Testing his mettle
Twin Lakes Rodkey Faust holds the title of the youngest person to complete an Ironman triathlon. He did it when he was 14 in Hawaii in 1982 before a rule took effect limiting Ironman races to those 18 and older. Faust is looking forward to having his 14-year-old son Emilio finish the last mile with him during Sundays Ironman Coeur dAlene. Courtesy photo
LOREN BENOIT/Press Twin Lakes resident Rodkey Faust is an all-purpose Ironman. Faust holds the title of being the youngest Ironman finisher (14) and Sunday will be his fifth Ironman. When he isnt running, biking or swimming, Faust cuts steel in his fabrication shop where he manufactures metal artwork for his business True Dimensions.
LOREN BENOIT/PressRodkey Faust uses a plasma cutter to make a handrail component Wednesday afternoon at his workshop in Twin Lakes.
LOREN BENOIT/Press Rodkey Faust runs on a road Wednesday afternoon in Twin Lakes in preparation for Sundays Ironman.
By BRIAN WALKER
TWIN LAKES — You can learn the darnedest things at lunch with your kids.
For Rodkey Faust, that was when he found his motivation to compete in this Sunday's Ironman Coeur d'Alene triathlon.
The Twin Lakes 49-year-old was having lunch with his son, Emilio, about two months ago when the green light to endure his latest Ironman came on.
"We were talking about it and I said, 'Hey, should I sign up?'" Faust said. "Although I was getting fit before that, that's when it popped."
Faust said his son and his son's age provided an extra boost. Faust holds the title of being the youngest Ironman finisher at 14, the same age Emilio is.
Emilio said he plans to run with his dad for the final mile of Sunday's race.
"I'm really excited to see my dad finish because I never have," Emilio said.
Faust completed the Ironman Triathlon World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, in February 1982 in a little more than 17.5 hours — well within the then 24-hour limit participants were allowed to finish to earn a medal.
Soon thereafter, a rule went into effect that the minimum age to compete in an Ironman is 18.
However, the organization grandfathered Faust in, allowing him to compete in two other Ironman triathlons as a teen. He competed in another Ironman in Hawaii when he was still 14 and finished in 13.5 hours. A year later, at 15, he finished in 14.5 hours.
"Got caught in a riptide — no fun, man," he said, referring to the slower time at 15.
As if competing in grueling Ironman triathlons wasn't ambitious enough as a teen, Faust said he rode his bicycle across the United States when he was 15 between his second and third Ironman races.
Twenty-one years passed between Faust competing in his third Ironman and his fourth. He completed the Coeur d'Alene race in 2004 in nearly 13 hours. At that time, Faust was trying to adopt Emilio, who was 1, and he dedicated that race to his son.
When asked if he believes finishing an Ironman at 49 compared to when he was 14 will be more difficult, Faust paused before saying that's difficult to answer.
"The whole time I've been training, I've wondered that myself," he said with a laugh. "The kid did it with a lot less knowledge about nutrition and he just went out and did it because he had the ability to. But I now have more discipline."
Regardless of stamina, Faust said he believes Sunday, which will be his fifth Ironman, will be a personal Ironman record.
"I'm hoping to be done in 11 hours or under," he said.
Ironman consists of a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.
Faust said a rough start in 2004 has him optimistic for a faster finish Sunday. He took another competitor's heel in the throat early in the swim, causing him to throw up and battle stomach issues for the rest of the race.
"I'm pretty efficient on all three (legs), but the marathon is still the toughest," he said. "You have to have the mindset to stay in motion, keep the motor going."
The race will be the final full Ironman in Coeur d'Alene, another factor that drove Faust to compete again.
"It's a bummer deal, but they have to have participation, too," Faust said.
Faust owns a fabrication shop in Twin Lakes called True Dimensions, where he manufactures metal artwork with outdoor themes. His flexible work schedule has allowed him to train for Ironman in earnest.
"I'm thankful for the freedoms I have in life," he said. "The good man upstairs has taken care of me the last four times and he'll take care of me again."
His training supporters have included Emilio, who runs cross country for Timberlake High School and joins Faust for some runs and bike rides, and girlfriend Sheri Patik, who helps with nutrition.
Mentally, Faust, also an avid mountain biker, has previous Ironman finishes on his side.
"You have to have drive for Ironman," he said. "It's not something you can just do. Well, you can, but it really hurts when you do it that way."
Faust played hockey and rode a bike a lot as a youngster. He recalls watching an Ironman on ABC's "Wide World of Sports" and vowing to his mother that he'd compete in the race someday.
That moment came when he was 14 after his family moved to Hawaii.
"I was intent on doing it," he said. "Something just really got into me."
Looking back to his first Ironman, Faust recalled a pivotal moment that allowed him to finish and open the door to future Ironman races.
"I had to pretty much walk the whole marathon at night and that was before any of the glow-in-the-dark help," Faust said. "An old family friend (John Kuhne) came out to find me and walked with me. He helped me get through that race. He was my little angel in the dark."
Faust isn't sure if Sunday's Ironman will be his last, but he believes the mojo he had when he was 14 is still in the tank.
"The way life goes, you never can say never," he said. "Once in awhile, I'll get a wild hair. I've got a couple miles left in me."