San Dieguito Half Marathon

Jonathan Jefferson - Always at the top step of life's podium.

Jonathan Jefferson – Always at the top step of life’s podium.

Men's 50-54 Podium: from left to right - Mark Ford (3rd), Craig Zelent (2nd), Jeff Creighton (1st)

Men’s 50-54 Podium: from left to right – Mark Ford (3rd), Craig Zelent (2nd), Jeff Creighton (1st)

On February 8th I ran the San Dieguito Half Marathon in Rancho Santa Fe. This was the 47th time this great race has been held and it was my 16th time to cross the finish line. I had a great race as I finished in 1:23:06 (6:21/mile) and placed 2nd out of 68 men in the 50-54 age group and 13th out of 1,107 overall finishers. This was the 2nd year in a row where I got dusted by Jeff Creighton who won the age group with an amazing time of 1:19:13. Hopefully next year Jeff will oversleep because I can’t hold a candle to that guy.

They changed the course for this year’s race. I biked the new course 1 week prior to the race. I could tell the new course was going to be more challenging. The old course was very hilly and hard enough. The new course was going to be faster for the first 5 miles, but after that I predicted we would pay the price. I was not mistaken. I was more fit going into this year’s race so I was faster by 47 seconds, but there is no doubt the course is now more difficult.

One of my highlights was running with the eventual women’s champion Beth Gerdes…for a while. Until she chicked me! Beth won the women’s race with a time of 1:20:54. She was the only woman to beat me. Beth and I have been friends for the last 6 years. She does hold down a real job while also being a professional triathlete. It has really been exciting to see her triathlon career take off. We ran together for the first 7 miles and we even managed a little bit of conversation. The final thing I heard her say was “I wonder if my boyfriend will win this race or my ex-husband?” and then she dropped me like a bad habit. As it turned out, her boyfriend Luke McKenzie did beat her ex-husband James Walsh by 59 seconds. They went 1-2. Luke has placed as high as 2nd place overall at Ironman Hawaii. James has won his age group at the Xterra Triathlon World Championships. Both are amazing athletes.

To see my pictures from the race, click on this link

I ran this race in the memory of my Tri Club friend Jonathan Jefferson who passed away recently after a gallant battle with cancer. JJ gave so much to so many. I miss you, my friend.

Living the life…

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TCSD Conversation: Paula Munoz – February 2015

4x Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington and Paula Munoz

4x Ironman World Champion Chrissie Wellington and Paula Munoz

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

Recently I had the good fortune of talking triathlon with TCSD member Paula Munoz. Paula was elected TCSD Secretary this past fall and has worn many hats for the club over the years. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Paula and I know you will, as well.

Craig: What was your athletic background before triathlon?

Paula: I grew up in Sacramento and was lucky to attend really small schools. Really small schools meant that I didn’t have to “try out” for teams! I played volleyball, basketball, and softball in junior high school. When I went to high school, I really took advantage and played every sport that they offered. Volleyball, basketball, track and field, cross-country, soccer, tennis, softball. If there was a team, I joined it! I moved on to a very small college, where I was on the basketball roster my freshman year. Yes, this 5’1’’ girl was on a college basketball team for a hot minute! In my “grown-up” years, I mainly stuck to running events and soccer. My soccer team is where I met (JCC Swim Director) Chris Costales and first heard about TCSD.

Craig: You were on the inaugural Team Solana in 2009. What is Team Solana and what was that experience like?

Paula: I joined the Club in 2009 with a great group of people. I was a part of the inaugural Team Solana (currently known as Team Classic). This Team was created as a fundraiser for TCSD Cares (“the giving arm” of TCSD) and designed to take people from true beginner to the Solana Beach Triathlon in eight short weeks. Coach Steve Tally took fifteen perfect strangers and turned them into triathletes and great friends! Steve told us up front, “Nothing bonds like fear!” Together we learned all the aspects of triathlon through workouts and clinics. Joining the Team was a true life-changer for me. I was bored with just about everything and was thinking about moving back to Lake Tahoe. I needed *something* new in my life, and oh I got it! I met some great people and learned a new sport.

Craig: The following year you became one of the Team Solana Coordinators? How was that experience different from the previous year?

Paula: In 2010, Steve Tally asked me to help coordinate the new Team. I was so flattered and so excited! I definitely wanted to recreate my experience for the new Team. I wanted to facilitate the relationship between the Team members, as well as with the mentors from the previous Teams. As the program has grown, it has become a large undertaking to organize everything, but the time investment is worth it to me when I see the athletes complete a beginner race at Glorietta Bay, or cross their first official finish line. Years later, I have also been able to watch as some crossed the finish line at their first 140.6! I think the time and effort we have put into the program has inspired volunteerism in the members. Out of the Teams have come a couple of Race Directors, a Programs and Events Director, Membership Director, several Beginner Bike Ride leaders, the Social Director, and a Pot Luck Coordinator. Even those who haven’t taken on a specific title can be found volunteering at expos, meetings, and races. In addition to all the training and clinics, a huge benefit to joining the Team is that we know someone at nearly every Club event. This is a major plus when you join a Club of over 2,000 members!

Craig: Now that you have been a triathlete for a number of years, what are some of your favorite destination races?

Paula: I haven’t participated in many out-of-town races (YET), but my favorite so far has been Barb’s Race. This race takes place on the same day and same course as Vineman (the oldest independent 140.6 in the US). Barb’s Race is the only all-women’s 70.3 in the world, and serves as a fundraiser for cancer charities. I think those two factors contribute to the very positive and encouraging vibe of the race. Barb’s is the trifecta of racing a beautiful course, for a great cause, with lots of TCSD members! It was so much fun to yell “Go Tri Club” at all the members who passed me on the bike course, and I received lots of high fives from fellow members on the looped run course. The last couple of years, I have gone as a spectator and it has just become a really fun summer trip with friends.

Though I have not participated, another race that is great fun for members is Ironman Arizona. This is another race with a very large TCSD presence. Both years I’ve made the trip, President Mike Plumb has hauled out the Club tents and set up on the run course. He set up the BBQ and had food and snacks for our members and their families. It’s great to have one meeting spot to get together and cheer for our athletes. A 140.6 can be a long day for spectators too, so it helps to have snacks and company!

Craig: Another area you have had significant involvement in over the years has been the “Introduction to TCSD” meetings. How can a person benefit by attending an Intro meeting and what information is covered at these meetings?

Paula: In 2012, Jay Lewis and I took over the monthly Beginner and Networking meetings. We modified the content a little bit and renamed them the Intro to TCSD meetings. We have had a great run of bringing people into TCSD family. Essentially, the Intro to TCSD meetings answer the question, “What do I get for my $75?” We talk about the workouts, meetings, events, discounts, FRIENDS, all the advantages of being a member of the best club on the planet! We try to keep the mood casual and unintimidating at these meetings, so I like to start out by sharing some of my triathlon exploits. Like when I zipped my wetsuit up front, or about the time I nearly set my rims on fire by riding my brakes down the hills on the 56 bike path. No-speed crashes are always a fun topic. I think it’s important to convey the message that we all have to start somewhere! I strongly recommend that beginners attend both the Intro and Tri 101 meetings. Tri 101 covers the basics of the sport, while the Intro covers the basics of the Club. Both are beneficial, both are monthly, and both can answer the question “Where do I start?”

Craig: Can you tell me about your double life…that you were once a spy? Nobody really reads these interviews so I’m sure it will be fine if you just tell me.

Paula: Haha! Well, I do have a degree in Investigations, which came in handy when I was considering joining our Club! Seriously though, I made it sound like I heard about the Club and then just signed up. Nope. This was a process. While Chris assured me that the Club was for everyone, I couldn’t take his word for it. He is one of the best athletes I’ve ever known, and also one of the nicest people around. I had to see for myself that he was telling the truth and not just trying to be nice. So I looked at the website, found out where the workouts were taking place, and showed up to a few wearing a hat and sunglasses. I wanted to see who was there, what they were wearing, what they were doing, what equipment they needed, etc. I even “went out for my Saturday run” at Fiesta Island so I could see the who, what, where, and how of the Club races. I like information and I learn best by seeing things for myself. I quickly found out that Chris was right, the Club really is for everyone!

Craig: Who do you look up to in our local community of San Diego?

Paula: Someone I looked up to in our local community was Joan Kroc. Sure, we can talk about where her fortune came from, but I’d rather talk about what she did with it. I admired the way she donated money to all kinds of causes and never wanted any recognition. Her name is on several buildings in San Diego, but that was only to encourage others to also donate money. My favorite piece of her legacy is the Kroc Center located in Rolando. She provided the funding to turn an abandoned grocery store and empty parking lot into the most amazing recreation center I have ever seen. When I was studying recreation at SDSU, one of my assignments was to design the facility of my dreams, without regard to budget or other roadblocks. When the Kroc Center opened a couple of years later, it was almost exactly what I had drawn! She paid attention to the details. She wanted the center to be located in an underserved community, and be accessible by public transportation. She wanted the Center to provide not only athletic opportunities, but also arts and education. She gave many gifts to San Diego.

Craig: Who do you look up to in the TCSD?

Paula: This is a no-brainer for me, definitely Steve Tally! I am so glad that he was one of the first people I met in the Club. His knowledge of triathlon is endless, his enthusiasm for the sport (and life) are contagious, and he has a way of convincing people that anything is possible. The one quality of his that I really admire and try to emulate is that when a person speaks to Steve, he gives his full attention. No matter what else is going on, the person in front of him is most important. This is a very rare quality. I always try to do the same because it makes such a difference. I can’t tell you how many times Steve has stood in a dark parking lot answering my silly questions and giving me advice on this, that, or the other. When he first asked me to help with Team Solana, it was the least I could do to start giving back to all the new triathletes. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work side-by-side with Steve and hope that some of those great qualities would rub off on me! I also admire how he balances work, family, triathlon, being a rock star, and so many other things.

The kindness and investment of time shown to me by Steve and Jonathan Jefferson in that first year set the tone for my involvement in TCSD. Many of our member’s stories begin with “I didn’t know anyone in the Club and Jonathan introduced himself and then swam/biked/ran with me.” This is the spirit of our Club. Jonathan’s legacy is for us to make everyone feel welcome and HAVE FUN. We are blessed with good health and plenty of sunshine. Let’s enjoy every minute. I will always be grateful to these two men and that’s why I do what I do for our Club.

Craig: A couple of years ago you had to endure a pretty serious surgery. What happened and what has your recovery process been like?

Paula: In 2012, one week before Soma 70.3, I felt a very sudden, very sharp pain near my shoulder blade. Since all the plans were already in place, I attempted to do the race and had a predictable outcome. When I got back home, I started a long string of doctor’s appointments to try to find out what was wrong. I heard everything from strained muscles to shingles to rotator cuff issues. Finally, someone took an x-ray of my neck and it was very clear. I had a disc that was about to sever my spinal cord. The rest of the appointment was a bit of a blur. He told me to go home and stay home until surgery because if I made one wrong move I could be a paraplegic. I think I was in shock because on my way home, I called the doctor’s office to ask if I could still play in my soccer game that night. I asked a lot of questions about what caused this condition because I never wanted it to happen again. It was a degenerative condition, so as far as anyone can tell, it was caused by a car accident I’d had about ten years ago. I ended up having cervical spinal fusion surgery, and the recovery has been so much slower than I was prepared for. I understood that I would resume normal activities in approximately ninety days (FYI “normal activities” means different things to different people). At first, the fusion was not taking place as it should, so I was possibly facing a second surgery. I was so frustrated. Peyton Manning had the same surgery and he was cleared for the NFL in nine months. I couldn’t lift over ten pounds for a year! After what seemed like an eternity, I was cleared to begin training again. I’ve had a difficult time getting back into the swing of things. I am still anxious about being out on the roads, but I need to remember that with all my metal parts, my neck is actually stronger than ever. It hurts to do certain things, but that it is because I am still regaining strength in my neck. I have felt very discouraged because I can’t keep up with my friends anymore, but I know I can get there again. I am very fortunate to have the encouragement of my Teammates and others who continue to invite me on rides and runs. I just have to go at my own speed and then sometimes they buy me coffee or bread afterward.

Craig: What do you do for a day job, and what do you do to encourage healthy lifestyles at work?

Paula: When I am not taking minutes or planning an Intro meeting, I spend my time at a psychiatric hospital. Yes, as an employee. I work at an outpatient program for mentally ill adults. This is a very emotionally difficult job for me. The wheels keep turning even after I pull out of the parking lot at the end of the day. The Club is a good outlet for me to help take my mind off of work and focus on other things. The upside of my job is that my co-workers also have athletic backgrounds and we are all on the same page as far as encouraging healthy habits for each other and the clients we serve. In fact, I have been successful at talking my co-workers into doing the Spring Sprint relay with me!

When I first started my job, no one (staff or clients) really made an effort to move around during the course of the day. I started a walking club a few years ago, and it helped to get people up and moving. Some started calling it “Walky Talky” because we would pick a topic and have everyone chime in. It was great for social interaction as well. Currently we have a program going called Fit15. One of my co-workers created a calendar of daily movement activities and chart to track progress. Some of the clients will now initiate a morning stretch or dance party, so I think it’s all slowly catching on. It is no secret that exercise can help alleviate some symptoms of depression and anxiety! I have made a standing offer that I will buy a race entry and a pair of shoes for anyone who trains for a 5k event. So far no one has taken me up on my offer. As soon as one person takes advantage though, it might snowball and then I’ll need a second job!

Craig: What are your future goals?

Paula: A long term goal of mine is to establish a program similar to CAF, but for people who have mental health issues. This population could truly benefit from participating in triathlon, running, or other recreational sports. I think the interest is there, but for many people, basic equipment such as shoes and clothing are simply not in the budget. My co-workers and friends have donated new or gently-used shoes and equipment, and I have helped fix up/accessorize a bike or two with some of my spare parts. For most of my clients, bike helmets are unaffordable luxuries and getting a flat means they stay home and isolate until they can somehow get the money for a new tube or tire. This is an undesirable option for anyone with mental health issues. So I guess it really isn’t just about recreation. Yes, I’d like to save the world.

Craig: Paula, I knew I’d hit a home run by interviewing you. In fact, it was a grand slam! Thank you so much for sharing your story and for doing all you do for the Tri Club, your patients and everyone else you come into contact with. I wish you the very best of luck in every area of your life. You deserve it!

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

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TCSD Conversation: Steve Banister – January 2015

Steve Banister representing the TCSD at the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland

Steve Banister representing the TCSD at the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland

TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I had the pleasure recently of talking triathlon with Steve Banister, our most recent President. Steve did an awesome job as President the past 2 years. Please join me as we get to know a great guy who has given selflessly to the club and our community, but who also happens to be a pretty fast triathlete.

Craig: What sports did you do prior to triathlon?

Steve: Soccer, baseball,football, track, and swimming growing up. Football, baseball and track to a much lesser extent. I probably fit best with the swim team and therefore chose to stick with them in retrospect.

Craig: What do you remember about your first triathlon?

Steve: I do not remember the name of the event, but it took place in Bradenton, FL. I believe I was 5th in my age group and mom says I was 12 years old. I remember being totally lost, pretty much the entire time. It was a pool swim, a mountain bike ride across a field, and a short run. I remember having a strange tasting sports drink after, that I only recently tasted something similar to again in Japan (pokari sweat). That stuff is great… if you are ever in Japan! I didn’t race again until my first year of college. I was 4th overall in a local small sprint race called Top Cop Triathlon in Temple Terrace (Tampa,FL). I rode bikes a bit growing up but never had an opportunity to race. I guess after the finish at Top Cop on a $40 yard sale bike I realized that I had been training for triathlons for a while without realizing it. I’ve fooled myself into believing triathlon serves a greater purpose ever since then. I guess it really does, but I try to keep in perspective with all the more important things in life.

Craig: I’ve heard that you’ve raced the Ironman distance once. How did that come to be and what was your experience like?

Steve: One of my first meetings with the club was at Road Runner Sports. I remember they had a deal where anyone could buy a pair of Avia shoes and get a free entry into a list of races. I was funemployed at the time and wanted to do an Ironman, so I went and signed up before the sales pitch was over. I selected the Vineman Full Triathlon and set off to train for it. There were still several months to train, but I went out a week or two later and came pretty close with a 100/15 brick. You know, just for practice. I kept training and eventually got a bad case of plantar fasciitis. The race itself was great. Well supported, small and comfortable, with a focus on the athletes.

Craig: You have had your share of podium finishes over the years, what race performances are you most proud of and why is that?

Steve: Winning is always fun, so I’d say my very first overall victory is one of the more memorable. It was a small race, as all overall wins I have, but a fun one. It was an Olympic distance race on the Gulf Coast called Beach Blast. I had a few minute lead coming out of the swim and came off the bike in second behind a guy with tree trunks for quads. I remember catching him at about the run turn around and him saying “its not fair, you have long legs”.

On that list also has to be Catalina Triathlon and Tri-Rock San Diego. Tri Rock was special for a few reasons. One, I was 6th overall the day before at the San Diego Tri Classic on a course that does not suit my strengths, so winning overall was totally unexpected. Two, leaving with a custom electric guitar. Three, my girlfriend Erin Hunter also won an electric guitar. Competitor, Asics and Taylor guitars teamed up and set the bar pretty high.

I’ve lost and totally bonked at enough races to know pro-triathlete isn’t a career for me and am pretty happy continuing to compete and push my limits as an age grouper, but would love to find the time to get faster and stay healthy.

Craig: What have been some of your favorite destination races that you have done?

Steve: ITU Age Group World Championships in Edmonton, Alberta mostly because I spent the week before in Banff. But partially because they built a million dollar chlorinated lake just for the event. Talk about dedication to an event.

Xterra World Championships in Maui because I started with the pros, wasn’t last out of the water AND eventually made it across the finish line. One piece of advice for Xterra hopefuls- respect the course and train like you mean it. Just because its in a park, doesn’t mean its a walk in the park.

McDonalds Ironhorse Bicycle Classic in Colorado is number one. It’s the one reason I never talk bad about McDonalds. They do a lot of strange things with food, but as long as they keep putting on the Ironhorse, I’m lovin’ it. It’s a 50 mile ride over two snow capped peaks between Durango and Silverton. As an added bonus the race is against a coal fired train.

Another favorite has to be the Jungfrau Marathon in Switzerland. A good friend, Daniel Crane, from grad school days qualified by being one of the top Scottsdale residents to finish at one of the hottest running races on the planet (Scottsdale Beat the Heat). 11.22 KM’s at 2:47 pm to commemorate the hottest day on record in Phoenix at 122 degrees in 1990. Scottsdale has a great sister city program set up with Interlaken, Switzerland. They set my friend up with free entry to the race and a few nights in a hotel. Daniel invited me to tag along in one of our typical “what’s the worst that could happen?” conversations and the city of Interlaken was nice enough to throw in another race entry. We we’re treated like dignitaries and offered copious amounts of rosti, beer and schnapps the day before the race. I had a pretty good idea how my race would go, so I didn’t hold back much. I had some major IT band issues leading up to the event so had to cut the training short, but thoroughly enjoyed the entire marathon. I stopped at around 35k and got a massage. The race is generally uphill with more than a mile in vertical gain. Near the top I passed some guys with Alphorn’s and saw a pretty substantial avalanche on the neighboring peaks. Daniel went on to be the 4th American at the event.

Craig: You were part of the inaugural TCSD Ambassador Team this year. How does that group contribute to the club and what does it mean to you to race in the Tri Club kit?

Steve: In taking an in depth look at how club numbers have fluctuated so much over the last 10 years it occurred to me that TCSD is finally experiencing what many other clubs around the world do. Competition from other clubs. Nearly every bike shop and coach in San Diego now have their own team. This change has reduced the overall number of members in the club, but improved access to the sport and the quality of organizations in the sport. The goal of the ambassador team is to represent the club in the best possible way by giving back to the volunteers and athletes that represent the club in all the best ways. I’m glad to be part of the team and humbled by the accomplishments of the other members.

Craig: Your 2 years as President of the TCSD have recently ended. We are grateful for your service. What would you like people to know about the day to day operation of the Tri Club that they might not be aware of?

Steve: Volunteers do what they want. We have the best volunteers because we empower members to improve the club, not because someone tells them what they should do. Our volunteers have the great ideas and see them through when we step aside. Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, but often they work out much better. The position of President is more about building good working relationships than dictating policy or creating rules.

Craig: Upon looking back, what were some of the greatest challenges the TCSD overcame during the past couple of years?

Steve: Focusing on the club members we have rather than pretending that the total number of people is our ultimate goal. We put on more races and events in the last two years than ever before. My personal goal was to provide members with the best possible value for their membership.

Craig: What would you like to see changed in the Tri Club?

Steve: I think the Yahoo group should be replaced with something more conducive to discussion about the club and triathlon. We should make an effort to more closely align our club goals with the goals of USA Triathlon. I’d like to see the club converted to a 501(c)3 because it represents the best long term interests of the club. I also think we should change the logo. Just kidding!

Craig: How about the sport in general? If you could waive a magic wand over all of triathlon, what would you change?

Steve: It’s tough to see everything take on a more corporate feel, but I think it’s in the best interest of survival for the industry. The small off the path races out there are really special, but don’t do a lot to support a professional contingent. It’s great to see the NCAA bringing triathlon on as a women’s sport. I hope that trend continues with the men’s side to support US efforts at the Olympics and fostering a healthy and fan friendly format.

Craig: What was the most rewarding aspect of being the TCSD President?

Steve: Interacting with the members. Triathlon is a great outlet before or after spending a day at the good ole office desk. Our club members are great for helping to keep things in perspective.

Craig: You had a great team of support help. Who were some of the people who made the TCSD look as good as it did during your watch?

Steve: Erin Hunter, my girlfriend, has to be at the top of the list. She’s done a lot for the club as well, but she really helped me to make good decisions and make sure I kept things in perspective. Florian Hedwig really made being in the club a fun place to be. All my best friends are in the club and many have helped along the way.

Craig: What are your future goals and aspirations in the sport of triathlon?

Steve: Challenge Roth is my next big endeavor after the initial 1am PST Challenge Signup. I’d like to run the entire marathon. Anything else would be a bonus.

Craig: Steve, you did a tremendous job as President of the TCSD. On behalf of all our members and others in the community, thank you for a job well done! And thank you for sharing your story with us. We wish you the very best of luck in the future. The sky is the limit for you!

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

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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!

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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 2014, TCSD Conversation, Triathlon | 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…

Posted in 2014, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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…

Posted in 2014, Triathlon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

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