TCSD Conversation: Kyle Hummel – December 2014

Kyle Hummel celebrates becoming the 2014 Men's 30-34 Ironman 70.3 World Champion!

Kyle Hummel celebrates becoming the 2014 Men’s 30-34 Ironman 70.3 World Champion!

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I got to talk triathlon with the TCSD’s most recent World Champion Kyle Hummel. It will blow your mind to hear what Kyle has gone through just to be able to walk around like a normal guy. He has come so far to become the Ironman 70.3 World Champion for the men’s 30-34 age group. He is an awesome athlete who really appreciates the gifts he has been blessed with. I know you will enjoy getting to know Kyle.

Craig: What was your athletic background before you started racing triathlons?

Kyle: I grew up competing in every sport my parents would let me be in. The one sport I never had enough time for was swim team which would have paid off big time now, but that is all good. Basketball has always been a love of mine, I never have enough time to get on the court anymore but hoops is definitely a sport that I love. I always kinda knew growing up that running was going to be my best sport. My family moved into Yakima, WA when I entered high school and was blessed by being able to run cross country and track for one of the best coaches in the country. I was able to earn a scholarship as an 800 meter runner for Eastern Washington University.

Craig: What was your first triathlon experience like for you…and the spectators?

Kyle: My first tri was a sprint tri during my junior year of high school. For some reason I thought some good cross training (swim, bike, and run) would be good for my cross country summer training. I never swam before the race, I rode a couple of times, but was running every day for Cross. I swam in board shorts and no goggles. My contact came off my eye mid swim and I was all loopy coming out of the water. I thought running shorts and especially spandex were very un-cool, so as I entered T1 I stripped my board shorts off (now completely naked), threw on underwear, bike shorts, and then basketball shorts over the bike shorts. I tossed on a cut off sleeve shirt, bike gloves, helmet, my sister’s sunglasses, socks, running shoes and hopped on my dad’s old school yellow 10 speed bike where you had to shift down on the frame; it was awesome. I came into T2 for another complete change of clothes and then ran my guts out for the 5K. No one ever said anything about me getting all naked in transition; looking back I don’t know how. Gotta love tri people, they know what’s up.

Craig: Congratulations on recently becoming the Ironman 70.3 World Champion for the men age 30-34. I heard your IM 70.3 career started a few years ago with a bang. How did your first 70.3 go?

Kyle: My first year of tris was 2006. In 2007 I gave my first shot at the 70.3 distance. I was still rocking my road bike with clip on aero bars. I was racing Lake Stevens 70.3 and at this time the bike was a two loop course. The end of the first loop went right by the swim area so all of the spectators were located there. As I came into this area I decided I wanted some water at the bottom of the hill right in the middle of what happened to be where my parents were located. I tried to grab a water bottle from a volunteer but he was holding on much too tight to the bottle and when I tried to grab it I was thrown backwards, I tried to correct but it was too late, I was going down. I bounced across the pavement like a ragdoll. Luckily my dad was taking photos and got some in action wreck shots. I was a mess of road rash anywhere on my body that was bony. My ankles, knees, hips, elbows, shoulders, everything was torn up. My first attempt at a 70.3 was a DNF.

Craig: You have had some major health issues for a young guy. One of these started on August 6, 2009. What happened on that day?

Kyle: August 6, 2009 was the day that tested my attitude about life and family more than I ever could have imagined. The reason I got into triathlons was to complete an Ironman. Three weeks before trying to complete my 1st ironman I was hit head on by an SUV while on my bike.

I had never really been injured before, let alone break a bone. But I knew that day, lying face down in a ditch in the Montana summer heat, looking up at my leg with the Tibia bone sticking out that there was no doubt I had not only broken my leg, but it was shattered. The very first thought that went through my head was that all of my hard work is down the drain, I will never compete again.

But I did, and I was even faster, more committed and determined.

Craig: What was your comeback like after that terrible accident?

Kyle: Very slowly and painful. My family is incredible and my parents took me in because I needed 24/7 care. I had so much support from extended family and friends that would stay with me once I got out of the hospital while my parents were at work. I had some really dark days over the first six months. I went from full on ironman training to stuck in a bed all day. Just to do something/anything I would go in the back yard and my dad would bring weights out to do some upper body weights. After I was able to get around OK on my own I moved back into my townhouse in Missoula. I could not work so I would do as much as I could at the gym. I would lift upper body, a lot of one legged squats and toe raisers, swim in the pool but no flip turning in fear of hitting my left ankle on top of the pool. The break to both tibia and fibula were so bad that the bone growth needed was a very slow process. I ended up having five surgeries to the leg over a 13 month period with two bone grafts to help enable bone growth.

Craig: Lesley Paterson has had a big influence on your success. What have you learned from Lesley that sets her apart from other coaches you have worked with?

Kyle: I originally met Les in the pool and we swam in the same lane in Masters swimming, and she was all intense and encouraging all at the same time. I was like ‘who is this little Scottish girl all amped up all the time?’ Then I realized she was one of the strongest riders in the group rides I would do and I knew that she was someone special. We became friends and started doing workouts together and we both realized that we both have the same attitude and killer drive in ourselves that make for great training partners. I looked at many coaches in the San Diego area but I did not connect the same way with anyone that I did with Lesley. Her amazing training philosophy of strength work before speed makes so much since and my racing has had amazing improvements because of her training style. I could not maximize my racing abilities just in the race season doing all speed work. It starts from weeks and weeks of hard core strength work and gradually building in the speed to peak at just the right time.

Craig: The team at Rehab United and Tyler Forbes have also played a significant role in your success. How have they helped you?

Kyle: I was introduced to Bryan Hill with Rehab United through Lesley because our first year of working together I could not stay healthy. After I broke my leg I did zero hours of physical therapy, I honestly thought it was a waste of time. My mind set was that my body will just fix itself. But one injury after another I knew I needed outside help. Bryan and I got really close because I will do whatever it takes to be my best so I was in PT three times a week. Bryan really worked out some issues and built some needed strength in my broken leg.

But even with all of Bryan’s incredible work I was still getting injured. Two years ago I could barely walk because my psoas was so inflamed. I was a mess and needed some serious deep tissue work. That is when I was introduced to Tyler Forbes, a chiropractor with Back in Motion. This guy is quite honestly amazing. He tore into my body in a way that would make me scream for bloody murder. I would leave an hour long session drenched in sweat from Tyler breaking apart my muscles. These sessions hurt more than anything, but I knew that it had to be done. If it was not for Tyler I would still be injured and I truly believe that. My body was such a mess and so tight all over that it took two months of working with him before I was able to run pain free. I have now gone two seasons of racing with no injuries by keeping constant visits with Tyler.

Craig: What other fringe benefits have you enjoyed from your workouts at Rehab United?

Kyle: Bryan puts on great strength and injury prevention classes a couple times a week at his Rehab United clinics. I originally met Randi at these strength classes. I would briefly say hi to Randi after I originally met her, but since I was there to work out that was what my focus was on. She may be hot, but I have other things to worry about, like how bad can I make myself hurt today. But after one class I found Randi and I in a great conversation out in the parking lot for 10 or 15 minutes and was about to approach her about getting dinner together when she abruptly ended the conversation because she was getting too cold and before I knew it she was gone, leaving me standing there. I thought ‘that sucks’, but I will see her again. Rehab held a team building event at a Padres game around ten months after our original first (what I thought) great conversation outside of RU. As a triathlete there really is no time for a social life, especially the more serious you take the sport. Your training partners become your training best friends. That night I was able to attend the baseball game because I was injured and Randi had just finished an ironman so we were both out of training and actually had time get to know someone. We both connected at that game and now have become more than best friends, but each other’s better half until death does us part. Bryan claims to have set us up. All I know is that I owe that guy big time because without Rehab I would have never met the love of my life.

Craig: You had lung surgery earlier this year. What brought that on?

Kyle: The lung issues were the result of a bacterial infection to my lung and diaphragm. The exact cause of it all will always be a mystery. But it all started the week of Oceanside this year when I went into that race already feeling sick. I got in a fist fight with some guy in the swim and ended up with a black lip and swallowed a lot of that nasty water. 15 miles on the bike I puked all over the place. A week after the race I was feeling worse and worse and could barely run. In the middle of a 6 hour bike ride I was on the side of the road, not able to breathe and honestly pretty scared. Not being able to breathe is no joke and nothing that I had encountered before. I ended up in the ER and was diagnosed with Pneumonia and Pleurisy. That was the start to the crazy summer of mine.

Craig: You had a major physical set back this year. How did you bounce back so quickly from being so sick to World Champion in a few short months?

Kyle: Last year I was able to put up good results and I really wanted to get a great base of training going into this year. I was doing seven hour training days the first week of December and people were telling me I was nuts, ‘what the hell are you training this hard for when your first half ironman is not for over two months?’. The thing is that you never hear of anyone doing something great by being normal or by doing what everyone else does. I was going to take my racing to another level and that meant taking my training to another level. I really did not care what anyone else thought. My goals and ambitions are higher than the next person; therefore I am going to do twice the work as them. We must have dreams to make us strive for greatness… ‘Nothing can happen if not first a dream.’

After my 6 day hospital stay from lung surgery I spent two weeks recovering. I ended up with eight weeks until World Championships 70.3. I spent that first 3 weeks absolutely murdering myself with strength training. I maxed my body out every day because that is what needed to be done to compete at a high level. Regularly waking up before 4 AM, running hill repeats in the pitch dark or on my bike trainer pounding away. I moved into speed four weeks before Worlds getting more quality or quantity and that paid off big time. If I did not have those monster months of training in December and January my body would not have been able to handle the load I put in the two months before Worlds.

Craig: How did the IM 70.3 Worlds go down for you in Mont Tremblant?

Kyle: I came out of the water in 27 minutes which I was happy with considering how physical the first 7 or 8 minutes were from a run in start. The body felt good and headed out on the bike (what ended up being in 39th place).

I got on the bike and started passing guys with ease, groups of 5-10 guys like it was nothing. I moved into the top five by the half way mark and knew I was having a special day. By the end of the bike I came into T2 tied for second and felt great. I ran down the leader at mile five and never looked back. It was one of those days where the mind never breaks, the body feels no pain, the day every triathlete hopes they have when they race. Randi was there at the finish line and hugged her so hard with tears running down my face. I would not have accomplished what I just did without her.

Craig: What are your favorite benefits of membership in the TCSD?

Kyle: The largest benefit from being involved with TCSD is all of the friendships you make just by involving yourself in a couple races a year. The club has so many great opportunities that can make everyone feel welcome and a part of. Triathlons really are about the relationships that we create and build upon.

Craig: Who are your sponsors?

Kyle: Scott Bikes, ENVE composites, Oakley sunglasses, XTERRA wetsuits, PowerBar, Betty Design, On Running, Powertap, CycleOps, Tommie Copper.

Craig: What are your future triathlon goals?

Kyle: My individual goals as a racer I like to keep between my wife and coach. I will always set goals for myself as a racer but this year has shown your plans can be interrupted by just about anything. My knowledge that I have gained from Lesley and her husband Simon have made me become much more involved in the coaching side of tri’s with Braveheart Coaching. My knowledge as a racer and understanding of going through injuries and ups and downs that life throws at you enables me to work with any athlete, no matter what level of athlete they are. Everyone deserves to feel great about themselves. Braveheart Coaching creates opportunities for everyone who wants to fight those demons that tell you life is too hard, that you cannot do this, because you can. My doctors said my race season was over, and then I went on to become a World Champion.

Craig: How can someone reach you if they would like to benefit from Braveheart Coaching?

Kyle: My personal website is and the Braveheart website is

Craig: Kyle, congratulations on your World Championship! You have made the TCSD and your loved ones very proud. Thank you for sharing your story. I know you will crush your future goals. Good luck in that journey!

Posted in 2014, TCSD Conversation, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifetime Fitness Triathlon – Oceanside

Craig stalking Andy on the run course.

Craig stalking Andy on the run course.

On October 26th I raced my last triathlon for the year at the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon Oceanside. I was relieved that we had good weather for this year’s race. The inaugural race in 2013 was delayed for an hour by fog and it was chilly. This year we had an ideal day. This is one of the best races in Southern California. The race is supported by big sponsors as over $200,000 in prize money was awarded to the professionals.

The 1.5K (0.93 mile) swim was in the Oceanside Harbor. I swam 21:09 (1:18/100 yards) for my fastest Olympic distance swim this year and I came out of the water in 3rd place.

The 40K (24.8 mile) bike course had 2 loops. The 1st loop covering about 15 miles was out and back on Hwy 76 to take us inland. The 2nd loop was an out and back along the bumpy coast road. I much preferred Hwy 76 as the road was very wide and smooth. My friend Andy Seitz passed me with about 6 miles to go. I was happy I was able to hold him off that long. I managed to finish the bike and could still see Andy so I took that as a good sign. I had the 5th best bike split with a time of 1:06:54 (22.1 mph) and this effort put me in 4th place.

The 10K (6.2 mile) run course was 2 laps of 5K each mostly along The Strand so we were right next to the ocean. The run was flat, except for 2 different times when we had to climb up the ramp to the top of the Oceanside Pier. It’s kind of like having to climb 2 flights of stairs when you are already at the limit. It’s not pleasant, but I welcome it because I always make up ground on my competition when the road points up. I managed to catch Andy 2 miles into the run. I was the only guy to run under 40 minutes as my run split was 38:42 (6:14/mile). I had a great race as I passed another guy on the run to finish 2nd out of 27 men in the 50-54 age group and 33rd out of 402 overall finishers. My finish time was 2:09:39 putting me 2:49 behind the winner Todd Witten from Phoenix.

I had never met Todd until we chatted after the race. He told me that a friend of his had warned him about me – that if I was anywhere near him to start the run, he’d be in trouble. Unfortunately I never did get close enough, but he made me feel good by honoring me like that.

Living the life…

Posted in 2014, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

TCSD Conversation: Jay Lewis – September 2014

Jay Lewis serving as Race Director at the TCSD Aquathlon at Torrey Pines State Beach.

Jay Lewis serving as Race Director at the TCSD Aquathlon at Torrey Pines State Beach.

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I recently had the opportunity to talk triathlon with a guy who has no fear. Jay Lewis is not afraid to try anything. Jay is not afraid to try any sport or change careers and he certainly has not been afraid to get involved in a leadership role with TCSD. Please join me and get to know Jay!

Craig: What sports did you do as a kid?

Jay: Growing up in South Carolina I did what normal kids my age did – played baseball, soccer, football, swam, biked and hunted. (I did say I was from South Carolina). On my 12th birthday I was given a surfboard and my love of surfing started. It had a big impact on my life and in college, I co-founded the “Surfing Club”, which is funny because the University of South Carolina was about 2 and a ½ hours from any beach! Also in college, I lifted weights regularly and became the VP of our Body Building club. I never competed but enjoyed the commitment and camaraderie of the members. Fast forward to today, there are some sports I don’t do often (weight lifting) and others I do frequently such as surfing, SUPing (stand up paddling), yoga, mountain biking, snowboarding, road biking and of course, triathlons.

Craig: Where did your career take you prior to moving to San Diego in 2005?

Jay: After graduating college with degrees in Marketing, International Business and Spanish I moved to Los Angeles and worked at several advertising agencies during the Dot com bubble. After getting laid off at one of the agencies when we lost a client, I decided to get out of Account Management and go into marketing where I traveled the country doing promotional marketing for clients such as Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble and Nestle. I’ve been to every state in the contiguous US and look forward to going to Alaska and Hawaii at some point soon. While traveling the country I came to San Diego for work, where I fell in love with the city and chose to make my home here.

I made another career decision in January of this year, when I decided to get out of marketing after doing it for 17 years and get into sales where I can control my destiny and be rewarded for performance. Currently, I work for an online registration company called, RaceIT, which is owned by Competitor Group. [shameless plug coming…] If you, or anyone you know, are organizing an event and need online registration, let’s talk. 

Craig: TCSD Cares played a key role in your first triathlon. How did TCSD Cares help you?

Jay: In July 2010, I took some time to evaluate happiness in my life. I’d love to tell you that I’m happy 100% of the time but you and I both know that I’d be telling a fib. After evaluating my life, I decided I wanted to make significant changes – work, where I live, who I’m surrounded by and what I do for enjoyment. Triathlons were always on my “bucket list” when one day I told myself to stop talking about it and start doing it; that same day, I found TCSD Cares and met some of the best people I know to this day.

In addition to TCSD Cares, I also fell in love with the sport because it allowed me to meet active, motivated people who share the same values as me. As many people can tell you, I’m highly competitive but what I find most rewarding in this sport isn’t winning (mainly because I haven’t won yet). It is: 1) every age and shape is passing me! 2) my competitors are cheering me on, sharing their training and nutrition tips, and 3) it’s a competition with yourself and everyone wants to help you do your best. I can tell you after 30 years of surfing; most surfers are not like that.

My first race was Solana Beach Sprint Triathlon in July 2011 where I finished 1:02:30. My second race was the Mission Bay Sprint Triathlon in October 2011 and then I decided to sign up for the Oceanside 70.3 in March 2012. Most of my TCSD Cares teammates were doing it so I thought why not!? I had done a couple of races, I like the sport and it seems like a good idea, right? Yes, it was a GREAT IDEA! It was one of the hardest things I’ve done both physically and mentally and I learned so much about myself during training. It was phenomenal! Although I didn’t hit my goal (I wanted to finish in less than 5 hours), I did complete it in 5:13:15, which is pretty darn good in my book.

Craig: What has been the most challenging race you’ve done so far in your triathlon career?

Jay: Since doing my first race, I’ve done several sprints and a few 70.3’s and WILL do an Ironman; however, I must say that my most challenging race was Wildflower 70.3 in 2013. After coming off a very disappointing race for me at Oceanside in 2013 where I didn’t have my nutrition dialed in, I had high expectations for Wildflower. I was well-trained, had identified what went wrong at Oceanside and worked with my coach and nutritionist to correct the mistakes…I was ready. Or so I thought.

What I didn’t account for though was the heat and how important it is to know the course. After transitioning to the bike and rapidly moving on the bike course while drinking my nutrition with my right hand, I noticed there was a 90 degree turn ahead. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to put my bottle back and I didn’t want to clamp down on my front brakes and crash end over end so I decided to ride up the side embankment and back onto the course. Well, it worked out much better in my mind than it did in reality because I rode up the embankment only to roll sideways down it. That was the start of my bike course!

When I began to run the temperature had reached 95+ degrees and not letting that stop me I pushed myself hard through it; however, after only a few miles the temperature sucked the energy out of me and I ran/walked the remaining miles. Those who know me know, I don’t walk during a race. That day, I walked. I walked A LOT and it was a humbling experience for me, which I greatly appreciate now because I learned more about myself than had I finished as planned.

Craig: Do you have any triathlon advice that falls into the category of “what not to do”?

Jay: I’ve been very fortunate that I haven’t made too many big mistakes. What I’d say is:

**Train hard but don’t take yourself too seriously. One time I had a “great idea” and convinced several of my fellow TCSD Cares group to run our second Solana Beach triathlon in speedos that I had imprinted with “Team Solana” on the butts. The joke was on me though because only 1 other person ran in a “Team Solana” speedo. Here I was doing the course with the whitest legs you’ve probably ever seen with people chuckling as I passed by them. Needless to say, former TCSD President, Brian Long, took a photo and turned it into a photo caption contest. The winning caption read “Cutting leg holes in my (Brian Long) swim cap worked great”

**Don’t sit down in transition to put your clothes on, which a TCSD Cares’ alumni, Laura Kirkby, very passionately expressed to me during my first ever Beginner Triathlon.

**Don’t take your hands off the handlebars before knowing what turns are coming up.

Craig: What is the best advice you can give to someone in the sport?

Jay: Here are a few:

**Determine if you want to “participate” or “compete” in the sport. Participating means finishing the race. Competing means finishing the race in the absolute fastest time humanly possible. Knowing this answer will help you determine how much commitment (e.g.: time & money) you are willing to make to get what you want.

**Ask lots of questions. Remember, there are no stupid questions. I promise you, there’s someone who’s asked the same question, done what you’re asking about or knows someone who has done it.

**Train with people who are better than you.

**Never be afraid to fail.

**There’s no such thing as failure unless you don’t learn from it.

**Remember that we are all doing our own race, which is especially helpful if you are getting passed.

Craig: What volunteer roles have you done since you joined the TCSD and what are your perspectives in serving as a volunteer?

Jay: As you can tell, when I decide to do something, I jump in with both feet. When I first joined TCSD I did the normal volunteering stuff – getting to meetings early to help put food out, set up tables and staying late to fold chairs and help put items away. Things changed pretty quickly when I decided I wanted to get more involved with the club that gave me so much.

In August 2012, I was asked to help present the “Intro to TCSD” to members who were new to the club, are thinking of joining or veteran members who want to learn more. Also in August, I became the Aquathlon Race Director and put on the Aquathlons during the summer.

I’ve been doing those two volunteer duties for the last 2 years and at the time of writing this, I’m running for the Programs and Events Director position on the Board because I feel like I can continue to make a positive impact on the club and its members.

What is my perspective on volunteering? I highly encourage everyone to do it, whether you’re new to the club or you have been a member for many years and here’s why. As a new member to the club it helps you identify and bond with other persons volunteering because you share a common goal. For someone who’s been a member of the club for a while, you have such a wealth of knowledge that may not be evident until you begin to share it with another person. Moreover, volunteering will help you understand the intricacies involved and help influence the direction of the club.

For example, running for a board position and increasing my volunteer commitment helps me be a part of the solution versus one of those people who just gripes/talks about what they’d like to see changed. One of the quotes that I choose to live by is from Mahatma Gandi, which says “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

Craig: What has been the most rewarding aspect of being a TCSD volunteer?

Jay: The most rewarding aspect of being a volunteer is seeing how you’ve changed someone’s life after you’ve helped them. I have the honor of seeing this change in many forms.

At the “Intro to TCSD” meetings it’s everything from watching the facial expression of someone who’s new to the sport go from “what the heck was I thinking” to “I can do this;” seeing, hearing, watching someone complete their first race; giving guidance, answering questions, increasing one’s comfort level and even hearing a veteran member tell me after our Intro meeting “wow, I just learned something new about TCSD”.

During the Aquathlons, I see p¬¬eople change from being quiet and stressed after a challenging day to having a relaxed demeanor, laughing, socializing; knowing that they are in good hands and that everything has been thought of. Additionally, it’s their comments about what a great time they had and it’s them sharing pictures with family/friends about the event.

I hope that more people volunteer and have the opportunity to experience this.

Craig: Jay, you have made such a positive contribution to the TCSD in a very short time. Thank you for all you’ve done thus far and thank you for your continued service. It’s just a matter of time before Mike Reilly says “Jay Lewis, you are an Ironman!”

Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach. Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or

Posted in Triathlon, TCSD Conversation, 2014 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Diego Triathlon Classic

2nd place Steve Thunder and 1st place Craig Zelent

2nd place Steve Thunder and 1st place Craig Zelent

Craig (top right) with TCSD Ambassador Team

Craig (top right) with TCSD Ambassador Team

On September 6th I raced the San Diego Triathlon Classic. I had done this race 4x’s in the past and was the 1st loser on all 4 occasions. In other words, I finished in 2nd place in my age group every time. As far as local races were concerned this year, winning this race was my primary goal. I was very motivated!

The 1.5K (0.93 mile) swim in San Diego Bay went great. I put my head down and went for it. My swim time was 22:18 which gave me a 3:09 lead over the next guy.

The 40K (24.8 mile) bike course climbs through the Naval Base at Point Loma to Cabrillo National Monument. Taking the route up through the Naval Base is steep so it is a very challenging climb. We did this twice. I had the 3rd best bike split in a time of 1:10:29 (20.3 mph). Little did I know at the time, but I actually had a lead of 1:46 getting off the bike. I usually need to come from behind on the run, but not on this day.

The 10K (6.2 mile) run course is 2 flat laps around Liberty Station. The hilly bike course was tough on everyone, but I managed to save enough energy to still throw down the fastest run of the day, not only among my age group, but across everyone in the entire race. My run split was 38:10. I was the only person to run under 39 minutes and only 4 guys ran under 40 minutes. I was 1st out of 30 men in the 50-54 age group with a finish time 2:13:50. I led wire to wire and won by 3:37 so it was someone else’s turn to be the 1st loser. I was 6th out of 425 overall finishers.

Click on this link to see my race pictures taken by my good friend Osamu and his team:

Living the life…

Posted in 2014, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

USA Triathlon Sprint Distance National Championships

Mom and I at the Awards Ceremony

Mom and I at the Awards Ceremony

On August 10th I raced the USA Triathlon Sprint Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. I have only raced Sprint Nationals on one other occasion. That was in 1997 at Catalina Island, CA. On that day I beat 26 other guys to win the men’s 35-39 age group and become a National Champion. Back in those days very few guys would get on an airplane to race Sprint Nationals so it was not nearly as competitive as today. This year there were 26 states represented just in my age group. I was going to have my hands full.

I had raced the Olympic Distance Nationals the day before. The Olympic Distance race would serve as the lone qualifier for the 2015 Olympic Distance World Championships in Chicago. The Sprint Nationals would serve as the lone qualifier for the 2015 Sprint Distance World Championships in Chicago. I chose to double up and do both Nationals to improve my odds of qualifying for one of the teams racing in Chicago. I grew up in the Chicago area so I was very motivated.

25 Team USA slots per age group were going to be awarded based on our ages in 2015. In the Olympic Distance race I placed 22nd, but dropped down to 27th based on my 2015 age. I was pretty confident that 2 guys would pass on their slot and I’d get one, but there was no guarantee. That meant I was going to have to be just as aggressive in the Sprint race…if there was anything left in the tank.

I felt good on race morning. I swam more than usual for my pre-race warmup to make certain I was ready to get out of the gate fast. The 750 meter swim was in Lake Michigan. I hammered the swim in 11:05 which put me in 16th place. My pace of 1:21 per 100 yards was actually a bit faster than the day before.

The 20K (12.4 miles) bike course was the same as the day before. We climbed about the same amount, but did not have as far to go on the flat portion. I tried really hard on the bike, but could not summon the same power as the day before. No surprise there. I had the 53rd best bike split with a time of 34:13. I averaged 21.8 mph, whereas the day before I averaged 22.7 mph. This effort put me in 39th place.

During the Olympic Distance race I actually passed 39 guys on the run. I knew I’d pass guys during the Sprint, but would I have enough real estate to pass enough guys? I took off like what little hair I have left was on fire. Only 13 guys ran under 20 minutes and only 3 of them ran under 19 minutes. I posted the 3rd best run split of 18:37 to finish in 1:07:46. I was only 4 seconds away from the fastest run split. I passed 25 guys to finish 14th out of 118 men in the 50-54 age group. Based on my 2015 age I placed 16th so I knew that day that I had qualified to represent Team USA in the 2015 Sprint Worlds. That was a huge relief!

For my age group I actually had the fastest “double”. That means I had the fastest combined times for the two races. There were actually a handful of guys that did both races. There was no award for that, but at least I have bragging rights.

It took over a month, but I did finally learn that 2 guys passed on the Olympic Distance slot so I accomplished my goal. I will get to race for Team USA in both 2015 races in Chicago.

To see my race photos, click on this link:

The #1 highlight from the trip was sharing the experience with my Mom. Mom is 93 and she still lives in the Chicago area. She joined me in Milwaukee. We had a great time together, as always. My life is very, very good. I have much to be thankful for.

Living the life…

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USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championships

Recovering post race

Recovering post race

On August 9th I raced the USA Triathlon Olympic Distance National Championships in Milwaukee, WI. Nationals was the lone qualifier for the 2015 World Championships in Chicago – this would be the big prize. 25 slots per age group were going to be awarded. Typically Nationals has about 125 guys in my age group. On August 9th there were 229 on the start list and they were all qualified to be there. Every age group had numbers like this. 2014 was going to be the most competitive Nationals ever!

I was born and raised in Glen Ellyn, IL which is 25 miles west of Chicago. I’ve had my eye on qualifying for the Worlds in Chicago ever since it was rumored 2 years ago and officially announced 1 year ago. Every single day for 2 years I have thought about this race. It’s impossible to put into words what it would mean to me to race a World Championship in Chicago. No pressure!

My wife Laurie and I flew into Chicago on August 7th. Laurie was going to race the Ironman Steelhead 70.3 in Benton Harbor, MI. Meanwhile my 93 year old Mom, who still lives in the Chicago suburbs, joined me in Milwaukee. Both Laurie and my Mom have been my best supporters forever. Having my Mom with me calmed me and put my head in the right place. She’s 93. As much as I wanted that qualifying slot to Chicago, I wanted this time with my Mom even more.

Race morning got off to the right start. I got body marked by Miss Wisconsin!

The 1.5K (0.93 miles) swim was in a protected Lake Michigan harbor so there were no waves or chop. The water was clear and very comfortable. My strategy was to be extremely aggressive all day long. I was very pleased with how my swim felt and my swim time of 22:37. This was a great swim for me. Only 8 guys broke 20 minutes so I was not very far off the pace. Thankfully I was not aware that my time put me in 42nd place. I should not be surprised, though, because I knew this race was not going to be a picnic. The margins were going to be very tight between success and failure.

The 40K (24.8 miles) bike was mostly flat, but it did have a few moderate hills on a single loop course. Flat courses are a big problem for me because I just don’t have the power to pedal with the bigger guys. My bike split was 1:05:58 which gave me a 22.7 mph average. I was thrilled with this. I biked great! Thankfully I was not aware that it was only the 95th best bike split on the day. And I’m especially thankful that I did not know I had dropped down to 61st place after the bike. 6 guys went under 1 hour on the bike. Like I said, the competition was brutal.

The 10K (6.2 miles) run was pancake flat along Lake Michigan. Obviously I had a lot of work to do on the run, but I was going to give it everything I had. The good news was that there were a lot of guys only a little bit ahead of me. The question was – how many could I pass on the run? In triathlon the body markers put your age on your calf so it can be easily identified if another competitor is in your age group. It takes a lot of energy to read the back of someone’s calf. I mostly just focus on myself and the task at hand – trying to run fast. I figured I passed about 20+ guys on the run. I had the 5th best run on the day as my split was 37:50. Only 16 guys managed to run under 40 minutes. Low and behold, I had passed 39 guys and finished 22nd out of 192 men in the 50-54 age group to finish in 2:10:31.

Once it was over I knew I’d had a great race. Everything went as well as possible. I could not think of any mistakes or bobbles. I gave it everything I had right through the finish line. Now the waiting would begin. The 25 slots for Chicago will be based on our ages in 2015. I always knew those were the rules. I would find out at the Awards Ceremony that night how many guys had aged out of my age group and how many guys had aged in based on our ages in 2015. That night I learned I was 27th based on my 2015 age. I was still pretty happy with that as it meant that only 2 guys needed to pass on the slot and I would get to race in Chicago.

To see my race photos, click on this link.

On September 16th I was notified by USA Triathlon that a spot had rolled to me. It was a bit anticlimactic to be awarded the spot more than a month later, but I’ll take it any way I can get it. The two most high profile races every year in triathlon are Ironman Hawaii and the Olympic Distance World Championships. I’m so excited and proud that I will get to race the Olympic Distance Worlds back home in Chicago! This will be the 21st time I have raced for Team USA in a World Championship, but it will, by far, mean the most to me.

God has blessed me in so many ways!

Living the life…

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TCSD Conversation: Andrew Shore – August 2014

Andrew Shore and Dena Garcia wine tasting after the Temecula Half Marathon

Andrew Shore and Dena Garcia wine tasting after the Temecula Half Marathon

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I had the pleasure recently of chatting triathlon with TCSD Ambassador Andrew Shore. Andrew actually started a triathlon club when he lived on the east coast so he brings a wealth of knowledge to our club. And this dude can swim like a fish!

Craig: What was your athletic background before triathlon?

Andrew: I was thrown into my first swim lesson at two weeks old. This was normal for kids growing up in Scottsdale, AZ with all the backyard pools. I tried basically every sport you could imagine growing up and I soon realized that I had zero coordination with any sport that included a ball. By the time I got to high school I had given up on everything but swimming. During high school I fell in love with swimming, joined a year round club team and dropped enough time in my distance freestyle events that I was fortunate enough to gain a swim scholarship to Rider University a small division one school out in New Jersey. By the end of my swimming career I was happy to hit 16:35 for my mile and a 4:48 for my 500 time.

Craig: How did you first get introduced to triathlon?

Andrew: After I graduated college the doctors told me I could have surgery on my shoulders or do nothing for a year. I chose nothing and gained nearly 40 pounds! Realizing drinking and eating wasn’t the life I wanted to lead, I started biking a bit and eventually my ma got me a drag suit saying I should start swimming again. This began my slow progression into triathlon life. A year after graduation, I began my triathlon career in earnest, signing up for a sprint, Olympic and half Iron distance race to see how I’d fare at the different distances. I had grown up around the sport so I kind of knew what I was getting into (or at least I thought I did). I watched my father and uncles compete in triathlon, biathlon and long distance biking my entire childhood. One of my uncles had raced Kona at least a dozen times, doing it his first time back in 1981. So after taking a year off for athletics I dove right into triathlon and even had some success in the sprint distance, finishing on the podium in my age group. This boosted my confidence until I hit the half Iron distance race…Soma Half Ironman in Tempe, AZ. I had no idea how to pace or handle the distance, struggling through the heat, I was just happy to finish. This was the moment I decided this sport is a challenge for me and I love it…

Craig: What are your perspectives on introducing people to a healthy lifestyle?

Andrew: I’ll never forget going to the doctor when I wasn’t working out and getting the results back. My cholesterol was super high for a 21 year old. Discussing my results with some co-workers, one guy said to me “You’re just going to be a Lipitor guy like the rest of us.” This is when I told him there is no way I’d be taking pills to fix something that can be resolved by just living an active healthy lifestyle. I grew up around a father who trained for all sorts of events for the joy of training and I knew after that talk with my co-worker, this would be the lifestyle I’d be leading. Now I make sure everyone knows how happy and healthy I am because of my lifestyle. I also strongly encourage everyone around me to do the same.

Craig: What stands out in your memory about your first triathlon?

Andrew: My very first tri was during the summer of my freshman year of college in 2001. It was an Olympic distance race at Lake Pleasant, AZ. I came out of the water in first place overall and was feeling awesome. That confidence was short lived because before I even hit the turnaround for the bike, my 67 year old uncle was flying by me like I was standing still. I recovered a bit on the run, but never caught him! Fortunately he never beat me again…

Craig: You’ve done 4 different Ironman races over the past 4 years. What have been the highlights of each Ironman venue you’ve raced at?

Andrew: My first Ironman was in 2011 at Lake Placid. Living outside of NYC, this was our local race. I volunteered in 2010 and caught the bug! The atmosphere in Lake Placid is amazing and is by far the best finish line (outside of Kona) in the sport. You finish on the 1984 Olympic skating ring oval and the crowds are unbelievable! In 2012, I decided to try a flat course heading to IM Florida in Panama City. When you think of pancake flat, no exaggeration, Florida is it. The biggest hill is on the bike and it is a canal overpass! I was first out of the water in the race, but I learned that my body does not like biking in the same position for 5 hours as I got some nasty cramping that lead to my worst marathon in an Ironman. Last year I knew I’d be on the west coast so I signed up for Couer d’Alene. Couer d’Alene is almost a mirror image to Lake Placid when it comes to courses and it suited me perfectly. The water is pristine and cool, the bike has some hills so you’re not in aero the whole way and the run has some hills to make it a good challenge. The best part is similar to Lake Placid the whole race is centered around the small town so you get to see your family and friends at least 10 times during the race. This past July I completed Ironman Whistler. This race was by far the prettiest race I’ve ever been to. You are nestled in the mountains and it’s hard not to be distracted by the views during the entire day. Next year I’m hoping to sign up for Cozumel or AZ, and then at least one Ironman a year till my body says it can’t handle it anymore!

Craig: What inspired you to found a triathlon club when you lived in Hoboken?

Andrew: In 2006, I had been training with a few guys I met at the local masters swim practices. After training together a ton and looking to invite others to our workouts, we decided that we should start a triathlon club. Living in the NYC area, all clubs were coaching based, so they required a huge investment of hundreds of dollars. We decided we wanted to create a club for the common person, more social than competitive that would be beginner friendly. So that’s what we did, Gold Coast Triathlon was born and we charged $20 a year with several group workouts planned each week. We started with 4 guys and one girl and by the time I left nearly 2 years ago, we had over 150 paying members. I’ll be the first to admit, moving west was the best thing for Gold Coast Triathlon. Being President since its inception, the club was limited to what I had time to do. Moving forced the club to create a board and committees. The club has grown to over 200 members and even has their own VO2 testing for use by its members.

Craig: What brought on your move to San Diego?

Andrew: Why would any guy move 3,000 miles away from the place he called home for over ten years, a girl of course! In 2011, a small storm called Hurricane Irene shut down the city of Hoboken, NJ where I lived and forced evacuations. Since I was evacuated from my apartment, I decided to hit the local bar of course! A good friend of mine said she was doing the same thing and had a friend she’d like me to meet. The next part is a bit of a blur, but I can say that I knew I had met the girl I was going to be with. This past Christmas, she even said YES and now in February I’ll be marrying fellow TCSD member Dena Garcia!

Craig: What volunteer activities have you done since joining the TCSD?

Andrew: Because of my strong swimming background, I always liked coaching. Since joining TCSD, I’ve been coaching the masters program at the JCC a couple times a month. If you’re ever looking for a good workout and a coach who’s going to yell at you (I mean encourage you) to do your best, look for when I’m coaching, typically on Monday nights.

Craig: What are your favorite benefits of membership in the TCSD?

Andrew: I really love all of the group workout options during the week. There are so many different workouts to choose from every day that it’s hard to pick which ones I want to go to. I love the fact that TCSD is so social and friendly, being new it was nice to go to a workout or meeting and have people come up to me and introduce me to others like I had been a member for years.

Craig: You are on the TCSD Ambassador Team. What has that opportunity been like?

Andrew: Being an ambassador has been an awesome privilege. TCSD is the original tri club and I was honored to represent what that means at all of my races and training this year. Being an ambassador has allowed me to get more involved in helping where ever I can with the club and get a better understanding on how a club this size works.

Craig: If you could waive a magic wand over the sport of triathlon, what would you like to see changed?

Andrew: I believe the largest thing missing in the sport of triathlon is a better emphasis on the professional athletes. Outside of ITU, there is no circuit or race series that allows the pros to survive off of just racing. Currently pros have to survive by doing other endeavors rather than being able to just focus on racing. The pros in our sport are #1 marketer of the different races and make a considerable effort in trying to expand the sport. Nobody would have even heard of Kona if it wasn’t for the professional athletes fighting on Wide World of Sports back in the 80s. I think the professionals should be allowed to be professional and not have to constantly worry about finances because race series won’t pay them their dues.

Craig: What are your future triathlon goals?

Andrew: The ultimate goal for anyone racing long distance is to qualify for Kona. Being in the 30-34 age group currently makes this goal very difficult, but I won’t quit trying! I’d also like to win a race overall at some point in my career. I’ve been fortunate enough to finish 2nd or 3rd on multiple occasions, but it would be great to finish on the top spot.

Craig: Andrew, thank you so much for sharing your story. The Gold Coast Triathlon Club’s loss is our gain! The TCSD is thrilled to have you and Dena among our members. Good luck in achieving all of your dreams!

Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach. Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or

Posted in 2014, Half Marathon, Running Race, TCSD Conversation, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

TCSD Conversation: Kat Gunsur – July 2014

Kat "working" at TriRock San Diego 2013 which benefits Team Challenge.

Kat “working” at TriRock San Diego 2013 which benefits Team Challenge.

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I had the very rewarding opportunity recently to talk triathlon with Kat Gunsur. Kat wears a lot of triathlon hats including that as the TCSD’s Social Media Director. She is a huge part of the process that puts us on the map and gives our club world-wide visibility. Kat is also very focused on helping others as you will see by her work with Team Challenge.

Craig: What sports did you do before triathlon?

Kat: Ice Skating, Horseback Riding, Ballet, Jazz, and surfing; my little heart was broken many times in those sports. Unfortunately, my brother was good at EVERYTHING he did, and me, well, not so much. We grew up playing club soccer just like my dad did when he grew up Istanbul, Turkey (Fun fact: I have dual citizenship in the US and Turkey) I remember watching him and my brother play, and they were SO GOOD and FAST. My brother is one of those people who is naturally gifted, so much so that he won the 8000 Meter Challenge 2 years in a row – and I didn’t even know about it for a while! The 8000 Meter Challenge is a race where participants climb the 3 tallest peaks in Southern California in 24 hours for a total elevation gain of 8000 meters (Mt. San Antonio, Mt. San Gorgonio, San Jacinto Peak).

Gymnastics was my first love and I of course dreamed of being like Dominique Moceanu and cursed my parents for not signing my life away to gymnastics at 3 years old. Instead I started at 13… I was already too old. Nonetheless, I was OBSESSED with gymnastics and was also on my high school’s Varsity dance team and dance company, lettering in Dance and Theatre (yes you can actually do that). Gymnastics was my world, but I just didn’t have the talent and so those who can’t do, coach, just like the famous Bela Karolyi. I coached for 8 years in LA, San Diego and San Francisco.

Craig: After college you worked as an intern at the Olympic Training Center. How did you land that job and what did it entail?

Kat: Gymnastics was such a passion of mine that I used to mock design how my gym would look inside on Microsoft paint…..super high tech. I received my BS Management degree at San Diego State and during my time there was part of the Business Honors Program, while also coaching, joining a sorority, choreographing for the SDSU theatre department and of course massive amounts of partying.

I was pretty serious about owning my own gym one day and was stoked on the opportunity to live with Olympic athletes. Living at the Olympic training center meant that I had the opportunity to live like an Olympic athlete in the dorms, eat like an athlete, have my room cleaned daily and also train like an athlete……except in Operations management mastery and high intensity intervals of Microsoft Excel.

But in all seriousness, the Olympic Training center was a playground for my old athletic self, and the previous mentioned massive amounts of SDSU partying, led to an overweight, sloppy looking Kat. The training center in Chula Vista hosts Track and Field athletes, softball players, archers, field hockey players, Olympic weightlifters, rowers etc. We also received a free membership to a popular fitness chain and my love for fitness EXPLODED during this time. I kind of caught that fitness craze bug taking kickboxing, strength training, and cardio classes.

Stupidly, I did not continue working at the USOTC after my internship ended in 2006, and instead moved to San Francisco to be the lead program director of a girl’s gymnastics team in the Presidio right next to the Golden Gate Bridge. It was there that my gymnastics career ended, I had lost my drive for pounding perfection into 6 year olds (the significance of what a pointed toe and high releve should look like lost its appeal) and I starting managing facilities at this popular fitness chain throughout San Francisco.

Craig: How did you get started with triathlon?

Kat: My relationship with triathlon began during what I would call a quarter life crisis. Uncertainty in relationships, where I was living, what I was doing and also lack of friendships as all my friends were still finishing college at SDSU all came to a head when I starting working at the corporate office for this fitness chain.

They really encouraged us to live the fitness lifestyle so all of a sudden and it was not uncommon for everyone to be working out on their lunch hours so suddenly….I found myself running. Running is strange for an ex gymnast and soccer player. You pretty much prance sprint run 50 yards to a spring boardy horse launcher thingy in gymnastics.

I remember when my goal was to run 8 minutes straight, then 20, then 30. I signed up for a 5k and didn’t realize till recently (thanks to Athlinks) that I had won my age group. I called my mom almost in tears of joy telling her it was one of the hardest things I had ever done; funny now 6 years later after finishing Ironman, a few half’s and countless sprint/Olympic distances.

Unfortunately, things only got worse in my personal life while I started training for the Nike Women’s half marathon; a race I said I was only doing because I wanted a Tiffany’s necklace (so shallow I know, now I have 6 of them from running Nike every year). Something changed in me that day and that race changed my entire core being.

After seeing the sea of purple surround me at Nike I found myself on the Team in Training website signing up for a triathlon to raise $5,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s mission and for the Lavaman Triathlon 6 months later. I didn’t even know what a triathlon was!

Fate was sealed. I raised over the $5,000 minimum, made friends for life (I was just asked to be the Godmother for my best friend from TNT), and crossed the finish line at Lavaman in 2008.

Craig: You became a coach for Team in Training pretty quickly. What was that experience like?

Kat: After my first triathlon with TNT I did every race I could, became a captain my second season and then moved to North Carolina to become the Fitness Director of O2 Fitness and started doing what I really loved, group exercise and personal training, teaching such classes as TRX, spin, bootcamps, ab sculpt, sports performance etc.

After 1 year in triathlon, Team in Training needed a coach in Raleigh so it’s only completely logical that I would coach right? My fitness certifications and past coaching experience only gave me a sliver of what I needed to do, but I coached for them for two seasons sending athletes to the Nation’s Triathlon and Wilmington Sprint in 2009 and 2010.

Craig: What is Team Challenge and what was your involvement early on?

Kat: I started to realize that I loved what triathlon gave to me but also I LOVED helping others, volunteering and helping important causes such as the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

I did NOT love North Carolina. My family was in LA, my friends in SD, I had to get back to San Diego.

Team Challenge which is a half marathon and triathlon training program that benefits the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, had an opening for their triathlon manager. This job was made for me!

I moved back to San Diego in 2012 and have been working with the Team Challenge San Diego TriRock team since. Team Challenge is an amazing and inspiring organization. The people I have met are my family and they have humbled me in my training and my race endeavors. I’m never sick and I don’t have an incurable disease and I started growing tired of my “ME ME ME, look at me, look what I did!” attitude. To see the strength of my teammates when they may not be feeling well or have been released 5 days from the hospital before TriRock and still racing truly makes me realize that there are people who are bigger than me and that are fighting DAILY with IBD. They do not let it bring them down, and instead find comfort and support with our group. You cannot find a better job than this.

Team Challenge has brought over $169 million to research and have funded huge initiatives, especially in this past year. We have received a 4 Star Rating from Charity Navigator the past 3 years in a row, an honor ONLY 12% of other nonprofits receive.

A lot of people don’t understand why this is important, or what Crohn’s and Colitis and why is it so debilitating? Well……Just because you can’t see the effects of someone who has Crohn’s and Colitis doesn’t mean that it is not an important cause. Crohn’s and Colitis are both inflammatory bowel diseases that affect your colon, large intestine and/or entire gastrointestinal tract. A lot of people call it the “invisible disease” for that reason and also because it is not something typically someone would want to share! Oh it’s that bathroom disease? No it’s unfortunately more than that, in and out hospital stays, mental illness, anxiety, multiple medications, sometimes multiple surgeries and even death. I think now more than ever I am rallying support and funding for these two diseases because a top researcher was asked this past year what kind of research we see being done in the next 10 years and he said NONE….because we will have a cure by then!

Craig: Congratulations on your recent promotion to National Triathlon Team Manager for Team Challenge. What will you do in that role?

Kat: I’m EXTREMELY excited and honored to be given this role as it means that I will continue in Team Challenge’s efforts while working more closely with Ironman and Ironman 70.3 events. This past September we were given over 200 spots at IM Chattanooga for Team Challenge and each participant must raise $5,000 to gain entry into the race. Yes, you are calculating that right…..that is $1 million dollars that goes back to CCFA and is huge for our organization as at TriRock we will usually raise about $490,000. In reality people will over fundraise as this is near and dear to their heart.

This event sold out in less than 3 minutes. Naturally, triathletes wanted to be a part of an Inaugural IM event in Tennessee and the 200 spots sold within 24 hours. Truly amazing!

With this promotion I will have the chance to support people in their road to Ironman through their fundraising and training with Team Challenge. I wish I could tell you what races we have slated for our 2015 year, seriously…..I am the luckiest girl in the world and will go places I’ve never been to and meet people I would have never met without this organization.

If you’ve ever wanted to train for a higher purpose or maybe honor someone you know or yourself, I would highly recommend training with any charity training program. Can you say life changer?

Craig: What do you do as the TCSD Social Media Director and how does the club benefit from social media?

Kat: I have to thank Cory Gasaway for interviewing me for this opportunity. Cory and I met at the Rush Indoor cycling studio where I teach a few times a week. I also proudly coach at Orange Theory Fitness in Point Loma and La Jolla as well as the Wavehouse in PB. We did not have a social media position before I started in April 2013 so I implemented the transition from TCSD group page to a fan page.

This is critical in that you can analyze the reach you are attaining from each post, and also reach out to not only our members, but potential members, pro athletes and our amazing sponsors. With the fan page we can communicate with members with what is on the schedule for the week, inform them about future events, post photos, create videos of our club races and connect with new, present and past members. What I love about using this platform is that we are almost keeping an online yearbook of TriClub San Diego while also celebrating other exciting events in the triathlon world.

I am able to schedule posts way out in advance so that I can still continue on with my full time job with TC as well as my teaching schedule (about 12 hours/week at Orange Theory and The Rush, I LOVE teaching since I love seeing people reach their goals and it doesn’t hurt to get paid for training every once in a while!).

We’ve also added a Twitter and Instagram account (@triclubofsd) into the mix and just released our club YouTube channel!

Craig: What are some of your favorite triathlon race experiences?

Kat: Lavaman 2008 – my first triathlon ever, in Hawaii #nobigdeal.

Wildflower long course 2012 – basically the day I started dating Scott Smith and accomplished a long time goal of finishing something I used to think was the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Vineman 2012 – my first and not last Ironman

Alcatraz 2013 – the challenges I faced that day (not being an amazing swimmer) and finding myself COMPLETELY ALONE out in the water at one point, left me feeling like I could do anything I put my mind to.

North Face Endurance Challenge – 50 mile race I paced Scott with for 20 miles. His first and LAST 50, it was one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever been a part of. The views, the challenges, the competitors and the journey really brought us so close together.

Bass Lake 2014 – I didn’t race, but I sent 15 athletes from Team Challenge with my coaches. One of our participants was one of the last to cross the finish line and the entire team waited for her till the bitter end and ran her into the finish line….truly an exemplary example of the meaning of TEAM

Craig: Your relationship with Scott Smith is an interesting one. How has your relationship with Scott evolved over the years?

Kat: Scott and I actually shared a bathroom together back at SDSU in 2005-2006 when we were roommates. For a few weeks he walked around campus with sparkles on him because he didn’t realize the lotion of mine he was using had a little in it, HA!

We were complete slobs back then, partying all the time Wednesday through Saturday nights, could not care less about school or doing much of anything athletic. After I graduated from college, he and my friends continued playing beer pong regularly and I was on my way to becoming more obsessed with fitness.

Scott and I have always had a strong relationship as friends and I think what I love most about him is that we just get each other and always finish each other’s…..sandwiches.

However, I had other dumb boys in the picture so he sat in the background for about 7 years. When I was in North Carolina he told me that he was training for Wildflower. I was literally blown away, as Wildflower was always a dream of mine and I had no idea that he was into triathlons as much as I was. The last thing I remember him really dreaming about was building a beer couch out of Coors light and for him, he probably remembers how much I loved cheese enchiladas and cheap champagne…….this is really embarrassing, geez.

Anyway, let’s just say this was a huge draw to move back to San Diego, be near my family, have the job of my dreams, and train with my best friend. Wildflower was a success and we’ve been together ever since, completed our first Ironman together, did the whole tattoo thing, and recently moved in together combining our 3 cats Richard, Bumblebee and Megatron.

I actually wrote a fun article about it for, you can read about it and hear about my other failed relationships where they pretended they were into triathlon, only to throw up on a training run where I was only at 70% of my max. Relationship ender for sure.

Craig: You and Scott are on the TCSD Ambassador Team. What has the Ambassador experience meant to you?

Kat: I’m really honored to be a part of this team. To move back here only 2 years ago, not know a soul, what bike shop to go to or even where to ride or run, it just feels good to be a part of this.

I was on a “club” team back in North Carolina. We got a lame kit and were sent on our way. No one said hi at races or “GO TRI CLUB” as you passed by. There weren’t any awesome meetings with Andy Potts or Scott Jurek and there certainly weren’t any free races. We are extremely lucky.

I’ve had some insane opportunities thanks to the TriClub such as winning cool stuff at meetings, writing articles for or modeling for Jim Vance’s latest book (my Mom wants to own every copy unless she already does). And more importantly I’ve met some amazing people who have really helped me; Brian Long did my first century ride with me while I was training for Ironman and Ken and Anita Flagg were always there every freezing Wednesday morning in February when I was training for Alcatraz and I seriously could not have done it without them. I think the people who inspire me the most are not always the pros, I’m more inspired by people in this club (too many names to list, but seriously you all are bad a#$@)

I get a little territorial if I see someone speaks ill of the club on our Yahoo forum or on Facebook. I mean…….what are you really complaining about here? We live in San Diego! We have the best training spots and we have the best club with amazing incentives for only $75 a year!

Our board works so incredibly hard and I am so thankful for their efforts to make us the “classiest” tri club around : )

Craig: What athletic accomplishment are you the most proud of?

Kat: My first place overall finish at Warrior Dash in North Carolina out of 2,100 females. No but seriously, I’m most proud of the receiving the “Most Improved athlete” award in 1995 when I played AYSO soccer.

Yep, I’ve had many podium finishes in triathlon, completed an Ironman and a few 70.3’s but I still remember the feeling I felt after working so hard toward improving myself and being recognized by my coaches in front of my team and parents. It may sound ridiculous, but maybe you can relate. That moment has propelled me forward with all my athletic, personal and career goals for the rest of my lifetime.

Craig: What are your future triathlon goals?

Kat: Longevity in triathlon. My overall goal is avoid burnout from the sport. I really want to enjoy it for my lifetime so instead of racing every single weekend, or a multitude of large races every year. I’ve decided that I want to always do Wildflower every year with Scott and then one “A” race. This year it will be the New York City Marathon (I actually got in!) and we’ve both never been to New York. Next year it will be Ironman Arizona so my Mom can see me race an Ironman. Yes, I would always love to be faster, stand on more podiums and swim with total ease. At the end of the day though, I want to continue to enjoy this life that triathlon has given me.

Craig: Kat, thank you so much for sharing your story. You epitomize what it means to give back to your community. I’m very glad to have had this chance to get to know you better. I know one thing for certain – I won’t be borrowing your lotion any time soon! Good luck in all that you do!

Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach. Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or

Posted in 2014, Half Marathon, Marathon, Running Race, TCSD Conversation, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glen Ellyn Freedom Four Mile Run

Tim Schertz and Craig

Tim Schertz and Craig

Craig with Yohe family - Megan, Karin and Kent

Craig with Yohe family – Megan, Karin and Kent

Craig and Kent - 1st day of school in 1967

Craig and Kent – 1st day of school in 1967

On July 4th I ran the Glen Ellyn Freedom Four Mile Run. I grew up in Glen Ellyn, IL so this race was a trip down memory lane. The highlights of the day were running into some old friends.

The big surprise was running into my buddy Kent Yohe and his family. Kent and I have been friends since before our first day of school as 5 year olds. Kent and his wife Karin live in the Kansas City area where Kent is a pilot for Southwest Airlines. They were at the race to cheer on their daughter Megan who ran for 4 years at Vanderbilt University. Megan just graduated from Vandy and as I write this has just started her job as a 2nd grade teacher in Bogota, Columbia. Megan is an outstanding runner. I knew I would have my hands full to beat her.

My other reunion was with long time triathlon friends Tim Schertz and Johnny Ratkovich. We planned to meet up at the race, but I was just as excited to see them. I’ve known these guys since the early ‘90’s. Johnny did the race with his kids and Tim spectated.

I got “chicked” twice – by a 17 year old and 14 year old who were the 1st and 2nd place women overall. Despite that, I had a great race as I finished in 23:23. I won the men’s 50-59 age group as I placed 1st out of 88. I finished 17th out of 837 overall finishers. Megan won the women’s 20-29 age group and was the 3rd woman overall with a time of 25:38.

Living the life…

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ITU Chicago Triathlon

Pre race with San Diego friends from left to right: DeeAnn Smith, Deborah and Brian Jones

Pre race with San Diego friends from left to right: DeeAnn Smith, Deborah and Brian Jones

Post race at Buckingham Fountain: 4th place out of 114 men age 50-54

Post race at Buckingham Fountain: 4th place out of 114 men age 50-54

Family reunion in Lake Geneva, WI

Family reunion in Lake Geneva, WI

On June 29th I raced the ITU Chicago Triathlon. For me this was a return to my roots as I grew up 25 miles west of the city in Glen Ellyn. It was also a chance to preview the 2015 ITU World Championship race course.

The night before the race Chicago got slammed with heavy winds and a deluge of rain. On race morning as I walked from my hotel to the transition area in Grant Park it was still sprinkling, but God shined His light on us as we had dry roads and sunny skies for the actual race. The 1.5K (0.93 mile) swim was in Lake Michigan in Monroe Harbor. The water was mostly calm and the water temperature was 68 degrees – perfect! Words can’t express how awesome it is to race in beautiful, clean water and every time you take a breath see 100+ story buildings on the horizon. I had a very solid swim as I came out of the water in 7th place with a split of 24:42. My time was 1:47 behind the first place guy. I think the swim was a tad longer than advertised, but I loved every second in the water.

The bike was supposed to be 40K (24.8 miles), but it was actually 23 miles. The pancake flat bike course was 4 laps of just over 9K each. We always had at least 2 lanes so it was very wide. Despite having to do so many laps, drafting was not much of a problem. I think that’s because they did a good job with timing the wave starts to begin the race. My only complaint for the entire race was that over half the bike course was on Lower Wacker Drive which is underground. Chicago is a gorgeous city and this race attracted athletes from around the world. It was a shame that the organizers failed to produce a more attractive bike course. Hopefully they will correct this when Chicago hosts Worlds next year. At any rate, I biked very well for me. My split was 1:01:29, which was 8:09 behind the fastest bike split on the day. I had the 39th best bike split in my age group and after all the jockeying I was still in 7th place after the bike. You could argue that a lot of the guys that out biked me were never going to be a factor in the race, but I sure wish I could bike better.

The 10K (6.2 miles) run was 3.5 pancake flat laps. The multi-lap format for both the bike and run courses was a lot of fun and very spectator friendly. To highlight the run, we circled around Buckingham Fountain at the end of each run lap. My wife Laurie was spectating and cheering for me. She is very knowledgeable and she always feeds me great information during these races. She fired me up to have the fastest run split on the day – 36:54. The next fastest was 1:18 slower so I really did crush the run course moving me up to finish 4th out of 114 men in the 50-54 age group and 81st out of 1,719 overall finishers. My time was 2:09:31. I only missed the podium by 22 seconds and was 5:40 from 1st place. My strength is not flat courses so I was very pleased as this was a good result for me.

To see some of my race pictures, click on this link:

There were a lot of fringe benefits to this trip. Immediately after the race Laurie and I headed up to Lake Geneva, WI for 4 days of family reunion time. This has become an annual reunion and usually we have about 18 adults including my Mom, my 2 sisters and their families which include a handful of kids. This year we also invited cousins to add about 16 more adults and a couple kids to the mix. People came from as far away as Texas, Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and California. It was awesome to see so many beloved people again! Another major highlight of the trip was 2 separate dinners at Giordano’s Pizza with my Chicago area buddies, Paul Winans and Chuck Carey.

Living the life…

Posted in 2014, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments