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 email@example.com.