Athlete of the Month – Rudy Kashar
Can you tell us a little bit about your sports background?
Well, I guess I started a little differently than most triathletes my age—I seem to know a lot of people who were year round swimmers that burned out or HS XC runners who got injured a lot, but I actually played baseball in high school. Though I was decent, looking back, baseball was definitely not my sport. When we lost and had to run laps I would lap the entire team until finally my senior year in high school I ran cross country and made all district. From there I heard about triathlons, and did my first one the year before I started college as a freshman at UVA.
Which sports did you do as a kid and as you got older?
My mom was always pushing us kids to be active; we were never allowed to play video games and didn’t have cable TV until I was in high school. So, we spent our time outside. Our family would go on bike rides and hikes together and though us kids always complained, my mom succeeded at implanting those values in me. In elementary school I can remember mentally preparing all week for the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade end of the year ¼ mile sprint around our gravel track. What elementary schooler mentally prepares a week for a 400? My favorite youth sport was summer league swimming, which I did from first grade until college for 13 total seasons. My proudest accomplishment was winning the “hardest worker award” almost every year—those values still stick with me.
What was your motivation to get started in triathlon?
It all started during my junior year in high school when during the spring baseball season I accidentally stuck a pocketknife through my hand. After surgery to repair a nerve I was out for the season and picked up running. That fall I ran cross-country. Everyone knew that I also liked to ride my bike everywhere—I had recently gotten in school detention for riding my bike through the school… So, they suggested that I do a triathlon.
When and where was your first race?
My first race was a sprint in mid October 2005 at Sherando Lake in the mountains of Virginia. The water temperature was 55 degrees and it being my first race, I didn’t have a wetsuit. When I got in, the water was so cold I couldn’t put my face in so I swam the entire 750 meters backstroke. Then after a solid ride on a 1978 women’s road bike that I had gotten for free, I did my first brick run 5k hunched over at 90 degrees because I couldn’t straighten my back. 1st in my age group.
What is your occupation? What are you currently studying while at CU?
Besides triathlon, I am also 1 year into a 5 year PhD program in Chemical Engineering. My project is an investigation into the effect of self assembled monolayers on controlled selectivity of supported metal hydrogenation catalysts. This abstract nonsense basically means that I am doing research on alternative energy. Eventually, I hope to use my PhD do work on energy policy, a field that I feel needs a more scientific guidance.
How does your work and school affect training?
Though most people look at me like I am crazy, I think they both compliment each other. Some days when I am on the track running as hard as I can, all I can think about is how I wish I were sitting at my desk doing a problem set and eating some wheat thins. Later that day, I will be working in the lab thinking about how badly I wish I were biking. Not only does each make me appreciate the other but they each keep me constantly wanting the other. I have always enjoyed athletics as well as intellectual engagement, so I cannot imagine ever giving up either of them.
Tell us about your family? How many siblings do you have and where do they live?
I grew up in Richmond VA and my parents still live there. I have a younger sister who is a senior at Virginia Tech and a younger brother who just started as a first year engineering student at The University of Virginia! He just picked up triathlons too! I am really proud of both of them.
Who is your coach at D3 and how has your coach helped you with your goals?
This past year I have worked with Mike R. through his position as coach of the CU triathlon team and then throughout the summer as well. I could say Mike has helped me achieve my goals this year by giving me effective workouts and planning a good schedule, but what is far more important is his coaching style. To be honest, it was painful at first, but it built our relationship to be far deeper and more effective than just him giving me workouts. That connection is the true value that I have gotten from Mike and why my experience with him trumps any numbers coach.
Best Triathlon moment?
This spring at the Mountain Collegiate Championship at Lake Havasu AZ was my first racing experience with the entire CU tri team. I had a great swim and when I popped out of the water, I glanced right only to see 3 CU teammates David Bobka, Chris Braden, and Ryan Bice. Our top 4 were the first 4 out of the water and all within 1 second of each other. I just remember thinking, holy crap we are about to destroy this race.
What is your favorite race and why?
Big Lick triathlon at Smith Mountain Lake in Huddleston VA. The race is consistently one of the best-run races I have ever been to—the course is beautiful and the volunteers are always fantastic. Plus, the people just love being there to enjoy the outdoors—the attitude is one of the purest I have ever encountered at a triathlon. People are there because they sincerely love being outside.
What are your long term goals in triathlon?
My longest goal in triathlon has always been to win Collegiate nationals. This year has been such a whirlwind, and looking back I can’t believe I actually did it. I have never consciously set a goal, they just sort of pop into my head when I am out on a long ride. Since my first year in triathlon I knew I wanted to someday win Collegiate Nationals, and as lofty as that used to seem, a similarly lofty goal has recently fixed itself in my mind. I might not share it for a while though.
If you could spend a day training with anyone, who would it be?
Vince Lombardi. Sure, he was a football coach, but his quotations reveal him to be one of the most mentally sound coaches ever. I am confident that just talking to him about sport and life in general would be worth a month of training.
What’s in your race future?
For the time being I am going to enjoy some easy long training in Boulder before it gets too cold. Who knows what next year will bring, but as always, I am already thinking about collegiate nationals. Its just around the corner and certainly wont be any easier.
What’s your favorite workout?
There are quite a few good ones of all different intensities, but my favorite are long easy rides in the evening. After a long day, to go out and ride for 2-3hrs is probably the most awesome end to a day that exists. Not only is it relaxing but just about every great idea I have ever had was the result of a long ride and a wandering mind.
What your least favorite workout:
Honestly, there is no workout I don’t like. Without getting too philosophical, if it were something I didn’t like, then I simply wouldn’t do it. This attitude is one of the reasons people accuse me of always being so positive, but honestly why would I do anything I don’t like?
Tell us something interesting about you!
When I was in high school, besides playing baseball I was also in the marching band, jazz band, and symphonic band. I played mostly trombone but also 4 other instruments and participated in district, regional, and all state bands. Unfortunately, I don’t have time anymore because I really miss making music. Also interesting to some people, I drink 2 gallons of milk per week and have to ration it to make it last that long.