1. You have been involved in multisport for a long time for a young person. How did you get started back when the sport did not have the hype, the pre-Olympic years?
RP - When I was 14 years old there was a little 1/2 Marathon in my home town of Midland, Ontario. I found out about the race 1 week before. Back then there were no books or websites (at least not in Midland). We didn't know what we were doing but my mom had me run half the course on Tuesday and half the course on Thursday and I raced the full 1/2 Marathon on the Sunday. For a kid who didn't really train for any sport at the time, I ran 1:45:21 on a very hilly course. I loved it. It was at that race I heard about a triathlon that was going to be held in town in June of that year (1989). It was a 1.5km swim, 45km bike, 12km run. No sprints back then. My sister and I started training a month out from the race.
We'd get our 10 speed CCM bikes out and try to ride the course or parts of it, we'd get into the pool and see how far we could go without stopping (I think I made it 10 lengths = 250m) and of course I didn't need to worry about the run because I had already done the 1/2 marathon in April. On race day, I wore my Body Glove windsurfing wet suit in the swim so I would not drown, I rode the 45km bike on my 10 speed with no aero bars and I think I walked 50% of the run. I finished in a time of 3:01:45 and my sister beat me, which to this day she still reminds me of anytime I do well in a race. I can't explain what I enjoyed so much about it but I was hooked and we started learning more about the sport and where other events would take place. I was so lucky to have two of the most involved people in the triathlon world here in Ontario at the time. Graham Fraser had his triathlon series, which to this day is one of the best series in the world, and Barrie Shepley was, and still is, one of the more involved men in the world of triathlon.
Graham's races and Barrie's coaching lead me to the career I had and the sport I love.
2. Looking back at some earlier results in your career, I recognized some familiar names in your races. Is there anyone you competed against during your first few years that you follow and cheer for when he or she races?
RP - I wonder who you are talking about .......... Actually there were so many close friends and training partners that I have followed and cheered on from the TV or the internet. Back then, triathlon was so small we didn't just race with which other we also traveled and trained together whenever possible. I spent many summers with Simon Whitfield and Jasper Blake training in the hills of Collingwood, Ontario. My training partner at the track for many years was Lori Bowden (helped I had a crush on her!!) and when I went to University I trained with Noel Harrington (1997 IMC champion) and Mike Buck who basically won every race he went into back in the 90's. Now I train whenever possible with my close friend Tara Norton. So in my 20 years in the sport I have been very lucky to train with some of the best athletes our sport has ever seen.
1. You have your Healthy Results Coaching business ( www.healthyresults.ca ) that, I assume, fills up most of your schedule. The address on the site states Orangeville, Ontario as the location. Why did you select this town as your base as opposed to the bigger cities in the area?
RP - It was a location that fit for both my wife and myself. My wife, Heather, was finishing up Chiropractic college in Toronto in 2000 and together we were trying to figure out where she could set up a practice and I could still run my coaching and personal training business. My sister, Kim, is also a chiropractor and was looking for a partner in her practice which was in Orangeville. It was a great fit for Heather. When we came up to Orangeville for the first time it became clear that it is one of the best training areas in the world for triathlon. I have been all over the world with triathlon and there are few places in the world that have as much variety of running and riding routes. Low traffic and beautiful roads. We also have two pools and three locations to open water swim.
Some think one down side is the snow in the winter, but we have great cross country skiing up here so it allows me to get off the bike trainer and get outside to build my endurance over the winter. My business might be bigger in the city like my friends who are coaches there, but I like the lifestyle of the small town. For me it's about lifestyle first, work second.
4. If my math is correct, you raced 9 years as a Pro from 1995 – 2003. What were the main factors in dropping from the professional ranks and racing as an Age Group athlete?
RP - Reality..................in 2003 it was clear I was not going to be like my friends Jasper Blake and Simon Whitfield and my focus in life was changing. In January of 2004, my wife and I welcomed the birth of our daughter Elizabeth. I was now a husband, dad, coach and then if there was any free time, an athlete. I do the sport for fun now and don't need the pressure of racing professionally.
5. Being a Professional Triathlete is a tough job and it is hard to make ends meet a lot of the time which turns a lot of Pro triathletes to coaching. Does coaching give you a similar level of satisfaction when you see someone else reaching their goals compared to the excitement of competing in your own race?
RP - Being a coach is more rewarding then my own racing career. I've always been the guy who is the leader in the group and enjoys helping people achieve their very best. I got into coaching not to pay the bills but because I wanted to stay in the sport I loved. I enjoy coaching athletes of all levels. I currently have two junior athletes with a world of potential, many first time Ironman or 70.3 athletes, and a hand full of elite age group athletes. Every hour of my day is different for me as a coach. I get a lot of satisfaction from my job, from seeing an athlete finish their first race or winning their age group. I'm very lucky to be able to love what I do for a living.
6. What words of advice do you most commonly give to your athletes?
RP - Training is all about being consistent. Everyone is looking for the upper hand in training or the magic workout or gear, but at any level unless you learn to train consistently nothing else matters. Being consistent is not as easy as it seems on paper. It is not about hours trained or finishing all the workouts in a program. It's about doing the right workouts, at the right time, at the right level of effort.
7. What race experience is your most memorable and why does it hold such value to you?
RP - In 1993 I missed making the national junior team by 3 second. I spend the next year preparing for the National Championships. I had the date written all over my walls in my bedroom "June 17th, 1994". It was my last year as a junior. I had a great swim and solid bike but it was my run that got me across the line in second place. Winning a silver may not be a gold but if you look at the athletes that came out of the junior ranks that year they all went on to very strong professional careers. It also was the race that turned triathlon in to a lifelong passion.
8. I was reading a blog yesterday and followed a link to a race a few Canadians had entered called the American Triple T Race. This is a three day, four race epic with a quick Prologue Tri on Friday. Two Olympic Distance Tri races on Saturday and a Half Ironman distance on Sunday. I noticed your name in the overall rankings and it looks like you put in an incredible performance for the combined four event win. Congrats! What drew you to this tough endurance challenge in Ohio?
RP - First, thank you.
Why TTT?....Peer Pressure........I had a few friends that did the race last year and they thought it would be something I'd do well at, well actually they told me I could win it. My biggest weakness is when I get challenged. I'm not as fast as someone who races ITU, but I do still swim under 20mins for 1500m, bike 40k an hour on a rolling course and can run a 35-36 minute 10k. A long with my speed I have been training off and on for Ironmans for 9 years, so I have the endurance most of the short course athletes don't have. But one of the real reasons I did the race was because I like to challenge myself. It is a one of a kind race.
It tests your speed, endurance, and mental strength over three days. All four races are some of the most challenging course you'll ever find. It is not like most endurance triathlons. You have to go fast in the first two events to stay in contact with the leaders but if you over do it you play for it on the Sunday race. I positioned myself well going into Sunday and won the race because I didn't fall apart on the final 21.1km run. To read more go to www.hrtchat.com
9. Seeing the results from question 8 and your results in the 2008 Muskoka 70.3 race you can tell you are still in amazing shape and you still love to race. How many races a year does it take to fill your appetite to compete? What other races are on your schedule in the future?
RP - Funny I don't really have much of an appetite to compete any more. I just race to see how fast I can go. I've done almost every triathlon in Ontario in the 20 years I've been in the sport. There were seasons back in the day (pre wife and kids) where I raced almost every weekend. Now I love the process of getting ready for a race and the art of getting in shape. Race day is more like the test to see if I did the training correctly. I train about half as much as most of the athletes at my level and I race even less.
(Since I stopped racing as a professional) In 2004 I raced once In 2005 I raced once In 2006 I raced once In 2007 I did 3 races In 2008 I did 2 races
My goal for 2009 is to get back into the sport I spend so much time talking about. I love coaching and I feel I'm even a better coach when I'm training and racing as I'm more in tune with workouts, dealing with the challenges athletes face and how to balance training with family and work.
10. What goals have you outlined for yourself in 2009?
RP - This year I'm doing Ironman Lake Placid for my charity www.race4kids.ca. On top of a fundraising goal of $250,000.00 to fight Childhood Cancer I hope to qualify for the World Championships in Kona. In Kona I'm hoping to medal in my age group (35-39). I know this goal is big, it will take more than likely a sub 9hr race in Kona to do it, but both my coach and I feel it is possible. Other then the three major events I'll do a hand full of running races and local triathlons (Huronia, Wasaga Beach, Bracebridge) here in Ontario.
Once again, thank you very much for your time!