Athlete(s) of the Month, September 2008 – Pat and Monica O’Connor
Athlete of the Month
D3: You two met at West Point, what were your athletic endeavors then?
Pat: I played Division I lacrosse all four years.Monica: I participated in intramural sports all four years. General MacArthur mandated that every cadet should be an athlete. So every cadet who does not play a varsity sport has to participate in an intramural sport each semester in addition to participating in drill and parades. So, I ran triathlon – not as we know it now, it was swimming, shooting, and running – for a semester; swam for four semesters; coached our company intramural swim team for one year; and sailed with the sailing club one year as well.
D3: Who got who into triathlon?
Monica: When we moved to Santa Cruz from Cleveland I decided that I really needed to get back in shape for the outdoor lifestyle of California. So I got hooked up with Team In Training and started training in March 2002 for the Pacific Grove Olympic distance triathlon in September 2002.Pat: I got the bug after seeing Monica do her first triathlon and also from a couple of guys, who have since become my best friends, who were training for Ironman Utah 2003. My first triathlon was the Treasure Island Sprint in Nov 2002.
Who is(are) your coach(es) and how long have you been working with him/her?
Both:Mike Ricci from D3 Multisport coaches both of us.Pat: I started working with Mike and one of his other coaches in Jan 2005 to train for Ironman Canada later that year, as well as a couple of other shorter distance tris. D3 has also coached me through IMCDA in 2006, IMCAN again in 2007, and IMAZ in April this year. I am currently working with Mike training for the Sacramento International Marathon.Monica: I started working with Mike in October 2006. I remembered overhearing him say that he really got a lot of satisfaction coaching beginner athletes. I still considered myself a beginner triathlete at the time because my triathlon resume was pretty much hit-or-miss since I started in 2002. So, I contacted him and asked if he would coach me for IMAZ in April 2007. He coached me through it again this year (although I didn’t finish because I injured my knee on the 3rd lap of the bike segment of the race). He just finished coaching me for the Harvest Moon Aquabike on Sep 14th.
D3: How has triathlon strengthened your relationship and your family?
Monica: Because we are doing something in common, we understand the demands of the sport and the training involved. We encourage each other, play devil’s advocate, and just plain support each other – for better or worse, through the highs and the lows. We’ve experienced both, from the giddiness of completing our first races to the death of one of our best friends in a cycling accident.
D3: You have three children, do they race triathlon?
Monica: All three of them have done at least one triathlon. Ryan, our oldest who is 15, started doing triathlons in 2002, when he was nine years old. Sharon Osgood, who coached the Tri-Cal Junior Triathlon Team, was also one of the coaches for Team In Training. She met Ryan and suggested that he go to one of her youth triathlon camps that June. He went from there to joining her Junior Team. He eventually raced in over 40 races between 2002 and 2007. He did everything from kids’ races to sprints. He raced at Pacific Grove, Wildflower, Tinley’s Dirty Adventures, and Treasure Island, to name just a few. Daniel couldn’t wait to join his older brother in triathlon! He chomped at the bit before we finally signed him up for Sharon’s camp in June 2003. He was 6 ½ at the time. One of his first races was the Silicon Valley Kids’ Triathon in 2003. And it was a huge milestone when he finally got to race the MTB Sprint at Wildflower in 2006. He was eight years old at the time and one of the youngest kids to ever race that course.Casey never attended one of Sharon’s camps. But her first triathlon was the Silicon Valley Kids’ Triathlon in 2004. She rode her bike with the training wheels still on!
All three of the kids continued to do triathlons for a couple of years after we moved here, to Arvada, CO, in Dec 2004. They all joined Riptide MultiSport and were coached by Sean Wendt. They participated in a local series of youth triathlons. They all raced in one or more of the Sara Lee Ironkids Triathlons. The boys have also run in several 5K and 10K races with their Dad. Ryan has since moved away from the sport and has been playing lacrosse and hockey. Daniel is now playing lacrosse and football. Casey is our little gymnast and she started swimming again this summer. She has also expressed a desire to swim with the Riptide again this winter. We’ll see if we can fit that into her busy schedule.
D3: How do you balance your training with everything else; family, relationship, business?
Pat: I have to schedule my training around my work responsibilities. I just have to be flexible. I’ll get workouts in during my lunch hour or right after work. I also have to occasionally travel for work. So I’ll have to juggle my schedule around the fact that I don’t have a bike at my disposal. When one of the kids has a game on the weekend, I’ll schedule a bike ride to end up at the field where they are playing. Or I’ll ride from a game. Flexibility is the key.Monica: I’m a stay-at-home mom so, generally, I get my workouts in while the kids are at school. But I still have to fit in field trips, team practices, doctor’s appointments, etc., as well as all the normal tasks that keep the household running smoothly. It is definitely a juggling act! We have to be very creative and flexible. So, if the kids’ schedules dictate, sometimes we’ll have to push a workout to the next day. Or ride inside on the CompuTrainer. Or squeeze a swim in between a drop-off and pick-up from a practice. Getting our workouts in the wee hours of the morning just doesn’t seem to work out for us!
D3: Do you ever train together? Tell us about it.
Monica: Actually, not very often. If we do, it will most likely be on a weekend. Every once in a while Pat might have a recovery ride on the same day that I have a long ride, so we’ll ride together. We have been able to coordinate our schedules occasionally so that we can meet at the pool and swim at the same time. When we do get to workout together, I really enjoy it!Pat: When Monica and I were both training for IMAZ this year, we were able to do a couple of our long runs “together”. We’d map out an out-and-back course, calculate how far we each could go, and then start and end together. At least we got to see each other in passing. And it was just nice knowing we were out there together. And I just rode the Harvest Moon course with her two weeks ago, in preparation for her race this past weekend.
D3: West Point or Ironman … which one is tougher?
Pat: That’s a tough question! They are both tough in their own way. West Point is four years of exacting academics and military discipline and the sheer length of the experiences made it tough! Our experience there, though, allows us to be tough and disciplined in our training for Ironman as well as the super tough experience that Ironman race day is.
D3: Have you ever done a race together? Tell us about it.
Pat: We’ve done a few together. We did the 5430 Sprint and Boulder Peak last year. And we did IMAZ together this past April. The sprint and Olympic distance races weren’t bad. We never seemed to have any schedule conflicts or maybe our training requirements weren’t so great that we didn’t have any problems working around one another.Monica: But IMAZ this year was another story. We agreed afterward that we wouldn’t train for the same Ironman distance race again. The volume of training that we each had to do, and at the same time, really pushed our organizing capabilities to their limits.
D3: Share some of the rewards you’ve gained from racing?
Just to name a few, being fit and healthy, setting a healthy lifestyle example for our kids, having events that we can go to as a family, making great friends, and finding out how much we can actually push ourselves and how much we can actually accomplish.
D3: What keeps you motivated on tough training days?
Pat: Knowing that if I don’t do it, it will be that much more painful on race day.Monica: Knowing that I CAN actually do what I might have thought I COULDN’T do.
D3: What is one of your favorite workouts that everyone should know about?
Monica: I like sprint workouts, whether it’s a swim, bike, or run.Pat: I like long rides up in the mountains. For example, I’ll leave the house, go south into Golden, up Golden Gate Canyon to Peak to Peak Highway, from there north to Estes Park – that’s 105 miles, one way!
D3: Tell us anything about the O’Connors and triathlon!
Both: We have had some great experiences in triathlon. We have met our best, dearest friends through triathlon.