News: Wisconsin Guard NCO of Year tests his mettle in Ironman triathlon
Story by Vaughn Larson
MADISON, Wis. - Military deployments are apparently not challenging enough for Sgt. Edward Schmitt, the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.
It was during his deployment to Baghdad with Troop A, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry that Schmitt, a Lake Mills, Wis., resident and current member of the 54th Civil Support Team, entertained the idea of competing in the Ironman Triathlon - a grueling endurance course consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile marathon with no breaks between events.
He did well enough at the Ironman Wisconsin event Sept. 13 in Madison, Wis., to take first place out of 173 competitors in his 25-29 age category with a total time of nine hours, 57 minutes and eight seconds.
"I didn't know I had taken first," Schmitt said. "When I finished the bike I was in seventh place. I thought I'd end up being third."
That first-place finish - 31st overall in the Ironman Wisconsin - earned Schmitt an invitation to the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. He said he will compete in another Ironman triathlon next June to prepare for the October event.
Schmitt started training for Ironman Wisconsin shortly after returning from his deployment in 2010 - "Biking and swimming are really not an option while deployed," he remarked. - and ramped up his regimen in the three months prior to the Sept. 13 competition. He averaged 18 hours per week, with some weeks peaking at 24 hours, varying his routine substantially each day.
And in the middle of that training program, Schmitt took part in the National Guard Bureau's Best Warrior Competition at Camp Robinson, Ark., in late July. He was a top-three finisher in the noncommissioned officer category.
"The Best Warrior Competition took away from my Iron Man training," he acknowledged. "Part of the reason I did so well in Best Warrior is because of my triathlon training."
They key to preparing for an Ironman triathlon, Schmitt said, is build endurance by starting with smaller distances and develop consistency.
"Ironman is really what you've done the past few years rather than the past few months," he said.
Despite his own recent hectic schedule, Schmitt credited his wife, Valerie with helping him succeed. Boasting her own formidable multi-tasking skills, Valerie watched their two young sons Landen and Joey while continuing work on her bachelor's degree so he could train.
In part, Schmitt said his children were responsible for his Ironman itinerary.
"I want my kids to see their dad being active," he said.