Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another Timberman 70.3 Title In the Books

I've been on a long hiatus from blogging, and full time coaching, since returning to teaching back in 2011.  A lot has changed since that time (the birth of our son in 2013 and daughter the following year bringing about the biggest changes, of course!) but much has remained the same.

I've enjoyed coaching a smaller group of athletes these past few years, yet still get the same old thrill whenever someone sets a new PR or achieves something they've been working so hard for.  By this point in the game, I could really care less if the people I work with are back-of-the-packers or world beaters; at the end of the day, it's the daily commitment to excellence and tenacity out on the race course that I respect the most about the athletes I have the pleasure of working with, not necessarily who generates the most headlines.

That being said, I'm very excited about the progress that one of my up-and-coming stars, Rob Hollinger, is making. Rob and I met about a year and a half ago after I posted a set of race wheels on Craig's List. Rob was fresh out of college at the time and training for his first full season of triathlon. I was happy to sell him the wheel set but also sent him on his way with some advice:  Find a coach. About a week later, we began working together.

Rob Hollinger
Well, that chance meeting has turned into something special as Rob has quickly blossomed into one of the region's best triathletes and is now on the verge of turning Pro.  Although just 24 years old, Rob won the overall amateur title at Timberman 70.3 this past weekend, beating a handful of pros, and a ton of great age groupers in the process.  I believe this is the 3rd or 4th time someone from "Team JRM" has taken that title up in New Hampshire, and I'm sure it won't be the last. Rob is an incredibly focused and committed triathlete who works full time while quietly paying his dues via the early morning runs, smoldering after work summer rides and fatigue laden evening swim sessions.  I respect his work ethic and the calm, collected approach he brings to racing.  Rob's progress has been nearly linear this past year and a half, and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg in regards to his performance potential.

My time away from racing and full time coaching has provided ample opportunity for reflection. Despite laying low these past five years, members of my crew have won national championships, claimed numerous regional titles, graduated to the pro ranks and even been picked up by Team USA elite development resident programs.  And although their accomplishments net me little in the way of "street cred," I have taken just as much pride from the performances of my "non elite" athletes while watching them do things like cross the finish line in their first Ironman, set PRs in training and racing, and accomplish things they at first struggled to do or had failed to achieve.

At the end of the day, helping athletes to achieve their own athletic dreams while immersing myself fully in the world of endurance training and racing as well is what I love to do most.  Perhaps it's time to turn this ship around and make some changes in 2017...