September 25, 2013

Adam Haluska has done some amazing things over the years, including high school and college athletic careers that rank among some of the most accomplished. A few weekends ago he added Ironman Wisconsin to that impressive list.

Haluska set out to finish an Ironman competition in 12 hours. He finished the 2.4-mile swim, 111-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run in 11 hours, 48 minutes.

Haluska finished 70th in the 30-34 age division and 455th overall. There were 3,000 participants.

A 2002 graduate of Carroll High School, Haluska finished his prep basketball career with 2,209 points, which was the eighth best total in Iowa prep history and the top scoring output for an Iowa large school player in state history.

Haluska's track and field exploits have been well documented as well, winning eight individual prep state track titles. Named the Most Outstanding Performer at the 2001 and 2002 Iowa State Track and Field Championships, Haluska recorded one of the most prolific performances in history as a senior when he became only the fourth athlete in the 97-year history of the state meet to win four individual events, claiming victories in the 100 meters (10.91), 200 meters (21.56), 400 meters (48.48) and long jump (22-5 1/4). He scored 28 of Carroll's 30 team points to finish runner-up to Storm Lake in the Class 3A team championship that year.

As a member of the University of Iowa men's basketball team, Haluska won a Big Ten Tournament title in 2006, was a two-time All-Big Ten performer (2006-07) and was named 2007 Academic All-American of the Year. Haluska, who scored 1,847 career points at Iowa, was originally a 2007 second-round draft pick of the NBA New Orleans Hornets. Traded to the Houston Rockets, Haluska was cut five days later, then averaged 18.7 points in 11 games with the Iowa Energy, an NBA Development League team in Des Moines.

Haluska played for Hapoel Jerusalem in 2008-09.

Haluska now lives in Solon with wife Kendra, daughter Jerzey and son Jace, and works for Stryker Orthopaedics, working with doctors that use Stryker knees, hips and other joints as implants.

Following is a question-and-answer presentation on Haluska's preparation and completion of the Ironman:

Q. How did you begin a goal of wanting to be an Ironman? 

A. Truthfully, I have always wanted to complete an Ironman. I remember growing up watching the Ironman Championships on TV with my Dad thinking that I would love to challenge myself and finish an Ironman someday.

I knew I had to be completely done with basketball before I could even think about starting the training for an Ironman. I sat down with a friend of mine from the Iowa City area and we talked about training for local triathlons. That discussion went from small sprint tri's to, 'Why start out small? Let's just sign up for the Big One!'

It was great seeing local guys, Deon Winget, Dan Orlano, Brian Fleshner and Dirk Troutman set out to accomplish their goals of completing an Ironman. I really appreciated all the advice from each of these guys in helping prepare me for the big day.

Q. How much time did you spend training? How many months? How many hours a week?  

A. I signed up with my friend, Sean Merrick, the day after the 2012 Wisconsin Ironman. We went to Madison to sign up in person to secure a spot for the next year's race. As we were standing in a line of about 1,000 people, we started talking and getting advice from everyone we were around. I'd be lying if I didn't say these guys in line were laughing at Sean and I. They couldn't believe we had never swam open water, biked over 100 miles, or even attempted a marathon.

Once we got home that night, I really started a year long program to complete an Ironman. The first few months started out slow. We averaged about eight hours of training a week and most of the training was really trying to figure out how to swim.

Once I got to 30 weeks out from Sept. 8, training really picked up. I started to average 13-plus hours of training a week.

By the time I reached six weeks from the Ironman day, I was averaging between 18 to 20 hours a week of training. We were swimming five to six miles a week, biking 150-plus miles and running close to 40 miles all in a six-day training week. I tried to squeeze in a workout every morning before work starting at 5 a.m. and usually had a workout or two that evening after work. I know my wife was glad when Sept. 8 finally rolled around.

Q. Which event was your strongest? 

A. I really think the bike portion became my strong point. The Madison bike course is known for being a hilly and challenging course. I really worked on biking courses with tons of hills to prepare me for the big day.

Q. Between the other two, which one did you find more difficult? 

A. I wouldn't say that I found the other two more difficult, as much as I just wasn't as good in those areas. I was at a huge disadvantage in the water because I never really swam before this year. Running long distance is something I was definitely not blessed at doing. I loved going on long swims and runs, but it was just at a slow pace.

Q. Where did you do your training for the competition? 

A. I was fortunate to join an open water swim group in the Iowa City area - the ICOWS (Iowa City Open Water Swimming). We swam at least two times a week in Lake Macbride. This really helped my comfort level in the open water.

Biking sounds easy, but it was hard finding good roads to train on. When you head out for a 75-100 mile ride, you begin to run out of places to ride. I tried to stay on some county roads in and around Solon and North Liberty that were safe and didn't have a ton of traffic on it.

Q. Did you ever think about giving up?

A. I never once thought about giving up... Although by the last month, I was really getting tired of the training.

Q. What was your diet like while you were training? 

A. I ate pretty healthy during my training. I found myself eating about six meals a day the last 10 weeks of training. Kendra was great about fixing smoothies and having fresh fruit and vegetables around to snack on. With all the eating and training, I ended up losing a total of 30 pounds over the course of a year.

Q. Did you eat during the competition?

A. During the race I never really ate food. I was trying to replace carbs, sodium and potassium along with trying to stay hydrated. I drank a Gatorade-type drink that was loaded with carbs and sodium. I took GU packets, which is basically a carbohydrate gel and also took SaltSticks (Sodium and Potassium) pills to keep from cramping.

Q. What was your goal in the competition? 

A. My goal was to finish, and not walk on the run. I really had no idea how my body would hold up, but I thought if everything went right and I took my time, breaking 12 hours was possible.

Q. How did you feel after the competition? 

A. I really felt great the whole race. I paced myself in the swim and bike and tried to leave whatever I had left for the last five miles on the run. My legs got a little heavy around miles 16 to 19, but I got an energy boost and actually ran my best portion of the run the last six miles.

Once I finished and got back to the hotel that night, I really tightened up and that's when I started feeling sore.

Q. Was there any point in the race you thought you weren't going to be able to finish?

A. No, I really enjoyed the entire day. I never once felt tired or sick, which was a good thing. I really think my training had me as ready and prepared as I could be. 

Q. What was your favorite part of the day? 

A. I loved seeing family and friends on the different legs of the triathlon. It's amazing the boost they give you when you see them cheering you on. It was an even better feeling to see the one mile to go sign and crossing the finish line. It's an unbelievable feeling, and one that I will never forget.

Q. Will you attempt another Ironman in the future?

A. I'm going to stay away from the full Ironman for a while because of the time commitment and having a family. I might do a triathlon or even some half-Ironmans.