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Larry Wood, 67, is calm and relaxed as he sits in The Half Moon restaurant on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. Wood will travel to Florida next week with his family to compete in Ironman Florida on Sunday, Nov. 2. | Eric Vo / Record-Journal

Wallingford man readies for Ironman

WALLINGFORD — Larry Wood drank coffee at a table in The Half Moon restaurant on North Main Street Friday morning as he talked about the upcoming Ironman competition in Florida.

Wood, 67, has entered six Ironman triathlons and about 20 Half Ironman triathlons. In an Ironman triathlon participants cover 140.6 miles — 2.4 miles swimming, 112 miles biking and 26.2 miles running.

On Nov. 2, Wood will line up with other triathletes at Panama City Beach for Ironman Florida. For Wood, the race is about redemption. Last year, he started but aggravated an earlier injury five miles into the marathon.

“I was walking after three miles and I found myself limping,” Wood said. “... I wish I had gotten through with it.”

There’s a sense of dishonor in not finishing an Ironman, according to Wood.

“I still kick myself,” he said.

Despite last year’s disappointment, Wood is looking forward to the race. Between now and Wednesday, when he flies to Florida with his family, Wood will enter the “taper” phase of his training. His workouts will be shorter but just as intense.

He credited his coach, Kelli Montgomery, for creating workouts that improved his swimming and built his confidence. The bike course is flat, but the wind could be challenging.

He is cautious about the 26.2 mile run. It is the segment that causes the most minor injuries and other problems.

“Everyone has some sort of trouble during the run,” Wood said. “You don’t hurt yourself on the bike. You feel good on the bike.”

Reflecting on past Ironman competitions, he called the swim segment “spooky.” The professional racers get way ahead of the others.

“I’m back in amateur hour, where everyone is going crazy,” Wood said. With so many people in the water, it’s impossible to not get hit by other swimmers. The swim and the beginning of the marathon run is the hardest part of the race, he said.

Wood said his training runs have gone well. His workouts were created to mimic the different movements from one phase to another. He recently read a book written by a professional triathlete. She described how she ignores her legs during the beginning of the run.

“You can’t think that it’ll be like this the whole race because it won’t,” Wood said. “After 15 or 20 minutes, you’re tired but you realize your legs are working.”

Montgomery said Wood shouldn’t let last year’s race affect him.

“It’s an Ironman. Lots of things can go this way or that way, it’s a long day,” she said. “He’s more than well prepared. He’s stronger than last year. He’s really been training well.”

Wood is hoping to complete the entire marathon without walking. After swimming 2.4 miles and biking 112 miles, Wood said a four hour marathon may not be realistic, and added that he’d be disappointed if he didn’t complete it in five hours.

There’s 21 people in his age group in Ironman Florida, and unless he finishes first, there’s a strong chance he won’t qualify for the world championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

After Ironman Florida, he plans to take two years off from competing at the full Ironman distance. But he’s already signed up for a number of Half Ironman races next year. A Half Ironman has participants completing 70.3 miles — a 1.2 mile swim; a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.

“I’ll still be active. There’s no question,” he said. “I really like that lifestyle.” (203) 317-2235 Twitter: @EricVoRJ

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