Athlete of the Month, February 2016 - Nathan Turner

Athlete sitting on a rock wall
February 17, 2016

D3 Staff



Our February Athlete of the Month was inspired to race because of a challenge from a friend! He wanted to do a mud-race, his friend wanted to do a sprint, so they did both. After that first sprint, he was hooked, and now, in his 4th season, Nathan Turner is launching into one of his busiest race seasons to date.

His coach, Jim Halberg, says Nathan has been having a lot of fun with his training and is consistently getting stronger and fitter. He also noted that Nathan is doing a great job at balancing work with training, and that his positive outlook on the season is inspiring!

Nathan is rock solid with his commitment to training and, you’ll reconnect to your passion for this sport after reading his Q&A.

Please share two reasons why you love to train and race triathlon and how the sport has made a difference in your life.

The biggest reason I love to train is because of the challenge of the sport. I’m also fascinated by what the human body can do when you put the time and effort in. Two stories to give you a little back ground on me that I think will pull it all into perspective.

First when you get to know me you know that I do everything I’m involved with like I have a chip on my shoulder, or that I’m out to prove something, and that’s because I am. I’m always trying to prove to myself that I can be the best at what I set my mind too. When I was in high school I had an Algebra teacher who told me (and I quote), “I know you come from a family of engineers, but since you’re struggling in my class you might want to think about an alternative option for college”. That was the first time I was basically told I couldn’t do something that I wanted to do because of my abilities. Needless to say, I buckled down and went to college for Mechanical Engineering finishing my degree with no issues and a 3.0 average. Three years later I went back to school for my Master’s in Business, and 2 years after that I went back to school again for a second bachelors in Organizational Leadership…just because (I’m still finishing this degree right now)! The point is this, triathlon is a lot like my past, everyone keeps saying how crazy this sport is…why are you doing this…it looks awful…etc.., etc. This has been some of the biggest motivation I can get with my particular type of drive. I went from just trying to finish a triathlon to now training like I’m going to Kona (even though I’m not…yet!), and it’s all because I want to prove it to myself that I can in fact do this sport and be the very best I can be.

The second story is how I got into triathlon, and the significant difference it’s made in my life. 4 years ago I made a New Years resolution to lose weight and make a change in my life. I had never really made a resolution before this, and let’s be honest 95% of the time no-one really follows through with them. I was 29 (call it a 30 year old approaching crisis mode), and I was weighing 254lbs. When I got married just 5 years before that I weighed in at 205lbs, so needless to say I was slacking off quite a bit. I started the year off doing a diet plan, and lost about 20lbs on my own. I had a friend who wanted to go do a mud obstacle course so I figured why not. I went with her, and had a blast! A couple months later another one came up, and I asked if she’d do it and her response was “only if you do a sprint triathlon with me”…my answer “pfffffft!”. The thought of a triathlon made me laugh, I didn’t even own a road bike, nor had I EVER done any swimming like that before. However, I wanted to do the mud run so I agreed. After that first race I was hooked, and never looked back. I’m now down in weight to around 190 lbs and more fit then I could ever have imagined. I went from only being able to run a half mile 4 years ago (having to stop and catch my breath all the while) to completing an Ironman 1 year ago! This sport has changed my health forever, and I will always be in debt for that.

You stood on the podium and PR’d in 2015 (different races)! Tell us about those accomplishments.
The podium race was cool this year. It was only a sprint race, but I have been doing that race since it started (the TriBoulder Sprint), and l Iove the thrill of a short race where you can go all out. Again, I went from trying to finish a sprint to being a real competitor at the distance…though my new passion has moved more towards half and full Ironman distance.
The PR I got last year was at Steelhead in Michigan. I have been getting faster on the bike, and I hold my own (middle to front 25% of the pack) on the swim, but the run has always held me back. However, last year was the first year that I finally started to feel more like a runner. I ran my 13.1 mile run in that race 15 minutes faster than I did in my very first half Ironman only a year before, and 2 months later at my next half Ironman, I finished my 13.1 mile run 6 min faster than I did in Michigan. The exciting part for me is that after all this effort and pain, my running is finally starting to show some real signs of improvement.

What are your goals for 2016?

2016 is going to be my biggest year ever! In the 3 seasons that I’ve raced, collectively, I have competed in 1 full Ironman and 4 half Ironmans … this year alone, I will be doing 4 half Ironmans and 1 Full Ironman along with the Escape from Alcatraz Olympic (for the 3rd time), and of course the TriBoulder sprint. So, needless to say this is going to be a big year for me, and the main goal is to smoke my last Ironman time which was about 2 hours longer than predicted when I bonked coming off the bike. I got to the tent and was asked several times if I wanted to stop…I said “not a chance”, and proceeded to WALK the marathon. Ever walk a marathon? It sucks! I won’t be doing that this year! However, I did finish the race, and I did earn my title of Ironman, so I was happy regardless.

What steps are you taking to get ‘em done?
Nathan & Julie I’m really trying to balance out my work, life, and training to the best of my abilities this

year. I’m the VP of Quality and General Manager of our Denver facility (we make large power and process equipment for the oil and gas industry) which has me working anywhere from 9 – 12 hour days, so making time for my training can be very difficult. However, this year I have focused hard on planning ahead and trying to utilize my early mornings. Sometimes as early as 4 am for a quick 3-4 mile run, and then utilizing my lunches for swims, and then the evenings for my 60 min. and above workouts. So far it’s been able to work, but it’s definitely a challenge.

Balance is something your coach recognizes you have … how are you managing obstacles and demands to stay on track?
I’m trying to remain as organized as possible. Every night I review my work schedule (meetings, task lists, etc.) and then I review my training requirements for the day and I lay out a clear plan for the day. I always need to determine if I can get everything in based on my schedule, and if I can’t then I move things around a bit to ensure that I get my training in without interfering with my career or my family life. Basically it comes down to being very anal about my time, and ensuring I make the very best out of every minute of the day.

Favorite workout Coach Jim has given you?
As of late it would probably be the Sufferfest bike videos. Those have been a ton of fun to ride with. I also like the bike/strength bricks he does with me … bike/strength/bike/strength/bike-20 min on each. That is fun, because it breaks up the bike a bit and the strength training is a nice change of pace from the normal endurance stuff.

Favorite piece of equipment?
My bike, hands down! I got a tri-bike 2 years ago, and I LOVE it! It’s made such a big difference in my training on the bike, along with the fact I don’t have any more pains in my back like I used to.

Dream destination race is …
While Kona is cliché it would be a dream come true to earn a slot there. However, right now that is a long shot so I would say one of the races in Asia would be fantastic. I don’t know if there is an Ironman in China somewhere, but that would be amazing to do a race there. I spent a ton of time in China for work, and loved the culture and the country…it would be awesome to go there for triathlon.

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