Larry Wyatt, all around super hero!. By day a theme park designer, off hours a medal-winning triathlete. You may see him walking the aisles at IAAPA sporting a dashing cane. Never fear, it’s just the new bionic knee he had installed this week. Larry and team will be in force at IAAPA ’17. Looking forward to seeing everyone!
Read the recent Q&A with Larry Wyatt and his background on being a triathlete – in his spare time. He highly recommends exercise as a way to keep sane in this crazy world of ours.
Q: Hey, Larry, what’s up with this knee replacement? How are you doing?
A: Well, mine was a partial knee replacement—called “uni-compartmental knee arthroplasty”. I basically have a titanium and polyethelene implant replacing half my knee joint. The rest of the knee remains natural, so it’s not as serious as a full replacement. Even after over 30 years of mostly running events, the part of the knee that was replaced is due to a non-sport injury more than 10 years ago. It only recently began to surface in my training sessions and races and become painful. After just a week and a half, recovery is going very fast, so I have already graduated to ½ mile walks with a cane, and soon plan to ditch that, too. My PT says my level of fitness before surgery has been a huge factor in a quick recovery. I am way ahead of the norm.
Q: I heard you have been a competitive triathlete the past several years. What’s the backstory?
A: It’s really part of who I am. I was a multi-sport athlete in high school, but was most successful in track distance races. I went to college on a partial scholarship in cross country and track, then began cycle road racing. After my college days, I continued to compete in 10Ks and Half-Marathons until we moved to LA where I discovered mountain biking. It was the sport most like cross country and I loved it. I found I was immediately competitive in my age group and won several medals before trying a triathlon in 2000. That one tri hooked me. I hadn’t considered combining my competitive swimming cycling, and running into one event. The variety of training—doing different things each day—is great for balancing the stress of training throughout the body. Each race is a remarkable staging event—really something to see — with several thousand entries, pro sponsors, and top-quality athletes, but I have been fortunate to finish on the podium a few times (top 5 finishers in each age category):
4th in Age Group – Catalina 2001
3rd in Age Group LA Triathlon International 2011
2nd in Age Group Catalina Triathlon 2011
4th in Age Group Malibu Triathlon September 2017
Q: Doesn’t this take a lot of time?
A: Well, I am not training to finish an Ironman—-just to keep general fitness, stay healthy, and have fun. Anything beyond an International Distance tri (1 mile swim, 25 mile bike, 6.2mi run) is out of my league. I spend about 1-1 ½ hours a day during the week, and 2-3 hours on weekends. At least that’s always the goal. Because of travel and project demands, I must often forego training sessions—sometimes for several days before picking it up again. I put it in perspective—it’s not a career, it’s a hobby. It clears my mind of stress and helps me sleep. I am actually way more energetic when I am training than when I am not. But If fitting it in becomes stressful, I just skip it.
Q: Didn’t you medal in a triathlon just before your surgery?
A: I did well enough in this year’s Malibu Classic Triathlon in September to finish 4th in my age group, so I was pretty pleased with that finish considering I was barely able to run at all in the two months before the race. That last 4-mile run was super-painful, but I knew it would be the last on my natural knee and had no idea how the well the replacement would go so I had a little extra incentive to grit it out.
Q: Guess we can’t ever count you out then?
A: Ha! I hope not….I just get so much joy and pleasure from being in great shape, eating well, and being able to compete with others my age. I find it’s great life balance to the stress and pressures of owning and managing a design company in our competitive world of entertainment design. But honestly, I couldn’t engage in this little hobby of mine if I didn’t have support and understanding from my family and my colleagues at Wyatt Design Group. My wife, Susan, is also a fitness-geek and really gets it, our daughter has strength training daily and is a runner, pole vaulter and long jumper. At the office, there are several who regularly hit the gym or train for events. As long as I get my training sessions in early in the mornings no one seems to notice I am not “on the job.” Things tend to work out if people around you are understanding and you are creative and flexible with your time.