In 2009, Bob LaRue checked the Bank of America Chicago Marathon and the Chicago Triathlon off of his bucket list. Six years later, LaRue turned his love for endurance sports into a lifestyle and qualified for the 2016 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
The road to qualifying for Kona didn’t come without a bit of a struggle for LaRue. He first attempted to qualify for the Ironman World Championships at Ironman Wisconsin in 2013.
“I was disappointed,” LaRue says. “I had pretty big goals. I had some break-rubbing issues so my bike time was really slow. It was a disappointing race all around. I don’t think I hit any of my goal times.”
Although LaRue didn’t qualify for the Ironman World Championships in 2013, the experience made him reevaluate his training so he could try again for a qualifying time down the road.
“It really made me think about exactly how I need to work,” LaRue says. “It made me train smarter the next year because I put in a ton of hours training, but I wasn’t necessarily focused. So the next year I had a purpose to every workout whether it was recovery or building strength or endurance.”
In 2014, LaRue tried again to qualify for the Ironman World Championships by competing in Ironman Arizona, but he didn’t quite hit the mark.
“I ended up coming in fourth in my age group so I missed the Kona slot by like two minutes, but the actual race itself I think was the most perfectly executed race that I have ever had,” LaRue says. “I felt extremely well prepared, I trusted my fitness and trusted my ability in each of the three disciplines.”
LaRue followed the same training schedule for Ironman Wisconsin last year. Even when he wasn’t training, he kept his motivation at an all-time high with a few other strategies.
“I put the times of the top five finishers from Ironman Wisconsin on a Post-It note in my office. I would always look at them and think, ‘All right, focus on the goal,’” LaRue says.
When training for an Ironman, LaRue believes in putting particular emphasis on biking.
“I try to get in four to five bike rides a week because it’s not as hard on the legs, but still can build a tremendous amount of strength as well as endurance and it supplements the running nicely,” LaRue says. “Plus with Ironman, as far as time goes, you spend most of your time on the bike so having a strong level of fitness on the bike is the most important because it leads to a strong run.”
LaRue’s training finally paid off when he made a qualifying time of 9:34:59 at Ironman Wisconsin in 2015. He placed fifth overall and second in the 30-34 age group.
“Once I was confident enough by the last two miles of the race I knew that I was in a great position,” LaRue says. “I think I smiled the entire time. I had so many friends and family members and people that I train with that were high-fiving and cheering. I’ve never been more sore, but never had more of an adrenaline rush than those last two miles.”
LaRue started training in January for the Ironman World Championships.
During the winter months, he focuses on form and technique while building strength and power to establish a strong fitness base for his summer workouts.
LaRue attained his Ironman World Championship goal, but that hasn’t kept him from setting goals for 2016 as well, particularly, “To stay injury free and continue to have fun with training,” he says. “I want to have a good race in Kona, but I haven’t yet defined what that means, but part of it’s having fun and making sure that I smile the whole way and enjoy that experience.”