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Kent's Kramers take on the endurance challenge
It's a balancing act, and one Dave Kramer carefully performs.
Triathlons can be a consuming endeavor, requiring considerable time to train for the ultimate physical trifecta in speed, strength and endurance.
Yet Kramer refuses to let the swim-bike-run challenge dictate a busy lifestyle that demands his attention to family, friends and business.
"To do this sport is a privilege, and I realize I'm fortunate that I've got the health to do it," Kramer said between customers at his family owned business, Pugerudes, a reputable custom window fashion provider in the Kent community since 1957, a span of three generations. "I have family and friends who support, encourage me and push me. I'm fortunate that I'm able to manage my time in such a way that I can train."
For Kramer, 46, his wife, Jill, 44, and two children – Reed, 16, and Lauren, 13, triathlons are a part of a healthy household.
Inactive in his 30s, Dave decided to get back into the game. He began to run distances, took on marathons – including prestigious Boston in 2009 – and eventually discovered short-course triathlons.
He eventually took it a step further, embarking on Ironman distances.
Dave recently completed his second Ironman Coeur d'Alene in Idaho, completing a 2.4-mile swim in choppy waters, a gusty 112-mile bicycle ride and a hilly, loop-course 26.2-mile run in 11 hours, 23 minutes and 51 seconds. His finished 39th in his age division and 263rd overall in the 1,947 men and women who completed the course.
Dave was one of 31 athletes from Raise the Bar, a southend-based triathlon team, who competed in North Idaho.
"I was pretty excited about getting finished, and I was satisfied with my time," said Dave, who finished three minutes faster than his debut in the race two years ago.
The finish was a culmination of a lot of hard work for Dave, a six-month process that took him to the peak of about 16 hours a week in training.
"Dave has a very strong competitive spirit. ... What really drives him is just that desire to constantly improve and test himself," said Brad Williams, owner of Kent's Northwest Tri & Bike, who is Dave's swim coach and teammate.
But Dave isn't completely satisfied. More races beckon in the future.
"That's the addictive nature of this sport," he said. "When you accomplish three of your five goals, well, you've gotta go back and get those other two."
Jill ready to prepare for an Ironman
Dave is prepared to take a back seat to Jill, who plans to train for her first Ironman test – in Tempe, Ariz., in the fall of 2015.
From watching her husband, Jill is ready to give it a try, having done several Olympic-length and two half-Ironman events.
"I got permission," Jill said with a smile. "It's addicting, I guess. It's that feeling of accomplishment (that's enticing)."
While Jill is a strong biker, Dave excels in the water and on the run. Each supports the other, as do their children.
Triathlons and business have similarities, Dave said, each needing attention to detail, discipline and quality control. Doing it right and performing consistently often lead to good results, he said.
"It's the challenge of juggling all these different things ... and then standing back and going, 'Well, I could do better in this aspect here, I could do better in that aspect there,'" Dave said. "And in the same way, that's sort of how we handle a small business."
Again, it's a balancing act, one that the Kramers keep in check.
The Kramers credit Williams and Kathy Morrisson, team manager for Raise The Bar, for plotting a productive and healthy course in their training.
Some triathletes never find that balance.
"Unfortunately, there are cases where people have lost jobs or family ... they just went too over the top with it," Williams said. "But maintaining that balance is certainly critical and important to Dave and Jill."
Jill Kramer competes in a recent short-course triathlon. The Kent woman plans to compete in her first Ironman in 2015. Courtesy photo