Trimarni Athlete Spotlight: Alvaro Velez - Nationally ranked swimmer turned triathlete

We are excited to announce a new 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 our athletes but also 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.

Name: Alvaro Velez

Age: 40

City/State: Greenville, SC

Primary sport: Triathlon (swim is strongest)

How many years in the sport: 9 years as a triathlete (30 years for swimming with a 7-year swim hiatus from 2000-2007)

What Trimarni services have you used: 
Race day bike tune-up
Advance plan custom coaching (after IMKY until Cartagena 70.3)

Describe your athletic background and how you discovered your current sport?
I was a very strong High School swimmer growing up in Cartagena, Colombia. I was able to win Nationals in many of the events I competed in and was able to represent Colombian as a National team Member for at least three international competitions in South America. I won a few international medals and broke the 100 freestyle National record three times. I was able to use my swim resume to get a scholarship at Penn State University and provide many dual meet wins and a key member to a extremely tight Big Ten Championship title in 1999. I had two failed but close attempts to make the Olympics in 1996(100 free) and 2000 (400IM and 200 FLY). After 2000, I retired from competitive swimming and moved to New York City where I became an avid walker and sometimes runner. Many years later, I moved to Greenville SC because of work and started looking around for fun activities I could do in my free time. I started with running races and soon discovered triathlons.

What keeps you training and racing in your current sport?
Mostly I do it for better health as I have been use to the benefits of exercise since I was young. I have a lot of energy and I feel that endurance triathlons calm me down. I am also very competitive and enjoying racing. I also like the cool awards and recognition.

What do you do for work?
I am an Industrial Engineering who has worked in Manufacturing for many years and now have a Design Engineering role at General Electric designing Gas Turbines and Power Plants.

How does your work life affect training and how do you balance work and training?
Both me and my wife have full time jobs and its very hard to balance family and training without some sacrifices. During the week its not so hard as I can work early in the morning and during lunch. I have a semi flexible schedule that allows me to take 1 hour to 1.5 hour lunches. Also, it helps that the Gym is in the same building with hot showers for after working out. The pool is a 10 min drive but very doable as I can swim a lot in an hour. Weekends are trickier and it normally works better with the family if I do early workouts.

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

Make sure your spouse knows your schedule. Train early.
Involve your spouse into sports. I sometimes run with her and have provided her with training tips and workouts for her half marathon training.

Do you have kids?
Two very active boys, Andy and Seby.

How does having kids affect your training? 

My wife normally takes care of the kids on the weekends when I am out training but then we switch when I am back home. No excuses to be tired as we do what she or the kids want to do and then I take a bigger role into the activity.

Sometimes we hire fun kid-sitters when there is a potential conflict with a spouse activity on a critical workout. The kids love their two sitters! I also do this to be a sports role model for my kids. My kids think that my job is to go out and cycle.

What tricks or tips do you have for other athletes who struggle to balance training with family?

Early training, babysitters, full parent role after workouts.

We do have an informal "brownie point" system. When there are sacrifices to make, like long workouts and/or a competition, I make sure my wife can go shopping, have dinner with her girlfriends or even an all girls trip.

I also try to incorporate races that have pre, during and post activities for the family. Example Florida 70.3 and then Disney Parks/ Lego land. Cartagena 70.3 and then the beaches.

Do you have a recent race result, notable performance or lesson learned that you'd like to share?
I had my first Full Ironman this year at Louisville in October and I was very proud of this achievement.

Also, I had my first Ironman 70.3 Worlds Qualification at Cartagena 70.3 this December. I was 8th AG and was able to get spot on roll-down. I was very proud of this as even though it was not my best performance as I showed resilience in my performance. It was hot and humid and I was not feeling great from an upset stomach the days before the race.

What are your top 3-5 tips for athletes, as it relates to staying happy, healthy and performing well?

Do it because you like it.
Be in the moment for the workout.
Challenge yourself in workouts.
Don't be afraid to try new things in B races, practice it before doing A races.

Keep your spouse and kids happy as they are your support crew.

Listen to your coaches and stay positive.

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

It's a combination.  I always want to compete to my capabilities in that moment in time based on the training I have done and don't expect more than that. I feel that I am realistic and humble in my goals and am very realistic of what I am capable of.  I have certain reach goals but understand that it will be a challenge that will require many sacrifices.  Even if I try and don't reach those goals I will consider it a win if I give it my best on race day, have fun training and can share it with my family.  If my kids can follow in my athletic footsteps and beyond, it will be a home run!!

What's your favorite post-race meal, drink or food?
Beer, Pizza and Vanilla Ice cream

What key races do you have planned in 2017?

Mountains To Main Street Half

Lake Logan Half

Ironman 70.3 Worlds at Chattanooga
Ironman Chattanooga

What are your athletic goals for the next 5 years?
Be fit and injury free so I can:
Win some Setup Events triathlons
Qualify for IM 70.3 Worlds (check)
Sub 4:30 half
Qualify for IM World Championship, Kona, Hawaii
Sub 10:00 full

Anything extra advice to athletes?
Share knowledge with your triathlete friends and learn to give and receive advice.

Where can others follow you on social media:
Facebook: Alvaro Velez
Instagram: alvivelez

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