A final 2010 thank you

January 25th, 2011

A thank you to friends, sponsors and coaches.

No one can do it alone — I am a testament to that now that I have just finished up a successful triathlon season that was met with many new opportunities, adventures, and challenges.

2010 was my first year being a pro athlete, something that I always knew I wanted to do. However, when I was first accepted to West Point, I did not know I would turn pro in triathlon. During my sophomore year, I switched to triathlon from cross country, and after graduating I kept one coach, Louis Tharp and got another, Tim Crowley.

I received my first sponsorship paycheck to fund some of my triathlon expenses.  In addition to funds, I won my first prize purse, which I donated to the Global Healthy Living Foundation.  After finishing up with some initial military training following my graduation from West Point in May of 2009, I reported to my first duty station at Ft. Hood, TX, where I became a Platoon Leader in an Air and Missile Defense Avenger battery.

A thank you to friends, sponsors and coaches.

I wish I could say 2010 was all smiles, but it also brought some grief with the passing of my maternal grandmother who passed shortly after my grandfather just before 2009 ended.  Last year was also a testing time for many of my friends, who have had misfortune that they do not deserve, but whom I will continue to support in order to help them through their hardship.

Now just a few days into 2011, it is already going to be a different year, since I will soon head off to Kuwait to help fight one of the nation’s wars.  But you know what? — I am still backed by the best triathlon support team, which makes me truly thankful, and so I want to take some time to thank each of you personally.

I have sponsors like Jack and Adam’s Bikes, the best shop I have ever been to. It is, without a doubt the only bike shop I will send anyone to who is in the Austin, Texas area for direct access to the experts.  No other bike shop will give you better customer service and advice.

When I spoke about my first sponsorship funding, a large part of that was from Mr. Jamie McGuire and the Philadelphia Insurance Companies.  Without his help and support, I could not have traveled and raced in places like Mexico, Canada, Peru, San Francisco, New York City and Tuscaloosa, AL. I also want to personally thank Richard Nager, who I first met when he opened his house for me while I was racing the 2009 PHLY triathlon and who introduced me to Mr. McGuire.

Traveling has been fun and each place offered different cultures to absorb, not to mention different climates.  But one thing always remained the same — I was glad I had a great pair of goggles from Sable Water Optics.  Nowhere else will you find a more triathlon-friendly pair of goggles — the Swiss Army Knife of goggles because they do it all. They keep the sun out, the optics are amazing and can be customized to your eyesight, and best of all they are modular. You can replace components that become worn or get broken without replacing the goggles — environmentally friendly and saves money.  Thanks to Paul Lantinga at Sable Water Optics.

With the swim covered by really only needing goggles, the run by only needing a pair of shoes, well that just left the bike. Lucky for me, my triathlon team at West Point was sponsored by Serotta, the same bike company that I trust and continue to rely on today. I did not stay with Serotta because it was easier with the relationship already being there, I did it because I truly believed that their custom bikes were the best and would help take me to the podium.  Lance Armstrong said, “It’s not about the bike” but I say it sure can help.  Racing a bike that is custom made to my mechanics and body, and built and fitted in upstate New York by people who know and love what they are doing, like Paraic McGlynn and Ben Serotta, I only had to worry about my fitness and not who had the advantage of a better bike.

Products only get you partway; you have to have the fitness too.  I wish I could take all the credit for my fitness, but it would be selfish to do so.  I’ve heard that every great athlete, has a great coach in the background or in my case, two, but they’re in the foreground.  I do the training, but I need someone to tell me how to do it right. Coaching is not a science, but an art and my artists are Tim Crowley and Louis Tharp.  Tim Crowley, T2Coaching founder, Olympic coach, and 2009 USA Triathlon Coach of the Year, has been an innovator for the sport and his methods have me a better triathlete. He constantly uses data to actively apply it to future training, and he specifically trains me differently from his other athletes, which, although more work for him, provides me with a custom plan that prevents injury and allows me to reach maximum performance.

Similarly, my other brilliant coach is Louis Tharp who specifically trains me in my swim. He does not give me workouts to thoughtlessly complete, instead a constant flow of information and feedback occurs.  “Swimming and training is for smart people,” he tells me, “to improve you always have to be thinking about technique and learning whenever you get into the pool, and if you do then you have been successful for that day.”  His training and philosophy has stemmed from the teachings of Terry Laughlin, Founder of Total Immersion swimming.  Mr. Laughlin’s wisdom and guidance to Louis and me is noteworthy and I thank him.  Without his methods and ideals I would not have become a much better simmer and ultimately a better triathlete.

Furthermore, I am thankful to have Lou in my life not just as my swim coach and manager but also as my mentor and friend.  If it were not for Lou I would not be as successful in triathlon and in my everyday life.  He has also introduced to me to The Global Healthy living Foundation which he co-founded with Seth Ginsberg – a charity that helps people with chronic illnesses live better lives. I am grateful to that organization and the people involved to allow me to personally volunteer my time and support to make the world a better place.

In conclusion, a final thanks to all my friends and family who have supported me over the years and helped mold me into the person I am today.  Thanks to all my fans and fellow athletes who follow similar paths and lead active lives.