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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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Empire Spotlight – Pete Lambousis

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

Meet Empire athlete Pete Lambousis:

Pete has been a long-distance runner for the past 10 years, running 18 marathons to date!  He finds long training runs therapeutic, but recently turned to triathlon as a way to “mix it up” and integrate the lower-impact sports swimming and biking into his training to reduce the risk of injury.  It took him a couple of triathlons before he found Empire, where he now trains with teammates and really enjoys it!

Last month Pete competed in IRONMAN 70.3 Ohio, finishing with a 22-minute Personal Record.  He started training for this race last winter by correcting his swim stroke and developing bike strength and endurance.  “That base paid huge dividends as the weather improved and tri season began.  Ohio 70.3 ended up being the culmination of the whole season for me, where all my training and lessons learned from previous races really came together.”

Pete was set to compete at IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid. However, when a visit from his Australian family on race weekend meant backing out of the race, he decided to compete in Ohio 70.3 instead.  We asked him how it was for him on race day:

“I always get butterflies on race day.  But a huge mental benefit was pulling on my Empire kit, which reminded me of my teammates back home and all the support I had from them.  And staying with Empire buddy Cam Smith was especially amazing; the support and encouragement from him and his family (the race was in his hometown) were truly incredible.”

“The Ohio course is known to be fast, but not without its challenges: a bit of a current, headwind, and some deceptive hills on the run.  I decided to just trust my training, race by feel, ignore all the data, and try to have fun on what was a beautiful summer day.  I hydrated and fueled smartly on the bike, hard lessons learned after doing both of those things poorly in previous races.”

Pete found this season to have been incredibly rewarding so far, especially with his new PR!  Although tri season is over for Pete, he will join some of his Empire Tri teammates at both the Chicago and NYC Marathons later this fall. Good luck Pete!

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Empire Spotlight – Luis Arce

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

Meet Empire athlete Luis Arce

After college, Luis became interested in running long distance races and has completed various marathons to date.  He practices Krav Maga, the self-defense system, which combines techniques from different martial arts.  He finds it helps him focus while under stress.

One Sunday in July a few years back, he watched athletes compete in the NYC Triathlon and was impressed with their endurance.  “I thought, wow, all those racers already swam and biked before their run. That takes discipline! I have to do that.”  This past July at the 17th annual NYC Triathlon, Luis finished his second NYC Tri race and managed a 17 minutes personal record.

“I felt confident during race day as I knew I had been training for it.  I think my excitement about participating in the race overshadowed any nerves I might have had about it.  I just tried to focus on each leg at a time.  I found myself thinking back to my training whether it was how to complete my swim stroke or pedal on the bike hills.  I was thinking about my pacing, and how to sustain it.”

“Being part of Empire Tri Club made a significant difference in my training.  I really enjoy working out with my teammates.  Being part of a training group helped me to push harder and stick to a training schedule.  I look forward for the Saturday bike rides with my teammates and learn tricks from them.  It was motivating seeing some improvement each month.  For instance, the bike rides to Piermont and then to Nyack started to feel gradually easier.”

Luis will continue training for the IRONMAN Lake Placid 70.3 this September.  This will be his second 70.3 distance. His goal is a bit different than when he first raced a Half IRONMAN aiming to just finish.  This time around, his goal is to improve his time!

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Empire Spotlight – Sam Tergek

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

Meet Empire athlete Sam Tergek

Growing up in Europe where soccer is one of the main sports played in school, Sam did not have a lot of options for athletic participation.  “I was never very interested in soccer but I did play basketball for a few years.  It’s safe to say that no one ever thought of me as an athlete before now”.

Sam has come a long way from his school days.  He began cycling a few years ago but that wasn’t enough for him.  Needing a new challenge and talking to friends who were triathletes he decided to join Empire Tri Club’s 12-week Beginner Program.  After competing in the program’s Sprint distance triathlon, he caught the “tri-bug” and registered for his first Olympic distance triathlon, the NYC Tri the following year.

Sam’s training has certainly been paying off!  He has set new personal records at each race he’s competed in this year!  All of this hard work got him to the start line for IRONMAN 70.3 Eagleman earlier this June.  This is the longest distance triathlon he’s competed in to date and has plans to continue racing longer distance tri’s.  He will be joining his fellow Empire Tri teammates at the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid this September.  He also plans to run both the Chicago and New York City marathons this year.

“Sam is an awesome training buddy and a perfect example of what makes being a member of Empire so great.  He is always friendly and disciplined in his training.  Knowing that I’d see his smiling face made our swim, bike, and run workouts fun and something to look forward to.  And I could always count on Sam for extra layers, waffles, spare tires, and CO2 cartridges – he’s a mobile bike shop!” – Pete Lambousis

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Empire Spotlight – Mona Rayachoti

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

Meet Empire athlete Mona Rayachoti

Having a few marathons under her belt, Mona decided to try triathlons as the next challenge in her life.  Gaining a spot for the Panasonic NYC Triathlon in 2016, she joined Empire to help her train.

“Until last year, I hadn’t ridden a bike in almost 2 decades.  I was also a terrible swimmer.  In fact, as a child, I kept failing the beginner swim classes! I hoped that by doing triathlons, I’d get over any fears of swimming in open water.”

“Training for a triathlon is more interesting than just running.  Each day is a different workout.  If I get bored with running, it’s nice to mix it up and do other workouts.  I feel it’s also better on the body and once I started swimming and cycling more, I noticed my running pace had improved.”

Mona ran the Virgin London Marathon this past April and got a personal record by 33 minutes!

“Since joining the team my running pace has improved tremendously.  It’s still not considered fast and I’m always in the back of the group during our group runs.  When I think of how far I’ve come in the last couple of years, it makes me feel confident that in time, I’ll get faster and stronger with swimming and cycling as well.”

Mona is gearing up this summer to complete her first Half IRONMAN at the inaugural IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid in September.

“My main goal is to train as best as I can and just finish.  I will be training all summer and I like that I will be doing it with Empire!”

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Empire Spotlight – Harry Neuhaus

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

Meet Empire Coach and athlete Harry Neuhaus

Harry has been coaching with Empire Tri Club for 3 years.  He has participated in 8 marathons (PR 3:21:07), four 70.3 (PR 5:11:26) and many half marathons and Olympic triathlons.  He is a USAT Level 1 Coach as well as a RRCA Certified Coach.

In March, he competed in his first triathlon of the season the Monterey Gatorade Race for Team Mexico.  He came home with 2nd place AG win!  It took a lot of self-discipline to prepare for the race, working out through the winter months and holiday season!  His willpower didn’t stop there, the race course wasn’t inspiring having to swim in a man-made lake, loops upon loops on the bike and again on the run.  All made worse by the non-stop rain throughout the entire race!

The race is a qualifier for the Mexican National Team.  The top two people in each age group qualify for a slot.  The win gave Harry a trip to this summer’s 2017 World Championships in Rotterdam, Netherlands.

His resolute mentality is evident in his coaching:
“Harry always pushes you just beyond your comfort zone. Triathlon training is hard enough, and just when you think you have no more left in you. Harry “suggests” you may have another lap or some more speed to spare…he’s usually right!” – Yael Bartur

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Empire Spotlight- Liz Harris

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

Meet Empire athlete Liz Harris:

Just 1 year of doing triathlons and already Liz has accomplished qualifying for nationals, placing 2nd overall in her very first duathlon, and several podium finishes at Olympic distance triathlons! “I have always been athletic and am always trying new things – marathons, body building, and now triathlons.  Last year I just went out, bought a bike and registered for a Half Ironman. I was committed (not to mention I had just spent a ton of money), so I was going to train and do it well.”

A love for travel and her new found sport, she’s combined the two by doing destination races. She finished her 2016 season at IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel. “What’s not to love about Cozumel…  clear water, warm temperatures and the most amazing people. It is a magical place…and they have tequila! The race itself was so well organized and it is truly a fast, flat course. You swim in the ocean which is crystal clear and you can see the bright colored fish, then bike 1 loop around the island with amazing views of the ocean. The run is all along the main road where people are dreaming and cheering the entire way… just the motivation you need to cross the finish. Oh, destination races!”

What’s on her calendar for 2017?  The NYC Tri, IRONMAN 70.3 Lake Placid, and her “A race” IRONMAN 70.3 Cozumel!  We are sure to see her atop that podium again!