With February being highlighted with Valentine‚Äôs Day, we chose to focus on athletes who completely embrace and love the lifestyle that triathlon provides. Our coaches nominated their top contenders, and we selected Peter Eckman as our February athlete of the month! We asked him several questions about his love of the sport and as you read his reply, you‚Äôll understand why we chose him. His coach, Jim Hallberg, noted that Peter is stronger and faster than ever, and is showing great focus and dedication ‚Äì all the while having fun. Peter truly loves the lifestyle and has embraced it for over 33 years!
Enjoy his story!
1. My endurance racing background began with running track in high school and college in the late 60‚Äôs and early 70‚Äôs. The endurance buzz in the country back then was running marathons if you were so inclined to do so. I was game for this challenge and began competing in marathons and trying to figure out to how train, and eat right to constantly improve. I am still trying to improve today, but with proven current methods and professionalism using D3 training and nutrition, which is a significantly better and successful system versus what we all tried to do on our own way back ‚Äì 40 plus years ago! Peter is in white, in the middle of the photo!
2. When the sport of triathlon was introduced in the form of a national telecast back in about 1980, I decided that this was an endurance challenge that I needed to try. So in 1983, I entered my first triathlon. Back then there were no organizations to belong to or standard distances. Transitions always consisted of a tent so that you could change your clothes in them for privacy purposes (not for speed), and then get ready for the next discipline. I don‚Äôt remember any bike aid stations in the first few years of competing, and during the run, there might be only one aid station at the halfway point regardless of the distance. I finished my first race that year with the feeling of such a great accomplishment and got hooked on the sport.
3. In 1988 the Greater Wilkes-Barre Triathlon in Northeast PA was the host of the ITU Championship in Northeast PA, which is also where I live. In 1988 and for a few years after that, our local race always had Ironman slots for the various age groups even though it was an Olympic distance race. If you finished in the top 5-10 of your age group, you qualified for Kona. I had an opportunity to have one of those Ironman slots back in the 80‚Äôs and decided against using it because the added training would interfere with my work and family. I figured that I would do it another year when I had fewer responsibilities and more time to train. No big deal to get back into this race right?
4. Well, this year begins my 33rd consecutive year of competing in triathlons. Some of the reasons I still love competing are as follows:
L Loyalty to life. Triathlons help me to wake up and be alert to everything that surrounds me, not just training, but everything I am involved with and all aspects of life.
O Outside your comfort zone. Daily training mandates that you have to get outside of your comfort zone. It is often necessary to get out of your comfort zone for work and family requirements, but doing it in a planned and calculated way will help improve your daily life.
V Voice. Everyone has a voice in life. Use your voice to help yourself. I know that committing to training for a race helps with creating the confidence to voice your belief in what is right for you. It is always easier to voice your opinion when you have this personal confidence to back you up.
E Environment. Our local environment dictates just about everything we do. Why not be a positive part of the local environment and help improve it when and wherever possible? Set the example of staying to the side of the road and be courteous. Show others the right way. Triathlons allow us this opportunity to help our communities/environment on a regular basis.
5. Over the past 33 years of racing, I have observed a multitude of technological advances. I cannot even imagine racing today like we did years ago without these advancements. What were we thinking back then?
‚Ä¢ In 1983 aero-bars were not a word in anyone‚Äôs dictionary or mind.
‚Ä¢ Helmets were in some of the early races not even required let alone designed for aerodynamics.
‚Ä¢ In1983 wetsuits were for scuba divers only.
‚Ä¢ Compression clothing and breathable clothing were not invented yet.
‚Ä¢ Bicycles did not have special wheels or aerodynamics.
‚Ä¢ Clicking into your bike pedals did not exist. If you were really serious, you had toe straps on your bike.
‚Ä¢ Shifting your bike was still by feeling your way into the next gear, as it was never a guarantee.
‚Ä¢ Bike computers were not invented.
‚Ä¢ Sport watches did not exist.
‚Ä¢ Nutrition planning was drinking until you could drink no more the day before.
‚Ä¢ Nutrition the day of the race was water and maybe some Gatorade mixed in.
‚Ä¢ You waited in line to use the pay phone to tell your wife you were OK after the race as cell phones were not invented yet.
6. Triathlons and endurance sports always remind me that there is no way to finish a race without going the distance. There are no shortcuts to the finish line. Like in life, usually the only way to reach your goal, whether it is for financial needs, career opportunities, or other personal reasons, is to go the distance and complete the task. The only thing that can make the journey easier is training and doing your homework. I have used this life lesson in my daily routine in all that I do, and it has resulted for me in a very productive and positive life.
7. My triathlon goals for 2015 are to qualify for nationals in the Olympic Distance scheduled for later this year. The results in these races are not as important as they were earlier in my life. I still want to improve and do well, but the satisfaction of competing and finishing strong and safely satisfies my goals.
8. Coach Jim Hallberg has helped me realize these goals and to also be realistic about my expectations. My daily workouts are designed with a lot of thought and are appropriate for my age and conditioning. I enjoy all of the workouts, but most of all I enjoy the interval segments for all of the disciplines. Just kidding Jim!