ISW Athlete - Gerald Kubiak, Triathlete

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Major League Triathlon

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Dakotaman Triathlon

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Platte River Triathlon

Since not everyone is familiar with the ITU Triathlon Grand Final in Rotterdam, can you describe the event and what it took for you to qualify as an age group athlete?

The ITU event is the highest talent triathlon in the world.  In the professional ranks, the fastest triathletes from every country race there.  The Grand Final in Rotterdam serves as the World Championship for the Olympic Distance and Sprint Distance races.  For age group athletes, like myself, it gives me an opportunity to race the fastest people my age in the world while comparing my ability to
professionals that will be competing in the Olympic Games.
To qualify for the event you must first race in a local United States Triathlon sanctioned event and place in the top 10 percent in your age group.  From there you are qualified to race at the National Championships, which were held in Omaha last year.  Placing in the top 18 at the National Championship gives an athlete the opportunity to compete at the ITU Grand Final.
Did you realize going into the USAT National Olympic distance triathlon in Omaha last August that you could qualify for the Grand Final triathlon?  What went through your mind when you realized you had made it?

I was aware of what it took to qualify for the Grand Final. In the past, I have competed in the National Championship two times.  Both times I placed in the top half of the age group but was nowhere near qualifying.  Last year my training was going very well, and I felt that I had a good chance as my fitness was strong and I was familiar with the course.  In the last couple miles of the 10k run I began to pass current Team USA members and I knew I was close.  When the results were finally tabulated, I had earned the final spot on the team.  It was a very exciting and proud moment.  As an aging athlete, I felt a true sense of accomplishment just like I did when I was a younger, more competitive runner.
What one thing are you anticipating the most about going to Rotterdam to compete?

I am anticipating a very flat and fast course.  Rotterdam is known for having one of the fastest marathons in the world due to its flatness and being as close to sea level as possible. It will be important to monitor and keep a consistent power output on the bike and a moderate heart rate on the run considering the fast pace.
How is ISW helping you prepare for this world competition? 

The biggest benefit I get is through their Dietitian, because I am married to her (Niki). I get the benefits of a balanced diet every day without thinking. From berries in the morning to combat free radicals, to high carb pasta and salad varieties in the evening, I get all the fuel I need without needing to supplement.  Tory at ISW also is available when it comes to any core strength or physiological questions I have. It’s also convenient to drop off my son at soccer practice and get in a run on the Keystone trail when possible.  
You have coordinated and led an organized track workout every Tuesday during the summer since 2001.  What do you contribute to the ongoing success of these workouts, and what is the value of organizing a weekly workout like this for you? 

Since 2001, myself, and a volunteer from time to time, have kept a weekly summertime track workout.  This was to keep my fitness and speed levels up while having others hold me accountable every week.  From year to year the group has swelled and shrank depending on a multitude of things.  It has held on for so long because the Omaha running community truly enjoys hard work and the social atmosphere.  Every year these committed athletes begin these workouts and go on to win age group awards at local and national events.  These structured workouts help in giving a significant edge over their competition. Knowing I have a hard workout every Tuesday also makes me keep working out on the other days of the week as I don’t want to go in undertrained.  I have met some of the best people ever at these workouts. Some are long time members, some are just passing through town, but they all want to get better.  
What athletes, coaches, or individuals have inspired you and motivated you to keep going even when the going gets tough?
All the coaches I have ever had have inspired me at one point or another.  Some have been very strict and some have been very forgiving.  They have all had their ways of coaching and have been successful with different types of approaches. 

Orville Hess, my high school coach, coached many state championship and nationally ranked teams.  As a nationally ranked team, we had the opportunity to race all around the country. My junior year, we successfully defeated all the neighboring state champion teams and set an all time record at the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship for lowest combined time for any high school on the California State High school course. He was a very organized man and tracked everyone thoroughly. 

Buzz Stevenson, my coach at Dakota State University, put success squarely on the shoulders of the athlete themselves.  Practices, morning runs and weights were often left to the individual and not part of a master plan.  Buzz created conference champions and All-Americans with a completely different strategy.  Under Buzz’s coaching methods, I won the SDIC Steeplechase Conference title in 1997, and during my time at DSU I participated in two national cross country championships and three track and field national championships. Buzz taught me the key is to find out what works best for you and stick with it.
Many individuals including past teammates, friends and professional athletes, have inspired and influenced me over the years.   I was lucky enough to be on the same track and cross country teams with High School National 800 meter and 1600 meter Champion, Jim McCreery, and also Olympic triathlete Ryan Bolton.  I also have had great local mentors like James Kueffner, Ken Deeman and Lincoln Murdock, who have all continued to compete through different phases of their lives.  They have kept physical fitness a core principle of their lives, and I find that inspiring.
What advice would you give about maintaining perspective when training for an event like this and still being invested in your family and work?

Being consistent is the most important.  I make a plan and do my best to stick to it.  In general, I get a workout in every day,but leave enough in the tank to play with the kids and get some housework done.  Life can be very demanding when trying to compete at a high level.  Just do what you can, even if a workout has to be abbreviated, so be it, just get something in.  Like everyone else that has work, family and triathlon, I am often tired.  Sometimes I have to let some workouts go in order to have energy to spend time with family or at work but that is alright.  As I have gotten older, it has been easier to adjust to what life has in store for me.
- Interviewed by ISW Director of Nutrition & Health, Niki Kubiak
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TNT Duathlon

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Papillion Mayor's Triathlon

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Ironman Coeur d'alene