You may know him as “that guy from the Bachelorette,” but this 37-year-old dad of two wears a few more hats: father, husband, lieutenant in the Vail Fire Department, former pro football player and endurance athlete. He’s also slightly easy on the eyes and has two twins I call his biceps.
Ironman Lake Placid – 2010
Finish Time: 11:06:37
This endurance junkie is always looking for the next challenge. He’s found satisfaction in combining his passion for digging deep and pushing himself to the limit, with raising money for a charity close to his heart – First Descents (a free outdoor program for young adult cancer fighters and survivors).
When I heard about Ryan’s newest brush with insanity – doing the 100 Mile Leadville Mountain Bike Race (August 11 ) and three days later running the 6-day GoreTex TransRockies Run (120 miles) – I wanted to see just what makes this guy tick. We spoke by phone yesterday.
You are crazy. Why two back-to-back brutal races? Over a period of nine days you will cover 220 miles and climb a total of 36,000 feet.
I’m driven by watching young adults with cancer overcome so many adversities. I enjoy the aspect of challenging myself physically. You reach a point where the physical body wants to stop, so you've got to have a mental strategy. This builds a strength that can be applied to other parts of life. For me, it’s about personal growth and I guess this is one of the selfish reasons I do these races. (Sutter is doing both of these events to benefit First Descents and his friend, Ethan Zohn’s charity Grassroot Soccer).
You talk about your physical body wanting to quit, but your mind working to keep you in the game. What are your strategies for digging deep when you want to quit?
I start to think about how fortunate I am to be out there. I don’t want to squander any opportunities. I know there are people who are unable do things (due to illness, etc.). I recognize the pain, but quitting is never an option. It doesn't even enter the equation. My biggest challenge has just been getting older. I know when I get to the finish line, then I can rest.
How did you train for these two races simultaneously?
I’ve done the Leadville 100 three times before and it takes me about 8 ½ hours. I do most of my cardio training in on the bike. I am not a great distance runner. Getting older, I only have so much left in my legs, so most of my running training focused on hills and climbing. My partner for the TransRockies will be a friend from the fire department. We’re not planning on having a blistering pace, just pacing ourselves well and keeping it manageable.
How do you fuel while training?
When I first started doing endurance races, I had no regard for nutrition. Now I know it affects performance. It’s hard for me to eat solid foods while I run, so I use gels a lot. After a work out, I drink a Gatorade recovery shake and have a good meal. Plus lots of rest (he also likes ice baths and compression stuff – see HERE).
You’ve got two young children, a marriage and a demanding job. How do you balance training with your other commitments?
The key is prioritizing. There is a fine line you can’t cross when it comes to family. First, I ask my wife. I want to make sure that Trista is okay with whatever goals I have. Sometimes you have to compromise your goals. At one point I wanted to see if I could train to run a sub 3 hour marathon (his PR is 3:18). But when I looked into what this would take, I decided it wasn’t that important. One of the cool things about training and racing is seeing my kids take interest in what I’m doing. Trista is really supportive and the family comes to most of my races. They enjoy being at the finish line!
You’ve done two Ironmans – Kona (2004) and Lake Placid (2010). You’ve also done the NYC Marathon twice and the Boston Marathon once. Which is tougher, marathon or Ironman?
My first marathon (NYC) and my first 100 mile Leadville mountain bike race were both pure pain by the end. In this sense these races were tougher than an Ironman. But, the Ironman is harder mentally, just being out there for 11 hours.
Boston Marathon 2012
Finish time: 3:36
I’d love to do the Leadville Race Series (which would include the 100 mile ultra marathon plus much, much more). I think I’ll see how these other races go first, though. It’s definitely on my radar.
Do people still call you “the guy from The Bachelorette”?
Yes, especially when we visit the mid-west people recognize us. When I was on the show, I was told I’d be recognized for three to six months. But it’s ten years later and still happening!
Would you do another reality show?
Sure, I’m open minded about that as long as it doesn’t compromise family time. I love the opportunity to meet new people. You only live once!