Friday, December 9, 2011

Evotri: Origins

This post is my contribution to an "Origins" series on my Evotri team website.

One of my early 90's triathlon efforts with my brother.

My earliest triathlon memories are fuzzy.  I recall awaking in a secret Canadian laboratory where my skeleton had just been replaced by Zipp carbon fiber and adamantium.  My blood was transfused with Espresso flavored Gu.  I had super powers such as the ability to relieve myself at race pace without breaking stride….

Actually, when I signed up for my first sprint triathlon in 1992 I knew exactly zero other people who had ever done one.  The sport was much smaller back then and I was in the summer between Jr. High and High School. 

Metamora Summer Swim Team circa 1990? In later years I would coach this team of 100+ swimmers.

I had been on a summer swim team since age 9 and had started running track in 5th grade. In track, I was quickly pegged as a distance runner, but since we were a very small school I volunteered to do a little bit of everything including sprints and throwing shot put.  I still contend that they should handicap gradeshool shotput by weight since I only weighed like 3 times more than the shot put.

My shot put career was short-lived.  

Due largely to the abilities of my teammates, I actually ran the 4X100m relay in the grade school state track meet.  I started Cross Country in 7th grade and was immediately one of the better runners (albeit on another small team).  For a time I held the 7th and 8th grade cross country 2 mile records, but those are long gone.  I ran in the state xc meet in 8th grade finishing with a high 11 minute 2 mile I think.  

 St. Mary's Grade School Cross Country.  Old. School. 

 Back in the pre-internet days people always learned about races at the local running store.  In my case this was the awesome and still thriving Running Central in Peoria, IL.  They had a huge row of paper entry forms that I always picked up when I went in.  In the summer of ’92 I picked up entry forms for two “sprint” triathlons: Tri-Tremont and Canton Bi-Tri Classic.   

Tri-Tremont was first and there was no kids division so I did the same distances as everyone else 400m pool swim, 13 mile bike, 5k run.  I don’t recall if I won my age group, but I definitely placed.  Moreover I was hooked on this concept of doing 3 really fun sports as part of one race.  Later that summer I raced the Canton Bi-Tri Classic and this race did offer a shorter distance kids race.  I had lots of success over the years at Canton. I think I won the kids race every –or almost every- year that I did it. As far as I know my record for the kids distance still stands.  This past year was the 20th anniversary for Canton. One of the triathlon accomplishments I am quite proud of was winning this event (2010 and 2011) that helped get me started.  This coming summer will be the 20th anniversary of my first race at Tremont.  The event went away for a few years, but has been brought back.  One of my goals for 2012 will be to go back to this race that got me started and try to win it 20 years later.

For the first half of my triathlon career, I literally never trained for the bike leg.  I biked some as a means of transportation, but never really for fitness.  I mostly relied on my swim/run fitness to carry me through all my early triathlons.  I ran and swam competitively in High School (Metamora High School) and in college (Augustana College).  During this time I never raced more than 1 or 2 triathlons a summer and never longer than sprint distance. It wasn't until I finished undergrad that I stepped up to longer races and began focusing on triathlons, but that is more recent history and fodder for a later post.


JP Severin said...

Haha the wolverine reference made me happier than you can ever know. Thank you. Best post ever.

Steve Stenzel said...

LOVE that photo of you at the pool!