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Empire Spotlight – Sidharth Madhav

Sid grew up playing many sports in both high school and college. However, triathlon was never a sport that really intrigued Sid because he didn’t know how to swim. Nine months ago he decided to take swimming lessons. He followed those initial lessons up with Empire Tri Club’s Instructional Swim Classes and Open Water Swim Clinics. These he said, helped him gain confidence in the water.

“It was always very scary for me to even swim 50m in a pool. Now after a year of training, I realize the importance of mental strength and discipline in triathlons.”

Training for his first triathlon was nerve wracking and seemed daunting. Prior to race day, Sid had never run a competitive race. What got him through it was the assurance in himself that had been built throughout his training with the Beginner Program.

“After listening to some great advice from the club ambassadors and Ali, I just trusted the club’s training plan. I took every opportunity to attend team socials to ask questions and learn more about the sport from my Empire teammates. I also did not skip a training session. I think trusting the process and the work I put in made me confident by the time race day came about.”

The Beginner Program finished and race day came! Sid was pumped to get under way. His entire family traveled to the race site in Montauk, Long Island. He also had the support of his teammates which helped cheer him on to the end.

“The presence of so many Empire teammates was great. It really makes a huge difference when you have such a great support crew.”

When asked about the race itself, Sid shared his positive experience:

“The course was challenging and I exceeded my expectations. I learned a lot about how to pace myself during a race. In terms of nutrition, I did not try anything new during race day. I carried home cooked food to the race site, the same stuff I had been eating during training. That helped my performance. I also learned how important it is to consciously hydrate at regular intervals during the race and not just drink fluids when thirsty. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun during the race, even though it was tough. I hope to carry that feeling into the 2018 season.”

“I want to thank Empire Tri Club and all my teammates for being such a great source of inspiration and for sharing all your knowledge. The club has helped me push myself every day to be a better version of myself. Also, thanks to Saturday group rides, I’m now a fan of donuts/muffins after a long bike ride.”
We think you are pretty inspirational to us Sid! You’ve come so far and worked so hard to overcome your fear in the water. We look forward to seeing you accomplish many more goals this upcoming season.

 

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Empire Spotlight- Jonathan Schmitz

On a family vacation to Kailua-Kona, Hawaii for Christmas one year, Jon noticed athletes running and biking, which peeked his curiosity in triathlons. After doing some research on what an Ironman is, the challenge of the rigorous race appealed to him. And the rest, as he states, “is history”!

This past November Jon competed in Ironman Cozumel finishing off his 2017 season. The latter portion of his training was not an easy one. With the race taking place in November, the weather starting to change and others heading into their off-season, Jon had to maintain his focus on that finish line.

“As others wrapped up their season and the weather started to change, I had to remain mentally engaged. It was no easy task when you have to go for a six hour bike ride in 35 degree weather! I’d argue that the mental component is the most challenging for which to train. You never know when or how you’re going to be challenged, but you can count on that challenge always arriving.”

Jon persevered and tackled his biggest obstacles. Race day came and he found himself with no nerves or hesitation and full of excitement.

“I was able to get down to Cozumel a few days before the race to acclimate to the climate as well as train on the course. That went a long way to mentally prepare for and visualize what race day would entail. I absolutely loved the race and wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone! The swim was fast (NYC Tri-esq), the bike course was flat with minor headwinds, and the run course was packed with spectators, even late into the race. The energy was high the entire time. I am definitely going to race it again someday.”

Now laying low as we start 2018, Jon will shift gears a bit to focus on his upcoming nuptials this summer to fellow Empire Tri teammate Kim. All the best to this tri couple!

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Empire Spotlight – Sid Howard

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

November is known as Movember – Men’s Health Awareness month. We encourage you to take action in staying healthy; physically and mentally. We chose our Empire Spotlight to shine a light on a special friend, runner and coach who’s everyday healthy lifestyle has kept him breaking barriers and defying his age. He is an example to men’s health and the running community.

Sid is a longtime coach and runner, having a storied career which includes 50 Masters Nationals Championships and 8 World Masters Championships. Sid was inducted into the USATF Masters Hall of Fame in 2005. He has won 10 NYRR age group ‘Runner of the Year’ awards, won the 5th Ave mile 10 times, and this year he ran the 5th Ave mile for the 34th time, the only person to have run the race every year under the Masters Category.

At 78 years of age, Sid has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. This summer, he and his wife Asteria joined Empire Tri Club in initiating and coaching the Hospital for Special Surgery Runners Club. The club is now it its second session which will run through mid-December. He has been a longtime (40 year!) member of the Central Park Track Club and a Coach for the New York Road Runners (NYRR) Team for Kids.

Empire sat with Sid for a brief chat to learn more about his philosophy and give us his best advice for the track!

EMPIRE: What is your coaching philosophy?

SID: Adding is Subtracting —Subtracting is Adding. “less is more, More is Less”

EMPIRE: What motivates you to keep on training?

SID: I like to see positive results.

EMPIRE: What is the best piece of advice you can give someone, when racing?

SID: Know your pace.

EMPIRE: Would you like to share a funny or crazy thing that’s ever happened to you during a race?

SID: I ran my 1st marathon without eating!

EMPIRE: Now that you know better 😉 what do you eat to fuel-up before your race?

SID: Smoothie-almonds, walnuts, 1 spoon of protein powder, 1 spoon of maca 1 spoon of chia seed, apple, banana, strawberry’s, blue berries, black berries, 8 oz of water and 3 ice cubes.

EMPIRE: For you, what is key to balancing everyday life and training?

SID: Always think positive. And win or lose I always congratulate my opponents.

“All around the track, Howard is recognized as one of America’s best ambassadors for the sport and mission of masters track with his enthusiasm and support for everyone involved from athletes to organizers:” Bob Weiner, Runner’s World Online

 

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Empire Spotlight – Anthony Basile

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

As a former New York City Police Officer, Anthony would find himself in dangerous situations during his day-to-day work shifts. He took up the sport of body building to stay fit and strong.  “I faced-off against career criminals daily, and needed the strength and size.”  However, after a bad injury he stepped away from the sport.  To stay in shape, he started running marathons. Then, with a desire to become a better overall runner and athlete, he decided to take on triathlons.

Anthony joined the Beginner Program this past spring and quickly excelled during the training workouts.  His first triathlon was set to be a sprint triathlon on Long Island – Tri One On.  Unfortunately, bad weather the day before the race lead to the swim being cancelled, turning the race into a duathlon.  In his eagerness to have his first triathlon under his belt, Anthony found another race the following weekend and completed his first triathlon.  He would then continue training with his Empire Tri teammates for the NYC Triathlon (an Olympic Distance triathlon!) two months later.

This September Anthony ran the Berlin Marathon.  All summer and fall he combined his triathlon training with long runs and felt confident to run the fast and flat course.  “Training was very time consuming and quite exhausting.  I was adding all of my Tri training on top of a high volume of running mileage since my main focus was on the Berlin marathon.  I would typically run 6 days a week and need to do double and sometimes triple weekday workouts to fit it all in.”

In his first season as a triathlete, Anthony managed to qualify for the 2018 USAT Age Group National Championships AND the prestigious Boston Marathon.  “My first season went better than expected.  Not knowing how to properly swim or handle the bike was intimidating at first.  With the help of my ETC teammates and coaches, I left my comfort zone quickly and just had fun.  My overall experience was exhilarating.  I loved the fast-paced nature of the races and how there was zero time to slow down.  My heart-rate is up just thinking about them.”

His season of racing is not over yet!  Up ahead he will run through the NYC streets at the 2017 TCS NYC Marathon with 24 of his Empire Tri Club teammates.  We will be out on the course cheering you on Anthony!

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Empire Spotlight- Liz West

We recognize our athletes achievements which help build team spirit and inspire athletic advancement.

Meet Empire athlete Liz West:

Liz is a longtime tennis junkie who’s played on many USTA tennis teams. At school, she was on the tennis team and ran track competing in the the 400m Sprint. When she’s not competing in triathlons or playing tennis she’s busy singing and playing acoustic guitar!

Liz had been intrigued by triathlons for some time. However, coupled with being intimidated by the swim and a lack of bike skills, there was nothing to fuel her desire to pursue the sport. Not until she gave cycling another shot on her hybrid bike.

“I had limited experience biking and had never ridden a road bike. Two years ago, I re-acquainted myself with my hybrid and did some cycling. When I picked up my friend’s road bike and felt how light it was, a light bulb went off: I can ride faster, and keep up with my friends with a road bike. I bought my road bike two weeks later!”

She then entered the lottery for the NYC Triathlon and that’s when her tri life began!

Just a few weeks ago, Liz competed in Ironman Lake Placid 70.3. Race morning, the temperature outside was 38 degrees Farenheit! Albeit the water was 20 degrees warmer, the swimmers would start their race in frosty air conditions. Although she never panicked during her swim, she had trouble getting her breathing under control due to the cold, which also affected her on the bike. When she arrived at transition to start her run, Liz was told that she missed the bike cut-off time and her race was over.

With her tenacity in check she refused to give up on something that she worked so hard to accomplish. While getting her chip cut off she asked if she could continue on to the run. The officials explained that if she continued her time on the course would no longer be recorded. She made peace with that statement and went off on her 13.1 mile run.

“Nothing, prepared me for being told I missed the bike cut-off time at mile 45, and that my race was “officially” over. I would have none of that, I completed the run anyway, and crossed that finish line!!! Technically I DNF’ed, but more importantly, I persevered and finished my race.”

Liz finished her first Ironman 70.3 with a smile! She looks forward to another Half Ironman next June and plans to improve her swim. This should put her in a better position to completing the race in regulation time.

We are so proud to have such an athlete be part of the Empire Tri Club family.

 

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#Track My Training “I’ve been riding my post-race high…and still can’t believe that I actually finished the race.”

9/15/17

They say you never forget your first – and boy will I never forget my first half Ironman!!!  I’ve been riding my post-race high for a few days now and still can’t believe that I actually finished the race.  I knew I was more than well trained to complete this race but there’s always that little thought deep in the back of my mind that always thinks “What if I can’t?” (Answer to that: Life goes on and there will be other races to do).

Before I get into my race recap, a huge CONGRATULATIONS to everyone reading this who toed the start line.  Lake Placid is no easy course and the weather conditions at the beginning made it challenging for sure, so big high fives for just getting out there.  I hope you all had as much fun as I did!!!

Ok now onto my race recap…

Pre-Race

Having just gotten back from Portugal and needing to unpack, do laundry and repack, I honestly didn’t really have enough time to do very much in the way of workouts.  Which to be quite honest, I was totally fine with.  I had some great workouts the week before so I was fine with ending my training on that high note.

Drove up to Lake Placid on Friday morning – it was a long drive, but man is it gorgeous! Once we got off the highway and started weaving our way through the mountains I got really excited for the race.  I knew it was going to be a beautiful course, but I didn’t know it was going to be this gorgeous!

After we arrived and checked-in to our Airbnb, fellow Empire teammate Howard and I decided to go for a short shakeout swim in the lake.  We were only going to go to the second buoy, but ended up going to the third.  It took us a bit to find the famed cable, but once we did, it was great. The water wasn’t that cold, but after getting out and standing in the cool air was when we got chilly.  It was a good mental prep for what Sunday was going to be like.  My swim felt great and gave me a good boost of confidence for race day.

After our shakeout swim, we went to athlete check in and got all of our stuff – it was definitely getting more and more real by the second.  The rest of the day we just chilled out, went to dinner, and got to bed early to try and get one last good night of sleep (I knew I wouldn’t sleep much Saturday night).

Saturday morning we went for a short 20 minute ride on River Road to get a glimpse of the run course.  Again – beautiful. Even on a cloudy, dreary day.  Made sure all was in working order on my bike and everything felt good.  I had wanted to go for a short run as well, but with the weather cold and rainy, I didn’t want to risk anything and skipped it.  I wanted to run more so for a mental piece of mind – I came into triathlons as a runner so running always calms me down and that’s what I wanted before the day. To give me a little peace of mind.  But oh well, it wasn’t in the cards this time!

We did some more relaxing, checked in our bikes, met up with some friends who were there volunteering, went to an early dinner, got our stuff ready for the morning and then early to bed again.  I’m not going to say I got a great night of sleep, but I did sleep better than I had anticipated. Wooooo!

Race Day Morning

4:00 am alarm clocks are never fun – especially when it’s still dark and cold outside.  I peeled myself out of bed and started making coffee. Because, priorities! We didn’t need to leave our apartment until around 5:30, but I’m one of those people who can’t just get up and go, I need time in the morning to ease into the day, have breakfast (oatmeal with PB and banana in case you are wondering) and coffee and let it digest a bit.

Did one last check of my bag, and that I had everything I needed. We headed out the door at 5:40 all bundled up trying to stay as warm as possible for as long as possible.  As I peeled off my two layers of long sleeves to get my body marking done, I thought, “Oh, it’s not THAT cold out”. Spoiler alert: I will highly regret saying that in about an hour.

After getting my transition area all set up, pumping my tires, and getting into my wetsuit, we headed over to the start area.  Around 6:50 I finally took off all my extra layers and headed into the 45-55 minute swim group.  Standing there in the cold with bare feet felt like the longest 40 minutes of my life.  I was starting to get worried because my feet were so cold and starting to go numb.

Before I knew it the national anthem was being sung the gun went off.  The race had officially begun!!!

Swim

The swim was what I was most nervous about for this race – but I have to say I ROCKED IT (or at least in my mind I did)!!!  By the time I finally got to the water, I took my time getting in, found my lane, and started.  I knew I wanted to start a little slower to ease into it and get myself into a good rhythm.  Luckily, I got my rhythm and got into the zone right away – I really think it’s  because in swimming, you immediately put your head under water and can drown out everything else around you.

My hands and feet did start to go numb just before I reached the turnaround, so that made me a little nervous, but I dealt with it.  There were a few parts that felt a bit crowded, but I was able to maneuver around people and to my surprise was passing people pretty much the entire time.

Starting to see the bottom of the lake under me and running out of the water was the best feeling ever!!!  I knew the rest of the day would be a breeze (relatively speaking of course) now that the swim was over.  41:59 on the swim – not too shabby!!!

Transition 1

I thought keeping my wetsuit on while going from the swim to where our bikes would help keep me warm, and it did, but I didn’t anticipate how difficult it would be to take my wetsuit off with halfway numb fingers.  Should have had the wetsuit strippers help me – oh well – live and learn!

I made sure to dry myself off as much as possible to not be so cold on the bike.  Putting on multiple other layers also presents a challenge when your fingers are a bit numb and don’t have full dexterity in them.  Again, live and learn!  10 minutes later and I was finally heading out of transition, all bundled up.

Bike

This bike course is no joke – but man is it beautiful! Not going to lie there were definitely times where I COULD have been going faster, but I really wanted to just enjoy all the beautiful scenery around me and take it all in.

Also, major kudos to the people who do the full and do this TWICE!  For those of you unfamiliar with the course it’s hills on hills on hills – especially at the end.  You start off with a decent climb for about 6 or 7 miles, which felt great to help warm me up a bit – then it’s the famous Keene decent for the next 6 or 7 miles.  Holy moly – did I pick up some speed! I think I topped out at about 35 mph.  I don’t really remember too much about the middle except a pretty long out and back to Ausable Forks.  The shit gets real and those hills just start coming at ya – I may not have been the fastest but I was pretty consistently passing people on the uphills (I have a road bike, so the hills are easier).

Luckily by mile 40 I had finally regained feeling on my toes again and I was able to take my gloves and sleeves on my jacket off.  Once the sun finally came out it made a world of difference.  Getting back into town and knowing I was ⅔ of the way to becoming a half Ironman was an amazing feeling.  The energy of all the spectators in and around the oval was palpable and gave me a good boost of energy as I pulled into transition.

3:43:49 on the bike – again, I’ll take it!!!

Transition 2

Not much to say about this one – went much more smoothly than the first time around. Stripped off all my bike layers, put my sneakers, hat and bib on and I was out and running in about 3 minutes.

Run

The run course is just as beautiful as the bike course.  Again, there were times when I could have been going faster but wanted to just enjoy the beautiful scenery around me.  My goal for the run was to start slow and stay strong – I didn’t really care how fast I was going – and stop at every aid station to make sure I was hydrating.  Much like the bike course, the hills get ya at the end – not going to lie I had to stop and walk a bit after one of the hills because I felt my heart rate skyrocketing and wanted to bring it back down a bit.  Once I did though, I was good to go.  The last out and back though, is just mean; it felt like it would never end.  I kept thinking “Where on earth is the turnaround point?!”  Before I knew it though I was turning the corner, the red carpet and finish line in sight, so I picked it up with everything I had left and crossed that finish line!  The sense of accomplishment I felt in that moment was overwhelming – I was so proud of myself!

2:05:03 on the run – not too shabby if I don’t say so myself!!!

Post Race & Final Thoughts

After getting my medal and picture taken, I headed to the athlete food tent and grabbed some water, oranges and of course a slice of pizza (which happens to be my favorite post-race food).  I found my boyfriend (well more like he found me) and we sat in the grass and hung out for a bit before heading back to transition to get my stuff and head out.

Overall, I absolutely loved this race and while I don’t necessarily want to come back in 2018, I would definitely do this course again! It’s a great town, the course is beautiful, and all the volunteers are so nice.

So, I think it’s pretty safe to say that I’m hooked on doing triathlons.  I told myself I would wait until December to start planning my 2018 race calendar, but I broke my own rule and already started looking at races for next year!

This has been an absolutely incredible journey – I’ve learned so much about myself not only as an athlete but also as a person.  I’ve also had such an incredible support system – from everyone on Empire Tri, friends, family and my boyfriend.  Without everyone, this would not be possible.

So for now, it’s not goodbye, it’s I’ll see you later – in 2018!!!!