Apolo Ohno's summer race schedule:
Rock 'n' Roll Seattle Half Marathon — June 21 (13.1-mile run)
Carlsbad (California) Sprint Triathlon — July 13 (1K swim, 25K bike, 5K run)
Los Angeles Triathlon — Sept. 21 (0.9-mile swim, 24-mile bike, 6.2-mile run)
Ironman World Championship — Oct. 11 (2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, 26.2-mile run)
After a few years of retirement, speed skater Apolo Ohno was bored and looking for a challenge.
But what could the most decorated winter Olympian in U.S. history do to add to his already impressive resume — eight Olympic medals, youngest U.S. short track national champion and World Cup winner, first American to nab a speed skating World Cup overall title, and "Dancing With the Stars" winner?
After competing in a triathlon for the first time, Ohno had found his white whale: the Ironman, a grueling 140.6-mile endurance race that draws the toughest and most well-known racers from around the world.
"After four years of not really doing a lot of intense training, it was time and I needed something new to strive and compete for in my life," Ohno said via email. "As a retired athlete, I think you're always looking for some type of physical challenge, and with my first triathlon, that competitive spirit definitely came out. The race made me understand how this sport is so addicting."
Ohno will compete in the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii on Oct. 11 as part of the "Built With Chocolate Milk" campaign. The campaign is organized by the Milk Processor Education Program, a promotional group funded by the nation's milk processors, and is sponsoring Ohno's training and race.
An eight-episode web series, "Mission: Apolo," will chronicle his journey from former short track star to ultimate triathlete. Aiding him in his transformation will be two part-time Boulder residents, Ironman champions Craig "Crowie" Alexander and Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae.
Ohno is in capable hands. Alexander and Carfrae have four Ironman medals apiece — three golds and one silver for Alexander; two golds, one silver and one bronze for Carfrae — and both hold course records in Hawaii. They both agree on the most important thing to teach Ohno, the key to conquering the long, rugged course: patience.
"It's a long day, and things can go great one moment and bad the next during the race," Carfrae said. "Staying positive and patient as you push through some of the bumps along the way is crucial, even in training."
"It's a really long day when racing the Ironman distance, and patience pays off for those who are conscious of what their body is telling them," Alexander added. "I find comfort on race day when I know I have done the proper training, and that is what I will focus on with ... Apolo. If he trusts in his training, the racing will be just fine."
Ohno is competing in a series of triathlons and half marathons before the big race in Hawaii, and he will be training with Carfrae and Alexander throughout the summer. Ohno's background as an elite athlete will make the process easier — both physically and mentally.
"Apolo's a great athlete," Alexander said. "He will just have to change his mentality from explosive and intensity-type training to a more steady endurance style."
"I think he is going to do very well," Carfrae said. "Skating translates so well to cycling, and if he can be patient and get out there on that run with something in the reserves, he'll have the energy of Hawaii and the spectators to push him home."
Alexander said there are "no secrets" to becoming a champion — just hard work and lots of training.
Whatever the demands, Ohno said he is up for the challenge.
"This is bringing me back to the basics of what I was, how I was training, my lifestyle and how I balance competitive training and a normal life," Ohno said. "I'm very much looking forward to the next four months."
Contact Shay Castle at 303-473-1626 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @shayshinecastle.