Joco Sports

Overland Park pediatrician Robert Schloegel stays fit by competing in triathlons

Robert Schloegel has been competing in triathlons for years and has experienced considerable success.

And then there’s his day job, as a full-time pediatrician in private practice in Overland Park.

“Some of my patients and families know I do triathlons and others don’t,” Schloegel, 49, said. “Working with kids and teenagers each day is the best. I have an opportunity to help the next generation live healthy lives and encourage exercise whenever I can.”

Schloegel completed his 12th Ironman World Championship triathlon in Hawaii on Oct. 12. And the event wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.

It consisted of a 2.4-mile ocean swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run — not an undertaking for your average guy.

Not without training, anyway.

“This (2013) wasn’t my best year,” Schloegel said. “My best finish was in 2011, when I finished fourth in my age group and earned a place on the podium.”

Schloegel has already qualified for the 2014 Ironman event, which will mark the 25th anniversary of his first Hawaii Ironman in 1989.

“There have been several other top 10 age-group finishes,” he said, “with times ranging from 9 hours and 24 minutes to 10:15.”

Schloegel attended Rockhurst High, where he ran cross country and track for a couple of years but “was by no means a star.”

“I did get my varsity letter,” he added, “but I lacked any real focus on running at that time.”

That changed when Schloegel started in triathlons in 1986.

“The sport was just getting started and I thought it would be a challenge and a good way to burn off some weight gain from my college years,” he said. “I had run quite a bit and knew how to ride a bike, but like so many people starting triathlons, I couldn’t swim laps.”

He committed to learning how to swim and qualified for his first Hawaii Ironman in 1989, while he was still in medical school.

What followed was a 10-year hiatus between Ironmans as he completed his residency, got married and had three kids.

“I decided to do another Ironman,” he said. “It had been a long time since my first Ironman and I had not done any triathlons for seven years.”

After easing his way back, he has since enjoyed some sustained satisfaction ... and success.

“I have gotten so much from the sport,” he said. “I am so privileged to have raced in Hawaii 12 times and I feel that to be my greatest accomplishment.

“Nothing beats successfully finishing a race you train so hard for. You learn that consistency in training and perseverance against the elements pays off in the end. It is extremely fulfilling and gives one the feeling that they can accomplish most anything, if they put in the time and effort.”

It isn’t easy balancing family life, career and training for triathlons. But Schloegel wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It is something I strive for every day,” he said. “I am always thinking of ways to get a workout in so it doesn’t impact my doctor duties or my family life.”