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Kevin O’Connor interview for the Lifetime Triathlon Corporate Challenge

So I got my nifty March update on what is going on with the 2008 Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis and they included a nice interview with Kevin O’Connor, Gear West Bike owner and long time top Minnesotan triathlete. Kevin has taught me quite a bit about triathlon, my bike (Cervancho my Cervelo P3SL), and always loves to reminisce about the old glory days in triathlon before carbon came along and when Kona bike records were set on 650 wheels. Yes 650. Anyways, their 2007 Lifetime Tri time was 1:58:22 so you know they are not messing around and might dip into 1:55 land this year. The interview is below:

Why did you choose to get involved with the Life Time Fitness Triathlon Corporate Charity Challenge?
The Corporate Charity Challenge gave us an opportunity to choose the charity for a donation that we wouldn’t be able to make on our own. I liked the idea of each CCC team making a $3,000 donation for entry. The fact that 100% of the donation went to the charity and that Life Time Fitness and Bahram Akradi were funding $50,000, separate from the CCC entries, really legitimized it.

Last year, you won the inaugural Corporate Charity Challenge and $50,000 for the charity of your choice, which was American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED). Can you tell us how and why you chose APFED?
One of my twin boys has Eosinophilic Esophagitis (EE). It is a condition in which white blood cells (eosinophils) collect in the esophagus, causing permanent and life-altering scarring. My son is able to use Flovent as a topical steroid and, thus, continue to eat most foods. Most kids with EE and other Eosinophilic Disorders are unable to eat ANY proteins and so are relegated to a feeding tube for the rest of their lives. Faced with the very real possibility of our son being on a feeding tube, we were able to turn to APFED for the answers to the endless questions we had. APFED.org offers support, knowledge, and research to a disease that affects so many children.

Do you have to train differently for a Tri relay than if you were competing alone?
I didn’t train very differently, other than putting in a few extra swim workouts a couple weeks before the race. I train in all three disciplines anyway, so it wasn’t much different. Our cyclist, Todd King (“TK”), is an accomplished Cat 2 road racer who has been doing road races for more years than we can count. However, he had never done a Time Trial — so last year he competed in a few TT events and then did some tri training on the TT bike. It paid dividends, because he was comfortable and confident in his pacing during the bike leg. Our runner, Eric Ellingson, was a collegiate runner and the fastest Minnesota runner in triathlon last year. He was nursing an injury all spring and summer so he was not able to do any sport-specific training for the run leg.
In short, we did not alter our training very much so we were not out of our comfort zone. We did do a little skills training to make sure we were ready to go all out during our respective legs because we each only had one discipline to worry about on race day.

How do you go about selecting your team? Is it difficult to find participants who don’t mind doing only one aspect of the race?
It was easy to find people to do just one discipline but we wanted to put together the winning team, not just any team. Our runner is now in Med school, so we are switching the team up a little. We have a new swimmer, TK still biking, and I will be running. We’ll actually be a couple minutes faster this year.

How many triathlons have each of you done to date?
I have done 150+ triathlons over the past 18 years. TK has never done a triathlon but has done at least that many bike races and inline skate races. Eric has been running for 10 years but only started tri a couple of years ago since he had running obligations at his school.

How did each of you get started doing triathlons?
I think, like many triathletes, we each started with a single sport and wanted a new challenge. I had done some bike and running races and decided to give triathlons a try. As I said, Eric came from running. His twin brother, sister, and father all race triathlons and compete as a family.

Are there any unique or interesting training routines that each of you utilize?
I don’t know that our routines are unique, but one thing we have in common is that we all work out every day. It is pretty rare that we take any days off. Consistency is so valuable but so often ignored. Since we have all been doing this for many years, we are pretty well adapted to daily workouts.

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March 27, 2008 at 7:26 pm
1 comment »
  • March 27, 2008 at 11:35 pmMark

    Kevin – there are some great charity challenges at http://www.acrossthedivide.com and also adventure races for charity at wwww.adventure-racing.org if you are interested

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