Athlete of the Month
The Team Sheeper Athlete of the Month award is handed out to a member of the team on a monthly basis, 7 or 8 times a year. The AOM is someone who made a notable contribution to the team or did something remarkable. Selection is made by nomination and voting by the membership.
You can nominate anyone and the nomination period is usually during the first week or two of the month. Look for notification that nominations are being sought. When nomination close, the voting starts and once all the votes are tallied, the new AOM is crowned.
Besides bragging rights for a month, our AOM gets some goodies from our gracious sponsors, such as free shoes from TRH, a massage from SMI, gift certificates from GoRide.
March 2003 Athlete of the Month
March was a fantastic month for Julian Symonds, Team Sheeper's March Athlete of the Month. Julian has really stepped up his training of late, including participating in the Ultimate Run, the Epic Ride (actually doing the ride two days back to back), the 25k Long Ridge Run, and The Great Train Caper. He has also demonstrated great team spirit and camaraderie by organizing a trip to Wildflower to practice on the course and by manning an aid station at the 50k Long Ridge Run. His weekly workout schedule has been boosted by including the Wednesday morning swim/bike/track workout combo, resulting in a best ever time for the DeCastella 5k and a personal best at the slammin' 7 in the pool. All this, and its only April! Coach Tim Sheeper has been impressed by Julian's long-standing commitment to the sport, and especially his participation of late. Tim notes that Julian has made incredible improvements, particularly in swimming and cycling, due to his hard work and commitment.
Julian currently is enjoying some free time and healthy lifestyle changes instead of working, but previously had a career in the enterprise software market. He was mostly on the customer service, tech support, training, pre and post sales side of the business. He enjoyed his work in software, and would like to work there again. He found the time commitments of work demanding, and in a future career, would like to find a balance of life.
When asked about hobbies other than swimming biking & running, Julian says:
I do love to scuba dive. I used to own a boat and I used to spend a lot time on lakes waterskiing, tubing, kneeboarding and generally horsing around. Another hobby I have been indulging in lately is the conversion of my family artifacts (photos, slides, videos, correspondence, manuscripts, etc...) into a digital format. My brother and I both spent a lot of time as kids digging through my grandparent's saved memories every time we visited them in England. In addition, the slides and photos and videos and correspondence our parents saved over the years are just priceless - to our family of course. There's also stuff of historical significance that I'd like to preserve - my great grandfather's accounts of WWI, my grandfather's accounts of WWII, my father's first impressions on the United States when he first arrived in this country in the 1960's. There is just tons of stuff. I imagine every family has that kind of thing stashed somewhere. Anyway, it just bothers me a bit that as the generations before us die off, those family artifacts are diluted as they are split up and passed down the line. Or, they end up in the attic of one relative almost totally inaccessible by anyone.
As I digitize my brother's wedding video and extract the most interesting segments (exchange of vows, best man speech, first dance, etc...), I think to myself how great it would be if I could view on my computer little snippets from my parent's wedding or even my grandparent's wedding. Someday one of my descendants or my brother's descendants will be able to do just that.
Recently Joan (my fiancee and fellow team sheeper-ite) and I digitized some of her family slides from the 1960's. We produced a slide show and sent it to her family. It was a lot of fun hearing the excitement in their voices after they had viewed these slides that were previously almost forgetten since they were at the bottom of one of her Mom's trunks.
Julian describes how he got involved with Team Sheeper from what had become a fairly sedentary lifestyle as a worker in a Silicon Valley Company:
I'd been active as a youngster. My parents were active as well and my grandfather was a "keep fit" fanatic. After college and into my early to mid thirties I became totally obsessed by work and enamored with being in a silicon valley startup (pre dotcom but exciting nonetheless). The stories of Bill Gates sleeping under his desk inspired me.
When I first interviewed at this startup I went to in 1992, one of the founders kept a pillow and sleeping bag tucked in the corner and I just thought that was the greatest thing. So hard core! That was my mindset back then. Anyway, all I did was work, eat and drink. I was even and on again off again cigarette smoker. All the travel I did was for work.
Over a ten year period I gained about 60 pounds and any fitness I ever had was out the window. My company had a sabbatical policy and I used that to spend two months in Australia scuba diving. My cousin, a personal trainer and ex British age group triathlete, was in Australia at the same time and was just appalled at my condition. I was pretty ashamed.
With my cousin's help I began the slow road back to physical fitness. When I wasn't scuba diving he'd take me to the gym and out for runs. When I returned to the US I hired a personal trainer. He monitored my diet and met me at the gym three times a week. In the back of my mind I had this idea that I wanted to try triathlons. It was the hard core aspect that attracted me.
There were a couple of hurdles. I didn't know anything about cycling and nothing about swimming. I was terrified about putting on a speedo and going to a pool with a bunch of swimmers, let alone going to workouts with a bunch of triathletes. Finally I bit the bullet, searched the web and found Menlo Masters. It attracted me for two reasons. One was the noon workouts and the other was this other thing called Team Sheeper (there were other tri groups but TS had the most complete workout schedule).
I didn't vocalize my ambition to become a triathlete but I really wanted to. Again, I was terrified. I started swimming. I put on the speedo. Finally I got up the courage to say to Tim that I wanted to try Team Sheeper. I didn't say it too loud, though. I bought some tickets and came to a couple of runs. All I had was a cheap mountain bike so I didn't start cycling with the team until I bought a road bike in January 2001. That's when I joined full time.
Julian's athletic background included cross country skiing as a family when he was young. His family belonged to a tennis club and he played tennis with his father a lot. He also dabbled in various team sports like baseball and soccer. In college, he ran the Marines Corps marathon and joined the cross country team for a year. He was the only one on the team that hadn’t run in high school but he was proud to tell us that the team gave him the "Most Improved Runner" award.
When asked what he likes most about triathlons, Julian says:
I like the multi-sport aspect. I never knew anything about cycling or swimming and not much about running. Now I can really appreciate what it takes to participate in, let alone win, an event like the Tour de France. Now I know that there is a lot more to swimming than just going back and forth in a pool. There are so many things to pay attention to. A few times I have actually gone over to the Stanford pool to watch the swim team workout. I like to see how fast they get across the pool in their recovery swims let alone their threshold sessions. I like to watch how their arms enter the water and how few strokes it takes them to get across the pool. I just like watching how smooth they look. Before I started swimming I think I could have watched a swim practice for about thirty seconds. It would have done nothing for me. My grandfather used to keep fit by swimming. Since I started swimming I've gone on vacations where I've taken my exercise by going for long swims in the open water and imagined that if he could see me now he'd give me a thumb's up, and that pleases me. I like the group training opportunities being a part of a triathlon team presents. The company when you just feel like having an easy workout. The support if you are having a bad day or a bad race. The inspiration when someone is getting faster than you in the pool or on the bike or on runs. The communal joy after finishing a tough workout or a tough race. Most of all I just like being fit and being around a bunch of other people who consider being fit important and like to keep fit the same way I like to keep fit.
Races that Julian is gearing up for this year include Wildflower long course, Kona Half Ironman, Pacific Crest, Ironman Canada, and Ironman Florida. His biggest focus over the past few months, and in the coming months is to lean out and keep injury at bay. He will then see where that takes him.
We asked Julian what are his most memorable moments from Team Sheeper, or his favorite workouts? Here’s what he has to say:
Challenges, variety, beautiful places and great people - that's what makes the workouts memorable to me. My first run up to Skyline at Windy Hill in December 2000. I got dropped and it was so foggy I couldn't see where the pack turned. Bob Beacom stopped at every turn waving like crazy to make sure I could see where they were going. The 2001 Epic ride with Susie, Chad and Terrie. I had been riding two months at that point, had never ridden more than 56 miles, it was pouring with rain, incredibly windy and so cold there was snow on the top of skyline. All I wanted to do was finish, that's it, and that was the goal of everyone else in the group. We got through it and I was on a high for days. The beautiful scenery of the 2003 Long Ridge Run, not to mention the incredible challenge. The 2002 Bay to Breakers - Joan and I had absolutely no idea where we were going and had to keep John Thompson and Eric O'Brien in sight, or we were done. The 2001 Wildflower camp. There was so much energy and enthusiasm because we were all such new triathletes and most of us had never done a 56 mile ride let alone a 56 mile ride followed up with a 13 mile run. The 2002 Tour de Sheeper - 4 days of 100+ mile rides on different routes throughout the bay area speaks for itself. The 2003 Epic ride where Joan, Jessica, David and I raised the bar for ourselves by doing it two days in a row. Furthermore, Susie and Rob were raising the bar for themselves by doing the whole thing on mountain bikes! It was fun to see a bunch of people adding their own twists. Last but not least, the 2003 ride to Big Sur - those of us that participated know what I mean.
Team Sheeper wishes Julian great luck and great fun in his upcoming races this season. We also wish him and Joan many years of happiness together as husband and wife!