Gered with a J

Now that I'm happily nested down in the frigid, snowless Great White North (see Andy's blog for more angry snow rantings), I rarely make it a point to venture down to town to socialize with my fellow man. But, just the other day an opportunity called that could not be passed on. Some of you may know of another, somewhat more famous Gered out there who dabbles in the sport of Triathlon. Well, he was a Dartmouth just the other day and I had a chance to meet him there.

Aspiring professional triathletes, you will be pleased to know that Jarrod Shoemaker is not at all unlike you and I. He is medium size, medium build, eats, sleeps and breaths. Here are things I noted during my encounter with the former and probably future US Olympian:

1. As I engaged Jarrod (insert interesting factoid here: my name is spelled with a G because my mom picked it while she was high on post-birth painkillers. Guido is spelled with a G. Not Gered. But I love my name none the less) in an inappropriately long hand shake/squeeze, I was able to stand my ground, not flinching under the force in his moderate to sturdy grip. He is not a superman.
2. He is somewhere between scrawny (me) and beefcake (brett). Thus, it seems realistic to think we can all accomplish great speed if we can just get to that happy medium. Strong. Fast. Medium strength hand-shake.

It was great of him to make himself available for a Q and A session open to the public and (mostly) the Dartmouth cycling team. The audience was pretty much a mixed bag. Lots of college cyclists (first question: "what kind of bike do you ride?"), some professors, one or two crazy die-hard ironmen, and me, future Olympic hopeful. It was an invaluable Q and A session too. Here's what I learned that is just groundbreaking info:

1. Athletes that went pro in 2004 are the luckiest SOBs on the planet. They got in before USAT moved away from draft-legal qualifiers. While this was probably a good thing in the end (keep that wacko ironman from running you off the road as he bobs and weaves his own squirrelly pace-line), it has made it really hard for most of us who can't afford an unbelievable bike and wicked fast wheels. And it makes it harder to train for running and swimming because of the physical drain caused by sustained high-speed TT training.
2. Like I said, Jarrod is a real live human being. And he suffers from the same things we do too. Injury. Training highs and lows. Diet control. And exhaustion. It was good to hear that a pro-triathlete has good and bad days, and used to be really into plowing through Teddy Grahams on the couch post workout. We all do that. He is just a little more dialed in after all these years.
3. Diet again. Teddy Grahams are a no-no these days. According to Jarrod, it's all about the kumquat. Literally, he said, "has anyone heard of a kumquat? i hadn't and now that's all I eat."
4. Injury. JS hasn't been injured in 4 years. BUT, he used to be injured all the time. Something big he stressed here: running at Dartmouth taught him to manage injuries, and learn what causes them, for his body, to begin with. We all need to really listen in here. As I sit here icing my wounded hammy, the importance of being clued into your vital signs, learning how to take a step back now rather than three forward and twelve back in a month is key. And learning to really understand your mechanics to avoid injury to begin with.
5. Mechanics: JS has a full time biomechanics coach who helps him work out kinks in his stride and stroke. The importance of this, evidently, came from having a side stitch for months and months that wouldn't go away. Oh hammy, why do you hate me.
6. Training buddies: and I quote "Don't train with triathletes. they are too competitive, and pretty stupid. Train with single sport athletes because they will be the ones who really push you." Enough said!
7. Goals: JS is planning on racing through the 2016 olympics. I am planning on racing through the 2016 Olympics. What a coincidence!! The fact that a seasoned Olympic distance triathlete believes he has the longevity to last 6 more years is pretty damned inspirational, if you ask me. That's why we all need to learn to take things in stride because you get fast by baby steps not leaps and bounds, so plan for the future!

That's all for today. Hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much asking these important questions. And I was the ONLY one asking questions after the cycling team got their answer "Actually, I don't know what kind of bike I'm racing on this year. Tim, what kind of bike am I racing on?? I really don't think much about the bike part of it"