“I didn’t make the podium for my age group, but I did pretty good,” Dr. Simms says. “I got really interested and wanted to do better. I decided I needed a new bike and wetsuit. Then it grew into an obsession.”
‘The race is the motivation for doing the training & also the icing on the cake. It’s the journey to get there that really keeps me at this.’ —Dr. Simms
Process Over Results
For more than 20 years, Dr. Simms has competed in triathlons all over the world, including 18 Ironman competitions, long-distance triathlon races that push people’s spirit, energy and ability to the edge with a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and 26.2-mile marathon run, raced in that order and—as if that weren’t enough—without a break. The average triathlete finishes the race in about 12 hours and 35 minutes. Dr. Simms’ time falls right in line—between 12 and 14 hours, depending on the weather, course, his health status and preparation for the race.
Over the years, he has worked with three different coaches, but is now self-coached. “Most coaches don’t understand the aging athlete,” says 63-year-old Dr. Simms, who also races mountain bikes and road bikes, and competes in a new sport, gravel racing (racing bikes on dirt roads). Most coaches “don’t give you enough recovery time from training. I learned by trial and error what I need to do to get to the starting line in one piece without getting injured, overfatigued or burned out. The major thing is having fun during training.”
Competing extends beyond fun. Every time he crosses a finish line, he says he feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment and confidence that he can overcome anything that life throws his way. It keeps him on an even keel, he says, and puts everything into perspective.
“Competing in any Ironman triathlon really gives you a sense that nothing is impossible,” says Dr. Simms, who traveled in June 2018 to Nice, France, to compete in another triathlon. “You have to relish the journey more than the outcome in order to have fun and keep doing this over a long period of time.”
Carol Patton is a freelance writer based in Las Vegas.
Neurology vs. Rheumatology
1980: Graduated from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
1981: Completed internship at Weill Cornell Medicine
1982: Completed first year of residency at Weill Cornell
1982–1984: Served as a general internist in underserved areas of Boston for the National Health Service Corps
1984–1985: Completed residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
1987: Completed rheumatology fellowship at Boston University
1988: Joined the faculty at Boston University