I had the pleasure recently of talking triathlon with the Tri Club's Brad Golden who qualified for the Hawaii Ironman with his awesome 9:35:34 3rd place performance in the Men's 25-29 age group at Ironman Coeurd'Alene on June 21.
Brad: I surfed and swam heartland summer league from 1st grade through 8th grade. In high school I continued surfing and played varsity golf and basketball. Then in college I primarily surfed. Craig: How did you get involved in triathlon? Brad: In probably the least expected way possible, a car accident. On April 3rd, 2006 I was driving on the freeway when I was T-boned by a Mustang at 70 mph. I suffered two compression fractured vertebrae, a wedged disc and some torn muscles on the left side of my body. I was unable to engage in any activity for 4 months excluding the rehab and physical therapy. My rehab was mainly spinning on the bike at the gym and doing some laps in the pool. I got cleared to start using the treadmill and started joining the spin classes at 24 Hour Fitness. It was in that class that I met Steve Koci a very active and well known member of TCSD. He was the first person to really spark the triathlon interest for me. Considering I didn’t have much of a running background I decided to train for the St. Patricks Day 10K at Mission Bay in 2007 and completed it in 46:30. That was the longest distance I had ever run up to that point. After that race I went home and signed up for the Spring Sprint Triathlon and completed that grueling race with an 8th place AG finish. I was totally hooked at that point and just wanted to get stronger, go faster and race longer and longer distances! Craig: What is something unique about your approach to triathlon? Brad: Well for one thing I always race with Gas-X, yeah I know what you’re thinking (I don’t wanna draft this guy on the bike!) I find that after being in the aero position for long periods of time I accumulate gas in the upper GI tract and it just gets stuck and hurts a ton on the run. So a few Gas-X gets the job done and I’ve been fine ever since. Also I have recently become a huge supporter of Redbull on longer races, not sure why it works, but man has it made a difference in maintaining consistent energy output
Craig: What Ironman distance races have you done and how did you do?
Brad: Ironman Arizona April 2008, swim-58:10, bike-5:59, run-5:33, total-12:40, AG finish – 62nd , OA -585 Ironman Coeur d’Alene 2009, swim-56:25, bike-5:15, run-3:15,total-9:35, AG finish -3rd, OA -24th.
Craig: Take us through your IM CDA experience? How did the race play out for you?
Brad: Coeur d’Alene is where I used to go to visit my grandparents in the summertime as a child growing up. I hadn’t been back there since they passed in 1995, so it brought back a lot of positive thoughts and great memories once I had gotten into town before the race. I really didn’t spend much time in town before the race other than to attend the required pre-race check-in, pasta dinner and Saturday swim practice. It’s really hard to not think about the hundreds of outcomes possible on race day, not to mention the big one revolving around lightning canceling the swim and maybe even the bike. So after a tasty pre-race dinner it was off to bed early and an attempt to get a few hours of sleep before the alarm goes off. Race morning I felt rested, calm and relieved that there weren’t too many scary looking clouds in the sky. When I got to the water’s edge for the swim start I was itching to go. With the boom of the cannon it was a choppy battle to the first turn buoy and another loop later I was on my way to T1 feeling pretty good and settled for the bike.The bike started great, I felt strong, got a lot of calories in and was taking in the spectacular views when suddenly 5 guys in my AG go by me in the hills on the first loop. All I wanted to do was chase but IM is a long race and that wasn’t in my game plan so I let them go. Loop one was down and loop two was going great and by the time I got to mile 95 or so I passed many of the guys in my AG battling the headwinds back into town. Now I’m really starting to trust my race plan. When I got off the bike and started running into T2 my legs were just NOT firing. Suddenly I was wondering how on earth I’m going to RUN a marathon. I took my time in the tent, drank a Redbull, downed Gas-X, Saltstick, GU and then must have peed for at least 2 minutes (talk about losing time). When I ran out of T2 the legs had come back and my worries vanished. 10K into the run I was thinking to myself this IM stuff isn’t THAT bad. That’s when the Tri Gods said “Say hello to my little friend”, (AKA IT Band). My IT band lit up at mile 8 and I saw my hopes of getting to Kona flash before my eyes. I made the decision to just run no matter how bad it was going to hurt. All I did was focus on my Garmin and make sure that I kept seeing 7:20s. At mile 16 another guy in my AG said I was in 5th place and to keep charging. Now knowing I was on the bubble I was more hungry than ever. Mile 21 brought severe pain and the sight of two more guys in my AG ahead of me. By this point I was determined to chase them and by mile 24 I had passed one and could see the other 50 feet ahead of me. The thought of podium sounded fantastic but I knew that I was dealing with a strong runner so I made sure that when I charged past it was a leg breaking pace so he couldn’t challenge. I was all on my own running into the finish and the sounds of cowbell and cheering kept me charging hard. Looking up at the finish clock I saw 9:35 and was overcome with joy. At that point I knew that I had secured a Kona slot and a third place finish, holy sushi roll! My Dad was waiting at the end to give me a huge hug and thanked me for giving him the best Fathers Day present he could ask for. Craig: What lessons did you learn from IM Arizona that you applied to IM CDA?
Brad: The biggest lesson learned was believing in myself, sticking to my race plan, and not letting my competitors influence me during the race.
Craig: I know you had some podium finishes at the local sprint triathlons in '07 and '08, but no great success at long course racing until IM CDA. In fact, your best long course race had been a 10th place finish in your age group at Pumpkinman '08. What was the variable that brought you from 10th to 3rd?
Brad: The variable was the high consistency in my training this year. I worked out through sickness, fatigue, and bad weather. I wouldn’t make any room for excuses. It made a HUGE difference in the end and I’m a stronger minded person because of it.
Craig: What is your funniest moment in triathlon?
Brad: It would have to be during IM CDA when I had started peeing on the run (again) and was getting close to the mile 18 aid station. I was still peeing and I hollered out for coke and one of the women at the front of the aid station who saw me coming, noticed what I was doing and yelled back “It looks like you don’t need any!” That’s when I looked down and I still had some flyin’ off my knee. All I could do is smile, hold up my arms, and say “gotta top off the tanks!” Luckily I only had to pass that aid station one more time because on my way back thru it, half the station was aware of me and cracking jokes and giving me a hard time as I downed one of my last Cokes and Gatorades. It took all the pain away for a good 30 seconds, totally worth it!
Craig: Who will be joining you in Kona for the IM Hawaii trip?
Brad: My parents, brother and one Uncle as well as a few fellow training partners who have qualified (Patrick Baldwin, Brian Scott, and Kate Major). My main training partner is going to make a run at a Kona slot in IM Lake Placid at the end of July.
Craig: What are some of your favorite parts of being a TCSD member?
Brad: It would have to be the Aquathlons, cove swims, and great people that make it so special.
Craig: Who are your sponsors?
Brad: Bear Naked.
Craig: What do you do for a living?
Brad: I’m an Electrical Engineer for Solar Turbines Inc.
Craig: What are your triathlon goals at Kona and beyond?
Brad: I would like to go 10/100 at Kona (top ten AG and top 100 overall). My long term goal is to put myself in podium contention at every race and to continue to improve and refine my triathlon skills to seek out my maximum potential. I plan on living the tri-life for the rest of my days, because I absolutely love this sport and all it has given me.
Craig: As I told you prior to IM CDA, I was excited about your chances for qualifying for Kona. And then during IM CDA I was thrilled to witness your great race in person. Myself along with the rest of the TCSD wishes you the very best at Kona and all your goals beyond.