Friday, November 21, 2014

Interview Sessions: Brent

Since discovering my love of triathlon in August 2013, I've had the pleasure of meeting a lot of incredibly inspiring people. In my experience, triathletes tend to be fun, encouraging, hard working, persistent, willing to take on new challenges, and always willing to lend a helping hand. So, I asked a few of my triathlete buddies to share their stories with all of you.  These people truly inspire me, and I think you will be inspired as well!

First up is my friend Brent.  I met Brent through the Ottawa Triathlon Club at the ITU Chicago race this summer.  Since then, Brent has become part of my triathlon family!  We even took a super fun road trip together to the Newburyport Half Marathon a few weeks ago!  His story is inspiring, but the work that he does fundraising on behalf of Imerman Angels has also inspired me.  This incredible organization provides angel mentors to cancer fighters, survivors and care-givers to help them through their battles with cancer.  (If you are interested in learning more or supporting Brent's fundraising efforts... let me know!)

A big thank you to Brent for being my first interviewee!

Showing the Imerman Angel wings!

Let's get to know Brent...

A bit about me, that’s a tough one…how do you boil it down to a couple of sentences that are relevant and interesting….father, husband, fundraiser, athlete, mostly in that order. Born and raised in Ottawa, I love my big little city! Since triathlon is a relatively new journey for me, I don’t have a typical distance, by my goal is to complete an Ironman the year I turn 50 (2017).  My background in athletics, as a child, the only organized sport I played was Hockey (house league) and not until I was 13, didn’t learn to skate until I was 10, so that should give you a pretty good idea of my ability, but it was fun and I loved the camaraderie of the team. As an adult, volleyball became a regular, albeit still non-competitive staple, and I finally stumbled into running in 2008, as part of a weight loss challenge with my wife. The year before I couldn’t finish a 2k with my (then 11 year old) son, 300m to the finish line I told him to go on ahead without me, I was completely winded and unable to continue. Since then, I’ve completed 6 marathons, over a dozen half-marathons and a smattering of 10k and 5k races for time, fun or to pace my daughter or friends.

1) How did you get into the sport of triathlon?

Quite by accident. I started as a duathlete (2009) as I had a fear of the water, but had heard great things about multi-sport and after trying one I was hooked.  It would be 3 years before I entered my first triathlon (the Early bird try a tri) and I honestly cannot remember exactly when I decided to do it, but I remember watching a recording of Ironman World Championship broadcast during one of my indoor trainer rides, Rick and Dick Hoyt were competing and I thought to myself…well, there go all your excuses for not doing this!

2) What advice would you give to a new triathlete or someone considering signing up for their first triathlon?

Join the Ottawa Triathlon Club (OTC), or at the very least, sign-up for the swim school clinic and triathlon school seminar, they were my first introductions to the sport and so incredibly informative. I credit the OTC swim coaches and members with helping me to be able to overcome my fear and learn to love this sport and many of them have become close friends and training partners. They are an incredibly supportive community and I am so grateful to be a part of something so positive.

[Editor's note: If you are in the Ottawa area, the OTC signature training program - the TTP - has just opened for registration to the public! It's a great way to jumpstart your training and meet lots of awesome people!]

3) What has been your greatest / proudest moment as a triathlete?

The swim at the Chicago ITU Olympic distance triathlon, it was the first time I have felt comfortable during a swim (triathlon or otherwise) and I LOVED it.  I came out of the water with a huge smile on my face and feeling like I had finally conquered my fear.

Post-Bring on the Bay 3k Swim!

4) What has been the biggest challenge for you in the sport?

Swimming, I almost drowned twice as a child and once as an adult and as a result have had a fear of the water for a long time. When I first joined the OTC, I had trouble completing 25m without being out of breath, I would swim as hard as I could from wall to wall as I was so afraid of sinking and drowning. The OTC swim programs have taken me from fear to comfort, to loving the swim.

5) What has been the most rewarding aspect of the sport?

The amazing people I have met, both within the OTC and around the sport in general. I’ve met so many positive, supportive people, who are generous not only with their advice and sharing of experiences, but also with their time and willingness to help someone who is new to the sport figure things out. Their willingness to explain even the simplest, most mundane things that they may take for granted, in whatever detail is needed to make a newcomer feel comfortable is nothing short of amazing, and this goes for all calibre of triathletes, the completers, competers and the elites.  There is this spirit of wanting everyone to share our passion for the sport that I have not witnessed in any other sport I have been a part of.

6) How does life as a triathlete translate to other areas of your life?

In a word resilience, in triathlon as in life, there are good days and there are bad days.  There is something to learn from each and accepting them for what they are helps keep things in perspective and balanced. This sport has also taught me to continually set new and more challenging goals and to accept that even if you fall short of your goal at first, you can choose to reset or reattempt and your family and friends (especially your OTC friends) will be there to help you dust yourself off and get back on track every time.

7) What is your dream race?

KONA, it is highly unlikely that I would ever qualify, so it would have to be a lottery spot, but I’ve watched over 15 Ironman World Championship broadcasts since that first one I saw with the Hoyts and it has a very special place in my heart.  The stories of the average age grouper triathletes who have overcome incredible odds to qualify or compete continue to inspire me and to get an opportunity to compete on that course, would be incredible! That said, I would give up that dream in a heartbeat to do any Ironman with my son or step-daughter. I’ve raced a few half marathons with my daughter and my son did my first try a tri with me and there is simply nothing in the world that can compare to being out on the course with them, knowing that we are sharing the experience and more often than not that I am taking care of them out there. It makes me feel needed and very fatherly and I almost always cry when I cross the finish line with them (and yes, they know this).

8) What is your favorite pre-race meal? Any other pre-race rituals?

Pizza or pasta, but I’ve learned there is a fine line between carb loading and carb bloating. Pre-race rituals, I check and re-check my race day list a dozen or more times, get to bed early, breakfast is always instant oatmeal, a banana and for longer races a multi-grain bagel with peanut butter. I also like to get to the race site REALLY early, typically 1.5 to 2 hours before.  I like to get setup and know that I have lots of time to get setup in transition, do my walk throughs, and I just love the energy of race day and being there as it builds, I feed off of it.  Oh and if I have internet connectivity, watching the YouTube video of Ironman footage to the tune of Eminem’s “’Till I collapse.” 

9) Swim, bike, or run?

If you had asked me last year I would have said bike, but this year after Chicago, Bring on the Bay and Timberman races, I’m going with swim.

10) Favorite motivational quote?

It’s a toss up between "Happiness is pushing your limits and watching them back down" -New Balance Ad and “Have fun and git’r done!”

Timberman 2014

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