I had the chance to talk triathlon recently with. Jim raced Ironman Canada back in 2001 and has been the President of the Triathlon Club of San Diego since 2000.
CZ: How did you first get involved in triathlons?
JM: Basically I played baseball the first part of my life. I played through college and even coached as an assistant through grad school. In my last year of grad school, I came up with the idea that I would do one of these running races. My first road race was the Coronado Half Marathon. After completing the race, I heard about these races called biathlons (now called duathlons) and thought to myself “I’m just a bike ride away from being able to do one of those biathlons”. I bought a bike, then did a biathlon in Chino, California. After completing the biathlon, I thought to myself, “I’m just a swim away from doing a triathlon”. Not knowing how to swim, I started to teach myself how to swim from what I read in a swim book. I found a triathlon in Brawley, California, did the race and have been a triathlete ever since.
CZ: What was your experience like doing Ironman Canada?
JM: IM Canada was an interesting experience. I really don’t think there is a better race to do in this world than IMC. It’s a perfect racecourse, in a beautiful part of this world, with an entire town supporting the event. The Canadian people are some of the nicest people/hosts you’ll ever come across. It just doesn’t get any better than IMC. As for the race, the swim was in a clean lake with cool water-perfect. My swim was fairly uneventful, the longest swim I did all year. The bike was great for about 80 miles then my conditioning caught up with me as it was the longest bike ride I did all year. The run was basically a struggle from the start and a struggle for all 26.2 miles. In the end I fell back on my final goal, just finish. It was also the longest run I did all year. A few things I learned from the race were; once you get on the bike course there is food everywhere. Every 5 miles it’s a total buffet of food and drinks. You really have to control yourself from overeating and from drinking too much. Who needs a special needs bag? There is a massage tent at mile 13 on the run and you can get a massage. What the heck, might as well. What’s 10-15 minutes in the bigger picture of just finishing.
CZ: Over all of the years of racing triathlons, what funny mistakes have you made?
JM: I remember my first race I parked my bike next to this 70 year old lady doing the race. Three times I came back to my bike and found it on the ground knocked over. She was definitely a suspect. I was about to say something when I concluded/figured out I had set my bike in the rack the wrong way and it was all, my fault. She was off the hook. Lucky her. It seems funny things happen during the swim of a triathlon. There is something funny about swim courses and the distance not being right. It the late 80’s, GPS devices weren’t available to the public. It was all just a guess on the swim distance for race directors. One of the early Carlsbad Triathlons, during the swim I looked at my watch and it said 42 minutes and I wasn’t even close to land. During the Rosarito Triathlon, there were shark sightings prior to the 400m swim. Once they could no longer see the sharks, it was OK to swim. The 400m took me 23 minutes. I’m just not that slow! Swim courses are always long, never short. There’s humor in there somewhere.
CZ: You have seen the Tri Club grow from 350 members when you took over as President to 1305 members today. How would you suggest a new member get involved in the Tri Club today?
JM: With the club, I’ve always wanted to create a buffet of triathlon activities. Look at the buffet the club provides and pick off it what sounds good and fits your plate (schedule). Triathletes and buffets have always been a match. Message to new members: please don’t wait until you’re in shape or ready to come out. Just show up. We’re a pretty friendly bunch and would like to share what we know about the sport to make your transition into the sport an easy one.
CZ:You have gotten a lot of high profile speakers for the monthly meetings over the years. Who was your favorite speaker and why?
JM: I actually like them all. It’s a very special sport we have where the Hall of Famer’s and All-Stars of our sport will come down and speak to the members. They all do it on their own time and dime. That’s right, the greatest triathletes on the planet stop by Roadrunner Sports to speak to us and no one has ever even asked to be paid. They are all great athletes and such and great individuals on top of that. There is something special about triathletes.
CZ: If you had a magic wand, what would you like to fix in the sport?
JM: I’d like to see the entry fees cut in half and the number of races triple.
CZ: What would you like to fix in the Tri Club?
JM: It has always been a challenge to get new members to come out to a club event. Many people join the club, but feel intimidated to come out because they think members of the club are all elite athletes. If all new members would just come out to one event, they would see we are all not elite athletes!
CZ: What is great about the sport?
JM: The sport of triathlons has been and is a gateway to athletic adventure. I’ve seen so many people who were never athletic their whole life, join the club, do a sprint triathlon, do an Ironman, take up adventure racing, ride their bike across the USA. All of us can do these things plus whatever else you can imagine. How about walking from San Diego to Seattle, have a cup of coffee and then walking back. Ride your bike to New York City, have a slice of pizza, turn around and ride back. You can do it. I’m not sure why, but it sounds like fun. One of our members with an imagination ran the perimeter of the United States. She ran 11,000 miles over 435 days and was in The Guinness Book of World Records for years. If she can run it, we all can walk it.
CZ: What is great about the Tri Club?
JM: The Tri Club is a positive place. Good things are happening and people tend to be upbeat.
CZ: What has been your greatest accomplishment as President of the Tri Club?
JM: I don’t know if I have a great accomplishment. I’ve just enjoyed making this the best tri club to be found.
CZ: What are your future goals with triathlon?
JM: I’d like to keep swim-bike-running even if years from now triathlons are no where to be found.
CZ: I have known you for about 10+ years. I originally figured you would be a lifelong bachelor. How did you meet a great lady like Dee Dee?
JM: I guess prior to being married I was a bachelor. We met in 1998 on a 10-day Desert Survivor course in the canyon lands of Utah. You’ll meet the best people in the strangest places.
CZ: That’s really cool. I’m glad you both found one another. And I’m really glad you and the Tri Club found one another. Your leadership and friendship is one of our greatest gifts. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for all that you do for the Tri Club.