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Empire Spotlight: Meet Maud Walas!

Maud Walas raises her arms as she crosses the finish line of her first Half Ironman, IMAC 70.3 last September. This summer, she is training to become an Ironman!

Empire Spotlight!  Meet Maud Walas

Last week we had a chance to connect with Empire Member Maud Walas and dig a little deeper into where she’s from, what she’s training for and how she’s coping with COVID_19. Read more to find out!

Empire: Were are you from?
Maud: I am from Paris, France.

Empire: When did you move to NY?
Maud: I moved to NY in March 2017.

Empire: What brought you to NY?
Maud: Work, I am working for a French Bank.

Empire: When did you start racing triathlons?
Maud: My first triathlon was in June 2019 – The Wyckoff / Franklin Lakes Sprint Triathlon in NJ.

Empire: When/Why did you join empire?
Maud: I joined Empire last year as part of the beginner program to prepare NYC triathlon. Unfortunately, it was canceled so I never raced an Olympic distance!

What were some races you did last season?
Maud: Wyckoff, some sprints and Atlantic City 70.3. I also ran NYC marathon and NY 60k.

Empire: What are some of your races / goals for this season?
Maud: Hopefully, I will race Escape from Alcatraz (although I am a little nervous about the swim).  And thanks to Empire and to my inspiring Teammates, I will try to become an Ironman in Lake Placid next summer.   Then, I plan to race the Chicago and NYC marathons.  

Empire: How are you adjusting to the changes imposed by COVID 19? (are you still able to work?  working from home? do you have very structured hours or a flexible schedule?)
Maud: Except that I am working from home, there is no change in my schedule. I am still working in front of my computer all day long -the only change is that I can wear comfy outfits.  I am an early bird and I continue to wake up at 5:30am every morning to go for a run or to jump on my home trainer. To have a good day: “Coffee, but first gym!”

Empire: What home equipment do you have access to?
Maud: I am so glad I bought a home trainer last year. Except that, I use elastic bands and a bottle of laundry detergent as a weight for my strength routine!

Empire: How are you adapting your training due to social distancing?  When/how/where are you working out?
Maud: I run early in the morning, when everyone sleeps. I love the morning lights, that is so peaceful and the sky and city offer a different show every morning. As the streets are empty now, my husband comes with me with his scooter, for safety (I must admit that it makes me happy to spend this time with him too 🙂 ). After my morning ride or run, I do my 20 minutes strength routine defined with the help of my PT Dave at Finish Line Physical Therapy. This is not what I like the most but time, injuries and 12 years of running teach me that this is part of the training.

Empire: Has it been helpful to be a part of a team during this time? (if so, what have you found to be most helpful)?
Maud: It is more than helpful! Here in NY, Empire is my second family. I have made so many training partners but also friends since I joined the club! And today I am happy to share my love for biking with my Teammates. Before COVID, I started to propose new routes for outdoor long rides but now that we are not able to go out, I organize four virtual rides per week on Zwift. People join the rides when they want and we bike together in virtual worlds. I love to prepare the rides in advance to add some fun, like jokes or our weekend achievements. I hope these rides help to spread a little bit of joy and entertainment in my Teammates’ life.  In addition to these rides, Empire is proposing a lot of different activities, like strength workouts, yoga classes, socials, clinics. It almost feels like we are still seeing each other’s four times a week as during race season. For me, that is a game changer to handle the actual situation and the anxiety related to it.

Empire: Is it true that you rode 100 miles on your indoor trainer last week? What prompted you to do this? Was this part of a training plan or just something you decided to do?
Maud: Good question! One of my weekend treats is my long ride! I love spending a day outside on my bike discovering new places. I guess it also releases all the stress of my week at work. On a rainy weekend, I decided to replace my ride with a home trainer session and picked a 80 miles route. But 80 miles is not an achievement, it is like running 23 miles when you know you are able to complete a marathon… so I decided to go for 100! And to be totally transparent, one of my Empire Teammates did it one week before and I wanted to prove to myself that I was also capable of the same madness.

EmpireAnything else you’d like to share? (something non-triathlon related that people may not know about you?)
Maud: Fun fact: In school, I was always the last at every race and I hated running so much that I hid behind the bushes of the track field to avoid running!

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Empire Spotlight Marty Munson

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!

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Empire Spotlight Amer Juntado

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)

 

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Empire Spotlight Roberta Muricy

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.

 

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Empire Spotlight Christine Kern

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!

 

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Empire Spotlight-Pablo Solano

Although Pablo was part of the Empire Tri team, he had little desire in doing a triathlon and was content with the cycling and running workouts.
 
A year ago, as he was recovering from a torn ACL, he joined us for the team aspect and training-plan which could help him continue to strengthen his knee.
 
But watching his teammate’s enthusiasm for their upcoming tri races sparked an interest and he decided to sign up for his first triathlon. Unfortunately the tri experience would have to wait. The swim portion was canceled due to water safety conditions, changing the race to a duathlon. This would not hold him back and along with other teammates Pablo signed up for the South Beach Triathlon, our first team race of the 2018 season.
“I didn’t feel nervous [during the race]. I had no set goal but was feeling confident. I had trained hard enough to finish. It was a couple of hours after finishing when I learned I had placed 3rd in my age group. It was a big surprise and a great reward.”
 
This past weekend Pablo exceeded his potential running the Popular Brooklyn Half on Saturday and riding in Sunday’s 100 Mile Gran Fondo. Finishing both with exceptional times!
 
Next on his calendar: racing Rev3 Quassy Triathlon, 2XU NYC Triathlon and Atlantic City Ironman 70.3 with his Empire Tri teammates. We wish Pablo all the best of luck!
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Empire Spotlight – Doc Golden

“l MUST do this!” were the words Doc said to herself after volunteering at a few triathlons.  She planned to race one triathlon, but after completing her first, she ended up doing another 5 before the end of the season!  That was three years ago.  Now, with over 20 races under her belt (including a half Ironman), Doc serves as an Ambassador for the Empire Tri Club and leads weekly workouts for the HSS Run Club.

While in the off season, many Empire Tri Club athletes keep themselves fit and motivated by competing in other athletic challenges.  In March, Doc traveled abroad to run the Jerusalem Winner Marathon.  Training in the cold NYC winter and having to pull 16-20 mile runs in 30 degree weather can be mentally tough.  “Once I got out there the training runs were great, but setting aside several hours on my off days to run in the cold never excited me.  The vision of accomplishing a dream goal kept me going every time.  And once each long run was done, I was on top of the world.”

And how was the marathon? Jerusalem is known to be a tough course due to its scenic rolling hills.  One also has to account for the difference in temperature from winter to summer which can also impact performance.

“I was surprisingly more terrified for this marathon than any other.  Even after doing the NYC marathon three times I was terrified of the hills of Jerusalem.  But after training through all those cold months, seeing thousands of people at the race who also trained made the journey worthwhile.  Crossing that finish line lit my spirit on fire.”

Now that triathlon season is under way Doc has a series of short distance running races and triathlons to keep her training strong.  Her “A race” this year is the Atlantic City Half Ironman which she will be competing in with more than 30 of her teammates.  Good luck this season Doc!

 

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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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