Trimarni athlete spotlight: Albert Cardona - A year of self-discovery and PR's!

This is a new weekly feature on the Trimarni blog where we will be shining the spotlight on one of our Trimarni athletes (coaching or nutrition) every week.

We hope that you will feel inspired by the spotlight athlete as you learn a few tips and tricks to help you reach your personal athletic and nutrition goals.

Our athletes are normal individuals choosing to do exceptional things with a healthy body.

NameAlbert Cardona

Age: 37

City/State: Morristown, NJ

Primary sportTriathlon

How many years in the sport: 8 years

What Trimarni services have you used: 
Nutrition  - 2 x sport nutrition consults while training for Ironman Kentucky


Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?

As a kid I played just about every sport from wrestling to golf and everything in-between. My primary sports were always soccer and hockey. I just couldn't get enough of them and that continued all the way through college. I was also very dedicated to excelling in the sports that I participated in.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?

I love the sport! Yes, it can be extremely frustrating as you try to learn form and technique for all three disciplines but I find it much less frustrating than golf, that's for sure! I love the fact that those that have success in the sport of triathlon achieve their success through hard work and determination. This is not a sport that comes easy to anyone. It's about putting in the hard work to reap the rewards.

What do you do for work?

I work within higher education running the housing and residence life office at a private university.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?

Work typically doesn't affect training too much, except during high peak times. When it's busy I have to be very diligent on how I plan my day. I might try to squeeze in a lunch time swim or run while on campus. There are some days that I might start the day before 5am in order to get my training in. Typically though my alarm rings between 5-5:30am everyday, within an occasional 7am alarm on one of the weekend days.

Any tips/tricks as to how to balance work and training?

Plan your day in advance! If you don't take a few minutes the night before to pack your bags, write down your workouts chances are it's not going to happen. I often leave my house with three bags; one with lunch, and two workout bags (swim and gym/running stuff). If I left the packing for the morning hours, I would be so scatter that I am sure I would forget something. I have been guilty of showing up for a group bike ride within my cycling clothes and crocs. Riding for a little over an hour in crocs is not fun, so plan ahead.

Do you have kids?

No, not yet but we have a bun in the oven!

If married or in a relationship, how do you balance your training with your partner? Any tips or tricks for keeping your partner happy while you train to reach your personal goals?

I am married and I am incredibly blessed to have found someone who understands the inward drive that I have to be the best that I can be within the sport. Thankfully, she is also involved in the sport of triathlon, so she gets it. We get spend a good bit of time training together when indoors. Our bikes are setup on trainers in our pain cave side by side and it's great having her there with me. We both make an intentional effort to support and encourage each other.

But over time I have learned that when I get "the look" that enough encouragement. :)

In regards to tips/tricks - try to split up tasks as best as possible. It's always best if you know what your spouse/partners expectation is of you, and knowing this will help in your relationship and get things done around the house. I often relate this to the book The 5 Love Languages. The more you understand about your spouse/partner the better you will be.


Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?

This year was fully of pr's and positive race results! I started the season with a 3rd AG finish at Rutgers Half Marathon, followed by 1st OA win at Jerseyman (short distance - in-between sprint/olympic) and finished up the season with 6th AG finish at Ironman Louisville and narrowly missing the podium by 43 seconds and missing kona by a little less than 2 minutes. It was a great year! This year was definitely a year of discovering just how mentally tough you need to be in order to be competitive in your AG. In years past I have had tough workouts that I thought prepared me to be mentally tough, but this year was a whole different level. One motto that I had this year that helped me achieve this was, "be present". I recited this to myself countless number of times and each time it may have had a slightly different meaning. During workouts where I was day dreaming about Kona, I would say it and pull myself back to focus on the workout of the day and remind myself that it's about one day at a time. Days when I was feeling really good and wanted to push harder during my workouts I would say it and pull myself back to the prescribed pace. Days of long bike rides where my mind would start wandering or I would be so ready to just be done, I would say it an regain my focus.

In order to achieve your goals in the sport you have to "be present" and face the obstacle that is immediately in front of you. Don't get caught up thinking about your current weight, pace, threshold, stress about work, blah, blah, blah. Just think about what is directly in front of you and that is putting on your shoes and pushing yourself out the door. If you can focus just on being present, you will be amazed to see how far it can take you!

What are your top 3-5 tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?
  • Sleep - you will be amazed at how much better you will feel if you get enough sleep every night.

  • Set attainable goals. Unless you are a freak of nature you will not be able to go from 200th in your AG to 1st, so be honest with yourself. By setting realistic goals and meeting them it will bring a smile to your face and make it more enjoyable. Also, share you goals with others. Its great when friends and families provide encouragement along the way.
  • Be sure to spend time with family. Family has a way of pulling you back to reality and reminding you of what is really important in life and that this sport is "just for fun."
  • "Let go and get help". Sometimes it is just easier to ask others who are knowledgeable in the sport for help. You don't have to figure it all out on your own. By letting go and asking for help it gives you time back into your day to spend time with family, focus on work or get out an train. This season I took this approach and asked Marni for help with nutrition. Marni was great in helping me with my daily nutrition and more specifically gaining and understanding of training and racing nutrition needs. This paid off greatly! In 2015 I finished 12th in my AG at an IM and in less than one year to be able to cut the field in half and finish 6th is huge!

    Through Marni's advice I was able to have more productive training sessions and which lead to me getting stronger and faster. But the biggest success for me was figuring out why I was experiencing a drop in blood pressure after long runs. Marni helped me figure it out and on race day at Ironman Louisville, I posted my fastest marathon time ever. Beating my open marathon time by 7 minutes. My nutrition was much better this time around and when I got to the marathon I had the fuel in my body to keep me running. 
    Orange Mud makes terrific hydration backpacks that made it possible for me to carry the needed fluid ounces on my long runs, thus making sure that I was not getting dehydrated. I liked their pack so much that I even wore it on race day.By asking for help it really simplifies life and training, so if you are wondering about your self created training plan, nutrition plan, bike fit, go pro swim videos, etc. Just do yourself a favor and get someone to help you. Paying someone to help will reap greater rewards than buying yourself a new carbon "whatever". 

How would you define athletic success as it relates to your personal journey?

Doing the best that I can do on the day! I have learned that I can set my goals but each race has it's own set of challenges and you can never predict what you will face. But I have learned that on each race day, if I have given it my all and raced in a manner which I would have no regrets, then it's been a great day! There is nothing worse than looking back on a race and kicking yourself for walking for no real reason.

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?

Burger, fries and chocolate milk shake and/or beer. Mussel and Burger Bar in Louisville has some of the best burgers ever! After my IM, I had 3 of their hamburgers within a 15 hour window.

What key races do you have planned in 2017

Haven't set the full race schedule yet. But planning on racing Rutgers half marathon, and looking to do an early 70.3 with the goal of qualifying for Worlds 70.3 in August.

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?

I would like to continue giving back to the sport however I can, mentoring others that are just getting started, develop sponsored relationships with various companies, and focus on hitting my goal of taking a trip to the Big Island! :)


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