For most Americans, vacation doesn't involve a 2.5-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and a marathon, all in a 17-hour window.
But then again, Jane and Michael Bryant aren't your typical American father-daughter duo.
The pair will compete in its first Ironman triathlon together next Sunday, July 22, in Lake Placid, N.Y. It will be Michael Bryant's fourth Ironman, all of which have been in Lake Placid, but it will be the first time he will be joined by his 18-year-old daughter.
"I was kind of a newby at one time so I remember being overwhelmed, but now I'm kind of the seasoned guy and I can pass on things to her," Michael Bryant said. "I enjoy the training and the time spent together. The race is great but spending time with her is the part of it I'll remember."
The Bryant family currently resides in Baltimore and visits their Lake Placid vacation home every summer. In 2005, Michael Bryant watched the final two hours of the Ironman near the finish line. With a background in triathlons, it immediately piqued his interest.
"After that, I said, 'I want to do this,'" he said. "At first it was a bucket list thing, but then it became something I wanted to pursue."
Michael Bryant, 62, completed the rigorous 17-hour physical and mental challenge in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Jane Bryant, who just finished her freshman year at Towson University, got interested in the competition after watching her father in Lake Placid during the last half-dozen years.
She ran track at nearby Mercy High School, competing in the 800-meter, 1600-meter and 4x400-meter relay races. She completed her first Irongirl triathlon in 2006, which consisted of a .6-mile swim, 17-mile bike and a 3.1-mile run.
"I had always watched my dad do [Ironmans] and being in that environment it got really contagious," Jane Bryant said. "It makes you think of what is possible when you set your mind to it."
Michael Bryant's participation in this event hasn't just rubbed off on his family — his community and neighbors have caught wind, as well.
Josiah Mueller, 31, lives across the street from the Bryants now and had experience in triathlons prior to arriving on the East Coast. He admitted that when house hunting, having a neighbor like Michael was an added bonus.
Michael Bryant helped Mueller get interested in the Ironman, and he will now be joining his neighbors in Lake Placid next week.
Mueller is a local nurse, working 12-hour shifts at times. His days usually consist of working, training, eating and then sleeping. To prepare for an Ironman, competitors train on average close to 15 hours a week for 20 weeks, in addition to base workouts started well before the four- to five- month training stint.
That much physical activity condensed into such a short span — six-hour bike rides followed by 40 minute runs aren't uncommon — takes a toll on the body.
"You're constantly training on tired muscles," Mueller said. "You just never recover and you're constantly tired. It becomes a mental challenge you didn't know you could do."
During the 17-hour competition, Michael Bryant said it becomes much more of a mental battle to test courage and fortitude. It is difficult for first-time participants to withstand the physical and mental strain all at the same time, but he said his daughter is ready for the challenge.
"Some people kind of panic and freak out, but Jane's got a really strong mind," Michael Bryant said. "At a certain point your body gets hit, so it's your mind focusing at some point. She's really got that ability to just be able to do that."
Training together has only strengthened the father-daughter relationship. They go on runs and bike rides together.
Mueller said it's very touching to see the two of them train together and eventually compete in Lake Placid.
"They're such great people and I'm proud of their hard work," Mueller said. "What a special experience to be able to share. Michael has been my coach through this whole thing and I couldn't have done it without him, either. It's so cool they can do this together."
Next Sunday, the Bryant's will have more than 30 family members and friends cheering for them.
Jane Bryant said the amount of support they have received has been a driving force behind her pursuit of completing an Ironman.
"I don't think I could do it without all those people around me," she said. "People are always asking and are so interested. It helps so much to not leave me in the dark on this."
After this Ironman is done and the family returns to Baltimore, Michael Bryant isn't sure what the next step is in his athletic career.
A collegiate wrestler at West Chester University in Pennsylvania, he has seen the endless benefits that training and competing in the Ironman brings to his life. Michael Bryant doesn't think about when he will stop participating in the Ironman, because he really doesn't know.
He's just enjoying himself at the moment.
"At this point, I don't even ask any more," he said. "For me now, it's about being fit and sharing the experience. When you get older you get in your comfort zone and you have to do things that help you grow as a person. This has helped me grow as a person."
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