On Sunday, Paul Harris will move up from shorter races to his first half-Ironman competition — the REV3 Triathlon in Venice. He’s only trained as a triathlete for two years. I asked what he did before that.
“Before this,” Harris said, laughing, “I rode Harleys and ate barbecue.” Now he and his wife Barbara, also a triathlete, are trying to eat better and work harder. They belong to the Sarasota Storm Tri Club. He takes Sunday morning training rides with the FBOMS — Florida Bikers of Manatee-Sarasota. Harris, 45, is a construction supervisor who lives in Palmetto. He’s a big guy — 6-foot-4 — who’s slimmed down to 200 pounds. He trains in the evening, after work, which can be tricky.
For the REV3, he will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and then run 13.1 miles. I asked him how big a difference this make from a shorter triathlon.
“It’s huge,” he said, laughing again. “Absolutely huge.”
Harris’ triathlon coach, Jackie Miller, is vice president of the Sarasota Storm Tri Club. She’s looking forward to seeing him race on Sunday.
“He’s going to do better than he imagines,” Miller says. “He’s really fast and he’s gotten a lot stronger.”
Shark tooth medals
The REVOLUTION3 Triathlon is expected to draw more than 1,000 triathletes from across the country. Top racers will compete for $50,000 in prize money.
Last year, the swimming portion of the triathlon was canceled because of rough seas in the Gulf of Mexico. This year’s event also will host a shorter Olympic-distance race with a .9-mile swim, 25-mile bike and 6.2-mile run. Most competitors will take at least 5 or 6 hours to finish their races.
There will be a REV3 expo at Sharkey’s on the Pier in Venice this weekend. On Friday evening, there will be a 5K glow run.
Finishers of the half-Ironman triathlon will earn distinctive REV3 race medals in the shape of shark tooth.
Harris and his wife have started a “Wall of Glory” to display their race medals at home. A REV3 souvenir should fit right in.
His goal for Sunday is to finish the race. “I’m new,” he said, “so I just give it my all.”
Harris has been working on swimming, which is his weakest event. He might have to wear a wet suit this weekend, which will take some getting used to.
He had some knee problems when he first started in triathlons, but hasn’t suffered any serious injuries.
“No, knock on wood,” he said. “I’ve been lucky.”
Motivation is not a problem for Harris. Training hard comes easy to him.
“I’ve always been an all-or-nothing person,” he said.
“At the same time, I have absolutely no desire to do a full Ironman. That would be too much work.”
On Sunday, once the half-Ironman begins, Harris won’t be holding back. “I push myself with all I’ve got,” he said. “Whenever I finish a race, I’m exhausted.”