For Troy Olhausen, his vision of life after 50 became crystal clear after doctors discovered a 40-percent blockage in the left descending artery of his heart. “They call it the widow maker,” says the former firefighter-paramedic turned entrepreneur.
“We don’t realize how quickly age-related illnesses can affect our bodies. Then all of a sudden, you start hitting your mid- to late-60s, and even if you want to be active, you can’t.”
Prime of Life
So Olhausen took the bull by the horns, quite literally (more on that in a minute), and makes the adventurous life a priority these days. “Now is the prime of my life. I’m young enough, and in shape enough that I can enjoy life,” he says.
It wasn’t always that way. Olhausen climbed the fire and emergency medical services career ladder in Tucson, Arizona as an operations director for a private fire and ambulance company.
In the late 1990s, he left the industry and joined Motorola as a sales manager and 911 systems expert assigned to accounts in Asia. The travel became too much for this father of three with a young family, so he returned to the U.S. full-time and embarked on his journey as a business owner.
Olhausen launched his own diabetic supply company and was at the helm of that company for nearly 15 years before it was acquired in 2013.
Down to Business
“When I started my own business, I worked a lot and spent time with my kids,” Olhausen says. “I stopped exercising. And what made me realize I needed to be active again was my kids’ high-school years.”
He tells a story about his middle son transferring schools and looking to connect with new friends. He did that through sports. “I remember running with him to get into shape. I couldn’t even run ½ mile at first. But I stayed focused. The next day, I ran one house further. The next day, two houses further. I went from a ½ mile to a marathon in 15 months.”
As the saying goes, one thing leads to another, and before he knew it, Olhausen had signed up for the Ironman Arizona triathlon, where he would swim 2.4 miles, bike 112 miles and run a full marathon of 26.2 miles. “I didn’t know how to swim, and I didn’t have a bike. But I could run. So I took swimming lessons and hired a triathlon coach.” He finished his first Ironman in 12:28:06.
So how serious is he about the sport? “You know, I just have a good time. The race is so much mental. Miserable is just really in your head.” Since then, he has finished two more Ironman triathlons.
Mind Over Matter
“If I can do it, anyone can do it. It’s in your mindset,” Olhausen says. “Just get up and do something. Go for a walk if that’s all you can do. Run as far and you can another day and then walk home.
Olhausen’s zest for life’s adventures doesn’t stop at pushing triathlon limits to the max. He parachuted for the first time on his 50th birthday. “Jumping out of a plane was the biggest fear I could conquer,” he says. He recalls the anticipation as the plane ascended that day and he jokingly asking his tandem partner to make it an experience he would remember. “I was looking out the plane windows and saying, ‘I’m just going to jump. I’m going to do it.’”
Once his tandem partner leapt from the plane with Olhausen strapped to his chest, all fear was gone and the exhilaration of the jump took over.
“I’ve never wanted to be so close to a guy in my life.” As they plummeted from the sky, his partner did as asked and maneuvered the parachute into spins, flips and dives.
“I hugged him after we landed. It was the craziest experience!” he says. The best news is, Olhausen gets to do it again. He promised his daughter a skydiving experience for her 18th birthday.
Olhausen also takes his adventures to the ground. He and his daughter ran with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain on a father-daughter summer excursion across Europe. And he recently bought a race car so they can do desert races as a team. “I am so fortunate to be able to live this way,” Olhausen says with gratitude. “I’m an all-in kind of guy. I do these things to create memories with my kids – they are still my priority.”
As many mid-lifers can attest, there comes a point where you begin to assess your accomplishments, your life – both personal and professional – and ask, “What’s next?”
“My problem is I don’t know what to do when I grow up,” Olhausen says. He has considered culinary school, or maybe a trip to Costa Rica to explore the culture there. “I’ve been lucky. The way I look at it, I still have a lot of life to live and want to enjoy what I have now.”