Mike has been training and racing in endurance and multi-sport events since 2018. This year, he took on his first Olympic and 70.3 distance events. I first met Mike among the Wild Harbor Tri Club, but did not have the opportunity to really get to know him until he started coaching about three months before IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City. When you first meet Mike, you are quickly infected with his great energy and positive attitude. After several occurrences with him, you realize this is his every day norm and you can’t help but smile and walk away with an uplifted spirit after every conversation with him.
Mike brings this same energy and positive attitude into his training and every race. Just prior to starting coaching, Mike was briefly ill as he will tell you about more below. Despite this brief episode, he was eager and positive as ever to begin coaching, participate in group training sessions with the Wild Harbor Triathlon Club and partake in his 2022 race season. Mike crushed his training and ultimately had a fantastic and successful racing season, completing sprint and olympic multi-sport events and several open water swims prior to IRONMAN 70.3 Atlantic City.
His 70.3 race day arrived and he had an incredible day. He had a great swim and did well in his transitions and on the bike course. We knew going into the event it would be a tight race to finish before the cutoff and ultimately Mike was pulled on the run course just before mile 9. With every swim stroke, pedal stroke and step he took on that course he brought that same big energy and infectious smile. Post race the following day, while he admitted it was a tough loss mentally, he was able to quickly flip his mindset and in his words "...like any loss, you move on and figure out how to get better!" Without a doubt, Mike’s perseverance and positive attitude sets him apart. He gives his best 100% of the time and uplifts everyone he meets along the way.
We are THRILLED Mike chose AME to share in his journey!
What got you into triathlon and endurance events?
The summer of 2017 I became a bike commuter, that introduced me a bit more to the concept of increased endurance capacity because those first commutes I’d get 3 miles on a 6-mile trip and I’d have to stop and rest. Then as my fitness increased, I started doing extra miles after work heading home.
In 2018 I heard about Tri the Wildwood, and I thought well I’m biking to work already, and I swim a little bit, and as added bonus it’s at the shore, I figured maybe it’s something I can try. Before signing up though I asked a good friend who had done a couple of full IRONMANS, can you walk during the run…he assured me there’s no triathlon police force that will DQ you for walking a bit during the run, (It’s funny how at the time all I knew of triathlons what I saw on TV which, essentially was the super fit competing in Kona, so didn’t seem accessible to a regular person who just wanted to finish.)
I signed up for Tri the Wildwood in 2018 and ever since been hooked and look forward to the season now.
What about triathlon and endurance sport brings you the most joy?
Every finish line. Completion of every workout. The clichéd meeting some awesome people that help keep me motivated because, well I love my couch.
What has been the most valuable takeaway from your training?
Consistency and training with longer distances…This season I bit off too much in attempting a half-ironman…I couldn’t make the run cut-off, and I hated the training, but gosh I loved the bleed over into the rest of my life.
This season after races, just walking around, my regular commute to work (when not a training ride), and at my advanced age I still attempt to play B-ball with a group of guys and I just felt better after all of these activities. Plus, as a HS Wrestling Official just moving around the mat to officiate is aided by increased endurance.
What is your favorite aspect of the Wild Harbor Triathlon Club?
Too much to list, but it starts with the other members and the founders have created an awesome club. An example around the time of escape the cape this year had a medical thing that hospitalized me for 10 days, so I had pinged via text a couple of the members I text with giving them a "go get em” text I wouldn’t be there in person. Well out of the blue I got a text from Val, one of the founders wishing me a speedy recovery. That’s the beauty of the club but this sport to me, at the end of the day these endurance events are grinds at least for me against myself mentally, and it’s a great a group of folks saying keep pushing, and in the end, you embrace in celebration, from the elites to the slow pokes like me we all are participants.
My favorite activities are the ocean swims, especially late when the ocean warms up and I always must take a minute just to float in that early morning sun and so appreciative of the lifeguards and the club members at that point because it’s just fun, hearing the clicks of the dolphins and knowing after I’m done the rest of the day awaits. Also the parties great fun.
Your attitude sets you apart. With that said, please share how you overcome and persevere in the face of difficulty or defeat.
Lol, I appreciate that.
If I’ve overcome its probably because I’ve had enough failures and defeats to know it’s part of the journey. The different activities I do and have done, from officiating, to trying triathlon means a learning curve that humbles you, so overcoming is the only option. As it relates to this endurance, swim, bike, run thing, the difficulties and defeats really aren’t that big of a deal in the scheme of things. I’ve already won just being able to participate.
To put this in context, my family has been able to hold on to a house down the shore that my grandparents owned as they worked down the shore during the summers. Plenty of the neighborhood families that were around when I was a kid, aren’t around to see how much the area’s changed. My late father worked as a youth at the hotels in cape may, and as a 54 year old guy on the larger side of Clydesdale division lol, I get a chance to play with a great group of people doing this swim, bike and run thing at a place that I have some family history enjoying one of the greatest placed in my humble of the south jersey shore.
Pick your pain, in your next 70.3 you forget your goggles and must swim with your head up the entire swim or you get stuck in a crowd of athletes who seeded incorrectly on the swim and you cannot break through for the entire swim?
I reject this question!! Your next 70.3? That implies that mountain is still out there and I want to climb it. Lol That’s the pain right there 70.3 just the number makes me cringe. Everything else you describe well that’s just something to deal with as part of that pain!
My true pain: before IMAC 70.3 I would watch videos for inspiration on this social media, visualizing myself as a finisher, all that positive mumbo jumbo; after not finishing the stupid algorithm keeps feeding me 70.3 videos…I can’t repeat what I mumble to myself every time one those videos show up but I’ll say it’s not inspirational. Lol
What is your most valuable take away and biggest piece of advice from something you've learned during a race?
I’d say it’s the overall theme of just keep going. As a person on the slow end, especially as it relates to the run, my least favorite discipline both physically and mentally, I get encouragement from all the great folks passing me and universally the message offered is just keep going!
Please note this caveat, this is written at the end of the season, ask me the same questions in July, and all positive comments would be retracted, and I’m back to hating this stupid sport and wondering why I’m doing it. Lol