Enjoy Life, Stay Healthy, Keep Riding

Howie Herrington

Howie Herrington


				

Where do you live , what do you do for a living, and how old are you?

I was born and raised  on a dairy farm in Cambridge, N.Y. and built a home just 3 miles from the family farm.   I am a retired physical education teacher of 36 years, but I am also a drywall finisher and I still take on small jobs, especially during the triathlon off season.  ( I need to pay for my expensive hobby!).  I am 67 years old, married and have 3 wonderful children.

 

What kind of bikes do you ride? What are the features you like about them?

I bought my first good road bike, a Felt, 4 years ago, not thinking I would ever be involved in triathlons.  That same year I decided I would try the Lake George half iron triathlon.  It was in the bike-to-run transition that a competitor turned to me and said, “You had an awesome bike split, but you should get an aero bike.”  So, one month later I bought a Trek Speed Concept for the Half Ironman Nationals in Miami.  The Felt is very responsive on hills, but I absolutely love my Trek.  I am very comfortable in the aero position, especially since I have limited range of motion in my right arm.

 

What is your athletic background and most satisfying athletic achievement?

I have been a distance runner since my freshman year in high school. My best 2-mile time in high school was 9:40 (1970), which doesn’t compare to the times you see in Section 2 today.  I continued running at Springfield College, but my best times occurred in my late 20s.  Completing the Boston Marathon in 2:24 and then winning the Empire State Games Marathon qualifier just 2 weeks later in 2:30 on a hilly Troy, N.Y. course had to be the high point of my running career.  Then children arrived and my serious running came to an end.

Guiding, supporting, and coaching my 3 children is without a doubt my most satisfying achievement.  All 3 were national champions in their sport (wrestling, crew, basketball) and went on to Division 1 college athletics (Penn, Duke, Manhattan).

 

How long have you been riding, and how did you get into cycling?

I actually began endurance riding just 4 years ago.  I have had a bike since I was about 10 years old, but a 15-mile ride would have been considered a long ride.  Getting involved in triathlon training got me excited about cycling and putting in many more miles.

 

How do you typically put the miles on your bikes?  Do you keep track of your miles?

My first year of triathlon training I used the Training Peaks software program and I also had a coach.  The last two years I have gone back to what I call “old school.”  I log all my workouts on a big desk calendar which is always on or near the kitchen table, and I am not using a coach. Although I do have a power meter and heart monitor,  I don’t pay much attention to metrics.  The only time I look at power or heart rate is on the trainer.  Outside, I am a volume guy, typically riding 200 to 250 miles a week.  I try to ride a  hilly course once a week. Running 35 to 40 miles a week.   (Training for Boston in ’81 I would put in 110 to 120 miles a week.

 

Do you have some favorite routes?

I am so lucky to have many excellent cycling routes right from my house.  If I want challenging hills, I ride the Battenkill course in the hilly townships of Cambridge, Salem and Greenwich.  I also really enjoy riding the Battlefield, Route 4 and River Road.

 

What are your proudest moments as a cyclist?

Finishing the 112-mile bike portion of Ironman Louisville.  This was my first full Ironman, and I had never cycled that far.  What made this so challenging was a powerful wind/rain storm the last 15 miles.  I witnessed a competitor actually getting blown over, and many branches were falling.  I was relieved when I arrived back to transition.

 

What tips would you offer to less experienced riders?

I don’t have a lot of experience myself, but here are a few things other riders might want to be aware of:  be as visible as you possibly can ( reflective or bright clothing and a bright rear light); if the road you are riding doesn’t have a shoulder and you should drift off onto the dirt, come to a stop before trying to get back onto the road. ( A friend broke his collar bone doing this.); beware if you are riding in a group of inexperienced riders because good communication is so important.  I was riding close behind another rider and did not see a good size pot hole and nearly went down.  An experienced rider would have made a hand gesture to let me know of road dangers.  I am so fearful of animals running out in front of me, especially dogs, deer and woodchucks.

 

What is your favorite cycling product/accessory?

I really like  my Garmin bike computer.  Even though I do not train using metrics, I do look at them  at the end of my ride.  I am usually most interested in my distance, elevation, and time in the saddle.

 

Any funny or unusual experiences during your riding/racing career?

There was a triathlon in 1982 called the Sri Chinmoy Challenge in Misquamicut Beach, Rhode Island.  The distances were: 1.5-mile ocean swim, 60-mile bike, 15-mile run.  Runner’s World had just done a story about the benefits of cross training and made mention of this event.  I had just come off a great season of running and must say I was a bit “cocky.”  I had just run 26 miles averaging 5:28/ mile….how hard can it be to run a 6-minute mile???   I did a few one-mile swims in the pool at RPI and a few 30-mile bike rides and felt that was sufficient, even though I had never attempted to swim in the ocean. I was actually naïve enough to think I could place in the top ten. 

Race morning was windy and cool, the surf was rough, and the water temperature was 66 degrees.  Many athletes were lathering up with Vaseline, which at the time I didn’t understand why.  There were no wetsuits.  I started the swim and instantly felt sick with the undulating waves.  About 10 miutes into the swim I began to get really cold.  My stroke rate slowed, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere, and I was freezing.  My eyes were fixated on members of the Coast Guard who were on surf boards.  I really thought I was going to need their assistance.  It was during this swim that I gained total respect for this sport.  I came out of the water barely able to walk.  My wife, Susan, said “You’re not getting on the bike.”  I couldn’t verbally respond, but nodded a yes!  I wobbled out of the parking lot on my 10-speed and after eight miles got my body temp back. The bike portion seemed to take forever, and I physically did not have much left for what was supposed to be my strength: running.  Here I was struggling to run a seven- to eight-minute-per-mile. I felt so embarrassed having gloated that I would be with the leaders.

I did finish this race, but learned many life lessons. That was the end of my triathlon racing until 4 years ago!!  I guess it’s true, “Time Heals All Wounds!”

 

 

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