At 75, world-class triathlete says it's all about the consistency

Mar. 22—WATERTOWN — Timothy J. Reardon is a triathlete for the ages.

He's competed at local and global-levels, including at two Ironman world championships. He hasn't stopped swimming, running, cycling and weight training since he took up triathlons in his late 30s. Reardon, who turned 75 on March 10, is now planning for a season of sprint triathlons. Over the years, he hasn't been beaten in his age group in those races for quite a while. Now, he finishes ahead of most 60-year-olds.

Reardon's roaring get-up-and-go nature invites one to catch up with him and to ask, "What is your motivation?"

"I'm competitive. I like to compete against people of all ages," he said at a March 5 interview at Dunkin' on Washington Street, taking time out from an unseasonably warm day that would later find him on his Litespeed titanium road bike. "And I push myself. I like individual sports. I like where I do what I've got to do and take it as far as I want to take it."

Prior to his triathlete days, Reardon, who only dabbled in organized school sports at Sacred Heart and Watertown High School, was a serious racquetball player, winning city championships in the sport for several years. He would also spend hours launching the ball at a wall in solo practice sessions. In his late 30s, a friend told him that he had begun swimming at Watertown High School, and invited Reardon, who could barely swim at the time, to join him.

"We started swimming together, and he said he was going to do a triathlon," Reardon recalled.

The triathlon, held in Red Mills, located between Ogdensburg and Lisbon, was nearly a disaster for Reardon.

"I almost drowned," he said. "The St. Lawrence was cold and we didn't have wet suits at the time and I got hypothermia."

But he pushed on with the cycling and running part of that sprint triathlon. "I still finished thirty-third or something out of 350, with my problem in the water."

But he became hooked on triathlons. "I did one in Massena two weeks later."

Reardon and a group of buddies would then take part in weekly sprint triathlons, held Monday evenings, following the work day, in Lake Placid — a three-hour drive from Watertown. "The race started at 6 o'clock," Reardon said. "You'd rush up there and get back at 11:30 or 12 that night. We were all in."

The first few years into his triathlons, Reardon and his associates maintained a frantic pace. "We would race on a Saturday (Red Mills) and then we'd go over to Vermont for what they called a regional race on a Sunday, and then we'd be back in Lake Placid on a Monday," he said.

Reardon's training schedule became and continues to be one of consistency.

"Swimming is like once you take off where you can get a little bit of endurance in your muscles with rhythm and timing, you can swim forever. But the other question is: 'How can you get faster?' Swimming, biking, running, any sport — it's just consistency."

He typically swims three days a week, and that consistency was demonstrated while the new Family YMCA Community Center was under construction. It opened in December, complete with various pools. Meanwhile, the previous 109-year-old lap pool at the old YMCA pool on Washington Street closed in the summer of 2022.

"All of last year, I commuted to Indian River at 5 o'clock in the morning to get up there to swim for the hour they were open," Reardon said. "Or in the summer, I spent a lot of time in Clayton, at that pool."

He runs twice a week. "That's probably the best bang for your buck to get your cardio up, versus on the bike, where you've got to push pretty hard to get your heart rate up."

He keeps careful track of how his body responds to all his workouts.

"You train in zones as far as how hard you are pushing your body," Reardon said.

His heart rate is monitored and his bike gear records power output and pedaling cadence. In the past several years, he's averaged between 5,000 and 6,000 annual miles on his bike — split between road miles and his indoor trainer, to which he attaches his bike.

He usually does one or two 100-mile bike rides (centuries) a year. "I just ride it. If I stop, it's usually just to get some hydration," he said. "I would say most of what I do is not recreational, meaning, I don't go 'Wow! That's great, beautiful scenery.' I might do a little bit more of that this year because I'm going to ride gravel with a bunch of others. That will be a little different."


In 2014, at the Ironman 70.3 World Championship held at Mount-Tremblant, Quebec, Reardon finished 10th in the 65-69 age group, finishing at 5:45:03. A 70.3 Ironman race, also called a half-Ironman, refers to the total distance in miles covered in the race, consisting of a 1.2-mile swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run. It was the same year he finished first in his age group (65-69) in a Syracuse 70.3 Ironman race.

In 2001, Reardon ventured to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for the International Triathlon Union's Olympic Distance (1.5km swim, 40KM bike ride, and 10K run) World Championships. He finished 14th in just over 2 hours, 15 minutes in the 50-54 age group. Overall, he placed 351 in a field of approximately 1,000 competitors.

He's eyeing several triathlons for this year. He didn't compete in any last year due to a knee injury.

Reardon is naturally grateful he's able to still do the events. "It's a lifestyle. I plugged this in since I was into racquetball. It's just consistency. You've got to plug these things in, if life allows you to. A lot of times it doesn't. My wife (Jacquelyn) is probably the biggest thing ever as far as allowing me to get away with it."

He recalled that for a few years, his wife would attend the triathlons at places such as Lake Placid. She would only be able to see him compete as he switched stages in quick glances — less than 2 minutes total.

"And then after you are done, all these nimrods are over there talking about the race, which she had no connection. Eventually, she said, 'Ah, go ahead.' She didn't mind me going. That's a very important piece of it right there."

When Reardon isn't training, he works part time at the insurance agency which he retired from 10 years ago, Haylor, Freyer & Coon, Inc., and where he was an account manager. Now he does data input for a handful of hours each week

Reardon is a 1967 graduate of Watertown High School. A few months before graduation, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. During the Vietnam War, he served aboard the USS Meredith. He also served in the Navy reserves — a total of five years of duty.

Reardon said this could be his last year of triathlons. "I plan on smelling a little bit more of the roses — enjoying it a little more."

But other sports await. He has a new gravel-specific bike and he'd like to play more pickle ball. But readers be warned: "I like to play competitively."