Meet Dustin, our Head of Partnerships for the UAE within our ENTERTAINER business team. He's already completed two Half Ironman competitions, and has three to look forward to (and work hard for) very soon! Here, he explains the challenges he faces when training for the competitions, how he pushes himself, and how his discipline benefits his working life, too. This is his #myENTERTAINERstory.
What inspired you to start training (and competing)?
I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes 10 years ago and it has become a core part of my identity, but in the best way possible – it has taught me to enjoy life to the fullest. I’ve always been a competitor but Type 1 has motivated me to pursue my dreams time and time again. This is how I got into training for the triathlon when I joined the ENTERTAINER in April 2017. Donna walked over to my desk, said that she was entering the entire company into The Roy Nasr Sprint Triathlon, and asked me whether I could swim, bike or run. I did not want to disappoint her, so I said that I could do it all - and since then I have never looked back.
I have now completed several triathlons, a Half Ironman in Dubai, a Half Ironman in Durban, South Africa, and I have booked in to do Half Ironman in Bahrain on 8th December, Half Ironman in Dubai on 2nd February and Half Ironman in Muscat on 1st March.
What’s it really like to complete an Ironman?
The 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon was designed to be one of the longest, most grueling athletic competitions in the world. It takes three difficult events — 1.9km swim, 90km bike ride, 21.1 km run — and combines them into one. Diabetes is my fourth event! It’s really a “quadrathlon” for me — swim, bike, run, and blood sugar. That’s four different things that I am trying to master and manage, and any of those can go wrong. If the swim, the bike or the run parts go wrong, I can sometimes make it up on the others, but if I get the blood sugar wrong, it’s race over!
- The swim
The first event is a 1.9km open water swim. There are 1,000 people all lined up on the beach and once that siren goes everyone races into the water. The swim takes me about 30 minutes to do 1.9km. The swim is my strongest part of the race and I often come out of the water in the top 10. They will let athletes stay in the water for up to 1.5 hours.
When I come out of the water, I go to the transition area, rip off my wetsuit, put on cycling shoes and my helmet, check my blood sugar, and jump on the bike. It takes about 90 seconds to 2 minutes to transition to the bike. I’ll check my blood sugar during the transition between swim and bike. I’ve just swam 1.9km and I’m about to bike 90km, so I’ve got to know what my blood sugar is!
- The cycle
Cycling is where I have to do most of my fueling over the course of 2.5/3 hours. We can’t draft in Ironman; we can be no closer than 7 meters behind the athlete in front of us. If an athlete wants to pass me, they have to go around me. There’s an official watching to see how long they stay in my draft zone. We get no chase vehicles or any form of outside assistance in the Ironman. I usually check my sugars every 30 min on the bike.
- The run
After the bike portion, it’s straight into transition where I exchange my bike for my running shoes. Then I have to run a half marathon! It’s the hardest part of the race for me. It’s where I’m fighting to keep my blood sugar from getting too low, but I’m also fighting to keep under 5min per km. The run part is not about who runs it the fastest, it’s about who slows down the least.
- The finish line
I try to cross the finish line in less than 5:30 hours or so, collapse into the arms of the officials or my wife and rehydrate. My blood sugar at the end is usually low.
the ENTERTAINER takes part in the Roy Nasr Triathlon, Dubai
How can a newbie get started today?
If you want to do a triathlon, but aren’t sure you can do it, rest assured – you can train for your first one in just 3 months. There are countless triathlon training programs you can use to get started on. There are also quite a few training groups that one can join here in Dubai.
The way I got into it:
SWIMMING – Download the Urban Energy App. You can book a swim time and a group lesson through the App. I highly recommend Brett as a swim coach who has improved my swimming tenfold.
RUNNING – Luckily for me, there were plenty of gyms I could go to on the ENTERTAINER to practice – when gym sessions are half the price, it makes it that bit easier!
CYCLING – Like the Cycle Hub Facebook page and you will get all details through their page. They also organize group rides on Friday and Saturday mornings. 3 groups – Beginners, Intermediate and Advanced. And of course, they are also on the App, so anyone needing to hire bikes can do it for half the price.
Another great TRI community is at Optimal Fitness based in Studio City. Its run by David Labouchere who is an Ironman World Champion who offers advice around the cycling and running.
Or, like us in the office, why not grab some colleagues and encourage one another to do it together?
What’s more difficult, the physical or mental aspect of training & competing?
Toughen the mind to toughen the body.
You are very disciplined when it comes to preparing for your competitions. How do you manage your work-life balance in the run up to the event?
This is really important. I have a coach who is based in South Africa who sets my daily training plans. This also helps with feedback for each session. I try to keep them to maximum 1 hour each day with a longer session early on a Friday morning.
My competitive nature does not just stop at training and competing, but it helps in my work-life at the ENTERTAINER. I work in the ENTERTAINER business team, and look after the UAE partnerships. I work in a great team who are all motivated with growing the business in all aspects. Being strict with my training helps me apply the same strict routine to my day in the office. We all work closely as a team in order to bring in the business - no doubt we'll end 2018 on a high note!
Other career benefits of endurance training include:
- Organisation - I don’t only make sure my gym bag is packed every night, but I also ensure every work meeting is in the diary. Being organised is one of the most effective skills that attributes to my success. When I am organised, I think more clearly and I am in tune with the client and better skilled to provide a solution to their objectives.
- Focus - Just like reaching the finish line, at work I try and focus on the end goal of securing the deal.
- Determination - As in sport or a triathlon I am always determined to reach the end goal in the most efficient and effective way possible. By being efficient and determined, the UAE business team has proven time and time again that we are able to find a resolution, overcome obstacles and bring in the business.
How does working for the ENTERTAINER encourage & support your training?
Thankfully, when I’m lacking a little motivation, I can rely on my colleagues and the ideas of our HR team to keep me going. We recently celebrated wellness month, which involved everything from in-office yoga sessions to health check-ups – and we’ve even had nutritionists in to give us some great advice, too!
We hold our own annual ENTERTAINER global bowling tournament, where all employees from each office across the world head to their nearest bowling alley to compete for the title, and of course, preparation for the Roy Nasr triathlon starts early each year. These events bring great spirit to the team. And of course, in addition to all of the above, I must admit that the best thing about working for the ENTERTAINER is my free VIP key to unlock all of the fitness offers (and 2-for-1 on main courses at some great healthy restaurants).