McHENRY – Jay Druml’s next goal is to run a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon – after he swims 2.4 miles and rides his bike 112 miles.
The McHenry resident and coach has competed twice in the Ironman Triathlon – a long-distance version of the three-part race – and so he needed a new goal.
“Most triathletes out there are type-A personalities,” he said. “They’re all competitive. They’re always racing somebody or something. I just think it’s the thrill of the chase for me and everybody else, just seeing who they can beat, if they can beat their friend, their neighbor. There’s always somebody better. There’s always somebody chasing you.”
Druml works mostly with adults, about half of them based locally and the other half scattered around the planet.
He puts together workout plans for them, keeping in mind their often busy schedules, and analyzes the digital workout reports they submit to help them meet their goals.
Now that Druml has left his job with Crystal Lake Bank and Trust to be a full-time coach, he hopes to spend more time training in-person with his athletes.
Druml sat down with reporter Emily K. Coleman to talk about his training and coaching.
Coleman: How did you get started doing triathlons?
Druml: When I was in my early 20s, I worked for a bank. I did that for a long time. I had a really terrible health screen. The results were honestly pretty awful. I was way overweight. The doctor told me to get in shape or start taking some cholesterol medicine, that sort of thing, so I decided to get in shape and start riding my bike. The weather turned bad on me so I started running, and the weather got even worse and I joined a health club. I saw Ironman Hawaii on TV and from there started doing triathlons, just generally triathlons and then quickly moved up to the Ironman distance race.
Coleman: What was your first race like?
Druml: I raced in Galena for my first time. It was a short race. It was like a 600-yard swim, a 20-mile bike ride and a 4-mile run. I don’t think I slept the night before at all. When I signed up for the race, I didn’t even know how to swim. When I had actually done up to about a mile and a half in the pool, so the distance was not a problem but it was cold and I panicked. In the middle of the swim course, I found a rock and stood up on it. I sat there for a minute and caught my breath. I made it through the race. I think it took me three or four races where my only goal was not to walk.
Coleman: What was it about Ironman races that appealed to you?
Druml: The challenge of the distance for sure. Back then, I hadn’t even swam in my life really other than just in a pool. The thought of swimming that far and then following that with riding my bike 112 miles and a marathon, it was daunting I guess. The first couple I did was more or less to see if I could do it, see if I could finish, and then I got into racing, trying to qualify for Hawaii.
Coleman: Have you qualified?
Druml: I have.
Coleman: How was it?
Druml: It was incredible, you know, the most beautiful place in the world out there but best athletes in the world, the fittest people. You could do really, really well out here in an Ironman race and out there you’re average at best. It’s incredible. It’s on TV every November or so. There’s a lot of Ironman races around the U.S., but they’re all qualifying races for Hawaii. At least most of them are.
Coleman: Besides the distance, what’s the hardest part about it?
Druml: The race itself isn’t all that hard. The hardest part is trying to find the time to train, to train intelligently. Most everybody that races Ironman has a family and a job to deal with. Trying to fit in life around training and racing, that’s the challenging part, quite honestly.
Coleman: How much time do you devote to training?
Druml: It depends on the time of year. I think on average, the off-season is 13 to 15 hours a week. When we’re training hard – if you have the time to do it, a lot of the real elite level athletes, competitive athletes are in the 20-25 hours a week range. Most every day is two workouts a day typically for most athletes. It’s a tough balancing act with life and work and kids and sports and yourself.
Coleman: You went from being a commercial lender at Crystal Lake Bank and Trust to a full-time triathlon and Ironman competition coach. Was that a strange transition?
Druml: No. Honestly not. I had been coaching part time for a good number of years on the side, nights and weekends kind of a thing, and I was limited with the number of athletes I could actually coach because I only had so much time in the day for everything. Word of mouth and business has grown. I quit the bank about two months ago now.
The Druml lowdown
Who he is: Triathlon athlete and coach.
Family: Wife, Amy; two children, Jacob, 13, and Julia, 11
Favorite segment of a triathlon: “If the race is going as planned, the run because that’s where the race is decided.”
Random fact: Shortly after graduating from high school, Druml caught a 10-foot, 450-pound blue marlin in Cancun. It took 90 minutes to reel it in, and he was sore for three days afterwards.