TCSD Conversation by Craig Zelent

I had the pleasure recently of talking triathlon with Tim Price who has given his heart and soul to the TCSD. Tim is our newly elected TCSD Events and Program Director.  We are so lucky to have Tim as he has been a central figure in putting on our very successful club races over the last couple of years.  

Tim Price and his son Oliver before a TCSD Aquathlon

Craig: What sports did you participate in while growing up? 

Tim: I was born just outside of Cleveland, OH, and grew up in Bethlehem, PA, so growing up I played a lot of pond hockey. That’s something you don’t see in Southern California. It was fun. Although I fell through the ice once, because I thought it was thicker than it was. I had to walk home, over a mile, wet and in the snow from the gristmill pond. In high-school I wrestled. I wouldn’t say I was the worst, but I wasn’t threatening to win any State Championships, either. My coaches liked me, so they always put me in when it was a forfeit. Padded the stats nicely. I played football in high-school, too. I like to say that I practiced football, because I only played in blowouts. We were the state champs in 1991; we won our medals, picture in the paper, free trip to Florida, but I didn’t play one down in the championship game. I also ran occasionally around the Lehigh University cross country course with a friend, but never for time. 

Craig: How did triathlon originally get woven into your fabric?

Tim: I used to work seven miles from home, and my then fiancé and I only had one car, so after work I’d run home. I’d been running off and on for years. I had a few routes that I’d run when I lived in OB, and this was a nice way to get back into running. A coworker of mine suggested that rather than run home with a 20 lb. backpack on, it'd be easier if I just rode a bike. My oldest brother was into cycling and gave me his old busted up bike from a recent accident. After a while of cycling to work, the same co-worker commented that since I was already running and cycling, why not do a triathlon. So with no prior experience, I signed up for the 2008 Imperial Beach Sprint.

Craig: What was your first triathlon like? 

Tim: The most interesting thing about my first tri is that I didn’t know how to swim. I used to swim to the buoy and back when I lived in OB, but I didn’t really know how to properly swim. Again this was the Imperial Beach Triathlon, sprint distance. 16:56 swim, 38:25 bike, 27:02 run. I was an impressive 412 overall, out of 522. I doggie-paddled a lot during that swim. I felt like I was going to drown. The bike felt fine, until a guy on a mountain bike and wearing board shorts passed me. I’d never run off the bike before, so that was the slowest 5K I’d ever run. I really didn’t understand why my legs weren't working. I was such a beginner that when my then fiancé and I were scouting out the transition areas before the race, I was impressed by the people who brought buckets of water to rinse their feet in before the bike. I really thought I was learning something there.

Craig: Now that you’ve been in the sport for a few years, what is your favorite distance and what has been your favorite destination race? 

Tim: The 70.3 is my favorite distance, because each segment is a good length for me. Even when I’m out by myself, these are the distances that fit me. I started with mud-run/bootcamp races, in Camp Pendleton and in MCRD, and transitioned to adventure races like the Tough Mudder and Spartan Races. I can carry logs and swim though ice-baths with the best of them. I’ve done a lot of running distances, 5K up to a marathon. My first marathon was the 2015 Two Cities Marathon in my wife’s hometown of Fresno, and there is a particular intersection that I will always remember fondly as the place where I sat in the street and threw-up. Finally, though, the 70.3 is where I’m most comfortable. 

I’ve done a 70.3 every year over the last five years, including Oceanside twice, as well as Chula Vista and Wildflower. Wildflower was gorgeous. I should probably say that Wildflower was my favorite, because the backside of nasty-grade was the fastest I’ve ever gone on a bike, and of course being Wildflower, I saw some boobies on the run course. My favorite destination race, however, is Silverman 70.3. It is the prettiest course I’ve seen, the best race course and the best ride. I was in Las Vegas last month, and redid the run course just because I liked it so much. I didn’t swim, because it was too damned cold.

Craig: What are your favorite parts of a triathlon? 

Tim: My two favorite parts of any triathlon are the first 100 meters and the last 100 meters. The first 100 meters because it’s full contact and aggressive. It reminds me of my high school wrestling days. I’m not the fastest swimmer, but I always take the most aggressive line. The last 100 meters for, well, obvious reasons. I’m finally done. Onward to the beer tent.

Craig: What athletic accomplishment are you most proud of? 

Tim: Probably the most impressive athletic accomplishment of mine is when a friend and I completed 600 burpees in an hour. My buddy owns a gym downtown and invited me to join him for this weekly one hour workout that he does with a group of retired navy seals. Earlier that week, another retired seal became a YouTube celebrity for doing 3,000 burpees in a row. So inspired by that nutcase, we all decided that we were going to do 10 burpees a minute for an hour. For those slower at math, that is 600 burpees in an hour. It was ridiculous. There were 30 of us, facing one another in a circle. No one cheated. You couldn’t. Another thing you couldn’t do was brush your teeth for a week afterward. It’s good that I keep my hair short, because I couldn’t have combed it, either.

Craig: What are the best benefits of being a TCSD member? 

Tim: The consistency and number of weekly workouts we offer is definitely one of the best benefits. The coaching is outstanding. The JCC (now La Jolla High) technique workouts really helped me improve my swim. The track workouts, too. I’ve really gained speed there. Bill Gleason’s open water swim workout is by far my favorite coached workout that the club offers. Not only is he a good coach, and it a good workout, but it mimics race conditions and prepares you for the race. These race-simulation workouts eliminate pre-race jitters, because you've trained in the same environment as the race itself. Being able to eliminate the jitters is a big advantage over other non-TCSD members.

Craig: How did you get involved as a volunteer for the TCSD? 

Tim: One night after a Friday night swim at the La Jolla Cove, a few of us went out to eat. Steve Banister was there, and I said for maybe the 3rd time that I am willing to help, or do whatever needed. Once he'd become club President, I’d really started to pay attention to the volunteers and a few of the more noticeable people on the board. They were making changes. Improving the club. It really encouraged me, and I wanted to give back to the club, too, for all that it gave me. Steve offered me the position of being John Hill’s assistant, and I have been Assistant Timer ever since. That was four years ago. At the end of 2015, Jim Johnson stepped down from Triathlon Director, and Jay Lewis asked me to step in. So then I became Triathlon Director as well as Assistant Timer. Now of course I’ve successfully campaigned for, and been elected to, the Board position of Events Director. I won by a landslide. It’s almost as if I was running unopposed.

Now that I have everyone’s attention, this may be a good time to let everyone know that the positions of Assistant Timer and Triathlon Director are officially available to anyone interested. It wasn’t actually my goal to collect every position offered to me, but so far I haven't let any of them go.

Craig: You were recently elected to be the TCSD Events and Program Director.  What are your tasks in that role? 

Tim: My primary goals are to get more members to attend each event and to promote the club to prospective members. We are pulling permits for much larger groups than are actually attending each event, and it’s my own personal goal to fill the events to capacity. We can all agree that heavily attended events are much more fun and much more competitive. This year I plan on introducing new events to increase interest, and I plan on amping up the give-aways for those who attend the races, as well as for those who follow my email announcements in Yahoo! Groups. I’ve started hiring food trucks for events after it was brought to my attention that members were interested in mixing it up, and they've already created interest.

I would really like to challenge every club member to bring a friend with you to the next couple of events you attend. Encourage them to come see what the club has to offer. Maybe I’ll find a give-away specifically for them, too.

Of course those aren't my official duties. If you were to ask the Board, my duties would include creating the calendar of upcoming events, obtaining permits and securing locations for those events, procuring caterers for after the races.  A lot of that kind of thing, which is never ending. I’m also still on Assistant Timer and Triathlon Director duty. But enough of that. Follow my emails, and bring a friend to your next event. We’ll be sure to make them feel welcome.

Craig: What has been your reward as a volunteer for the TCSD over the years? 

Tim: It is a great feeling of accomplishment. You have that feeling of accomplishment after a race, and you have that same feeling after putting together an event. You always want to do your best for the people who attend events, you don’t volunteer hoping to do a mediocre job, but there are some days when you think it was just “okay” or that you goofed something. On those days when members go out of their way to thank you for what an outstanding job you did, it feels just as good as finishing a race. You had given them a really fun day, and that makes you feel just as good as winning your age group. 

Craig: Tim, you have done such a great job with everything you’ve touched with the TCSD.  I’d say you have won your age group every time!  What was the genesis of getting Kai to run for President? 

 Tim: After Steve Banister left the Presidency, I lost that engaged feeling with the Board and the volunteers. I didn’t feel as connected with any part of the work that was being done, outside of what my own duties were. Honestly I don’t know what created this difference, but Kai and I would talk, and he felt the same way.

Now Kai is an interesting guy. He doesn’t come across as outgoing at first, which puts him in a funny position because he’s the most well known guy in the club. He’s the most noticeable guy in the club, too. Although everyone he meets quickly learns where his interest lies. They can see and hear his love for the club and the sport.  Kai attends every event, and I think that kind of presence is really important to members. He lives and breathes triathlon and TCSD. I don’t think he’s even heard of football or baseball, but at this point it’s in our best interest to make sure he’s kept in the dark. After his family, the club has to be his first love. 

So Kai and I would talk. It was very easy to see that he cared about the club and that he wanted to see improvements. I can’t say that I was the first to think of the idea of him running for President; that no one had thought of it before, including Kai himself, but I really thought he’d do a good job. I thought that he’d put everything he had into it. So one day I told him to run. I mentioned it another time or two. One day I called Tim Kadel and asked what he thought of Kai running for President. I told him to put the bug in Kai’s ear about it, too. 

Then Kai turned around and did the same thing to me. Two hours before the deadline to apply for Board positions, he talked me into running for Events and Programs. I talked to Jay Lewis first, because he was the current Director, and I thought he was doing a good job. I wouldn’t have run against him. As it is, I got off easy because I ran unopposed.

Craig: If you could waive a magic wand over the sport of triathlon, what would you like to change? 

Tim: I’d like to make more events accessible to more athletes. I know exclusivity is what attracts a lot of athletes to races like Kona and the Boston Marathon, but it'd be nice to find a way to include more athletes without taking away from that exclusivity. There are a lot of people who really love triathlon and who will never be able to race some of the more epic races or other World Championship events. Basically, everyone who becomes a triathlete gets the question from friends: “Have you ever done that one in Hawaii?” It would be nice if every triathlete could say yes to that. 

Craig: What are your future triathlon goals?

Tim: I would like to run a sub 3 hour marathon and a sub 1.25 half marathon one day, as well as a sub 5 hour 70.3 and a full iron man. My wife would say more destination races.

Craig: Tim, thank you for sharing your story.  You have brought a lot of happiness to our members over the years.  Good luck in tackling all your future goals.

Craig Zelent is a USA Triathlon Level 1 Certified Coach.  Craig can be reached at 760-214-0055 or