I recently sat down and talked triathlon with long time Triathlon Club of San Diego member Matthew Evans. Please join me as we get to know Matthew better.
CZ: What was your athletic background prior to triathlon?
ME:I played tennis in high school and the first couple years of college. Other than that I ran here and there as my knees would allow.
CZ: What prompted you to start doing triathlons?
ME: A friend of mine suggested that I do a triathlon as a challenge since I rode my bike and ran quite a bit. I did my first triathlon on an old mountain bike with slick tires. It was at the Mission Bay Triathlon in 2002. It was a great feeling just to complete the event. I basically dog paddled the entire swim. It took me like 20 minutes. I finished with such a big smile that it made me want to see if I could do more.
I still do not swim that well. I am still working on my sighting. I have been told that I swim somewhat in a zig-zag pattern in the open ocean. I still need a lot of help with my swimming! It’s fun trying to catch people on the bike and run—it makes want to go faster.
CZ: What was the inspiration that got you to try an Ironman distance race?
ME: I heard such a buzz about doing an Ironman and what an incredible challenge it was to complete one…I had to try. I am so glad that I did. I’ve done 4 so far and look forward to more!
CZ: Which Ironman races have you done and what were your times?
ME: 2003 Ironman Wisconsin 13:40
2004 Ironman Coeur d’Alene 11:54
2005 Ironman Arizona 12:27
2006 Ironman Hawaii 13:47 (my proudest as I wasn’t as fit and it was such a difficult day for me)
CZ: How did you find out you won a lottery spot to Kona this year?
ME: I had completely forgotten that I had entered the lottery. I got a call from a friend, fellow TCSD member, Trisha Gazin, telling me that I had a lottery slot. Apparently, people check the list as soon as it comes out. It was a very pleasant surprise.
CZ: How does the lottery process work?
ME: The Ironman Hawaii lottery process is pretty simple. Ironman opens up a certain number of slots (200) to those who don’t qualify via a race (like me and most of us). In fact, the Ironman just started taking lottery entry for Ironman Hawaii . You pay a fee of $35 or more to gain entry into the lottery. Every April 15 the lottery winners are announced. Sometimes even a local NBC affiliate station will arrive at a lottery winner’s house to film their astonished reaction. Make sure you fill out the entry in its entirety. They do read your story so if you have a special story to tell, by all means tell it. You also have to race a qualifying race to cement your Kona entry—a sanctioned ½ IM or IM.
CZ: Tell us about your experience racing in Kona.
ME: My experience in Kona was different from other triathlons. I went there to just hopefully get through the day. I think I need to shed a little light on how challenging the past year has been.
I had not seen a pool for over a year. I swam La Jolla Cove and Shores a month or so before the event with my super training partner, David Huff. I knew the swim would be somewhat of an issue. I wasn’t able to train as I would have liked as I had an injury riddled season so I just didn’t know if I’d had enough training. In the fall of 2005 I had a pretty horrific mountain bike accident in which I suffered multiple fractures to my collarbone, my jaw knocked out of whack, my hip has bursitis, and pelvis got out of alignment, and suffered a concussion. The trauma doctor later told me that if I wasn’t wearing my helmet that I would be dead. So please, please everyone wear your helmet. I am so thankful for my Rudy Project helmet as it saved my life! Also remember to always carry your license and current health insurance card! In addition, I re-broke my collarbone in the spring of 2006.
In the beginning of September I suffered from a viral as well as bacterial infection that forced me to not swim, bike, or run for almost 3 weeks.
I also have an on-going challenge in that I have to donate blood every 60 days or so because I have an iron overload. The disease is called Hemochromotosis. I try to schedule the donations after events and well before because it sometimes affects my ability to train. What the iron overload does help is my ability to ride and run at elevation. I guess there’s good with the not so bad.
All and all my day in Kona was my most proudest as I had to endure a lot of back and hip pain throughout the day, especially on the bike and the later portions of the marathon.
CZ: I know you faced some other monumental “life” challenges in 2006 that in my opinion would have broken a lesser man. How did having that slot for Kona help you through those challenges along with your physical issues?
CZ: How did the earthquake impact the 2006 race?
ME: The earthquake didn’t really change anything concerning the race. Since there was no electricity they couldn’t use the normal gateway at the airport for de-planing. It was a challenge sitting on the tarmac in Maui until they could get a metal staircase.
CZ: Who joined you in Kona?
ME: My girlfriend Stephanie joined me for the entire week we were in Kona. It was awesome to have her there with me. She was an angel, tagging along to this or that, being patient while I had some bike tire issues, and laughing with me as we just basked in the enjoyment of being in Kona with such incredible people and athletes.
CZ: Do you have any news to report regarding you and Stephanie?
CZ: What has been your favorite race to participate in? And why?
ME: My favorite race would have to be the 2004 Xterra Worlds in Maui. The venue was incredible. I didn’t have the greatest race—I came into T1 and had a flat tire. I persevered and completed the course. I roomed with Jim Vance and got to see his elation on becoming the Amateur World Champion. I just immensely enjoyed the entire time in Maui with all the great people and competitors.
CZ: If you could waive a magic wand over the sport of triathlon, what would you change?
ME: I’m not sure I would change too much. I would hope that people wouldn’t be so competitive that they lose sight of why everyone is out on the course. We are all there to have fun. I try to always smile and encourage my fellow participants. I’d like to encourage more people to try the tri and see what it does for them physically as well as mentally.
CZ: You have been a member of the TCSD since 2002. What are the best benefits of your membership?
ME: I have immensely enjoyed the club races and the training partners I have met. I have made many friends that I believe will be life long friends. That to me is an incredible benefit that you don’t find too often by becoming a member of something. Oh yeah…I also met Stephanie through TCSD at the Singles event last January! Now that’s what I call an incredible benefit!
CZ: Do you have any sponsors?
ME: Rudy Project, Beyond Fabrications (an awesome frame, fork, and seat post set-up!), and XTERRA Wetsuits.
The Challenged Athletes Foundation is my charity of choice and I try to brand their name as much as possible. I wore a CAF singlet, tri shorts on the bike and added a CAF hat and socks for the run.
CZ: Matthew, thanks for sharing your story. You have been a personal friend for a number of years. I’m really glad that you got to race in the Hawaiian Ironman. Good things happen to good people. Is there anything else on your mind?
ME: Craig, you have told me a story about how you pick up coins while training….well I thought of you while on the marathon at Kona this year…I saw something shiny several steps in front of me. It was a quarter. I stopped and picked it up. I still have that quarter. Thanks Craig