Huge Announcement: I’m turning Pro!

After months of planning and preparation, numerous high dollar donations to governing bodies, and in depth negotiations with my sponsors and family, I’ve decided that – and am very proud to announce – that I am changing careers and becoming a professional triathlete, effective immediately.

Mrs. Tri Madness and I have recently sold our house here in Florida, and will be moving into a slightly used, 1968 VW bus camper van.  We will be home schooling our children while we travel the country to participate in races.  I have struck an agreement with Wal Mart which will allow us to live and stay rent-free in the parking lots of thousands of Wal-Marts across North America.

I will be competing in 100 events over the remainder of this season, culminating in my entry into both Kona this October and the Rev3 series championship in May 2015.  Both WTC and Rev3 have agreed to create a special professional category to reflect my unique abilities and skills.

Team TriMadness is very excited to further announce that as part of our sponsorship agreements with PowerBar, the TriMadness family will exclusively consume PowerBar product for the totality of our nutrition needs.

In order to hone my triathlon-related skills, Team TriMadness has entered into coaching agreements with a variety of world-class athletes:  I will be partnering with Ryan Lochte for swim coaching, Miguel Indurain relative to cycling, and Meb Keflezighi for running.  Additionally, I will be partnering with renowned physician Michele Ferrari to ensure that I am able to optimize my nutrition and physical capabilities.

I’m excited to launch into this new phase of my athletic career.  Please follow along as I expand my social media presence beyond this blog and Twitter.  As part of a new strategic relationship I have established with Google and Netflix, I will begin hosting a weekly broadcast and update of my race performance and life on the road as a professional triathlete.

Stay tuned for more exciting news!

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Planning My First Race of 2013

It’s about that time of the year when we all are getting fairly serious about planning our races.  Most of us already have a list of the races we want to do – and I’m no exception –  but by “planning” I really mean getting down to the nitty-gritty of PLANNING our races.

My first race of the year is coming up in early May – it’s the Olympic Rev put on by Rev3Tri in Knoxville, TN.

 

Crossing the finish line at the 2011 Rev3 Knoxville.  Awesome finish line!

Crossing the finish line at the 2011 Rev3 Knoxville. Awesome finish line!

 

I don’t do a lot of Olympic distance racing, but this race has to be up there on my list of favorites.  The scenery is beautiful, it’s close to my childhood stomping grounds, and it also just happens to be the place where I set my personal best for this distance

The swim for this race is in the Tennessee River – which flows right through Knoxville.  Transition is essentially at the University of Tennessee football stadium (and happens to be inside a parking garage – so it’s covered).  The bike route is fairly technical – and offers some serious climbing and descents.  The run is a dang attractive out-and-back.  The coolest part of this race is the finish line – it’s right smack dab in the middle of the World’s Fair park near downtown Knoxville. 

If you’re looking for a super race to kick-start your season with, I’d encourage you to consider this one. 

Another cool fact – Knoxville will be the location for the 2014 Rev3 pro and age group series – you can gain some really valuable information for that race.  Plus, there are bound to be lots of professional athletes in Knoxville this year too.

If you’d like more details on this race, here are a couple of really solid options:

  • My race report from the last time I raced in Knoxville (in 2011) can be found here.
  • Kelly Williamson – last year’s winner – wrote an awesome story called “Rev3 Knoxville Dissected – What You Need to Know” for Rev3’s blog.  Check it out here.
  • Perhaps even cooler than having last year’s winner give you a breakdown on the race course is having last year’s winner telling you how to train for the race.  That’s exactly what happened on Rev3’s Facebook page.  A reader posted a comment wondering how to train indoors, and Kelly posted a response with a workout suggestion.  How awesome is that!?!  Click this link to go to that post on Facebook (it was from yesterday).

Just How Fast Are Pro Triathletes?

After having watched more hours of triathlon online this weekend than I care to admit, I was taken aback by just how wickedly fast professionals are.  It’s one thing to watch coverage of a race on TV or online and think, “Well, they look pretty fast.”  It’s even plausible to think that a given professional isn’t that fast at all when you are watching a race on TV.  It’s not that they aren’t fast.  You just don’t have anything to compare them to gain a true reflection of their speed.

The same concept holds true when you’re sitting in a jet airliner looking down at the ground.  It’s hard to tell that you’re moving hundreds of miles an hour because you don’t have context.

I marveled at the splits turned in by Pete Jacobs in Kona, Andrew Starykowicz and Nicole Kelleher at Rev3 South Carolina.  Jacobs ran a 2:48 marathon in Kona.  Starykowicz finished the Half Rev (70.3 miles) in 3:49:10. 

But just how fast are they?  Again, it’s tough to really get it without some context.

And so, I’ve decided to add a little context.  I pulled Starky’s and Kelleher’s splits and plotted them out against my splits from the 2011 version of Rev3 South Carolina. 

Let’s just assume for hypothetical reasons that my 2011 race and their 2012 races were all in one magical all-together race, and that we all started at the same exact second (that doesn’t happen as the pros typically go off in different waves from age groupers). 

As you’d suspect, I would be well behind these two pros from the get-go. By the time we’d start to pull our water-logged bodies out of the lake, I’d already be down 13 minutes to Nicole and 17 minutes to Andrew.  Because I have a pretty slow transition – when I finally mount my QR and clip in, Andrew would be motoring on 8.5 miles down the road.  Nicole would be about 5.5 miles ahead of me.  And what’s worse?  They would both be pulling away as if I were in reverse.  Andrew averaged 26.5 miles per hour over the course of the 56 mile bike.  AVERAGED!  That means there were times where he was going far faster than that to offset the instances where he was a little slower.  Meanwhile – my maximum speed was 44 mph – and my average was just under 18 mph.  Nicole’s bike average was no slouch, either, at just under 22 mph.

Of course, a highlight of my race would be that as I was out on my run, I’d get to see the eventual winners pass me on their way back to the finish.  Well….not exactly.

You see, Starykowicz was long finished before I even stopped pedaling my bike.  He finished his entire race 21 minutes before I got off the bike and a full two hours and forty-eight minutes before I finished my race.  In this hypothetical race, if he could have maintained his run pace, he could have run an extra full marathon and still beat me by more than 10 minutes.  Nicole could have done just about the same thing!

Now, truth be told – I would have crossed paths with Kelleher as she was headed back in.  I’d be just starting mile 3 of my run. 

I knew that professional triathletes operated at a much higher level than I do – I’m a slow 40-something guy who does triathlon as a hobby – but I never thought about it like I’ve laid it out here.  Sort of shocking…..but then again, perhaps not.  I do know one thing, though.  If I want to see the men’s leader heading back into the finish line, I’ve got to cycle a whole lot faster!

Ten Questions With…Professional Triathlete Richie Cunningham

When folks hear the name Richie Cunningham, lots of non-triathletes immediately think of the fictional character from the 1970’s TV series “Happy Days”.  Richie, the triathlete, is a professional triathlete who originally hails from Australia.  He’s a prolific racer, and this season ranks among his best seasons in the past several years.  Just this year, Richie logged back-to-back victories at Rev3 Quassy and Rev3 Portland.  He’s also notched a bunch of podium spots…he’s been on the podium in five of eight races so far in 2012.

More than just a stellar athlete, Richie is a great ambassador for triathlon in general and Rev3 specifically.  He’s well on his way towards winning the 2012 Rev3 series and the ultimate prize of $25,000.  Plus he raises chickens. 

So kick back, grab your favorite hydration beverage and meet Richie.  He’s the focus of this week’s “Ten Questions With….”

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Credit: Revolution 3

TriMadness:  For purposes of background, you grew up in Australia, spent 10 years in Germany, and now live in the US.  Tell us about the part of your career in Germany – what kind of racing were you doing, how did you like living in Europe, and what ultimately compelled you to move to the US?

Richie Cunningham:  I was mostly doing Olympic distance ITU racing while I lived in Germany. The training in Germany was really good. I lived right across the street from the pool, had miles of trails to run in and good riding.  I moved to the US because it was were the future of racing was. I moved up to 70.3 and it seemed like a good time. I also started dating my now wife, who was living in Boston at the time, so that sped up the move.

TM:  You race quite a bit…over the past several years you have averaged 14-17 races, and you seem to race anything from Olympic distance to half-iron distance.  It seems that the half-iron distance is your favorite distance though.  What about that distance “clicks” for you?

RC:  I think it’s just where my talent lies. I enjoy the training for it the most too.

TM:  You’ve raced quite a few (12) Rev3 races over the past three years, and have a really solid track record at their races (25% on the podium, with two victories).  The fields at Rev3 races are generally loaded.  Is there something about these races that brings out the best in you?

RC:  Rev3 races are usually on challenging, hilly courses and that suits me well. I also just really enjoy the Rev3 race experience. They really take good care of the pros and pick nice courses.

TM:  You just won the Rev3 race in Portland in a relatively close contest.  Walk us through your strategy on the run when you realized that Jesse Thomas was gaining ground on you.

RC:  My run strategy actually started at the end of the bike. I saw that Jesse was too close to me and I really didn’t want to start the run with him so I hammered the last 10k of the bike to add a bit more lead. In the last few miles I saw that he was close, so I put in a hard mile hoping that would be enough to keep him from catching me. Then I just tried to maintain my pace until the end. It was a tough race.

TM:  Looks like you have a pretty commanding lead in the Rev3 Championship Series.  Are you a lock for the $25,000 prize at the end of the year?

RC:  It’s hard to do all the math to figure it. I am hoping that I can have solid races in the rest of the series and hold the lead, but Jesse and Victor could still take it from me.

Credit: Revolution 3

TM:  You’ve been pretty vocal about the whole Lance Armstrong/USADA thing.  Do you think that USADA’s current testing process is optimal?  What changes would you make?

RC:  No, I think everyone should be on the blood passport system and blood should be stored for testing any time in the future.

TM:  What is the testing process like?  How frequently are you tested – every race, randomly, monthly?

RC:  I’m tested about 2-3 times a year – usually just urine.  I’m tested occasionally at races – usually when I am on the podium. I am also in the USADA testing pool, so they can come find me any time for a blood/urine test.

TM:  Do you think that triathlon in general is a “clean” sport?  Is there ever any talk amongst the pros that “so and so” must be juicing because of his/her performance, improvement, etc?

RC:  Yes, in general I think it’s a relatively clean sport. It’s still a young sport, so I think that helps. As pros, we do like to bitch about who we think might be doping. Hopefully we’re wrong.

TM:  OK…on to easier an easier topic.  I read recently that you and your wife raise chickens.  Tell us about them.

RC:  We got chickens last December. We have 6 of them (all girls) and named them after our friends – Joe, Pat, Alan (my brother), Terra, Chris, and Edwina.  Joe is the noisy but friendly one. I though that fit Joe Gambles well. Pat (Evoe) is an easy going, nice chicken. Alan is the fat one, so I had to name her after my brother. Terra takes care of the eggs, so we named her after Terra Castro, Chris has the tightest feathers – Chris Legh likes to wear tight shirts… and Edwina is named after our friend Mary Edwina Miller. She got to pick her chicken.

TM: How often do people confuse you with the Richie Cunningham from the “Happy Days” TV show?

RC:  I used to get jokes all the time, but now the show is getting older and a lot more people have never seen Happy Days.

Check out Richie’s website here.  You can also follow him on Twitter.

 

Ten Questions With….Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty

If you weren’t around this blog in 2010 and 2011, I ran a really popular series that I affectionately called “Ten Questions With…”  This interview series included interviews with some of the top professional triathletes, a bunch of age groupers, and some industry folks (see here for the full list).  I totally enjoyed doing the interviews, and got to interact with some of the coolest folks around.

Well….I’ve decided to bring the series back.

And to kick off the series with a bang, I reached out to professional triathlete Sara McLarty.  Sara lives and trains in Clermont, FL – home to the National Training Center and one of the more popular independent iron-distance races in the Southeast.  She grew up swimming, and was an All-American at the University of Florida (go Gators!).

I could go on and on…..but why don’t we just get to the actual interview?  So here we go…..Ten Questions with Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty:

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Professional Triathlete Sara McLarty

TriMadness:  So congratulations on a solid race at St. Anthony’s last weekend.  You had an amazing swim and came out of the water in 19:10.  How did you feel about your race, in general?

Sara McLarty:  Thanks, but it was a terrible result for me and I’m not happy at all. However, I am going up to Knoxville this weekend for the rev3 race and hoping for a better race!

TM:  Like so many professional triathletes, you have a massive swimming background.  Is your typical race strategy to go out and try to bury folks on the swim?

SM:  Yes, now that I am competing mainly in non-drafting races, the goal is to go our hard in the swim to capitalize on my strength. Previously, in draft-legal races (Olympic style) it was futile to swim off the front so I would work together with other strong swimmers to build a lead on the bike. 

TM:  You were an all-American swimmer at the University of Florida and swam in the 2004 Olympic trials.  How would you compare & contrast the swim trials in ’04 with the process that USAT is using to build out the 2012 tri team?

SM:  Swimming is a much older sport and as a result, the Olympic trials process has been perfected. It is also a very controlled environment (pool, lane lines, etc) while triathlons vary from one race to another with many other elements (crashes, flat tires, hills, etc). I dont think any country has their triathlon Olympic trials completely perfected…and the USA is a perfect example of that!

TM:  You grew up in DeLand, FL, not terribly far from Daytona Beach and the Atlantic Ocean.  Were you a beach bum as a kid?

SM:  To be honest,  no. I was not a beach bum because I’d already spend 10-15 hours in the pool during the week and had no desire to be anywhere near water when I wasn’t training. However, on the rare occasion that we had swim practice at the beach, I was thrilled!

TM:  Seems like even from a young age, you were competing in something.  Swimming.  Cross Country.  Track.  Triathlon.  Moreover, all of this was a family affair.  Your brother is a heck of an athlete in his own right, your mother swims, your father cycled.  Was there ever an element of competing against each other growing up?

SM:  Absolutely! I remember the race that I first beat my mom, and I remember the race that Dustin beat me for the first time! But it made for a great training environment because we did everything together.

TM:  I read that your family is a group of daredevils, so to speak.  Your father was a pilot for skydivers, and was a skydiver himself.  Did you get any of those daredevil genes?

SM:  I like to call it the ‘adventure bug’ and yes, I have it! I compete in adventure races in the off season, I’ve been hang gliding, zip lining, hot air balloon, running through alligator infested swamps, swimming with dolphins, etc. My goal is to try everything, especially when I travel for competitions, I try to find something cool in the area to experience.

TM:  Today, you still live in Florida, and work at the National Training Center in Clermont.  Tell us about what it’s like working there.

SM:  I did my first triathlon when I was 7 in Clermont. Almost 20 years later, I moved back to town and bought a house! Small world. It’s a great training location (in the winter…it gets a bit rough in the summer) and more and ore pro triathletes are moving to the area…so it’s easy to find training partners! Working at the NTC has been a great experience, I’m coaching the masters swimming team 3 mornings a week, and working one-on-one with people to improve their swim technique and efficiency.

TM:  A big part of your life is spent on coaching others to become a better swimmer.  If you were to give one swim tip to triathletes, what would it be?

SM:  Relax and stop over thinking. That is the main difference between and adult trying to learn how to see and a child. The child will just get in the water and listen to their body to find the simplest and easiest way to move thought the water. An adult will try to take all the info they have read, heard, seen, and been told…and try to THINK their way through the water. It doesnt work!

TM:  What’s more important in a swim – gliding & balance or a strong pull?

SM:  Nothing is ‘more important’ than another thing in swimming. The important part is doing it all in a relaxed and efficient way.

TM:  What is your biggest hobby outside of swimming, biking and running?

SM:  Currently, playing board games with my training partners and friends! It’s a great way to stay competitive but laugh and have fun the whole time!

Check out Sara’s website!  Or follow her on Twitter!