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Twin brother, Will (they were born at 28 weeks); brother, James; mother, Lori; father, Dan
Rising freshman at N.C. State University; graduate of Northern Guilford High school (ran cross country)
Why I swim, cycle and run
"It's in some ways a release of stress and energy. But also just because I like challenging myself both physically and mentally, and I also like seeing the improvements. You put in the work and you see the times get faster, you see yourself improve, and I really liked that aspect of it.
"I swim just because it's a part of triathlon, honestly. I enjoy doing some cycling on its own and I enjoy running on my own as well. I view triathlon, even though the three sports are separate, as its own one sport combined. Doing them all together is its own discipline, in my mind."
My runner's high
"There are two different runner's highs, at least that I've experienced. One of those is finishing a race, that kind of high where you're so physically and mentally taxed and then it's just over and that release of energy. And there's the one during the race or during a really hard workout where – I don't really know how to describe this – it's just that runner's high sort of feeling. Push my body and my mind pretty hard. It's not something that happens every workout or every run."
How I got started in triathlons
"The local youth triathlon team, E3, which is run by Matt Clancy. My mom was working with him, getting coached for a 70.3. She found out that he had a youth team, and then my brother was on the youth team (sprint triathlons) for a few years. She's always thought I would be a good runner, but I never really enjoyed team sports. I tried soccer for a bit, pee-wee football and a lot of other stuff when I was younger but never really liked it. I enjoyed the sense of it's dependent on how much work you put in and not your teammates.
"Every year they have a meeting. Everyone's introducing themselves, and then Matt Clancy was like, 'Oh, we look forward to having you on the team.' I was like, 'All right!' So then we went out and did a 5 x 1K sort of workout with the first K being a warmup, the three in between being descending and the last one being a cooldown. I was so beat after that 5K. I could barely walk. But that was the start of it.
"And I just kept coming back; I guess I enjoyed the challenge. The people on that team; they were a really good environment. You're pushing each other to just grow and do better and just have a good time and enjoy the sport."
What I'm doing when I'm not swimming, cycling or running
"I try to hang out with friends. I like off-roading, on a bike, cars, off-road trails, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking; all that stuff is really fun."
My running tribe
"There's the cross country tribe, which I sadly haven't had the opportunity to run with as much given that that season's over. There's also more of a triathlon-related tribe. But I'm running more solo at the moment. Just me, myself and I."
"The first thing would probably be the 70.3 I just completed (Ironman 70.3 Musselman on July 11); that's something I'm really proud of. It was one of those things that started as a pipe dream. 'I want to do this.' Parents of the people on the team I was on were doing them, and 'that seems like a really cool idea.' Even though it's a smaller thing, varsity on cross country. I had a pretty hard time when I started running. I grew really fast, and my bones and muscles weren't really used to it. I had a lot of injuries early on, so going from being injured all the time to being on varsity cross country was also a big achievement."
When I run
"I like going in the mornings, but also being a high school and now going to be a college student, sometimes you're up late studying or doing whatever and getting up that next morning isn't always an option. During this 20-week training brick for the 70.3, I was doing runs on my lunch breaks or school, doing it after school, doing it in the morning."
Where I run
"I'd say probably 80 percent road, 20 percent trail. And then if I have a speed workout, I like to do that on the track."
A workout I hate
"1K repeats. They're so bad. Especially when there are six or seven of them and you're trying to do it at 5K pace."
A workout I love
"Long runs. I like seeing how much distance you can cover. You just get really in tune mentally and fall into this rhythm. When I'm doing long runs, I have a lot of really good thoughts. A lot of good ideas that I've had or things that I've solved have come during long runs."
"If it's a bigger race, like a bigger triathlon, or just a couple of hours before any race, especially if it's a morning meal, a peanut butter sandwich usually. Peanut butter and Farmhouse Oatmeal Bread."
"Any sort of pasta. I like Italian food. A couple of hours after a race, a little celebration dinner like Italian food is really good."
Worst running mistake
"Not taking easy runs easy and not recovering. And making the same mistakes over and over again when dealing with injury. Getting injured, taking some time off and then going back and doing the same thing I was doing before without actually sitting there and looking at what I was doing wrong."
"I'm going to still run consistently, but more of a lifting focus. ... I want to do maybe a marathon, or just a solo marathon, because I feel like that'd be something I'd want to train for. Maybe another half. I really enjoyed that distance."
About the Ironman 70.3 Musselman
"The weather was amazing. Overcast, 70, not very humid. It was perfect racing conditions. The water was a little bit choppy, but I had a good swim (1.2 miles). I came out of the swim at right about 38 minutes; I wanted to do around 39.
"The bike (56 miles) was really good. From biking around here, it's always up- and downhill. Some people call that bike course hilly, but it wasn't hilly. I averaged about 19 miles an hour. Mile 10 to Mile 30 was pretty steady uphill, false flat and some wind, and after like 35 onward it was just downhill, you were moving the rest of the way.
"The run course ... was pretty much pancake-flat along the lake except for one little hill. The run was the only part I had a little bit of trouble with, but it wasn't anything bad. I changed socks in transition to try to alleviate some moisture and wetness, but I still ended up getting some blisters on my feet, which was pretty uncomfortable but I just ran through that. ... I held a pretty consistent 8:22, 8:23 pace for most of it.
"Thanks to my coach, Karen Buxton, and also thanks to my mom, she put me on to e-Gel products. It's like 150 calories vs. Gu's about 100. The two bottles I started the bike with, their hydration mix has some more carbs and electrolytes and sodium. I had those two bottles and a bottle of water that I picked up from an aid station. I took one gel before the swim, and I had maybe five and a half on the bike and then three on the run.
"(At the finish) It was crazy thinking that, 'Wow, this is over,' in the sense of that five and a half hours of racing and also in the sense of the 20 weeks of training that I put into it. This little section of my training and life, sort of, is kind of wrapping up. I thought that was kind of a cool thought. I put all this work into it and here it is and I'm done and I just get to celebrate now."
Why I'm going to State
"Originally I was looking at natural resources and conservation biology and then switched to more of a fisheries and wildlife conservation biology type field. Tennessee has a program for it, State has a program for it, Western Carolina has it under a different name. N.C. State was probably the best one. It's also in-state, an hour and a half away. I have some friends that go there, and I'm going to be rooming with my one of my friends (Jackson Burroughs).
"I was in Boy Scouts for a while (Eagle Scout, Troop 600, Oak Ridge; scoutmaster Mike Matzinger). And I've always enjoyed hiking, the outdoors, backpacking. While doing all these outdoor activities, you see some of the negative things about it, where it's people not taking care of the environment, not picking up trash, resources being depleted, or harm to animals. You just want to do something about it. It's something I'm passionate about and something I always think I'll really enjoy as a career."
What the pandemic took away, what the pandemic gave me
"It took away some of the high school cross country experience. We were lucky enough to have a season, so I'm not going to complain. But having banquets, the food and the community experience, having everyone clustering together at meets and cheering each other on, the bus rides to and from meets, that aspect went away, which is a little bit sad, but still getting to race was fun.
"Since I was training on my own, as far as the 70.3 goes, I didn't really lose much there. I still did a lot of my training solo but going on some group rides with friends from the tri team or with other people, I was still able to do that. I don't think if I was in school – I spent this last year virtual – I don't think I'd be able to train for this."
What I've learned about myself from running
"Progress takes time. You're not going to see results straight away. ... Running has taught me that I'm pretty goal-driven and need to have something that I'm shooting for all the time."
Words to the wise
"At the end of the day, just have fun with it. There were times where I wasn't always enjoying training the most. But at the end of the day, I still wanted to race. I still enjoy running. I still enjoy triathlons. I still enjoy and love the community in it. So just have fun with it. Enjoy training, enjoy other people's company, and just have fun with the sport."