The recent focus of our ongoing “Ten Questions With…” series has been on age-group triathetes – the bread and butter of our sport. 99.9% of the folks that do triathlon are age-groupers. Everyday folks like you and me. They have jobs, families, other committments.
Chris Madden is an age-grouper from Florida. He’s only been involved in triathlon for a handful of years, but has realized some real success already. He is a smoking fast runner, but claims the bike as his specialty. His virgin attempt at Ironman netted a super fast sub-eleven hour result.
And so, hold on for this week’s version of Ten Questions With…Age Group Triathlete Chris Madden….
TM: What is your “sports background”? Did you play any sports as a kid?
CM: Believe it or not and contrary to most people that enter the sport of Triathlon I have no sports background at all. Prior to picking up running 4 years ago the last time I ran one mile was in a 6th grade physical education fitness test. That mile felt like the longest 10 minutes of my early life. Team sports never attracted me as a kid and my primary focus was partying with friends through my high school years. In my early 20’s I enjoyed lifting weights, but spending hour after hour in the same gym everyday got old really quick.
TM: Aside from your short stint in weight lifting, what prompted you to leave your sedentary life behind and take up endurance sports?
CM: I would have to say it all began as part of recovery from motorcycle accident my wife and I were involved in June 2005. We were struck by a car making a left turn resulting in injuries that required both us having titanium plates and screws inserted to put our bodies back together. After a year of surgeries on my ankle, leg and shoulder followed by another year of physical therapy I began taking nightly walks. Those walks soon turned into jogging from light pole to light pole then on to one and two miles runs. Once I worked my way up to 3 miles I signed up for my first 5k road race and finished in 21 min and 16 seconds. People kept telling me that was a pretty decent time. I had no idea at the time what was decent. From then on I was bitten. I began to train harder and longer and within a year I completed my first marathon. I’m constantly trying to find that first timers endorphin rush and find great pleasure in tackling the next big obstacle and distance. Endurance sports are highly therapeutic. It is sad to see so many MD’s push pills for stress/anxiety related ailments. A little sweat can cure most anything.
TM: When did you pick up triathlon, and what was your motivation to do so?
CM: I picked up triathlon in mid 2008. My only real motivation at that point was to offset running with other ways to stay active. A friend told me about a local sprint race and the rest is history. I have a very addictive personality and anyone close to the sport will tell you that Triathlon is addictive. I remember how nervous I was doing my first sprint. I still get butterflies in my stomach before each race today, but I love hearing the gun go off, because from that point on there is no turning back. All you can do is channel all that nervous energy into giving it your all.
TM: You’ve raced each of the race distances, with some pretty impressive PR’s. (1:05 sprint, 2:28 Oly, 5:08 70.3, and 10:47 IM). What is your favorite race distance and why?
CM: I’m leaning more towards 70.3 and Ironman distances. While Sprints and Olympics and are quick and leave ample time for post race celebrations (drinking beer and indulging at Five Guys), the longer distances force you to pace yourself and slow down. By doing so you take more of the event in, enjoying it and have a chance to reflect on the all the reasons you love to compete.
TM: Swim. Bike. Or Run. If you had a free day, which would you pick first?
CM: Bike, it’s my strongest discipline. If I were willing to give as much on the run and swim as I do on the bike I’d be a much more rounded athlete.
TM: What are you most proud of thus far in your triathlon career?
CM: I would probably have to say completing my first Ironman distance race. I mean it is the ultimate distance in the sport. Completing the event under my goal time and with my family by my side for support and encouragement makes it by far my proudest moment.
TM: What does an average training week look like for you ?
CM: It all depends on the next distance race I’m training for. Sometimes I follow a strict plan and sometimes I just try to stay active. I have found that adhering to a strict step-cycle/periodization plan can reap big performance gains. However, at the same time I think over analyzing and over thinking your plan can interfere with your passion for the sport. Bottom line, you do it because you like/love it. I am not nor will I ever be a pro so I try not to take it too seriously and just have fun with it. That said, I usually include one “off day” a week. The rest of the week includes 1 to 2 workouts a day. Speed and specificity on weekdays and long/endurance workouts on the weekends. During my Ironman training I was at it 16-20 hours week during peak weeks. As far as food goes, I don’t deprive myself of much, but in general, I try to make healthy choices.
TM: Have you made any big “rookie” mistakes or had any big embarrassing moments in this sport?
CM: Well a couple… On one cold 28 degree morning (that is cold for us Floridians) I was up early and off to my masters swim practice at 5:30 AM. I get to practice at the recreation center which consists of a heated outdoor pool and like the other swimmers I’m frantically undressing, ready to plunge into the 82 degree water. As I begin to pull down my sweats I realize something is drastically wrong. On occasion I forget my goggles sometimes my towel, but on this morning the cold rush on my you know what clued me into the fact that I forgot a much more critical piece of gear. You guessed it, my suit. Luckily no one else saw my idiotic mistake and I slipped out of practice unnoticed. I only did that once. Another notable moment, I was competing in the 2010 USAT Age Group National Championship, as I was running out of T2 trying to adjust my garmin watch I wasn’t paying attention and shouldered some poor woman so hard I knocked her down. I felt like such a tool because I didn’t even stop. I looked for her, with no luck, after the race to apologize.
TM: Do you have a “bucket list” of dream races or race locations that you’d like to cross off? If so, what/where would those be?
CM: Well of course to race Kona World Championships one day – Probably have to be by lotto. Ironman St Croix 70.3. Alcatraz. Maybe something in Africa or South America.
TM: What does the rest of this season look like for you?
CM: I have been taking it pretty easy so far this year. Mostly Sprints and Olympic distance races. The rest of the season holds two more local races. Another Olympic and my first non-WTC sanctioned 70.3, The Atlantic Coast Triathlon. I’m looking forward to cooler weather and training for this winters marathons.