If you ask me, the triathlon is the James Bond of sports; it requires high tech gear, sleek outfits, and an extreme physical prowess. Unlike many of the prints I’ve made in the past that incorporate traditional heritage equipment such as wooden skis and external frame backpacks, my newest print depicts a sleek modern version of adventure sports. “The Triathlete” is an abstract portrait of PNW pro athlete Derek Garcia.
When he’s not training for his own races, Derek gives other athletes a leg up through coaching. In person, he’s not the intimidating figure you would expect from an athlete of his caliber. Derek is kind, motivating, generous with his time, and (incredibly) a cancer survivor.
Enjoy his interview below.
What is your favorite event in the triathlon?
My favorite event has always been the bike. I have loved the thrill of going fast on my bike since I was a child. FYI my fastest ever speed on a bike is 62mph ;-)
Tell me something that you wish more people knew about competing in triathlons?
Shorter distance triathlon's are often just as hard or harder then long ones like Ironman. No matter the distance competing at a high level is incredibly difficult!
How many hours a week do you have to train in order to stay in peak health; and what takes up the most of your time?
28-30 hours a week of swim/bike/run. This does not include some strength and functional work as well as commuting! Typically biking takes up the most amount of hours with long rides being 6-7 hours or up to 130 miles.
What has been your hardest struggle as a pro athlete?
Being committed to the process of getting better every day. Sometimes results do not come for a long time and it can be a very slow process that ultimately leads to that result.
Why did you choose the triathlon to be your sport of choice?
Total accident. I was getting fat in college and one of my friends basically challenged me to do a multisport race. At that point I had never run more then 3 miles and I did not know how to swim.
Tell me a crazy story that happened during one of your competitions.
Well, I will have to combine two events that were in the course of a month. In June of 2014 I raced an Ironman (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run) and the high temperature was 107 degrees. Exactly 4 weeks later I raced another Ironman and the high temperature was only 54 degrees!
What do you think it takes to be a pro athlete?
Hard work, grit, an incredibly tough mind, and a willingness to suffer physically.
What is the most fun or exciting race that you have ever competed in?
My favorite race is the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
What advice would you give to anyone who is looking to become more fit?
Take action! Build a routine and go for it. You can figure out the details later.
Do you listen to music while you train?
No, I am weird. I like to listen to myself breathe... haha, no really I love to hear nature and I actually do really like to just focus on how my body is performing.
If you could describe yourself as an animal/fictional character, what would it be?
Dolphin hands down. Loyal, love the water, no body hair, and big nose.
What has being a triathlete taught you?
True happiness comes from within. There will always be another performance, another goal, another level. Being happy with who you are and what you do before you reach your goals is true happiness.
What are your future goals?
Take over the world.
Who inspires you?
Tom Brady... I have a ridiculous man crush.
What keeps you motivated?
My 3 boys and my wonderful girlfriend. Creating the life we want motivates me every morning when I wake up.
What are you grateful for today?
Healthy mind, healthy lungs, healthy legs, and my incredible family.