2020 Member Spotlight – Irenaeus (Lee) MalatestaJanuary, 2020
I was a couch potato up until I was in my thirties. My dad died at the age of 54 from heart disease. When I told that to my doctor, she told me that I needed to start exercising, so I started running. I hated it but I stuck with it because it was good for me. Years later I moved from Ohio to the DMV and my morning commute to work by bus (Silver Spring to Bethesda) took me 40 minutes to go 5 miles. I figured I could ride a bike faster, so I bought one. My 5 mile commute took me about 30 minutes on a bike. And then I thought to myself that if I learned to swim, I could do a triathlon. So I did and I did.
What was your first triathlon?
My first triathlon was one of DCTRI’s training races. I was last out of the water, made some wrong turns on the bike, and missed a turn on the run to literally go the extra mile. When I climbed out of the water I felt like Mother Nature was trying to kill me. She almost succeeded. I’ve come a long way since barely finishing that race. I’ve registered for Iron Lake Placid 2020. It will be my first full course race.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made in a triathlon?
My biggest mistake was the second time I ran Eagleman and transposed two digits of my bib number in my head. So out of the water, I spent 10 minutes in transition looking for my bike in spot 1941 when I should have been looking for 1491. I was panicked. I started looking for a race judge to ask if my bike had been taken out of transition because it failed some sort of inspection. I ended up walking up and down almost every row to find my bike. Finally I took off my swim cap and noticed that the numbers were not what I had thought they were. Everyone around me heard a very loud “F— me!”
Any memorable races or experience?
I don’t have a single big memorable race or experience. But triathlon in general and DCTRI in particular have both been incredible blessings to me. When my wife died this past year, training hard is the one thing that helped me keep everything together. Putting in the miles, keeping focused on putting one foot in front of the other, kept me centered during a very rough time. And I can’t even begin to adequately describe the outpouring of support I received from DCTRI – especially the MoCo Mafia. Between coworkers and acquaintances I received numerous perfunctory condolences. But the folks from DCTRI all seemed genuinely heartbroken seeing me mourn. Their warm thoughts and prayers helped me keep it together when I didn’t know if I could.
What do you enjoy outside of triathlon?
Besides triathlon my hobbies are wine making and writing philosophy. My current projects are an analysis of Emmanual Levinas’ essay “On the Philosophy of Hitlerism” that offers a hopeful solution to Heidegger’s observation that the past always overwhelms us and unyieldingly guides us down an inexorable path created by our past decisions. In Levinas’ thought, it is an inherent human quality to be capable of repentance. And if we can repent, we are no longer beholden to our past. The other project is an exploration of philosophical anthropology as relates to LGBTQ issues and what it means to be a human person in the Eastern Orthodox tradition.
Any fun facts about yourself that you’d like to share?
I’m remarkably unacquainted with some parts of popular culture. For example, I’ve never read any of the Harry Potter books – or even watched any of the movies in their entirety. My girlfriend Irene has taken this as a challenge to educate me so I’m starting on the Harry Potter series this week.
Watching my two daughters become the beautiful, strong, incredible women they are has been one of the chief joys of my life.
One of the top things on my bucket list is to travel to Corsica and try casu marzu – maggot cheese. Also on my bucket list is to visit Antarctica. And smashing the patriarchy.