Riding DIRTy (ier/iest) led to me joining most Thursdays for the TTT and truly finding a group of guys that were welcoming and encouraging to a guy who had a lot to learn. A group of genuinely great guys.
In all seriousness, they’re the best “internet friends” I’ve ever made. Despite the Discord chatter being impossible to keep up with, they’re the cycling crew I never knew I needed. A decent number of us are meeting up for a cycling camp of sorts in Georgia next spring.
As the weather warmed and our training hit its stride, we had family travel and commitments to navigate like everyone else. When home, we rode Zwift at minimum twice a week and tried to do our long bike rides on a weekend morning when we could arrange childcare for the minimum few hours needed to get in our miles.
My mother-in-law often helped with our long rides and would arrive at our house by 6 am some Saturdays for us to be wheels up before the kids woke up. We had my nieces come over once as early as you can get a 17 and 12-year-old to come over on a Sunday morning.
I know many people switch to outdoor riding exclusively when the weather permits, but for us being able to do quality bike sessions in baby monitor proximity, regardless of weather and sunlight, makes Zwift and training indoors invaluable.
James and Graham as ring bearers in my sister-in-law’s wedding Memorial Day weekend in North Carolina.
Visiting Kennedy Space Center with both sets of parents and my two nieces before going to Daytona Beach Shores with my family for the week of 4th of July.
Enjoying one of our longer bike rides together in Florida. Easy to find childcare when we had family in four separate condos together for the week.
Showing off my Blueberry WaWa coffee (which was all the talk on Discord one day I happened to be in Florida near where WaWa actually exists) and my DIRT sticker on my daily driver, the man-van.
Our goal race wasn’t until early November, so we signed up for some early-season local triathlons. We did a total of three local races and a small 70.3 outside of Knoxville as part of our preparation. Each race had its pros and cons, with both of us learning a lot along the way, which was truly the primary goal of the process.
We both did okay at the races, but Jaimie won three of the four events we entered! We both won age group awards at the one Olympic race, and we both won the Redhawk 1/3 Iron distance race we did.
Cincinnati Triathlon 2021 – 1/3 Iron Distance – August 8, 2021
Family photo after the Cincinnati Triathlon, which is actually a decent bit north of Cincinnati and only 10 minutes from our house.
After we both won our 1/3 Iron distance race at the Redhawk Triathlon
After Jaimie won the Atomic Man 70.3 and I completed the AquaBike
Hiccups Along the Way
For the most part, our training went okay. The biggest struggles we faced most of the way were related to lack of sleep, which had a ripple effect on our relationship and our desire to continue forward with the training.
It is real life; when you have two little boys full of energy and rely on you to do most things for them, it can be a lot. Knowing the other person had the same volume of training was a significant accountability factor. The fact that Jaimie was often waking up at 4 am or shortly before twice a week made my 4:30 am + alarms seem more bearable.
The biggest issue I faced was a TORN MENISCUS on September 10. So, two days before I won a local triathlon, I was playing with my boys on the floor and went to get up quickly, and I guess through a sequence of bad angles and weight distribution through my leg, I felt my knee lock up.
I couldn’t bend it and definitely couldn’t extend it straight. Jaimie’s a Physical Therapist, and on the night it happened, she thought I jacked up my knee cap somehow. The following day my knee “locked up” again.
She was then pretty sure I partially or somehow tore my meniscus. I went ahead and did a 30-minute ride and 2 mile run to see if it hurt or not. Ultimately it felt okay enough to do our last local race of the season the next day. I was able to win the race, but 8.5 miles into the almost 10 mile run, my knee locked up for the third time in three days.
Later the next week, I saw a surgeon, then an MRI a few days later, then a follow-up, and it was his strong recommendation I have surgery ASAP. It all seemed rushed, and my head was spinning with throwing 10+ months of training out the window for a “freak accident” injury.
Jaimie consulted some of her colleagues, and we sought out a second opinion about the meniscus. Essentially, the second doctor said it was very likely my knee would require surgery in the near future, but if I wanted to do the Ironman, it wouldn’t change my need to have the surgery.
We opted for a wait-and-see approach. I shut down all activity for a week about four weeks before our Ironman and then eased into soft-pedal Zwifting for a week or so before starting to do proper cycling and swimming workouts the two weeks leading into the race.
It was a giant “what if” for the day, but I’ve run about 25 marathons and knew if the knee held up good enough, I’d be able to put together a decent marathon at the end of the Ironman.
Taper + Halloween
Since we didn’t have to do a super long bike ride on Halloween weekend, I used that extra time to convert my son’s John Deere Gator power wheels to Space Shuttle Atlantis. He picked which shuttle after we visited Kennedy Space Center this summer. Their astronaut costumes were a hit, and they loved their shuttle, along with the smoke bombs and sparklers we lit for their “blast-off.”
Ironman Florida – The Race
We drove the Panama City Beach on Wednesday before the race, leaving our house around 4 am. All parents want their kids to sleep as much as possible in the car, and that was our hope. Since my in-laws were flying, we sent our youngest with them since he still passes free as a lap infant. The drive was pretty easy, albeit 12 hours. We made it there by 3 pm central time. My parents were there already, and we were ready with our support crew and childcare all wrapped up in one.
Honestly, the race didn’t go exactly as planned for either of us, but on the whole, it was a win. We’re both competitors, and we’d like to compete for Age Group awards and get a Kona slot one day. That’s the dream. We have a way to get there, but I’m not sure it’s that unrealistic of a goal for either of us.
Swim: The swim was pretty terrible for most in the water that day. About 500 people were either pulled from the water or DQ’d due to missing the swim cutoff. That’s a lot. I didn’t realize it was that bad when I was in the water, but it sucked. We both were 25-30 minutes slower than what we thought was realistic. Not how you want to start the day.
Bike: We did pretty well on the bike. We only rode outside once a week, and it was in the high 40s with lots of wind. We like to ride indoors for this reason, and we tolerated the wind, but we weren’t accustomed to it. We also don’t own a lot of cold weather riding gear, but arm warmers sounded like a nice touch until they were $40 at the expo tent.
We went across the street to a Dick’s Sporting Goods and bought a two-pack of soccer socks on sale, cut them at the end, and wore those. $ 1, and disposable arm warmers worked just great.
Run: This was my most significant question mark, and my knee hurt for about the first two miles and last two miles. Other than that, it was quads and calves – shocker, right? Could I have run faster, maybe?
Am I happy with the run time I put up after not running for six weeks and was scheduled to have surgery not that long ago? Absolutely. Hopefully, I won’t end up needing surgery to trim pieces of my torn meniscus out, I know it doesn’t hurt after running a marathon, and that’s probably a good sign.
We would have liked to have gone faster, but that’s the itch of an athlete and wanting to be better.
Back to Ohio and falling autumn leaves. Back to colder temperatures and plenty of reasons to make excuses not to run outside and Zwift instead, since that’s what I want to do anyway. Most importantly, back to playing with our boys together without the other one having to knock out a workout. That is until we pull out the credit card and pay the registration fee for our next brilliant idea.
For more stories highlighting the incredible members of the virtual cycling community check out the DIRT Zwift Team page on The ZOM!
Finishing an IRONMAN is an incredible accomplishment. A goal Tyler and Jaimie set to achieve together and credit their virtual cycling family for the support and encouragement.
Semi-retired as owner and director of his private Orthopedic Physical Therapy practice after over 20 years, Chris is blessed with the freedom to pursue his passion for virtual cycling and writing. On a continual quest to give back to his bike for all the rewarding experiences and relationships it has provided him, he created a non-profit. Chris is committed to helping others with his bike through its work and the pages of his site.
In the summer of 2022, he rode 3,900 miles from San Francisco to New York to support the charity he founded, TheDIRTDadFund. His “Gain Cave” resides on the North Fork of Long Island, where he lives with his beautiful wife and is proud of his two independent children.
You will read him promoting his passion on the pages of Cycling Weekly, Cycling News, road.cc, Zwift Insider, and Bicycling. Chris is co-host of The Virtual Velo Podcast, too!