2020 Member Spotlight – BJ ShannonJanuary, 2020
Several years ago, I had a running injury and was only allowed to swim, so I really focused on that for a couple months. After all the effort, I decided I should try a triathlon
What was your first triathlon?
I did the Wisdom Oaks Winery sprint triathlon, because the only thing better than swimming, biking, and running, is swimming, biking, and running with wine at the end.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in a triathlon?
I’m a terrible swimmer. In the Atlantic City 70.3, I was therefore terrified of the swim, and I basically waited until everyone else was in the water and the race volunteers were looking at me like, “if you’re going to do this race, you’re going to have to get into the water at some point.” The swim was fine, but by the time I got to the run, it was really hot and sunny, and I wished I’d not wasted all that cool morning weather just standing at the edge of the water.
What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?
Trail running! I also love to travel, so I’m always in search of destination races and, even if it’s just a work trip, I try to get out for a run in every place I visit. I think it’s the best way to see a new city or country.
How did you get into trail running?
I’d started asking a friend a lot of questions about trail running, and all my questions eventually led to an invitation to give it a try. We ran about 8 miles, and I was so proud when we finished that I posted pictures of my muddy shoes on Facebook.
Do you train differently for trail races?
Not really. I think it’s important to train on the surfaces you will race, so I seek out hills or rocks or whatever mimics the next event, but I think that’s true in road running too.
Where do you train?
We in DC are so lucky to have great trails literally right in our backyards, and I love Rock Creek Park and the Potomac Heritage Trail. It’s also just a short drive to the Bull Run, Seneca, and Patapsco trail networks, and even the trails in the Shenandoah and Massanutten mountains are only a couple hours away.
Any advice that you would recommend for a beginner?
The best advice I received was to stop focusing on my splits. Trails are slower, especially at first, and every mile is different. I still do traditional speedwork on the track or road, but on trails, focusing on form, running technique, effort level, and nutrition help my speed a lot more than staring at my watch ever did.
Any memorable races or experience?
I just did the Stone Mill 50 Mile race which was my first at that distance. Someday, I’d like to shift my focus from running back to triathlon and train for a full Ironman.