I had the chance to talk triathlon recently with Mike Plumb, one of the All Stars in the Triathlon Club of San Diego's powerful men's 40-44 age category. You will enjoy getting to know this awesome athlete and one of the most significant contributors to triathlon in the San Diego area.
CZ: How did you get started with triathlons?
MP: When I was running in college I was always intrigued by the Ironman and thought one day I would like to do that. Then in the summer of ‘84 I was training regularly with a girl that was a 2:34 marathoner and her husband was a cyclist. We used to have friendly arguments about which one of us would do better in a triathlon, the runner or the cyclist, so to settle the argument we both entered an upcoming triathlon at the end of the summer. I ended up winning it overall and was hooked. I went on to win that same race (Sandman Triathlon in Gulf Shores, AL 11 times in 15 years)
CZ: Which Ironman distance races have you done?
MP: I have done several different Ironman distance events, although I don’t really consider myself an Ironman specialist. I have done Hawaii three times and Canada twice. My best was my first one, Hawaii 1989 where I went 9:52.
CZ: So you have obviously done a few Ironman races and you are doing Ironman Revisited on 8/15/04 in Oahu, what makes you keep coming back to that distance?
MP: It always seems like unfinished business for me doing an Ironman. I love the long training and love the feeling of accomplishment in doing an Ironman. But I feel like I have never done close to what I expect to do with this distance. Now at my age of 43 I still feel like it is the one distance that I can still improve at and get faster. I have always been a short course racer at heart. Going long in an Ironman requires a lot of patience and control, which is the opposite to racing short course where you can race redline the whole way. So doing well at the Ironman distance is still virgin territory to me and that in of itself is always a challenge.
CZ: And what inspired you to select Ironman Revisited?
MP: A lot of things led to my decision to do IR. First of all, it is a great cause and one that I really believe in and want to support. Last year I did a lot of volunteer work for the CAF and became more intimately involved with them and was hooked by their energy.
Having been involved in this sport for such a long time, there was also the lure of doing the original Ironman course, the way the originators did it back in the beginnings of Ironman. No crowds, no support, just you and your own race with a line drawn in the sand for a start. I have always enjoyed the bare bones type of racing, it seems like everything today has become so over commercialized. That is a reason why I enjoy the club races so much. For this reason I think I will really enjoy, and probably have my best ever Ironman race at IR in August.
CZ: What do you think first time Ironman people should focus on in their preparation?
MP: Putting in the miles! Not so much in overall weekly miles, but working on your long rides. Really become comfortable with riding long and the pacing and nutrition for the long rides. Also getting used to running and pacing off the bike.
CZ: How about what first time triathletes should focus on for their first season of racing?
MP: Enjoying all that this sport has to offer. Make it fun first. Making sure that it is fun is also making sure that you are prepared. Know what to expect for the distances you are doing and train for those distances.
CZ: Help me understand this - you are originally from Canada, but you seem to be on Team USA every year. Believe me, we are happy to have you, but how can that be?
MP: Since I am a US permanent resident, I can compete for the US team. But in doing so, I would have to wait 5 years before I could try to compete for Canada if I wanted to. I think this is a loophole that just exists in our sport and isn’t available at the Olympic level.
CZ: Over your long racing career, what World Championships have you raced on for Team USA? for Team Canada?
MP: I have competed for Canada in Cross Country and track while I was in high school, but never in triathlon/duathlon.
For the US I have qualified for Team US many times in the triathlon and duathlon, but have only gone a couple of times. In triathlon I did Worlds the year it was in Cleveland and placed 12th. In Duathlon I competed in the World Championships the inaugural year in Palm Springs, in Frankfurt Germany and in Atlanta two years ago. I am not planning on going to Worlds this year in either event, although I will be doing several of the duathlon qualifiers.
CZ: What are your racing goals for 2004? In other words, what races should I avoid so I have a chance to win?
MP: For this year I am concentrating more on Duathlons. So far the tentative race schedule is:
March 21: Corralitos Duathlon, Santa Cruz, CA (Worlds Qualifier)
March 28: Powerman Alabama (Worlds Qualifier)
April 18: LaQuinta Triathlon
April 24: Baker to Vegas Relay
May 2: Dannon Duathlon, Miami, FL
May 16: Dannon Duathlon, Phoenix, AZ
June 6: Rock n Roll Marathon
June 12: Lake Tahoe Relay
July 11: Dannon Duathlon, Provo, UT
August 8: Dannon Duathlon, Atlanta, GA (US Nationals)
August 15: Ironman Revisited, Oahu, HI
November 7: Dannon Duathlon, Palm Springs, CA
Overall my goals are to try to win a National Championship for Masters in the Duathlon. I have come close before with a 2nd two years ago. Second goal is a sub 10 hour finish at Ironman Revisited. Final goal, which is the same every year, to enjoy my racing.
CZ: Mike, thanks a bunch for sharing with the triathlon community not only in this interview, but in so many other ways. You can reach Mike for his coaching expertise through his company, TriPower MultiSports at www.tripower.org or email@example.com.