A little bit about you (profession, hobbies, athletic background, etc.):
I am a U.S. Marine Officer who lives in the Mojave High Desert and has been through enough of the world and it’s timely events to know that the more you experience – the more you realize you haven’t seen much. With 19 years under the belt that that were validated in the last 6 years with 3 tours in Iraq -I have only one last Afghanistan effort I wish to contribute in 2010.
After that I plan to honorably depart the Marine Corps and follow my next goal: My aspiration to be a writer. I reckon experiencing things reaches a balancing culmination with settin’ down and writin’ the myriad stories that come from that wellspring.
I began my athletic career on Long Island, New York in the end of the first golden age of running in the 1970s… enamored with the likes of Mills, PreFontaine, Shorter, Galloway, Gregorek, DeRosa and even the legacy of the Jim Ryan era. I was a pure runner by default, since our community did not have a pool (though the ocean was part of out life on Long Island). And let’s just say NY traffic and weather were not conducive for a cycling culture. It took me relative-eons to catch on, let alone discover, the multi-sport lifestyle for competition and then pure fun & long term fitness.
When did you complete your first triathlon (and if you’ve completed more than one, how many)?
I completed my first triathlon in 1993. Like I said, it took close to 15 years to crack the code on the existence of this thing called ‘triathlon’. And that was while I was living in Malaysia. I lucked out with a good tri-coach ‘finding me’ out as opposed to the other way around. He was Chan Chee Seng, former Malaysian Olympian from the 1962 Tokyo Olympics (another super story itself).
I did the Port Dixon Half Ironman, The Borneo International Triathlon, and the Singapore International Triathlon. It was at this last race in 2003, that I had the distinct pleasure of getting whooped by a then much younger, now well known, pro by the name of Spencer Smith. He is a great guy and competitor to this day. But that day and that race clinched the bug for me.
Since then I have completed two Ironmans, four Half Ironmans, and just stopped counting the innumerable Olympic distance triathlons. If it were not for the constant demand over the last 19 years for Marines in deployable circumstances I would have done much more. Somehow, despite the combat deployment tempo, I was still good enough to compete on the All-Marine Triathlon Team 4 times since 1999. And am currently on the 2009 Team.
What inspires you to train/compete?
I am internally driven and highly competitive in all things. But I never let that hard-wiring dominate relationships or become a point of even subtle contention. I long ago reached the point that training and competing are about how hard you can safely drive yourself and the internal barriers you can crash through. Athletic Competition is the most noble and honorably bloodless form of combat – where at the end of the day we hoist beer or wine and revel, honor and pay homage to each other’s race experience. If life is about the journey not the destination -then assuredly triathlon is about the benefits of the training as opposed to the race itself.
What is your favorite thing about the sport?
I have lots of favorites about the sport encompassing the life-long health benefits of the training, the competitive camaraderie and energy in the atmosphere of the events, the wonderful places near and far you can go to race. Two favorites stand out though: The Competitive and the training benefits. From the competitive aspect the best thing is a three venue forum which levels the playing field for competitors who almost definitely do not have the same match-off strengths. The longer the race…the more the equalizer effect kicks in and the more the race becomes a ‘fairer’ competition. Meaning the superior swimmer’s advantage is negated or diluted by the superior cyclist and the superior runner’s gifts do the same to both if the race is long enough. My other favorite is the training aspect. Three aerobic planes in your tool kit to train in on any given day -most useful if you need a break from a leg or shoulder injury, and you want to keep training on one of the other two venues.
What’s your least favorite thing?
My least favorite thing is of course all the darn work I do on my weak leg -the swim. I love to swim and I continually improve -but getting ‘shwacked’ by better or gifted swimmers is demoralizing. That is changing in my case, albeit slowly, but the good thing is the more the time I spend on my least favorite thing – the more it becomes my favorite thing.
What is the best advice you ever received regarding the sport of triathlon?
As I boarded the plane departing Malaysia in 1994, saying goodbye to my first triathlon coach…I vowed to him that I would stick with the sport. He looked at me with a sad look and said, “Many say they will, but few do.” Well, its been 15 years and I am still with it. It’s a sport of of continuity and longevity – that is the advice and lesson.
Share your top three (or one, or ten) training tips:
Top training tips? Well, as former USAT, USAC, USATF, and ASCA coach I submit the following:
- Train your weak leg -and train it with compulsive focus -BUT train it with quality coaching and non-competitive pressure. Technique, technique, technique. Give yourself one dedicated full year to focusing on that weak leg as you enjoy racing that season. Commit yourself that racing season to the measures of success being measured in that leg’s improvements.
- The other tip is for us runners: I love to run, but as I get older…I experimented with maintaining my run gifts WITHOUT running the volumes I used to do. To compensate for less running volume…I increased my cycling volume. At 43 it is working superbly. My run is as good as it was at 30 and my cycling benefits as well. But it took great resolve to do less of my favorite thing -to maintain its magic in race efforts and all my joints’ capacity to sustain me through further years of running for sheer enjoyment.
- The secret bonus tip is about dogs and cats: They enrich your life, make great friends and training partners. Yes. Cats can be great training partners just as much as dogs! They may not do the runs (or swims ACK!) with you, but when you need the relaxation-they provide a friend and a form that is uniquely valuable and affectionate.
How do you stay motivated?
We Marines have many sayings but one of my most used is: There is time enough to sleep when your’e dead. Every day is gift and I stay motivated with desire to wring the life out of every day – so much so that I almost hate to go to sleep -even a nap. But I do close those eyes with motivating anticipation of the training and life experiences that are to come the next day.
How has training for or participating in triathlon(s) affected other areas of your life?
I have to admit, there were/are times I have to step back and say…”Too Much” or listen to a friend or peer say too much . I hope that comes when a season comes to an end in the Fall…but life doesn’t always cow-tie. With age comes wisdom -and when I have felt physically worn out, emotionally drained, professionally neglectful, domestically absent…well -you have to recognize when this affects your life. I have gotten better -but maintain more diligence than ever in monitoring balance.
Any words of encouragement for novice or aspiring triathletes?
My words of encouragement are based off my first tri-coach -this is a sport of long term endeavor, hunker down for a wonderful long effort that will make you a better athlete in the long term. You might be good at one or even two of the tri-legs -but there is much growth in cinching down that third leg and incorporating it…then another long effort at longer race distances to integrate…it’s just a lot to ‘Grok’. But hang in there, the result will be short and long term readiness that feed confidence and excitement and will give you many years of challenge and benefits.
Do you have a post-triathlon indulgence?
Post Triathlon race or key tri-workout Indulgence? Oh yeah….starts with a hot tub and beer – then moves on to wonderful wine in the afternoon. My evolution then goes to whatever view the sunset provides with some introspective solace and paying attention to my three wonderful dogs. Next wicket is quality folk, delectably decadent food, great music, dancing if the moon is full, merry folk, quality conversation, and a night of howlin’ at that moon.