Colorado Athletes in Kona: Meet Ben and Mike

Ben Kleeman

 

My road to triathlon began in 2002.   I started running and later biking to lose weight gained secondary to too many calories and a sedentary lifestyle.    At the start of my weight loss I was pushing 225 pounds (current weight 146).   I decided to give triathlon a go while living in St. Louis in 2007 and quickly learned despite being a high school lifeguard, I could not swim.   Nevertheless, I was hooked.

My road to Colorado began with the Boulder 70.3 in 2011.   My future wife, Kelly, and I traveled to Colorado early and I tried to get in as much “Colorado” as we could during this trip.   We went horseback riding in RMNP, ATV riding near Vail, hiking around The Springs, and saw the Flaming Lips cover Dark Side of the Moon at Red Rocks.    We also spent a significant amount of time in and around Boulder trying to soak up as much of the experience as possible.   The Boulder 70.3 went well despite all my computers failing during the bike and run.    Kelly, who serves as my coach (motivational, nutrition, and anything else as needed) and my biggest fan, met me at the finish to inform me of my result, a 23 min PR and first sub 5-hour finish.   Our trip to Colorado was perfect.   Once again, we were hooked.    We were so hooked in fact, we set the plan of moving to Colorado in motion immediately and made the move three months after the Boulder 70.3.

The journey to Ironman began during our honeymoon at IM Cozumel in 2013.    IM Cozumel went much better than expected for both of us.  We left the island in high spirits with some new friends and good finishes under our belts.  I signed up for the inaugural IM Boulder expecting good results 9 months after Cozumel, but was disappointed with a disastrous result, at least in my mind.   The 2014 IM Boulder triathlon was so disappointing I left the sport to pursue other interests.   

In 2016 I began training for marathons and started feeling the itch to race IM again.   This time around, I began to take training more seriously.   I hired a friend, Boulder native, and professional triathlete Colin Laughery to guide this effort towards racing the 2017 IM season.  We chose IM Boulder and IM CDA as our plan A and B races.   The 2017 IM Boulder was an epic defeat with the dreaded DNF.   IM CDA was only a couple months after Boulder.   I needed big changes to prevent this perpetual cycle of training well and racing poorly.  These changes came from many places.   My primary training and race strategy was handled by coach Colin.   Nutrition and CDA course specific advice came from my friend Alison Freeman who is also a tri coach in Boulder.   My swim coach Dave Scott helped me with race strategy as well.   Most importantly, Kelly kicked up her efforts as my motivational coach to try and break this mental block and help me mentally prepare for race day.  I approached IM CDA with one goal, to have fun racing again.  The swim went ok and the bike went well.   I learned I was in 12th in my age group off the bike from my wife who was proving to be instrumental again.   Going into the last lap of the three-lap run, my Kelly informed me I was only a couple minutes back from 5th place and 4th place was struggling.   I was hurting at this point in the race, and her support and information was just what I needed to kick it up a notch.   I knew there were extra slots in IM CDA this year and 4th place may be just enough to qualify.  I hustled up and caught 5th place at mile 20 and went into 4th place at mile 24 which was good enough for a spot for Kona!   All my friends and family were following the race and elated with the result; however, no one was more excited than my wife and biggest fan who met me at the finish.  I met my goal.  I had fun racing again but with a secondary bonus of a trip to the Big Island!

Ironman racing requires sacrifice.  The greatest sacrifice comes not from the athlete but from the family and friends.   Without the support of friends and family, Ironman is not possible.  Thank you to all of my friends and family who have supported me in and out of competition throughout the years.    And most importantly, thank you to my beautiful wife Kelly, for being with me for every step in this journey.  It has been fun.


 

Mike Breyer

This will be my 4th trip to Kona (2013, 2014, 2016, 2017). I still feel like a rookie – but this year I feel I’ve finally worked out some of the gremlins in my race prep and plan. Who knows though, I felt that way last year and still managed to make a mess out of my race!

I’m an ER doctor in Denver and came across triathlon about 8 years ago when I was miserably out of shape. I climbed out of the pool one day about 40 pounds overweight and someone suggested a local triathlon. I bought a road bike and raced 20 days later. I was terrible but I was hooked.

I’m self-coached. I read a little but mostly just listen to my body and my mind as to what I want to do on any given day. Most days that means ride my bike. I believe sustainability and consistency are the most important ingredients to finding some success in this sport. Be happy training. Or you won’t do it. And it’s incredibly important (at least for me) to do something nearly every day.

I’m now 44 years old and set PR’s this year for Ironman (9:53 at IM Boulder, 2nd in my AG to get my Kona slot) and Half-Ironman (4:19 at Boulder 70.3, 3rd in my AG – in case you didn’t know, Steve Johnson and Tim Hola are really fast). I try to be active every day and enjoy the journey.

I feel very fortunate to have such a great group of friends, training partners and support system to be able to do this sport. And, of course, to live in Colorado. Good luck to everyone out there!

 

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