This month we are pleased to introduce Mark Gilpatric as our Athlete of the Month. His coach, Martina, shares that he‚Äôs earned this recognition! Qualifying for USAT Nationals at the Leon International Triathlon, his desire to get fast, improve and to learn has been wonderful to coach. Mark has the discipline to fit training into his busy life, all the while juggling family, profession and social responsibilities. His determination to make it happen even when it‚Äôs not smooth sailing (like when traveling abroad to China for work), has caught our attention.
Congratulations to Mark! Enjoy his Q&A.
1. You set a goal ‚Äì qualify for USAT Nationals. Tell us why that goal is so important to you.
My primary goal is to do well ‚Äî set a strong personal best ‚Äî at the AG Nats. Of course, to do that I had to qualify, so that was an important goal too. AG Nats are in Milwaukee, my hometown, this year and last. Last year, I was frustrated that I did not qualify, so it was important to me to make it to the race this year. I volunteered at Nationals last year and it was great to see a race like this in Milwaukee, on the lakefront, which is my primary training ground. That just reinforced my desire to race in it this year. I had been working toward longer distance races, but I thought a goal of racing well at the Olympic distance would help put a focus on increasing my speed which is something I want to work on.
2. Describe your race plan and strategy for Leon.
The plan was pretty simple. I would swim moderately fast, try to draft if I could, but not worry too much about that. I wanted to go faster on the bike than I have in the past, but I thought I would keep my HR to around 145. Then I thought I could start the run at a moderate pace and pick it up toward the end. I was racing with a faster/more experienced friend who gave me some advice on transitions so I picked up a bit of time there too. Unfortunately, either I went too hard in the swim or had poor form, but I was pretty fatigued from that. Then I pushed the bike a bit hard and probably averaged about 150 heart rate. That made the run slower than I was hoping. It turned out fine in the end, but not exactly according to plan.
3. Describe the moment you found out you made your goal?
Since my time was a bit higher than I expected, I was not sure I qualified for Nats until I saw that I was 15th, and I knew there were more than 45 in my group so I knew I must have qualified.
4. What was your favorite part about the race?
It was such an odd setting. The race was in Hammond, Indiana which is in the middle of the industrial zone just to East of Chicago. So it was pretty interesting cycling and running among the huge industrial plants in the area. They had placed a line of US flags along about half of the run course and that gave it a great feel. As far as my performance, I was pretty happy with my bike. I maintained a fast pace and navigated the 12 or so U-turns on the course well.
5. Nationals will be in your hometown, describe what that means to you.
I think Milwaukee is a perfect venue for this race. The lakefront is beautiful. The city has a lot going on but is not so busy so it is easy for people to get around. I‚Äôm looking forward to welcoming a few thousand people coming to do the race and being a part of it.
6. And for anybody else headed to Nationals this year, where should they plan to:
a) get a great pre-race meal
b) do a run
c) do a ‚Äújust gotta do‚Äù activity when they are in Milwaukee?
For people who don‚Äôt want to go too far from downtown, there are a lot of great restaurants in the 3rd ward area along with a river walk that stretches for 2 miles along the Milwaukee River. The Milwaukee Public Market has a lot of places to pick up some quick food including a great Mediterranean place for Falafel sandwiches. If searching for good pasta, Tenuta‚Äôs on the South Side is an excellent neighborhood Italian restaurant. For a pre-race run, just head to the lakefront and you can run North toward Bradford Beach. It‚Äôs about a 5-mile loop from downtown to the North end of the trail and back. While in Milwaukee, check out the Art Museum. It‚Äôs on the lakefront in the middle of the race area and is hosting a Kandinsky Retrospective.
7. What ‚Äòhindsight is 20/20‚Äô wisdom can you share with other triathletes that you learned either during your training or during the race to accomplish your goals?
I always seem to push too hard on the bike. It seems like it's easy to push harder on the bike in a race than during training. It felt easy, but my legs were pretty beat up for the run.
8. It seems as though you travel quite a bit for work, and also have a full life with a family and friends. Describe how you weave your training in and are able to accommodate everything.
During an average week, I‚Äôm usually able to fit runs and bikes in the evenings MarkGilpatric1right after work and before dinner. My kids are often swimming or playing basketball or soccer in the evenings so we are used to eating late. Then I get swims in at a masters swim group in the mornings before work. It is a bit awkward to eat at 8 pm and then go to bed at 9:30 so I can swim in the morning and get enough rest.
When I traveled to China this year, I was able to get a few bikes in on the hotel fitness bikes. Swimming is trickier. I stayed at a hotel that had a pool close to 20 yards long, but unfortunately, one side was all stairs going into the pool. Otherwise, I can swim at the local 50 meter, 12 lane pool on the weekend, but it's usually just a massive open swim session with 100 people swimming all over, so I get a lot of sighting practice.
I also want to say that Coach Martina has been a big help planning what to do while on a trip and adjusting my workout schedule when needed.
9. If you asked a friend/spouse/partner to describe who you are, what would they say?
I think they would say I‚Äôm committed to God through my Catholic faith, loving, supportive, and engaged with my family, kind, and carefree, and spend too much time on my bike during the summer.
10. What has been your favorite workout to date?
I have made some progress on the bike doing harder intervals than before. I like something like 4 X 10 minutes in high zone 4 with 3-minute recovery on the bike.
11. If you could write a workout for Coach Martina what would you have her do?
I think I‚Äôd let her do the 10k run moderate with the last 2 miles at 5k pace. I don‚Äôt think I was able to complete that one as planned.