In 2019, Josh Caruso experienced an ultimate frustration.
He attempted his first Ironman Triathlon at Lake Placid but encountered a major mechanical failure on his bike when the rear derailleur hanger broke causing him to crash.
He avoided major injury but a day that he diligently trained for was done because the bike could not be repaired.
Undaunted, he borrowed a friend’s bike and six weeks later he went to Canada at Mt. Tremblant and completed his first Ironman. But he didn’t achieve fulfillment.
“I had already done the training so I decided to go to Mt. Tremblant,” said Caruso who works as a physician’s assistant in Orthopedics and Sports Medicine at the Claxton Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg.
“I completed the Ironman but it just wasn’t the same. It wasn’t Lake Placid so I decided I was going back to Lake Placid. It was a redemption event for me so I had to do it.”
So he continued his training and was totally prepared physically and mentally to finish what he started at Ironman Lake Placid 2019 in July of 2020.
But along came the COVID-19 pandemic and like so many other events in 2020 Ironman Lake Placid did not happen.
Undaunted, Caruso continued training on his own and with his fellow members of the CGSW Racing through the pandemic months and just hoped that Ironman Lake Placid 2021 would be held.
“We didn’t know if the Ironman would be held but I registered, kept training and stayed in shape. Basically I rode the bike 200 miles a week, ran 20-25 miles and swam one to two and half miles a week,” says Caruso.
“Preparing for an Ironman takes a tremendous about of time and I didn’t want it to take a lot of time away from family. So I would get up and two or three in the morning and get my workout in before the kids got up to go to school.”
Like so many other ironmen, Caruso started in the sport of triathlon five years ago with local events and eventually worked his way to half ironmans.
“I felt I was ready in 2019 and again 2020. I had confidence that my training would carry me. I was ready when we heard that Ironman Lake Placid 2021 was going to be held because I had to do it,” said Caruso.
“It is our local Ironman and Lake Placid is one of the best in the world. In terms of Ironman, it is royalty.”
He posted a 12:10 time with a 2.4 mile 1:17 swim, a 6:10 112-mile bike leg and a 4:20 26.2-mile run to place 300th overall and 42nd in the Men’s 35-40 age group division.
“I was very happy with my time. My goal was around 12 hours and I would have been disappointed if I couldn’t finish in less than 13 hours,” said Caruso. “When I reached the finish I was very emotional. It was personal challenge and I fulfilled it. And I felt fine the next day, I went out and had a normal day.”
He plans to stay involved in the sport of triathlon balancing it with his medical career and his family life.
“I love my family. They are my greatest supporters and I love my job where I get to help people. Ironman is a great way to inspire people to challenge themselves and go out and meet that challenge,” says Caruso.
“Since I did the Ironman I have had people call me, congratulate me and ask my advice on how they can lose weight or get into better shape. I am really happy to do that and I encourage people to challenge themselves with a goal and go out and do it.”