I have been very lucky in being able to take part in athletic competition from early on in my life. Growing up in Germany, I competed as a track runner and swimmer. I took part in my first triathlon at age fourteen. To date, I competed in three Ironman events (just missing a Kona spot in my first attempt), ten Half Ironman events (including the 70.3 World Championship), two NYC marathons and over one hundred smaller events. I was named 2007 Best Male Triathlete by SBR Multisports, 2007 USAT All-American, and accrued many podium finishes. My true passion being cycling, I rode my bike over 1,100 miles in nine days from Germany to Barcelona entirely self-supported in 2009. The highlight of my short bike racing career was winning my category at a New York Time Trial in 2010, placing sixth overall, including pros.
However, only a few weeks later I experienced first symptoms of what was soon diagnosed as Popliteal Artery Entrapment causing a severe reduction of blood flow below my left knee resulting in immediate surgery. The following years lead to eleven more surgeries including a bypass which then failed in 2016. Replacing this bypass was a high-risk procedure which could have led to immediate amputation, so instead I have been rehabbing my left leg from only 30% blood flow with the goal of making it the best it can be. When faced with the decision to keep or amputate my leg, the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) introduced me to athletes and their families who have gone through similar life experiences. It is through my whole family’s interactions with the CAF family we have been able to push through merely losing my left leg. Rather than watching TV in self misery, I was inspired to rally and eventually complete events such as the Dirty Kanza 200, a 200-mile same-day race on gravel with over 11,000 feet of climbing. Now, I am hoping to qualify for Leadville 100 and then attempt the Leadboat after that.
Beyond my personal experiences, CAF is an inspiring non-profit organization that gives hope to thousands of individuals with physical disabilities around the world by providing support, mentoring and grants for adaptive sports equipment, competition and training expenses. The courage and perseverance of these athletes has influenced me and my entire family since we first attended their Heroes, Heart & Hope Gala in 2007. From then we have only become more involved by offering athletes to participate in Empire workouts, volunteering at adaptive swim & run clinics as well as the NYC triathlon and participating in the Million Dollar Challenge , a 7-day cycling event over 620+ miles together with para-athletes.
Are you an aspiring triathlete? Bummed you can’t afford the necessary equipment and resources you need to get started?
We know triathlon can be an expensive sport. The cost of training, equipment, races and travel can really add up! This holiday season, Empire Tri Club will be donating a FREE 1-YEAR tri club membership to one athlete who needs a little extra help getting started. To top it off, we’ll throw in some awesome gear from our sponsors!
That’s it. No strings attached.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org with “Empire’s Holiday Giveaway” in the subject line and tell us some of your goals and why we should pick you in 200 words or less. One lucky athlete will be announced Christmas Day on Social Media. We will name additional sponsors contributing to our holiday giveaway over the next 2 weeks, so get excited by following us on Facebook and Instagram. Appications must be received by 12/20/19 to be considered. You may apply for yourself or a friend! Happy Holidays!
We’re excited to announce that the following partners and sponsors will be contributing to our Holiday Giveaway! On Christmas Day, one deserving athlete will be selected to receive:
- Empire Tri Club – FREE 1-YEAR Club Membership
- UCAN – A season’s worth of UCAN products of your choice up to $250
- Nutrition Energy – a sports nutrition jump-start package including:
– one 60 minute nutrition consultation with a Registered Dietitian in either our midtown or downtown location– one Resting Metabolic Rate test– one race-ready nutrition session to discuss race day needs and strategy!
- Clif Bar – $100 nutrition package
- ROKA – swim caps, goggles, and a mesh bag
- ITU World Triathlon Bermuda – 2 FREE race entries (for you and a friend)
- …. Stay tuned for more contributions!
EMPIRE SPOTLIGHT: We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.
Meet Empire athlete and coach Marty Munson:
Marty, one of Empire Tri’s best swim coaches, has proclaimed that she suffered from “late-onset athleticism.” Growing up, she preferred books to going out to sweat in the school yard or participating on sports teams. A little over a decade ago Marty’s long time friend asked her to join her in a triathlon.
“A friend I’ve known since my teens wanted to do a tri for her birthday about 16 years ago and asked me to join her. I discovered that triathlon isn’t just about swimming, biking and running: It’s about managing your mind, your energy, your goals, and your life. And meeting some of the niftiest, most inspiring people ever. I fell for it, hard.”
To date, Marty has competed between 40 to 50 triathlons, ranging from sprint to 70.3s.
What else has she fallen for? Marty took up marathon swimming and just kept swimming! This past February she participated in a swim around Key West, Florida. That’s about a half marathon to all you runners out there. This was just the start of her 2019 season.
Her big race this year was the Border Buster, a 25km swim from Vermont to Canada and back in Lake Memphremagogg. We asked Marty how she prepared for the swim:
“I had the benefit of having a friend who was doing the same race. One of the best moments of preparing for Border Buster was a training swim we did — a swim race around Atlantic City Island. Since Border Buster was only 2 weeks after Atlantic City, we split the 22.7-mile swim between the two of us. It was fabulously epic, as marathon swims can be…We finished in a little over 10 hours, switching swimmers every hour.”
Regarding Border Buster race day:
“I was worried about being chilly — it was a 5:30 AM start and hard to shed outer layers in the dark to “zinc up” — but when the sun came out, it was perfect. People wonder how marathon swimmers can be in the water for so long (Border Buster took 10 hours and 41 minutes), but it’s really a mix of training, stubbornness, and acceptance. You have to be stubborn enough to really want it and keep swimming and training through everything, but you also have to accept whatever the ocean, lake, or day gives you. What do I think about for that long? Everything and nothing, just like when you’re on a long run.”
Always up for trying new adventures, Marty has also been competing in Swim Run races, a sport were you switch back and forth from swimming and running a couple of times to get to the finish line. It’s also a sport that you do with a partner. You must be within 10 feet of each other throughout the race, so some teams tether themselves to help maintain the distance. This summer Marty and her good friend Jen partnered up to compete in a Short Course Female Team, taking first place at both the Ignite Rhode Island Swim Run and Ignite Knoxville Swim Run.
Shortly after, she headed to Bermuda to help coach Empire Tri Club’s first annual Bermuda Swim Camp, a 5-day open water and pool swimming training camp, finishing off with the 4km Round the Sound swim.
She will finish her season participating in a fundraiser, The Great Relay by Trident Swim Foundation, this coming month. The swim is a 5,000 yard relay where teams of swimmers compete to see which team can swim the fastest!
Coach Marty we are cheering for you to touch that wall as fast as you can!
We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.
Meet Empire Athlete Amer Juntado:
Amer started swimming at the age of 8. This first sport in his athletic resume was not enough activity for him so in college he took up cycling. Within a short period of time he completed his first century ride (a 100 mile bike ride). He’d later find himself switching from one sport to the other. However, the back and forth training was very demanding and tiresome. To stay motivated, he challenged himself to combine both sports and add a third to his active lifestyle.
“I wanted to do triathlon because doing one sport at a time wasn’t working; and led to burnouts.”
Amer’s burnouts have not returned since starting triathlons. He believes this is due in-part to joining the club and a masters swim team.
“Before, my workouts were solo and I didn’t know many people who were into doing what I did. I’m more motivated when I’m with other people. It helps when peers relate to what you do and how you feel.”
This past winter Amer had a demanding training regimen in preparation for racing his first marathon in March, followed by an Ironman 70.3 in May. His first marathon was cold and had rolling hills, and he used the race to gauge what he could accomplish. Running 26.2 miles is one of them!
The 70.3 was a fun course for him. Having calm nerves throughout the race helped him power through as he struggled with his ankle. Prior to race day he had been experiencing issues with his ankle, making long runs hard for him to do. Even though the run portion was spent running/walking, Amer crossed the finish line satisfied with his performance.
Amer is admired by his Empire Tri teammates. He is always there to help out or give advise to those just starting out in the sport.
“Amer is an amazing swimmer and coach. Whenever we swim together he’s always happy to look at my form and technique, pointing out areas I can improve and giving some useful tips.”- Sid Madhav (Empire Tri Club Member)
One of the more common questions we hear, especially from new triathletes, is what type of bike they should train with and use for a triathlon. After all, a bike has the potential to be the largest single expense in the sport.
There are several options available for triathletes, and which one is best for you largely depends on your goals — both short-term, and long term.
If you want to be competitive in your race, to really test yourself and see how well you can do, or if you think you might want to do several triathlons over time, it is best to invest in a road bike or tri bike. You can buy a new bike at a local bike shop, or find one used. If you buy a used one, just be sure to be picky on fit — don’t settle for something that doesn’t feel just right. And make sure the frame is in good shape with no cracks or major chips.
In any given race, the most common type of bike will probably be a triathlon bike, or time trial bike. A tri bike looks like a road bike, but has slightly different geometry that creates two advantages. The seat tube will usually have an angle of around 78 degrees (vs. 72-74 degrees on a road bike). This geometry allows the rider to save more of the quadricep energy for the run leg of the race, and also be more aerodynamic in a tuck position, because of your ability to lay forward on the aerobars. Aerobars are standard on tri bikes. You can find a more in-depth explanation of the finer points of triathlon bikes, here.
A road bike is the next most common type of bike you will see at most races. In fact, we know some avid and very competitive triathletes prefer to use a road bike. The geometry of a road bike is slightly more relaxed, meaning that you don’t quite get the same aerodynamics, and you sit a little further back on the bike. A road bike has a couple advantages of its own, though: It is typically going to be more responsive on hills or less predictable terrain, and it is more multi-purpose. Long, touring rides are usually done on road bikes, not tri bikes (but not always). For someone who wants to just own one bike, this might be a factor.
The fact, though, is that either a road or tri bike will allow you to be quite competitive in a triathlon. If you think you want to someday become a serious triathlete, we say go for the tri bike. Otherwise, choose whatever your budget allows and what feels most comfortable. The price for such bikes in recent years, even at the entry-level, has gone up. But there is always the option of borrowing, buying used, or using a different style of bike that you might already own.
What about other bikes? Can you simply use the mountain bike or hybrid bike in your garage for a triathlon? Of course. In any given race, you see several racers complete the triathlon on a mountain, hybrid, or commuter-style bike.
The only issue with not using a tri or road bike is that if you want to be competitive, and challenge yourself to see how high you can finish, then a mountain, hybrid, or commuter bike will hold you back a bit. The gearing on these bikes just cannot match that of the road and tri bikes, and the frame geography isn’t conducive to cranking out speed during the bike leg. This means that they are less efficient. For example, if you can crank out 200 watts of sustained energy on the bike, those 200 watts will result it in less speed on a mountain bike than they would on a road or tri bike.
One thing you can do to a mountain or hybrid bike to modestly increase its speed is to add racing slicks as the tires. It won’t solve the problem, but will help. Additionally, gearing the bike with clipless or clipped-style bike pedals, along with the matching cleat on a bike shoe, will increase your output significantly versus a standard-issue pedal.
Still, we would much rather see you try a triathlon with your mountain or commuter bike than not do one at all. You won’t be alone. The triathlon community simply wants to see as many people enjoying the sport as possible!
Article provided by Paul at Complete Tri
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We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.
Meet Empire Tri Athlete Roberta Muricy:
When an athlete tries a new sport, the traditional route would be to start with a short distance race and build up. This was not the case for Roberta. Her first triathlon was the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Rio de Janeiro in 2015. Her strong swim and run background helped her attain a respectable 6:12 finish time, with only 2 months of training!
Roberta was born to be a swimmer. From a very young age she was fearless in the pool. Swimming, her strongest of the three sports, has certainly helped her obtain a strong lead needed to edge out the competition in many races. Since joining the Empire Tri Club in 2017 Roberta has spent plenty of time up on that podium representing the club!
This past August Roberta competed in her first Sprint distance race at the ITU Montreal World Triathlon. Race expectations were low for Roberta who’s been struggling with a labrum issue on her right hip for the past year. Her main goal, no walking! Not only did she not walk, she took 3rd place in her age group and 10th female overall.
This month she will finish her season with a Duathlon in Central Park. We wish her all the best and look forward to off season training with Roberta.
We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.
Meet Empire Tri Athlete Christine Kern:
“I knew I could complete an 18 mile bike ride, even if it was hilly! I knew I could complete an 8 mile run, even if I had to walk, so the focus was on the swim.”
Those were Christine’s thoughts as she prepared for the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon- an iconic race that starts by jumping off a ferry into the frigid waters in the San Fransisco Bay and swimming from Alcatraz Island to the main land.
“I was very anxious on the ferry waiting to jump and just kept telling myself, there’s only one way back to shore and we’re gonna do this! Seriously! Soon! Ok, now…JUMP! Once in the water the nerves go away, and you have a job to do, get to shore!”
The 1.5 mile swim is notorious for having a strong current and rough, choppy waters – hence why the maximum security federal prison was once believed to be unescapable. “I did what I needed to survive it; freestyle, breast stroke, back stroke, my own made up stroke… it all came into play! The bike course was hilly. The crowds were amazing. The other triathletes were fun to chat with. The run was my favorite part of the course. I walked when I needed to but overall just took in the scenery and had fun! That’s what this is all about, having fun!”
This is Christine’s 4th season competing in triathlons. On a hot July day back in 2014, Christine was in Central Park as the NYC Triathlon was under way. She spectated and cheered on the athletes. She saw a woman walking and looking like she was having a tough time so she cheered her on. Christine went to the finish line to see what it was like. After watching the finishers for a while, she saw that same woman coming down towards the finish line with tears down her face and her arms in the air. She had done it! That day Christine said to herself, “I want that feeling!” and so began her triathlon journey!
Christine decided to join the beginner tri program to help train for her first sprint triathlon. “When I started this journey I was always worried about not being the fastest, not being the best, and about coming in last. Triathlon has taught me to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The sense of accomplishment at the finish line is worth it! I have made so many friends through this sport and love how we cheer each other on, push each other to do our best, and celebrate each other’s successes! I also love that what you once thought was impossible becomes possible whether it’s your first 5k or an Ironman. This sport makes me realize I can do it!”
The season is not over and she’s got a plate full of races including the NYC Marathon in November. Sandwiched in between those races she’ll be running down the aisle and getting married in August. Congrats and good luck Christine!
First of the Water
It is very important to thoroughly rinse your wetsuit with cool, fresh water after each use. Long-term exposure to the sun, saltwater, and chlorine can slowly damage your wetsuit. In addition, your wetsuit may produce an odor or lose flexibility if not properly rinsed. A good rinse with clean water will help remove residue and keep your suit smelling like new!
Hang and Dry
Once removed from the water, you want to completely dry your suit by hanging it, ideally on a wetsuit hanger. Wetsuit hangers eliminate stress on the shoulders and help speed up the drying process. Most wetsuit hangers have a special padding across the shoulders to support less pressure points on the neoprene. If one is not available you can also hang the suit from the midsection over the bottom of a strong plastic hanger. Make sure you let the suit dry inside out and turn it back to ride side in for storage.
At the end of the season, we recommend soaking your wetsuit in clean water for 10-15 minutes. It is a good idea to invest in shampoo specially designed for cleaning and preserving wetsuits. Wetsuit shampoos are used during the soaking process and remove salt, odors, and other residue to ensure a squeaky clean wetsuit. You do not want to use a household detergent, they can be to harsh and could damage the suit.
Wetsuit material can develop a permanent crease if left folded for an extended period of time. It is best to store your wetsuit laying flat. If that is not possible, you can store your suit on a padded wetsuit hanger. If a wetsuit hanger is unavailable – drape your wetsuit over a normal clothes hanger, it will look similar to how you would hang a pair of dress pants. Simply fold your wetsuit at the waist over the bottom bar of the hanger. It is important to stay away from metal hangers. Metal hangers will cause the neoprene to degrade over time. in a cool, dry and protected place out of direct sunlight. You will also want to check your suit for small tears. These are common and easy to fix using a wetsuit specific cement or glue.