Athletic Journey: I was not always an endurance athlete. In fact, I didn't run unless I was sprinting. Since my elementary school days, I competed in baseball, basketball, golf, cross country, and track. I enjoyed all of these sports, but I gravitated to running, partly because I was good at it, but also because I enjoyed the independence I felt while running. Unlike team sports, there was nobody other than myself to determine my fate in competition.
Contrary to my athletic interests now, I was a sprinter in high school and college. I ran the 100m, 200m, and 400m. I used to think that running two continuous miles was a “major distance” day! In high school I qualified for the state track meet in all three distances and was named All-State in the 400m. I continued my track career in college where I focused on the 200m and 400m. I set school and conference records in the 400m dash and qualified for nationals in both the 200m and 400m.
I always had dreams of making it to the Olympics, so after college, I continued to compete in the 400m both domestically and in Europe. I quickly learned that I wasn’t fast enough to become a 400m Olympian, but while I was training in Europe, I was fortunate enough to train with a group from Nigeria, during which time Tony Osheku, the coach of this group and of numerous Olympians, encouraged me to try the 800m. So, for the next two years, under the tutelage of Coach Osheku, I focused on “middle distance” and tried to develop the engine to complement my speed. It was during this time that I became fascinated with endurance training and began learning about exercise physiology and nutrition so I could better understand how to optimally train. I continued to improve in the 800m, but by June of 2000, I realized that I wasn’t going to make the Olympic trials qualifying time. Because of that, and because of some nagging aches and pains from running so much, I “retired” from
my career as a track athlete.
Of course, I didn’t want to stop exercising completely, so I began to swim and bike as a non-running way of staying fit. This cross-training led me to sign up my first triathlon in August of 2000. I finished in the middle of my age group, full of ideas on how to improve; I was hooked! Since then, I have devoted the athletic side of my life to triathlon. I did my first Iron-distance triathlon in September of 2002 and turned professional in 2003. I focused on Ironman racing for the next five years, learned a lot, met many interesting folks, and had some success. While I never ‘made it’ as a professional triathlete, I gained a deep understanding of what it takes to compete and succeed at the professional level in an ultra-endurance event.
Since that first triathlon in 2000, I have accumulated thousands of hours training, racing, and researching. I have learned a lot about training, racing, nutrition, and overall body health by trial and error (quite a bit of error!) and continue to learn every day. I have spent a lot of time looking back over my training and my experiences as an athlete and worked to understand what things I did that led to success/improvements as well as mistakes I made that likely hindered my progress. My passion now is to continue to apply my experience and knowledge towards helping others avoid the same mistakes I made and experience the same passion and love for training and achieving goals as I experienced.
Coaching journey: After graduating from college in 1996, I stayed as an assistant cross country and track coach. Following that, I spent one year as the women’s head track coach and one year as the assistant coach at Wawasee High School in Syracuse, IN. In 1999-2000, I returned to coach at my alma mater as the assistant cross country coach and sprint/middle distance track coach. Since entering the world of triathlon in 2000, I have advised numerous athletes about training, racing, equipment, strength, and nutrition. During the summer of 2005, I worked for the semi-pro women’s soccer team FC Indiana. I served as the trainer, strength and conditioning coach, and massage therapist. They were the national champions that year!
Since moving to Columbia, Missouri in 2006 for my Master’s education in Exercise Physiology, I have worked with amateur and elite athletes helping them train for running, biking, and triathlon events. My passion for using my experience as an athlete and coach is what drives me to continue helping folks of all abilities reach their goals, and why I started this service.
Education Journey: I grew up in Normal, Illinois and moved to Goshen, Indiana in 1992 for college. I graduated from Goshen College with a degree in Mathematics and taught high school math in northern Indiana for six years. During that time, I met and married Amy, who is an art teacher. I stopped teaching to prepare for graduate school in Exercise Physiology. I moved to Columbia, Missouri in January of 2006 to pursue a master’s degree in Exercise Physiology, which I completed in August 2008. My master’s degree focused on both the effects of exercise training on people with metabolic syndrome as well as body composition in elite athletes. My thesis, Body composition comparison: bioelectric impedance analysis with dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in adult athletes, was published in Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science in July of 2010.
I finished my doctoral degree in Biomedical Sciences in May, 2013. I studied the effects of exercise and inactivity (decreasing exercise) on adipose (fat) tissue in young, growing animals. The results from my research allow greater insight into childhood obesity development and prevention. My mentor is the world-renowned exercise physiologist, Dr. Frank Booth. As of 2013, I have published two first-author papers and two more first-author papers are under review. I am co-author on five papers and co-wrote a chapter on fatty acid supplements with Dr. Mike Roberts.