When he was about 16 years old, Travis Crocker’s doctor told him it was a good thing he did well in school, because he would never be competitive in sports.
A few weeks ago, the Granville native competed in an Ironman event. Not only that—he finished in the top 15 percent.
Crocker, who graduated with the class of 1989, said the physical setbacks he suffered in his youth served as a motivation to complete the competition. He was diagnosed with spina bifida and underwent the first of several successful surgeries when he was young.
Inspired by his active parents and supported by his wife and two children, Crocker recently decided to go for the iron in Lake Placid.
“Myself and a couple of friends decided the timing was right to train for an Ironman. I have two young kids, and my friends have young kids too, and we realized if we didn’t do it now we wouldn’t be doing it for a while,” he said. So the group hired a coach, who put together an eight-month, rigorous training program for them.
“A lot of it was doing workouts at 4 in the morning. People make a lot of jokes about doing triathlons, but it’s doable as long as you’re stubborn and willing to sacrifice sleep and be diligent about it,” Crocker said.
But despite the consuming preparation, he still made time for his family. He said his coach had young kids as well, so she understood the need for family time.
The demanding schedule he stuck to was difficult, but he said giving up never crossed his mind.
“When you have support and training partners it helps you stick with it,” he said, adding that his 70-plus mother, who recently started running 5Ks, was particularly motivating for him.
Crocker said he felt fit and prepared for race day, as his training group had run a mock course prior to the actual event.
The competition consisted of a 2.4-mile swim in Mirror Lake, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. Crocker had aimed to finish in 12 hours and beat his goal with a time of 11 hours 29 minutes.
“It was a surreal experience. As long as you stick to the plan throughout the day, it’s OK. It’s a great experience,” he said, mentioning the inspiration he felt from other competitors’ stories. “I thought this is way, way bigger than me.”
He describes his achievement as more than an athletic feat.
“It’s so important for all of us to have goals, whether academic or personal goals out there. We need to have something we’re striving for and bettering ourselves,” he said.
As for doing another Ironman?
“If you ask my wife, probably never,” he said with a laugh. “In the next few years, no, but potentially down the road.” Meanwhile, he’ll be back at work as a high school science teacher outside of Ithaca and said he’ll focus on “smaller events that don’t require as much training”—like a 50K he’ll run this November.