Monday, July 6, 2015

Interview with Challenge 2015 AC Full Overall Winner: Jeff Paul

Just came back from Challenge AC and was able to snap a pic of one of the leaders after my slow self crossed for the half and showered by the sand run area.  I later connected with Jeff and found out he was 1. The Winner!   and 2. a blogger.   Was happy he agreed to an interview for the blog.  
You can find his entire race report HERE
1. Tell us a little about yourself and tri background...
I did my first triathlon after my junior year of high school thanks to some coaxing from my high school swim coach.  I wasn't much of a swimmer but he knew I had a background in running.  I loved it and knew it was something I'd want to do more of after high school and college. 

2. what made you pick Challenge AC full?
I did this race last year as a professional athlete and finished 14th (12 professional).  I LOVED the run course on the boardwalk.  With so many people around...despite them not knowing what was going created an atmosphere unlike any other I've done at this distance.  I had a tremendous home stay I have become good friends with and he invited my family to come this year.  My wife and I made the trip to see him again and I love doing Challenge races. 

3. Any specific pointers for people wanting to do the race next year
I think to prepare for this race specifically it's important to do long rides where you make yourself stay in the aero position.  So often riders do long rides but they don't stay aero for the duration.  This course is one where you rarely need to get out of the aero position so if you haven't trained aero for long periods of time it can be tough on your back.  I also recommend dumping ice in the jersey on the run.  The run course on the boardwalk has almost no shade and it feels warmer than it is if the sun is out. 

4. Any suggestions for those being compeitive in a time trial start?  There's certainly 2 ways to approach a time trial start.  If you are a good swimmer you probably want to start early so you don't have to worry about others getting in your way.  If you are new or not a strong swimmer I'd recommend starting later so you don't have to worry about people swimming over top of you.  If you know someone who is similar in swim ability it may be a good idea to start with them so you can take turns drafting off each other to save energy. 

5. Favorite brick workout
I rarely do brick workouts.  I think many new triathletes feel the need to do them all the time.  I do plyometric strength training and jump rope twice a week so my legs are use to explosive movements and I feel they have helped my running off the bike tremendously.  Before sprint or Olympic distance races where a faster run pace is required I'll do brick workouts indoors where I'll ride at a goal race wattage (or effort) for 10 minutes on the trainer before hopping off and putting my race flats on for a fast mile on the treadmill.  I typically do 3 rounds of that with wattage of 270-290 for 10 minutes following each with a fast mile in 5:20-5:30. 

And a little more about Jeff: 
In 2008 I weighed 203 lbs.  I was almost clinically obese nearing 30% body fat %.  I had always raced triathlons in the summer but as a teacher and coaching varsity sports year round I never trained for 10 months during the school year.  I have 2 family members that have had gastric bypass surgery with a family history of obesity.  I knew I needed to make a change with my life.  I started training 10 months out of the year and wanted to see how much faster I could race.  I had this big dream of achieving my professional status and I earned that by winning overall top amateur at Longhorn 70.3 in Austin, Texas in October of 2009.  I raced professionally for 4 years before going back to racing as an amateur this year.  I now race Ironman around 150 lbs.  I am married, have two children (ages 5 and 7), a full-time teaching career, coach high school basketball, and youth tee ball.  I felt I had much more in common with those in the amateur races than the pro races.  I still want to be competitive.  I started a foundation in my community 2 years ago called iHope.  The mission is to provide iPads to students in Junior high and then present them with a $1,000.00 college scholarship when they graduate high school.  The students must be low-income and have outstanding character and work traits.  It's been great to see how the technology can help them through school and how the scholarship promise in junior high immediately gets them to think of college not only as an option but as somewhere they are headed.  I have earned nearly $7,000.00 in prize money at races that has been donated but the foundation has earned much more nearing $50,000.00.  I ask businesses to support my racing by making a donation to the foundation rather than support me personally.  We have presented 10 students with an iPad award and scholarship promise.  It's been really rewarding to see how this impacts these young men and women.  It inspires me to keep going each year to get in the best shape I can knowing I can make a positive impact on others. 

I find myself balancing family, work, and everything else at life by doing nearly all my biking indoors on the trainer after the kids have gone to bed.  I averaged 223 miles a week biking in the 18 weeks of training prior to Atlantic City and I bet I only rode outside 15 times.  For swimming I don't swim much until about a month before a big race.  Then I swim 5-6 days a week almost entirely open water in a lake that's about 15 minutes from my house.  For running I'm a big believer in a weekly interval workout, weekly tempo run, and weekly long run.  All the rest of my runs are easy.  I like to put in a big 6 week block of training from 8 weeks prior to Ironman down to 2 weeks when I start backing things off as part of the taper.  The 6 week block ideally would have 4-5 100+ mile rides and 4-5 20+ mile runs.  The lead in to Atlantic City did not go as planned with sicknesses and injury so I was very worried about how I would hold up.  It worked out fine but I'd really like to go under 9 hours for this distance.  I've been close with a 9:05 at IM Arizona and a 9:04 at Beach 2 Battleship.  Hopefully the next one...I'm definitely still DREAMING BIG!!

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