Thursday, February 7, 2013

Juggling Life: Work, Training, and School

7 Feb 2013-

Last week I received a friend request via Facebook from a fellow Team RWB member and member of the US Air Force.  I have never met the guy but he messaged me and asked a question that I commonly get asked, " I am curious if you don't mind how you fit professional Tri racing and your service together?".  I thought about it for a bit and instead of typing up a single message I figured it would make a good blog topic.  I told him I would post it this week and here I am in sunny FL and have an hour or so to finish this up.

First off, to make things clear and I already told him this, I am not a "professional triathlete".  That is the carrot that I am chasing, more less a dream that is out there.  I think the word professional and triathlon can be quite confusing, when I think of professional I think of someone that does that profession and only that.  Unfortunately in the triathlon world that is not possible for all of the pros.  Many hold part time jobs and some even hold full time jobs.  There are very few pros out there that can get by on just doing triathlon.  When I get the chance to make the jump to that level I want to make sure I can go into it full blown and not have regrets in the back of my mind wondering what would of happened if I could of just trained and didn't have to work.  So if the opportunity comes for me to turn pro that is my thought on it, I want to give 100% to that dream and not have any questions or doubts.  Only time will tell if that all plays out.

Back to the original question, how do I do it?  Well first off it comes from a huge network of support.  If I was not surrounded by all of the great people in my life I would not be where I am today nor would I have the opportunities that I have or continue to have.  Right now I am down at cycling camp in Florida for 8 days.  I have a great chain of command at work that supports my passion for the sport and understands what I am doing brings a good image to the Air Force and US Military.  With that they want to support that and help me succeed in my "hobby".  I was brought up and told by my Dad that the worst someone can tell you is NO, so ask for everything and accept whatever they can give you.  That is how I approach work with the amount of time I want off to go race and attend training camp.  I lay out a schedule and I ask, with complete understanding that the MISSION comes first.  Going into it with that mindset they have always been really supportive, not just where I work today but at the last two duty stations as well.  I have also realized that the harder you work and the more you can do for your organization the more they are willing to do and the more they are willing to support you.

I will be out of the office at least once a month from June through October, anywhere from 4-8 days at a time.  Some of the time is my own vacation as where others will be "Permissive TDY", which means that I will not be charged leave, but I will be paying for the trip and races out of my own pocket.  Without the support of my chain of command the extent of this racing season would not be possible.

Then outside of work the amount of support that I receive is more than I would ever of expected as an amateur.  I reached out for sponsorship last year for the first time.  Honey Stinger had applications up on their website and I frequented the website quite often and put in an application.  The interesting thing was it said for "US athletes only", unfortunately I was stationed in Korea at the time.  It ended up working out because I had a US address and they were able to make it work.  Before that happened I sent them an email asking about the "US athletes only" portion and asked if they had military discount.  They said they did but it was not well known to military members, so I offered to help and spread the word about the discount through everyone that I knew.  Secondly, I helped join Team RWB and Honey Stinger in a partnership to support the veterans and members of Team RWB.  I only mention this because this is how I formed a relationship with the company, it was not all about asking for free stuff, it was asking and then being able to help them in ways that benefit their company.  It is not always about you as an athlete and them helping you, it is about what you can bring to the table and how you can help the company as well.

This year I took a more aggressive approach to the sponsorship side of things and had success with receiving support from the local bike shop in Fort Worth, Fort Worth Cycling and Fitness.  I also teamed up with FRS Healthy Performance and Kiwami Tri Suits.  I then reached out to ISM Saddles, HED Cycling, and Zoot.  Although they were not able to provide full sponsorship they are able to provide incredible discounts, which is huge in terms of the amount of money saved.  Without the support of these companies it would mean more money being spent out of my pocket which would limit the amount that I have to spend on traveling and racing.

The third and most important part to this whole equation is my family and friends.  I started this journey a little over 4 years ago.  I started all of this and I know they thought I was crazy.  I don't think there was anyone in our family that had done a marathon, well maybe my uncle that had done triathlon back in the day but I am not sure what the longest distance he had done was.  Anyways, endurance sports are not common in our family, I am the "weird" one that took up all of this craziness.  But the amount of support that I receive from my family is incredible.  Both of my parents and step parents have been at Kona the last 2 years, and whenever I am racing close to home it is a priority for them to be there.  They have been by my side and completely supported me throughout this journey and it has actually become a family thing.  I enjoy racing and making my parents proud.  At times it is hard to be around my dad when we meet new people because of how proud he is and how he likes to brag about my accomplishments in triathlon.  I don't really enjoy talking about it to complete strangers that don't know about the sport, but luckily he has a huge smile on his face every time and makes sure they know all about triathlon and how crazy I am.

Now back to the juggling part, well it becomes quite easy when you have the three above pieces on your side.  All you have to do is manage your time and get the "job" done, meaning all three things, Work, Training, and School.  Unfortunately it is in that order, Work is #1, Training #2, and School #3.  I am fortunate enough to have once again the support of work in the school section of this.  I am able to do class work while at work and once a week I get out of work early to attend class.  I am 7 classes away from my degree in Professional Aeronautics from Embry Riddle, so I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

I work from 1430 to 2300, so that allows me to get up in the morning get some training in and then get to work.  If need be I can come home and still get a bike or run in before heading to bed.  While at work I am sitting at a desk which provides plenty of recovery time as I am off my feet for the duration of the shift.

Life outside of work is quite simple, I train and I do a little bit of school work that I can not complete while at work.  That is about it, I don't have a wife or kids to attend to and no special someone living with me to take care of.  It makes the daily routine quite easy.

The training is "easy" in the sense that I have a coach that manages my plan, all I have to do is get out of bed, look at the plan and execute.  I have been with Scott for close to 2 years.  He understands the military life style and is great at adjusting my schedule when things get crazy at work.  This is one thing that I highly recommend for someone on a tight schedule wanting to get better at endurance sports.  Find a coach that can help you manage your time by laying out a schedule that is effective with the amount of time you have to contribute to the sport(s).

In the end it comes down to having a great support network, and I am fortunate enough to have that.  I couldn't ask for anything more, the amount of support I receive as an amateur is amazing.  The amount of friends that I have made along the way are amazing and they are truly a part of the whole support network.  It is amazing to be surrounded by such great and inspirational people.  With all of the support it really makes juggling life "easy".

Well this got a little long winded and I hope I covered and answered more or less what the person was wanting to know.  But if not feel free to send me a message and hopefully I can answer your questions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's not easy to fit it all in, but you and I are proof it can be done. It's great to race with you!